Popular Science Monthly, April, 1922, pages 29-31:

What  Uncle  Sam's  Wireless  Service  Means  to  You

Developments  Point  to  the  Time  when  Government  Leaders  May  Talk  to  You  Daily  by  Radio  on  Public  Affairs

By  Armstrong  Perry

 
Watch  Washington  and  Listen!
"WAKE up to wireless!" was POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY'S message to the American people last fall.
    "Watch Washington!" is our message today.
    Amazing as radiophone developments have been since the first article in our radio campaign was published, they are slight compared with new possibilities.
    POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY now raises the banner for direct, daily, vocal communication between government leaders in Washington and American homes by radiophone.
    We stand for sane encouragement of entertainment broadcasts by properly qualified firms, and for a unified national system of scheduled public information broadcasts by the government.--The Editor.
IF the Western Union and the Postal Telegraph and the American Telephone and Telegraph Company should all offer me the free use of their wires, I should consider myself a very privileged man. But if, as a condition, I had to give up the free radio service that my government in Washington offers me, I should turn down the offer with thanks, and without a moment's hesitation!
    I appreciate the full value of our great telegraphic wire services--but I actually consider the government's wireless system to be of greater value to me at the present time than the free use of all the country's wire lines.
    And mark this--within a year I expect to see the government's radio service developed in a way that will make its present offerings look like an 1899 automobile beside the airship Roma.

Will  You  Use  It?

    This government radio service, even now, is limited only by my readiness--and yours--to use it. It already includes 230 land radio stations. In all probability they will soon be coordinated in one great system through which each one of the government departments can talk to you daily, wherever you are, and tell you the latest facts about the progress of your national business.
    Tremendous things, indeed, are even now afoot in Washington. It is one of those moments at the birth of a new era, when people on the inside, seeing amazing things ahead, stand breathless, filled with thrilling projects, yet so staggered by their possible consequences as to hesitate at making the first move; so that, while detailed projects for greater developments are still vague, a reporter on the ground in the national capital can at least safely state that the great radio vision has been seen vividly here in many quarters, and that some of its wonderful blessings are certain to come true.
    A survey of government radio developments clearly points the way toward what is coming. In 1914, at a Boy Scout camp, I heard for the first time the 10 P.M. signal from the Naval Observatory at Arlington, and set my watch by it. Thrilling then, the setting of civilian watches is only one of radio's very minor uses now. They are setting international boundaries by wireless today, some old frontier lines having been found to be far from where the surveyors thought they were, owing to the deviation of timepieces carried for long distances over the earth's surface. True, the plotting of these dotted lines seems far from the field of our daily life--until disputes over them throw nations into war!

Cure  for  Blues

    But one of the things that government radio is doing for me personally struck me just the other night, when I was far from home and feeling blue. I had set up a little portable radio receiver that I had bought for $25. I was exploring with the tuner to find out what was in the air, and I heard: "Go ahead, Dr. Pierce."
    "This is the United States Public Health Service," said Dr. Pierce. "Our talk tonight is on the effect of sunshine." He went on for 15 minutes, telling me how to get the greatest health value from the sunshine and fresh air that destroy the germs of tuberculosis and other diseases. When Dr. Pierce had finished, the operator played some classical masterpieces on the phonograph, and then a little jazz. The sun was not shining, but the moon was, and I knew where the remarks had hit me. I hiked right out, and in an hour my inward gloom had disappeared.
    The next week the Pope was taken ill in Rome, and one afternoon about three o'clock the papers came out with news of his death. That night I copied press from a navy station for an hour. In about a thousand words I received all that was of importance from Dublin, Bogotá, Shamokin, New York, Lisbon, Washington, Indianapolis, Chicago, San Francisco, Mysore, London, Melbourne, and Boston. And I learned that the papers had been several hours premature in announcing the Pope's death. Either the Associated Press, which collects the news, or the navy folks, who send it out, ought to go in for playwriting. They have the dramatic instinct.
    This general news, condensed and concise, is invaluable to me and to any man who wants to keep abreast of his time. But what a navy station handed me the same evening, a little earlier, was still more valuable. For weeks, I had read columns, daily, about the Conference for the Limitation of Armaments. With the Conference approaching its close, I found myself muddled about its results. Critics disagreed. Either the United States had accomplished something almost as important as the winning of the war, or it had made a lamentable failure. Which was it?
    I put the little receiver on NOF's wave that evening, and heard the operator say: "Hello, Mr. Bacheller. Hello, Oxford Club, Lynn, Massachusetts. We will now run a record or two on the phonograph, and in the meantime we will get in touch with Senator Lodge, and we think he will begin speaking promptly at nine o'clock."

The  Senator  Speaks--and  Listens
William Lodge, broadcasting
    I pricked up my ears. I knew Bacheller as a radio man. Senator Lodge I knew also. As our delegation at the Conference had been in closest agreement throughout, his viewpoint would be that of the United States government. I listened.
    "Hello, Oxford Club, Lynn."
    I recognized the voice. It was a little husky, but firm, as of old.
    "Hello, Oxford Club," the Senator repeated.
    There was a pause, then the operator of the radio station, which was some distance from Senator Lodge's residence in Washington, where he was speaking, told him over the wire to go ahead.
    "But nobody answers!" said the Senator.
    In the quietness of my own room, I could laugh at Mr. Lodge's expense. Radio men know that broadcasting stations do not expect or wait for a reply. Their transmission is on schedule, and the receiving operators are in readiness to get their messages. But the Senator, speaking over his phone in the usual way, and knowing little of the intricacies of the station that automatically changed the tones of his voice into radio waves so that they might hurtle through space and be caught and changed back again into sound, was holding his receiver to his ear and wanted somebody to acknowledge his salutation. It was the little bit of fun that makes an official statement a human event.

The  Facts  First  Hand

    The navy operator explained and the Senator proceeded. In half an hour he made much more clear--to one hearer at least--the accomplishments of the Conference than long columns of newspaper type had done. He told how competition in the development of armaments, which, after all, is the thing that makes most of the trouble between nations, had been stopped by an agreement that placed and kept the nations participating in the Conference on an equal footing.
    Other kinds of government information can be put into the air, if the citizens want them. There are probably not less than 250,000 amateur receiving stations at which it is possible to hear one or more government transmitting stations. And so fast are things developing that there may even behalf a million. There are 14,000 amateur transmitting stations that could be utilized for local distribution of government broadcasts. There are 530,000 Boy Scouts and officials ready for public service, some as radio operators and some as messengers. If every citizen does not receive as much government radio service as I do, there is no one to blame but himself. The excuse, "I do not know radio," is obsolete, for the army offers free correspondence courses in radio to citizens of the United States.
    Among the epochal possibilities that I have lately heard mentioned by government officials are: the broadcasting of important current events for the benefit of public schools; the collection and distribution of information concerning organized criminals at a speed that will bewilder them; and the installation at the national capital of transmitters as powerful as that used at the Chicago Grand Opera, so that citizens everywhere may hear the discussions taking place on the floors of both houses of Congress. If the lobbies and the committee rooms are included, I'll say that will be some system. Though no one has officially suggested it, yet, I should not be at all surprised if, "listening in" some night in a remote country district, with a receiver costing only a few dollars, I should hear the voice of the President himself, talking to all the American people personally and directly about the current accomplishments and policies of our government.
 
What  Hays  Thinks  of  Government  Radio
By  Donald  Wilhelm
Will HaysA NATIONAL newspaper without paper! A government radio telephone system that would hook up every home in the land with the leaders of public affairs in Washington!
    Shake hands with a big idea sponsored by one who was the livest of all Postmaster-Generals --who was so alert and forward looking that he was drafted from government service into the only industry in the land that holds more spectacular possibilities for universal public recreation and information than radio itself.
    Will Hays, our new motion-picture dictator, was one of the first officials in Washington to realize the magnificent future of the radiophone as an agency of the government. Here's what he saw in it:

Public  Information  Vital

    You're a lone woodsman in the wilds, or a farmer's wife, or a miner in the hills, or a pupil in the public schools, or a worker in the shop, or a cattleman, or--well, anyway, you're a human being and in this twentieth century, no matter where you live, public information is your life blood. Your happiness, your domestic contentinent, your business, your success in life your relations with the world, depend upon it.
    Unless you get it, and get it quickly, you're a caveman or a cliff-dweller. So far as the modern world is concerned, you simply don't exist.
    Now, suppose you have on your table a neat little radio receiving instrument. And suppose that every night you could hear from that instrument the voice of some leader of public affairs in Washington, telling you the important events of Uncle Sam's day.
    It would be infinitely interesting and entertaining, and invaluable, wouldn't it?
    "But is it possible?" I asked Will Hays, while he was still Postmaster-General, and he replied: "is it possible? Why, it's inevitable! If it cost a hundred times more than it will cost, it would still be inevitable--no cost would be too high for such service. But the cost is not at all prohibitive.
    "Since last April, the Post Office Department has been using its chain of transcontinental wireless stations, which it set up to administer the air mail, for broadcasting weather and market information. The Department of Agriculture furnishes us the information."
    Supplementing Mr. Hays' remarks, Lieut. James Edgerton, the head of Post Office radio, points out that, at last reckoning, the cost of maintaining and operating Post Office radio is, including interest on investment, salaries, depreciation, repairs, everything, only $87,190 a year. Not a little of this relatively small outlay comes back in the form of economies; thus, reckoning on the basis of capacity use, a radio message of 30 words to San Francisco costs the government $.375, whereas a ground telegraph message, at government rates, costs $1.16.
    "The total cost of each new broadcasting station would be $18,875; the annual cost thereafter, $11,170 for twenty-four-hour service," Lieutenant Edgerton says. "There are now sixteen stations in our chain, three of which are navy stations. Add four more, or six--we shall know better when we have equipped the stations we have for broadcasting by phone--and then we'll be able to serve the whole country, There is nothing speculative about it."
    In fact, it has been estimated that for the ridiculously low cost of about three quarters of a cent a person a year, the government could reach the whole public with daily broadcasts of news, public speeches, and invaluable departmental information.
    There is hardly a government bureau head or official in Washington who hasn't something fascinating to tell each of us, every month or so, if we could only be reached by word of mouth--something bearing, moreover, on our health and prosperity. When the radiophone becomes in fact a great government agency of communication, we shall see the dreams of democratic government more nearly fulfilled, for we shall each of us be kept more closely in touch with public affairs than has ever before been thought possible. When the Post Office uses the wireless phone, it will probably have hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of hearers, receiving, by their own hearthstones, free news, free education, free entertainment--and protection, too, when warning of imminent disaster is sent broadcast to all in danger.

Centralizing  Communications

    Plans for reorganizing the executive departments in Washington look to making the Post Office Department the rendevous of communications, i. e., civil communications. It might even come to be known as the Department of Communications, or of Post Office and Communications.
    All the leased telegraph wires of the government and cable lines as well are to be headed up in that department. The concentration of leased wires, Mr. Hays told me, implies an economy of about $250,000 a year, and better service. Into this scheme the publishing of a national radio newspaper neatly fits.
    Every branch of the government needs a broadcasting system to keep in touch with the public. No private agency can fill the need. The problem falls, of its own weight and importance, to the Post Office Department.