This is the official page of International Radio Listeners' Friendship & Fraternity Club (IRLFFC) written and maintained by MITUL KANSAL.

The club will give the chance to become friends with listeners and Dxers in other countries. The club will serve as a platform to take part in discussions, dialogue, and exchange opinions with people in various parts of the world. For a while it was like a dream but now it is a reality. By joining together we can do a lot for our planet. For example, help to ensure peace on Earth and save the environment. The main task of our club is to get acquainted with listeners in other countries. I think in a country where you have friends there is no room for enemy. And lastly very important, the members will established and promote friendship, fraternity and mutual understanding among them and it will be a first step to maintain peace on our Earth i.e. our common home.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

A Very Brief History of Radio Broadcasting

By Jim Honeycutt and Mike Zito

Radio was not invented by one person. It was a procession of individuals who contributed to its emergence. But to begin, understand that before radio it was impossible to communicate with millions of people at one time. As radio became popular, it became the first live, ubiquitous means of communication.

Wireless communication was first proposed by James Maxwell in 1864. His research suggested that invisible frequencies could travel through the air!

Heinrich Hertz proved in 1887 that Maxwell was right by succeeding in transmitting a signal a short distance. Maxwell, however, did not see the potential of this experiment.

The next major contribution came from Guglielmo Marconi. He improved Hertz’s primitive transmitter and added a telegraph key. His breakthrough came when he transmitted a signal for a distance of two miles. In anticipation of a rewarding future for wireless transmission, Marconi founded the Wireless Telegraph and Signal Company in 1897. Marconi only thought wireless would benefit communication between ships at sea and monitors on shore.

Canadian Reginald Fessenden improved Marconi’s design. Marconi’s design worked in electrical spurts which was sufficient for a communication technolgy like the Morse Code. Fessenden created a wireless system that did not work in spurts. Rather he developed a system that created a continuous carrier wave which allowed him to transmit his voice reading biblical scripture and music. and play sacred music on the violin on Christmas eve in 1906. But Fessenden was not able to exploit his invention as a commercial venture.

American Lee DeForrest was able to improve on the work of Fessenden and create a commercial company which aired commercial radio broadcasts. His Audion or triode vacuum tube improved the clarity and transmission strength of Fessenden’s continuous carrier wave. It was sad that DeForrest did not credit the people whose work he built upon including Thomas Edison, John Flemming, and, of course, Reginald Fessenden. It is a strange footnote in history that Lee DeForrest could not really explain clearly how his invention worked. This would haunt him later on.

Edward Howard Armstrong took DeForrest’s Audion and feed the emitted signal back into it to create what he called “regeneration.” This accomplished two significant things: one, the signal became actually strong enough to run into an external speaker. Two, it made radios much, much smaller in their size because the circuitry became correspondingly smaller too. Unfortunately for Armstrong, he was slow in applying for patents for his invention and lawsuits between he, DeForrest, and Fessenden and Marconi clouded all the wonderful things that resulted from all of these inventions.

The First World War ended all the disputes for a while. After the War, General Electric bought Marconi’s company since GE wanted to build radio equipment. Westinghouse, A.T.&T and GE got together to create Radio Corporation of America. But RCA limited their interest like Marconi to maritime and international communication.

Radio technology improved. Armstrong created a new type of turner
called the “superheterodyne receiver” which better amplified the radio signal and offered improved sound. Interest in radio grew.

The companies that designed and manufactured equipment realized that the public needed a reason to purchase the equipment. So these same companies opened radio stations. One of the most famous is KDKA in Pittsburgh began to broadcast in 1916.

The government got involved in regulation. One interesting piece of legislation was the Wireless Ship Act which required passenger ships to have a wireless operator on board. Had it not been for a wireless operator, the Titanic disaster would have been much worse since the people in the lifeboats were rescued within hours of the sinking of the ship. But as a result, the Radio Act of 1912 was passed to underscore the importance of radio in assuring public safety at sea. This law stirred up more interest and radio continued to grow. The number of radio licenses issued in the 1913 was 322. The number of radio licenses issued in 1917 was 13,581.

During the 1920’ radio took off. People across the nation found useful information being transmitted. Farmers could keep up with teal market prices. People could reconnect with their roots. Barn dances were broadcast. New forms of entertainment emerged like the Grand Old Oprey, which began as a barn dance in 1925.

In 1922 , there were two frequencies used for radio transmission - 833kHz and 740 kHz. Interference was a major problem. This led to chaos among stations. Early attempts to regulate radio were unsuccessful. But in 1927, the Radio Act was passed and it did establish the idea that no one could own a radio frequency and that Government held the responsibility to manage the airwaves for the benefit of the public.

AA&T’s monopoly of telephone and radio led to AT&T selling its radio stations to RCA in 1926. RCA then formed the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) and shared ownership of 50% with GE’s 30% and Westinghouse’s 20%..

The Federal Radio Commission was established under the Radio Act of 1927. It used its authority to reduce the number of radio stations and encouraged the growth of about 24, 50,000 watt,clear channel , radio stations. This was consistent with AT&T’s earlier vision on radio station linked by telephone lines transmitting the same radio shows. The FRC wanted large, national radio stations as opposed to small, local stations.

In 1927, several more network competitors emerged to challenge NBC. One of them, we know well. It was the Columbia Phonograph Record Company but today we know it as just CBS.

Most of the programming of the late twenties was musical programming. To break up the music, small comedy skits were introduced. The most famous was the Amos ‘n And Show which at one point had a market of over 40 million people.

Commercials became more and more common too. By 1932, CBS and NBC aired 12, 546 commercial spots in 2, 365 hours of programming.

In 1934, a third network entered call the Mutual Broadcasting System (MBS). It only ceased operation in 1999. But many of its stations are still on the air like WOR in NYC. By 1935, 18.5 million families or over 50 million people were into radio. About 60% of homes had radios.

To supervise all of this, the Federal Communications Commission was created in 1934. It replaced the Federal Radio Commission. And just in time. Radio stars were emerging like George Burns and Gracie Allen, Jack Benny , Al Jolsen and Nelson Eddy. Serial melodramas ran during the day and were often sponsored by soap companies, hence the name soap operas. Roosevelt used his radio “fireside chats” to push though his social programs in the 1930’s.

As the country moved towards World War II, newspaper companies began to dispense news through their own radio stations. Radio at the time was the only live , simultaneous source of mass communication we had in this country. It is estimated that the day after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, 62 million Americans listened to President Roosevelt declare war on Japan. During the Second World War, the U.S. government did not take over the radio stations as they had during W.W.I. Instead they created the Office of War Information to determine how much information about the war would be shared with the Public. To counter the propaganda being broadcast by Germany, Italy and Japan, the U.S. government created the Voice of America to broadcast our world vision to people outside
of the United States.

Up until 1970, radio was primarily AM or amplitude modulation. FM would have died back in the 1930’s had it not been for Edward Armstrong, the creator of regeneration and the superheterodyne tuner. He spent most of his later years selling the Public on FM. He showed off his FM invention in 1935 and was successful in gaining FCC approval to build a huge 50, 000 watt FM station . He finished it in 1939. He then managed to convince GE to build and sell FM radios. His FM was not stereo. But it was much clearer than AM. FM grew slowly and had many setbacks.

After W.W.II, AM radio stations grew in number. But television emerged after the 1939 World’s Fair and really took off after World War II. Interesting to note that NBC and CBS - both leaders in radio - became leaders in the new television industry too. Many of the problems that early radio endured were avoided with TV since TV followed roughly the same format as radio. Since both had much the same show format, people opted for TV since it had the video component as well as the old audio component.

TV first made its major encroachment during the evening, when people were home and could physically take time to look at the TV tube for entertainment. Radio stations increasingly focus on the daytime operations. TV became associated with a national audience; this affected advertising. Radio became associated with local audiences; this affect advertising, too.

In the 1950’s radio networks began to play more and more music. In part because it was cheap. But mostly because the stars of radio and their respective radio shows had become TV stars and their radio shows became TV shows. To differentiate radio from TV, music was emphasized. The top 40 format was introduced by Todd Storz . Gordon McLendon introduced new ways to promote radio with his “Opps I am sorry” ads and his Walking Man/Woman campaigns. The clock became a way to slice up a show; everything would happen at appointed times - news, weather, music, etc. all became located on a clock.

During the 1960’s AM began to decline. People began to demand better fidelity and complained more about AM interference. The short music format of top 40’s gave way to longer songs by 60’s artists. FM stations allowed the music industry to introduce new artists. The record companies liked this very much since it was difficult to break an artist into that top 40 rotation. During the 60’s and into the 70’s FM became associated increasingly with greater and greater musical diversity. While AM has plenty of support with its top 40, news, and sports formats, FM is really became more popular since FM stations would really play anything that they thought they could develop an interest with the public.

By 2000, 85% of radio listeners listened to FM radio even though there were more AM stations than FM. The future may hold even newer forms of radio as satellite-delievered national radio is being tested. Companies like Sirius and XM are trying to interest the public in satellite based radio. But the question remains about how these new services will be paid for.

(Jim Honeycutt and Mike Zito,  Fall 2004
Staples High School,  Westport Public Schools)

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