Charleston (West Virginia) Daily Mail, June 12, 1929, page 14:
BUDAPEST CLAIMS FIRST BROADCAST
Hungarian Housewives Heard Music by Microphones 30 Years Ago
Chicago Daily News Copyright.
BUDAPEST, Hungary -- Thirty years ago Budapest housewives paused over their steaming paprika chicken when a buzzer sounded and adjusting headphones over their ears, listened in on the Budapest opera or the symphony concert. This was the first broadcasting. Music was picked up by Edison microphones and relayed by telephone wires to 8,000 subscribers. So the Budapest telephone hirmondo claims to be the mother of all broadcasting stations. Today the hirmondo still exists and has just as many subscribers as it had thirty years ago. The same system of land wires and headphones is used. But operated in connection with radio broadcasting the concerts are better.
Tivadar Puskas, who invented the telephone hirmondo, or telephone reporter, was born in 1845, and studied in the Vienna theresianum. As soon as he completed his studies he went to England and associated himself with Waring Brothers, representing this firm in the construction of the Hungarian North-East railroad. During 1875 Puskas went to the United States. He became one of Edison's collaborators, representing the great inventor at the Paris exposition in 1878. When the Paris exposition ended Puskas remained in Paris to install the Paris telephone system. Then he returned to his native land, Hungary, to work on the telephone hirmondo. Shortly afterwards, March 17, 1893, Tivadar Puskas died.
The telephone hirmondo, at first, gave only news, and hence was known as the "speaking journal." Later it gave stock exchange reports and commercial news. Later concerts and operas were broadcast. When the hirmondo was new there were 8,000 subscribers. Then came the death of the inventor and financial disturbances. The quality of the programs fell off, and the number of subscribers fell to 4,000.
When radio arrived on the scene it was thought the hirmondo was doomed. But just the contrary. The radio program was used on the hirmondo and the number of subscribers increased to the old peak of 8,000 and still shows a tendency to increase. Nearly 10,000 miles of telephone wire carry the programs to Budapest families. Some loud speakers are used, all without amplifiers. They have the appearance of double megaphones. A little extra power shot through the system produces a buzz which informs the subscriber that the program is about to begin. At 8 in the morning the exact time is given. From 9 until 3 in the afternoon news and commercial information is broadcast. From 3 until midnight lectures and music are given, operas are often broadcast, as this form of music is appreciated by Hungarians. Often, at least three times weekly, gypsy music is given. And there is no place in the world that has gypsy music like Budapest.
Has Modern Radio Station
Contrasted to the 30-year-old telephone hirmondo is Budapest's modern radio broadcasting station. Many of the 9,000,000 of Hungarians with in the new frontiers, and 6,000,000 just across the frontiers, listen to the fine programs given by "Radio Budapest." The station even has admirers in the United States. Frank Estis, 1623 South Troy street, Chicago, wrote to Budapest, saying he found the station one morning. So did Frank A. Johnson of 317 West Englewood avenue and Charles Rodgers of 906 Landes street, Mount Carmel, Ill. Dr. H. E. Betcke of St. Louis, Mo., also wrote to Budapest, to announce he was able to bring in the Hungarian station.
What puzzles the American fans is Budapest does not seem to stay in the same place. This is because Budapest is very close to Vienna, and Budapest shifts its wave length a little to find a place where there is the minimum of interference. Probably the Prague conference will result in assigning wave length so that American fans who bring in Europe can be sure of their station.
Budapest has a number of small rooms for picking up reading, small concerts, record music and such, but its pride is a large room equipped with original facilities for broadcasting music from large orchestras. The room is hung with draperies, and the walls are roughened. A thick double glass wall separates the musicians from the director, who sits in a glass cage. No sound penetrates and the musicians appear to be merely going through the motions of making music. It is a weird scene. Near the director, and likewise separated from the musicians is a supervisor. He wears head phones, which bring him the music as it goes on the air, and not as heard within the producing room. He sits before a machine which has the appearance of a large cash register. From time to time he pushes a button, and an illuminated line is written on a board before the musicians. As I looked the Hungarian word "IO." appeared. He thought it was good. Then he pushed other buttons, informing the drums not to play so loudly. There was a phone connection also, so that could call his assistant and give detailed instructions. In the sending room is another control, and in the manager's office still another check on the broadcasting. As with other European broadcasting stations Budapest is a state monopoly, operated by concession.