The Nation, March 29, 1922, pages 361-362:
Radio as a Revolutionist
THOSE who believe that revolutions are made neither by the pen nor the sword but by new inventions will find a fascinating subject for speculation in the sudden and amazing growth in the use of radio. Could Scheherazade have told her king of the things which were seen and heard at the recent Radio Convention in New York it would have seemed more marvelous than the tales that beguiled the thousand and one nights. Yet the crowds that packed the exhibition hall, like subway trains at the rush-hour, evinced curiosity but no awe when an automobile was in its every movement obedient to the will of a man who never touched it with his hand, or when an orchestra in a distant city was heard through miles of unbridged space.
The most immediately significant development is in the field of radio-telephony. Secretary Hoover has estimated that at least 600,000 and probably 1,000,000 amateurs now have some form of receiving apparatus, most of whom have acquired it within the last year. In Philadelphia and in New York it is announced that apartments are to be built equipped with apparatus for receiving radio-telephone messages, music, and the like. The desire of amateurs, not merely to receive but to send messages, has created a problem which already calls for Federal regulation of wave lengths so as to prevent interference with business messages. No one who heard at the Radio Convention the effort of various operators to tune their instruments to receive concert music which was "broadcasted" through the air could believe in the silence of the heavens. Indeed the chaos of different messages resulted, during the tuning process, in some of the weirdest sounds ever heard by mortal ears. "Broadcasting" is probably what gives the greatest interest to radio-telephony. Certain newspapers carry daily announcements of the program to be sent out by various stations--Westinghouse station at Newark, whose signal is WJZ, begins its program at 11 a. m. with music and the weather forecast; it ends at 10.01 p. m. with another weather forecast. During that time the listener may hear an agricultural report, shipping news, special stories for children, recitations--once we noticed on the program our old friend "Casey at the Bat"--jazz, religious music, and opera selections. This new art is creating its own literature. The Radio Magazine advertises a circulation of 150,000 and daily newspapers such as the New York Mail and Globe publish popular radio supplements. Poetry follows in the wake of science. There lies before us a newspaper containing the picture of "the attractive film star who is responsible for the wireless song hit 'Kiss Me by Wireless,' to be broadcasted for the first time on Thursday, March 16."
It is difficult to exaggerate what this means for men in lonely places. It will not be long before explorers can send daily bulletins of their progress. Already telephone conversation has been carried on with an ocean liner 400 miles out at sea. Smith's Four Corners is in listening distance of Broadway. Every man may build his own Utopia in contemplation of the conquests of space by sound.
But, alas, try as we will we can build no Utopia in days when there is no escape to the healing quiet of any wilderness. Think of the tragic fate of some future Thoreau who goes to his beloved woods in search of solitude only to find the night made suddenly hideous by the "famous laughing saxophone" played at station XYZ and received and amplified by equipment in possession of the Boston Boy Scouts in camp not far away! Will it be possible for any man to think for himself when the speeches of the favored spokesman of those who control the "broadcasting" stations night after night are sent out to every home? And if another war comes, which radio-telephony may make easier to bring about, radio control of the means of destruction will add immeasurably to its horrors. But these, perhaps, are the fears of a crotchety generation that is passing. Certainly they are not shared by the young men and women who make up our radio clubs. May they make better use of this new conquest over the powers of nature than we have done with some of ours.