The History of Radio Davie & Upshaw, 2006 Straubhaar & LaRose, 2006 General • In the United States, government may fund electronic-media experiments, but it’s up to business to apply the results. • The key to telecommunications is that electromagnetic energy can be transmitted between two points. • The early stage of media development is a process to which many people contribute. History • The 1800s: Earliest Broadcasting – Bell transmitted sounds by telegraph in 1877. – Hertz invented the “spark-gap detector” which verified the existence of electromagnetic waves. – Marconi invented radio in 1895. – De Forest invented the vacuum tube allowing for sound, voice, and music transmission. History 1900-1930: The Industry Gets Started – KDKA was the first broadcasting station in 1920. – David Sarnoff of NBC broadcasts the World Series in 1922. – The New York Philharmonic and Philadelphia Symphony orchestras join with the Columbia Phonograph Company to form the Columbia Broadcasting System. – William S. Paley is the head of CBS. Early Regulation • The Radio Act of 1927 created the Federal Radio Commission (FRC) to assign frequencies and issue liscences. • Communications Act of 1934: Federal law bringing all telecommunications under the oversight of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Early Regulation • The FCC issued a chain broadcasting rule in 1941 that prevented networks from forcing affiliate stations to air network programs. • In 1943, the FCC forced NBC to sell off the “NBC blue” network, which became ABC (American Broadcasting Company). Depression & War 1930-1945: Pivotal Historical Period – “During the Great Depression that had descended in 1929, with more than one- third of the work force jobless, a growing number of Americans tuned in their radios for relief and psychological support. – Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “fireside chats” Media Effects! War of the Worlds • “Actor Orson Wells narrated a 1938 Halloween tale of Martians landing in New Jersey, based on H.G. Welles’ War of the Worlds. The show’s disclaimer failed to register with Americans already primed for disaster on the eve of world war.” Media Effects! • Why did the War of the Worlds broadcast caused about one million people to panic? – People had faith in radio broadcasts. – The broadcast took place as war World War II raged in Europe. – The program was extremely well produced and acted. – Many people tuned into the broadcast late and missed the narration at the start. The Golden Age 1945-1960: The “Golden” Age • AM Radio – Still Thriving – 78 and 33 1/3 RPM Records – Transistors Make Radios Smaller – Formats – Rotating Blocks to “Top 40” Frequency Modulation 1960-1980: Radio’s Transformation – FM Increases Popularity • April 1961: FCC approval of Zenith-GE standards for FM broadcasting. The FCC mandates that stations needed to generate new content for FM bands. Public Broadcasting 1960-1980: Radio’s Transformation • Public Radio Act of 1967 – “After the adoption of the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, the FCC licensed more than 1,500 radio stations as “noncommercial educational”…. Many of these stations would receive federal money distributed through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting – a fact that annoyed commercial broadcasters envious of such subsidies.” Modern Times 1980-Present: Radio Challenges • Talk Radio • A Chance to Talk Back • Personalities – Relaxed Rules on Ownership • 1980 Deregulation • More Stations per Owner • Localism and Profits • Satellite Radio Modern Times • The Telecommunications Act of 1996 deregulated ownership rules and permitted large companies, such as Clear Channel Communications to purchase thousands of small stations across the country. The effect has been a reduction of content diversity, loss of jobs, and massive profits for Clear Channel Communications. Modern Times The Digital Future • Radio – Digital Broadcasts – Internet Streaming Terms – Electromagnetic Wave: Wave produced by accelerating an electric charge, manipulating the charge by changing the intensity of nearby electric or magnetic fields. – Spark-gap detector: (Hertz) Device that revealed electromagnetic radiation by making a spark jump a gap, emitting waves that triggered another jump some distance away. Terms – Hertz: A cycle of a radio wave (e.g. kiloHertz = 1,000 waves per second). – Broadcasting: Originally from agriculture (distribution of seed); redefined by the Communications Act of 1934 as dissemination of radio communications to the public. Terms – Crystal Set: Early radio receiver that makes use of a silicon crystal connected to a wire coil, antenna, and headset. Used primarily by early radio “hobbyists.” – Call letters: Broadcast station letters of identification. Stations west of the Mississippi River have call letters beginning with K; those east of the river begin with W. Terms – Frequencies: Means for counting electromagnetic waves by counting the number of times per second they pass a particular point. – Network: Group of radio or television stations (affiliates) connected by contract to a central source of programming. Terms – AM: Amplitude modulation; a way of adjusting radio waves to carry sound by changing their height and depth but not their width. – FM: Frequency modulation: a way of adjusting radio waves to carry sound by changing their width. Terms – Spectrum: The array of electromagnetic “airwaves” (identified by wavelength) that broadcasters harness to transmit radio signals. – Syndication: Licensing out programs to other stations. – Public Broadcasting: Stations that serve the public interest with news, talk, and culture without advertising sponsorship. Terms – Transistor: (William Shockley) Wafer-thin silicon crystal that amplified radio signals. Transistors replaced tubes and let to the portable radio and later digital revolution. Transistors have special importance in terms of their role in “personalizing” electronic media. Before transistor radio, families gathered around large radio sets and listened to the same content. Terms – Vacuum Tube: Amplifies and modulates signals by controlling the flow of electrical charges inside a glass tube. – Affiliates: Stations that contract to use network programming. – Format: Content aimed at a specific audience. – Top 40: Radio format that constantly replays the top 40 hit songs.
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