Many of us take the radio for granted. But the concept of being able to listen to music over the radio has only been a phenomenon of this century. And radio on the Internet even newer.
The radio itself and its technology came about due to the contribution of numerous people and their inventions over the years. There are varying disputed claims about who invented radio, which in the beginning was called “wireless telegraphy”. Names like Marconi, Tesla, and more come to mind when one thinks of this phenomena. Marconi first equipped ships with lifesaving wireless communications and established the first transatlantic radio service while Tesla developed means to reliably produce radio frequency electrical currents, publicly demonstrated the principles of radio, and transmitted long distance signals.
It wasn’t until 1904 that the U.S. Patent Office awarded Marconi a patent for the invention of radio, possibly influenced by Marconi’s financial backers in the States, who included Thomas Edison and Andrew Carnegie. This also allowed the U.S. government (among others) to avoid having to pay the royalties that were being claimed by Tesla for use of his patents.
The invention of AM radio or amplitude-modulated came from Reginald Fessenden and Lee de Forest. Having AM radio allowed radios to transmit more than one station. An AM receiver detects amplitude variations in the radio waves at a particular frequency. It then amplifies changes in the signal voltage to drive a loudspeaker or earphones. Fessenden gave his first broadcast on Christmas Eve of 1906 and used the concept of AM radio to transmit small-scale voice and music broadcasts up until World War I.
In America in 1909, Charles David Herrold, an electronics instructor in San Jose, California constructed a broadcasting station that used the spark gap technology where now music was broadcasted. By March 8, 1916, Harold Power with his radio company American Radio and Research Company (AMRAD), broadcast the first continuous radio show in the world from Tufts University under the call sign 1XE (it lasted 3 hours). The company later became the first to broadcast on a daily schedule, and the first to broadcast radio dance programs, university professor lectures, the weather, and bedtime stories.
Eventually, numerous radio stations began to appear across the nation, from small towns with amateurs giving it a shot to major electrical firms getting into the business.
Some of the first radio programming included evening readings of short stories and amateur talent.
As radio broadcasting continued in popularity, questions were asked about the types of stations and types of programming should be offered.
Radio’s ability to conquer distance helped reduce the isolation of sparsely populated regions. With this popularity grew the need for programming and creative license by those operating the phonograms or records. These people were given the name Disc Jockey or DJ. The DJ’s would decide what music to play and when – who to feature and how. Later, this evolved into a new industry where only the forty best-selling singles (usually in a rack) as rated by Billboard magazine or from the stations own chart of the local top selling songs, were played.
In addition to playing the “Top 40” radio stations would punctuate the music with jingles, promotions, gags, call-ins, and requests, brief news, time and weather announcements and most importantly, advertising.
Radio as we know it then evolved into Internet Radio. The growth of Internet radio came from a small experimenter’s toy in the mid-90s and then grew into to a huge phenomenon allowing both small do-it-yourselfers and large commercial stations to make their offerings available worldwide People began discovering the many advantages of Internet radio which included more variety, lack of censorship, greater choice, a more eclectic approach to format programming, and static-free digital sound quality.
The idea of one-size-fits-all programming began dissipating as listeners and their diversity of musical tastes took over the scene.
Radio, while somewhat new in the spectrum of history, is here to stay and as long as the people continue to love their music and desire more and more of it in their life.
Jeff Bachmeier is owner of 977music.com, an online music and online radio station network providing live streaming Internet Radio channels with music from the 50’s thru Today. Users can also choose to create their own customized on demand playlist through their own social media profile. For more information please visit http://www.977music.com.Tags:history of radio, Internet radio, online music