National Electragist (Radio Service Supplement), November, 1922, pages 10-11.
Why Radiophone Broadcasting Should be Continued
An Interview With H. P. Davis, Vice President of the Westinghouse Company, Originator of the Modern Radiophone Broadcasting Service
"You have asked me, 'why should radiophone broadcasting be continued?' I cannot find any answer to that question as it seems so perfectly obvious to me that radiophone broadcasting has come to stay. Instead of answering I would ask:
"Who wants radio broadcasting stopped?
"What causes anyone to want broadcasting stopped?
"Is the present broadcasting service unsatisfactory?
"If it is unsatisfactory, this should not be a cause for discontinuing it, but rather a reason for greater effort at improvement."
It was evident at once from his reply that H. P. Davis, vice president of the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company, has been surprised to think that anyone should ask such a question. And little wonder, for the man who was responsible for organizing the first radiophone broadcasting station in the world--this pioneer station being KDKA at East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania--and the installing of three other stations (KYW at Chicago, Ill., WJZ at Newark, N. J., and WBZ at Springfield, Mass.) has been closely in touch with radio for the past two and a half years and has evidently detected no demand from the public for cessation of radiophone broadcasting activities.
Mr. Davis called attention to the wonderful and phenomenal spread of popular interest in radiophone broadcasting, and stated that he believed that this interest was not waning, but was increasing.
"You have asked me why radiophone broadcasting should be continued," said Mr. Davis. "Perhaps I can answer your question best by saying that I can tell you many reasons why radiophone broadcasting should not be stopped."
"Broadcasting," he continued, "has become a public necessity and is rapidly lining itself up with other utilities such as the telephone, telegraph, electric light, moving pictures, etc., and just as these activities were crude in their beginnings, but later refined to present-day conditions, so, in the same way, will radiophone broadcasting be developed and will cover and make available to all within hearing range, all worth-while activities of general interest to the public."
When Mr. Davis was asked if present conditions under which radiophone broadcasting was done, wherein a free service was given would be continued, he stated in reply that a service of this character offered such benefits to mankind in general that ways would be found for its continuance.
"Why," he said, "consider the effect of discontinuing operations at our four stations! We believe that the combined audience of our four broadcasting stations is at least a million every night in the week. It may be more. This estimate is based on an approximation of the number of radio receivers which have been sold in the territories covered by these stations. What would be the result if all broadcasting stations stopped suddenly, with or without warning, entertaining and informing this vast audience? The effect upon this radio audience would be about the same as would occur if we took away some one or more of the utilities already referred to, such as the electric light, or the telephone--and we might go even further and say that it might be the same as stopping the newspapers and magazines, and the cutting off of amusements and communications. The effect probably right now would not be so vital as it will be later, as the service improves and grows--as it is bound to do."
"What would happen if this occurred?" was asked of Mr. Davis.
"You know as well as I do," he said, "that there would be a public clamor that would quickly bring some solution of a state or federal nature. I do not believe, however, that this can happen, as there is enough commercial possibility and goodwill in this business to make it worth while for those companies that can benefit from from it, to continue the service."
"What is going to happen," Mr. Davis was asked, "if the Federal Government continues its present policy of indiscriminately licensing all applicants to broadcast?"
"Now," said Mr. Davis, "you have touched on the real, vital point. It is my opinion that the public is not going to stay interested in, nor will it support an activity which does not at least approximate a real and satisfactory service. When it becomes possible, as it is now, for anyone with a broadcasting set, good, bad or indifferent, to claim space in the ether and to force themselves upon the listening public, without furnishing quality or a program of interest, the public is going to become disgusted and as a result the interest will lag--for under circumstances of this kind worth-while service cannot be given by those companies or stations who have the ability and facility to provide a real service, because of this interference. This is a real danger, as will probably be recognized this fall when receiving conditions become better and hundreds of stations which have been licensed, grow more active."
"Naturally, then you must have some opinion in regard to a way that radio broadcasting should be developed."
To this, Mr. Davis replied, "I have. I have always maintained that, like the telephone and the telegraph, the service is inherently monopolistic in character, and to get the best results, the best programs, the greatest development, the activity should be confined to two or three companies of established reputation, having the necessary facilities and incentive to develop it; that they should be under Federal control and be allowed this privilege as long as they have acceptable service."
"As you object to the large number of stations the Government has licensed, how many do you think sufficient?"
Mr. Davis answered that he believed five or six large, well-located and powerful stations would be sufficient to cover this continent; that these stations should have separate wave bands, and that no other stations should be licensed that would in any way be capable of interfering with the transmission from these large stations. For local purposes there should be a network of low powered local stations on non-interfering wave bands. These stations should be capable of relaying the big stations' service for their immediate vicinity, and should be able to furnish for their locality matters of local interest.
"Do you think, even with this program, that the few companies who would be given the broadcasting privileges by the Government would guarantee permanency of service?"
"That is a hard question to answer," Mr. Davis replied, "but I think it quite probable they would. However, at this period in broadcasting history it is difficult to foresee the future evolution and development. I believe that if these central stations could be licensed, protected and organized, a great step forward would be made, and that it would become a matter of such public value, that endowments or Federal subsidies would be possible which would assist those responsible for the service to carry it on and to continue the development and research required to get the most value out of it."
"What about the Westinghouse Company?"
"I feel that, in answer to that, I can say for the Westinghouse Company that it will not stop a worth while service. We realize the great value of the accruing goodwill to the whole electrical industry, which has come from radio broadcasting; and we further realize the responsibility we have undertaken. and it is our determination to do our share in the perfecting and developing of this important service.