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Broadcasting After World War One (1918-1921)
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Although still unfocused, scattered broadcasting activities, taking advantage of improvements in vacuum-tube technology, accelerated after the end of the Great War. Initially there was a shortage of equipment, especially vacuum-tubes, due to ongoing patent disputes, and many of the early efforts were government related or by persons who had access to surplus military equipment. But the experiments continued to expand, as the radio industry returned to civilian control.
Post-War Experimentation and Development -- Pioneering News and Entertainment Broadcasts


Broadcasting experimentation, in most cases using vacuum-tube transmitters, accelerated beginning in 1919, especially after the end of the wartime civilian radio restrictions. In late 1918, A. A. Campbell Swinton, in an address to the Royal Society of Arts in London, suggested that radio was poised to develop in its "proper field" of "communication of intelligence broadcast over the earth", as reported in New Possibilities in Radio Service from the December 28, 1918 issue of Electrical Review. Swinton's talk dealt mainly with the idea of transmitting news accounts to tickers located in businesses and private homes. (In Device to Supplant News Tickers, from the February, 1920 Radio Amateur News, Guglielmo Marconi wrote about plans to change ticker connections from fixed telegraph lines to the flexibility of radio transmissions, which would make possible mobile tickers located in automobiles.) However, Swinton also envisioned the possibility, in the near future, "of a public speaker, say in London, in New York or anywhere, addressing by word of mouth and articulate wireless telephony an audience of thousands scattered, may be, over half the globe."

Louise Wallace Hackney's The Call of the Goddess, a short story appearing in the January, 1919 Miladay Beautiful, although primarily a formulaic melodrama, also addressed concerns that entertainment broadcasts might interfere with critical emergency radio communication. Lee DeForest, in Predicts 12,000 Mile Radio Phone from the February 10, 1919 New York Sun, prematurely anticipated that the recent development of a high-powered Alexanderson alternator-transmitter would soon mean that "music lovers of New Zealand or any other country equally distant will be able to enjoy the pleasures of vocal or instrumental concerts given in New York or any part of the world". In a paper about Radio Telephony given by E. B. Craft and E. H. Colpitts, presented at the Convention of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers and reported in the May, 1919 issue of Telephone Engineer, the authors noted that, in addition to being a future adjunct to standard telephone links, radio had a potential "third class of service... which is concerned, not with single individuals, but with groups; such service as the broadcasting of news, time and weather signals, and warnings".

Prior to World War One, jewelers in particular had been fans of the daily time signals broadcast by government stations, but they lost access to this valuable service during the wartime ban on the use of radio receivers by private citizens. At least one jeweler, in Norwalk, Ohio, got a little too impatient for the restrictions to end, which resulted in its Wireless Outfit Dismantled, according to the April 8, 1919 Cleveland Plain Dealer. However, the listening restriction was in fact lifted a short time later, effective April 15, 1919, and, responding to the existence of a niche consumer market, a short notice appeared in the October, 1919 issue of QST announcing the availability of a Jeweler's Time Receiving Set, sold by the Chicago Radio Laboratory, which was "ideal for the jeweler to whom receipt of time signals is a matter of business and who cannot spare the time to learn the operation of a more complicated set". A small advertisement in the May 12, 1920 The Jewelers' Circular offered an installation service, by the Radio News & Music Inc. of New York City, of The DeForest Radio Time Receiver, while the 1921 William B. Duck Company catalog noted that "All the progressive jewelers are taking advantage of the time being sent out daily by a great number of Government Naval Radio Stations" and offered a Type RS-100 Jewelers Time Receiver, manufactured by the DeForest Radio Telephone and Telegraph Company, which, when combined with a loud-speaker, promised to be an "exceptional commercial value to the jeweler since the time signals may be heard all over his store, and should produce an excellent advertisement for his business".


The pioneer broadcast which appears to have had the most international impact was Nellie Melba's June 15, 1920 concert transmitted from the Marconi station at Chelmsford, England, which was reviewed in Radio Concerts by Hugo Gernsback for the September, 1920 issue of Radio News, Melba Entertains Europe by Wireless Telephone in the July 10, 1920 Telephony, A "Wireless" Concert, in the June 18, 1920 issue of The Electrician and The Voice Around the World, from the October, 1920 The Mentor, by A. A. Hopkins. One observer however was less than impressed, as A. P. Herbert groused that "I cannot get enthusiastic about this Wireless Singing" in Modern Nuisances, from the August 7, 1920 Living Age. (A month earlier, Dorothy Lutton had also sung to a distant audience, over a Canadian Marconi station, XWA in Montreal, as reported by Ottawa Hears Montreal Concert Over the Wireless Telephone from the May 21, 1920 Ottawa Journal and Wireless Concert Given For Ottawa from the May 21, 1920 Montreal Gazette. But in contrast to the worldwide acclaim the Dame Melba broadcast received, this earlier broadcast was largely unnoticed.)

Numerous broadcasting experiments were also taking place throughout the United States, although at the time most had only a local impact. The independent nature of these efforts later led to conflicting claims about primacy, still being sorted out. In 1945, the Detroit News (WWJ) and Westinghouse (KDKA) apparently had a contest to see whose publicity department could come up with the most (exaggerated) superlative to celebrate their respective stations' 25th anniversaries, with WWJ proclaiming that August that it was "World's First Station", while KDKA announced -- in capital letters -- that its November, 1920 debut heralded the "WORLD'S FIRST REGULARLY SCHEDULE PROGRAM". In September 1945, Time magazine ran a short note stating that the National Association of Broadcasters had recently declared WWJ to be ten and a half weeks older than KDKA. This brought a stern letter of protest from NAB president J. Harold Ryan, who wrote the editor of Time to complain that the Association had merely sent out informational material, and that "To imply that the mere reprint of a chronology amounts to a 'final decision' on a disputed date of history is manifestly unfair to the stations involved and to the NAB." However, Westinghouse was dissatisfied with the NAB's actions, and withdrew its stations from membership in the organization for the next eight years.

Separately, for a variety of reasons, the possibilities of broadcasting were starting to be developed in earnest, especially after the April 15, 1919 lifting of the wartime ban on public reception of radio signals. The first efforts came from a small group of government stations, and the pace accelerated after October 1, 1919 with the end of the ban on civilian stations. A few of the pioneers, in 1919 and 1920, included:
  • The United States Bureau of Standards, located in Washington, District of Columbia, conducted some of the earliest post-war broadcasting experimentation. The February 26, 1919 Washington Times reviewed how a demonstration by the Bureau saw Awed Visitors Listen to "Pretty Baby" Played by Wireless Phonograph, predicting that "Washington merrymakers will soon be able to dance to the music made by an orchestra on one of New York's roof gardens". A more detailed report, Wireless Music a Reality, which appeared in the March 27, 1919 Kansas City Times, quoted the Bureau Chief, Dr. Samuel W. Stratton, as predicting that "not... far in the future, we shall be able to sit comfortably in our homes at almost any distance and listen to the Boston or Chicago symphony orchestra playing in those cities or participate in any great musical festival of the country". J. Maell of the Washington Times got a personal demonstration that Music By Radio Now Fact, foreseeing, in a July 31, 1919 review, that, through scientific progress, not only radio but someday television broadcasts would be achieved. A report of further test transmissions originating from the Bureau's station, WWV, was reported in the An Almost Unlimited Field For Radio Telephony section of J. H. Dellinger's "Bureau of Standards' Radio Work" in the October 11, 1919 The Federal Employee, while Thirty Radio Amateurs Hear Radio Concert, in the March 11, 1920 Washington Evening Star, reported a series of experimental concerts conducted in conjunction with the National Radio School. Herbert T. Wade's The Portaphone--A Wireless Set for Dance Music or the Day's News in the May 22, 1920 Scientific American reviewed the Bureau's "Portaphone", a portable radio receiver designed to allow people to receive musical concerts or "in the morning a summary of the day's news". In the Bureau of Standards' June 4, 1920 Technical News Bulletin, The Transmission of Music by Radio by director S. W. Stratton noted that the Radio Laboratory at the Bureau had begun broadcasting Friday-night concerts, and "the possibilities of such concerts are great and extremely interesting". However, "Picking" Tunes From Air Nightly Pastime With Wireless Amateurs, from the August 8, 1920 Washington Times, brought the news that, having achieved its goal of showing that radio broadcasting was practical, WWV was now ending its entertainment transmissions, although a local business man was reported to be investigating the possibility of setting up a broadcast service for paying customers.
  • A station located at the Glenn L. Martin aviation plant in Cleveland, Ohio, under the oversight of F. S. McCullough, which began transmitting weekly concerts on April 17, 1919, as that day's Cleveland Plain Dealer invited local residents to Hear Caruso Sing by Wireless Thursday! However, the broadcasts were soon ended, as Alter Wireless Concert from the May 22, 1919 issue of the newspaper reported that night's scheduled broadcast had been canceled, and although it was expected they would resume pending a change in the station's transmitting wavelength, Stop Wireless Concerts Here from the May 29, 1919 issue announced what would turn out to be the end of the transmissions, due to complaints of interference from the U.S. Navy.
  • In early 1919, the U.S.S. George Washington was outfitted by General Electric with a vacuum-tube transmitter for a transatlantic voyage, in order to test long-range radiotelephony, and during these tests the experimenters found time to broadcast "nightly talking machine concerts" to nearby vessels, reported by Concert by Wireless for Vessels at Sea from the May 7, 1919 Dallas Morning News. In the May 6, 1919 New York Evening World, Wireless Concert Links Ships at Sea 100 Miles Apart also noted that the broadcasts included an address by the head of the U.S. War Department, Secretary Newton Baker. But there were plans to broadcast a speech by an even more prominent passenger, U.S. president Woodrow Wilson, as it was announced in Wilson's Voice Today to Carry 300 Miles, from the July 4, 1919 Los Angeles Times, that the president's Independence Day speech would be broadcast from aboard ship. However, as noted in Radiophone Transmitter on the U.S.S. George Washington, by John H. Payne, from the October, 1920 issue of General Electric Review, the president's speech actually went unheard, because he stood too far from the microphone. Still, the ship's transmissions were widely heard -- the January, 1920 QST carried a report, This Looks Like Record Reception, that James B. Corum had heard the George Washington July 4th transmission in Derring, North Dakota, although the loss of the broadcast's featured speaker meant that the programming consisted of such things as the ship's members singing popular tunes. Theodore Gaty, noting the remarkable range of the Independence Day broadcast, contacted General Electric radio engineer Ernst Alexanderson and reported in Re Mr. Corum's Letter in January QST, from the April, 1920 QST, that what Corum heard in North Dakota did not come directly from the on-board transmitter, but was actually a relay of the broadcast by the high-powered alternator-transmitter at New Brunswick, New Jersey station, NFF. (Not all of NFF's entertainment offerings were relays, however, as in April, 1919 the station had transmitted live music via telephone line from the New Brunswick Opera House and the Hotel Klein).
  • In August, 1919, the U.S. War Department, in conjunction with the International Radio Telegraph Company, planned a series of aerial publicity broadcasts, as the "transcontinental recruiting expedition" of the All-American Pathfinders Squadron flew across the United States. The initial transmission, over New York City, was reported by Airplane Provides Jazz for Broadway Dancing Contest, from the August 14, 1919 New York Tribune, and Radio Telephone Concert for New York as All-American Pathfinders Start, from the August 25, 1919 Aerial Age Weekly.
  • On August 24, 1919, Vice President Thomas Marshall apparently became the first elected official to make an address carried by radio, as General George E. Squier, the U.S. Army's chief signal officer, set up a radio transmitter -- described as a "great voice" -- in Trinity Church in Washington, D.C. This event was reviewed by Marshall at Forum in the Washington Post, Device Will Spread Marshall Speech in the Washington Star, and 'Great Voice' Tells of Nations' League in the Washington Times
  • Hugo Gernsback's review of Grand Opera By Wireless, in the September, 1919 Radio Amateur News, claimed that a test transmission of a live opera had taken place recently in Chicago (although the participating Opera House and radio firm are not identified), and speculated about ways to broadcast audio entertainment, and also synchronize live singing with filmed performances shown at movie theaters nationwide.
  • Another Navy effort, a radio concert transmitted from the destroyer Blakely, located at Albany, New York, was reported in Navy Man Gives Albany Concert By Radiophone from the November, 1919 issue of Radio Amateur News.
  • A demonstration station set up by the Army Signal Corps, which on October 13, 1919 transmitted phonograph selections, from the Transportation Building in Chicago, Illinois to a local electrical show, which was also heard in Ludington, Michigan, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, according to Wireless Phone Stirs Crowd at Electric Show from the October 13, 1919 Chicago Tribune, Wireless Phone Carries Airs to Show in the next day's issue, and Opera by Radio is Novelty of Electric Exposition from the January, 1920 Popular Mechanics. The November 15, 1919 The Talking Machine World's Exhibits at Electric Show noted that attendees were able to select from a "list of the latest Pathé records" in order to "hear it played via wireless", and a report from Indiana, the October 14, 1919 Middlebury Independent reported a local resident Hears Operator Talk in Chicago.
  • During World War One, Westinghouse engineer Frank Conrad helped develop radiotelephone equipment for military use, and after the war he continued the work, relicencing an experimental station, 8XK, located at his home in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh. Selections from C. E. Urban's The Radio Amateur column in the Sunday editions of the Pittsburgh Gazette Times reported on Conrad's activities, from the start of weekly phonograph concerts on the evening of October 17, 1919 through the end of 1920. (Although most local amateurs enjoyed Conrad's concerts, a few did not, and Radio Pioneer's Bet A Trick, Widow Says, from the September 7, 1957 Pittsburgh Press, noted that "he used to get phone calls at all hours of the day and night telling him to get off the air".) Other early reports included Phonograph's Music Heard on Radiophones, in the December 26, 1919 New York Times and Pittsburgher Gives Concert by Wireless from the December 28, 1919 Pittsburgh Gazette Times. Conrad's experiments eventually inspired his employer to establish its first broadcasting station, KDKA, in November, 1920, but a month later he was still making his own broadcasts, and the reception of an 8XK Wireless Concert made the front page of the December 6, 1920 Monessen Daily Independent.
  • 2XG, Lee DeForest's experimental "Highbridge station", which returned to the New York City airwaves after being shut down during the war. On November 18, 1919, the station broadcast on-the-scene reports from the Wesleyan-New York University football game, as reported in Foot Ball Score--Via Wireless Telephone by Morris Press in the December, 1919 Radio Amateur News. In early 1920, DeForest moved the station's transmitter to the World's Tower building -- in a review carried by a number of papers, including First Woman at the Mike Still on Job from the October 16, 1927 Zanesville Times-Signal, Vaughn de Leath, "The Original Radio Girl", reminisced about broadcasting from the cramped facility. DeForest had neglected to get permission from Federal authorities to move the station, which resulted in the local Radio Inspector temporarily shutting it down. At this point both DeForest and the radio transmitter moved to San Francisco, California, where the latter was used to establish station 6XC. The DeForest company eventually returned to the New York airwaves, and Vaughn De Leath made a return engagement from the World's Tower Building in December, 1920, according to Sings Over Radiophone from the January 1, 1921 The Billboard. The resumption of a nightly news service broadcast was reported in an entry in the January, 1921 QST and by Farmers to Hear Concerts by Wireless at Own Firesides in the January 21, 1921 New York Call. The November 8, 1921 New York Tribune reported 50,000 Hear Curran Sum Up by Radio, as Henry H. Curran, coalition candidate for New York City Mayor, made a passionate -- and unsuccessful -- plea for voters to "defeat Hearstism, Hylanism and Murphyism".
  • A Young & McCombs advertisement in the November 24, 1919 Rock Island (Illinois) Argus reported that "every night we send out wireless music through the air". Robert Karlowa took over as the head of the company's radio department, which operated amateur station 9BY -- the September, 1920 QST reported its plans for Thursday evening concerts, to begin around September 1st. Radio Amateurs to Get Returns, from the November 1, 1920 Decatur Review invited the public to listen to the station for election returns, while Pathe Special Offer Popular, from the November 20, 1920 Music Trade Review, reviewed weekly broadcasts which featured promotional phonograph records provided by the Pathé Frères Phonograph Company.
  • Two months after the Army Signal Corps tests, Navy Chief Electrician Grover M. Dickman returned to the Chicago Transportation Building to broadcast a Jazz Concert and Grand Opera Over Wireless, reported in the December 12, 1919 Aberdeen American, as well as Wireless Sends Jazz 600 Miles Through Space from the next day's Belleville News Democrat. That same month saw the transmission of Music 400 Miles by Radio by Chicago Navy station NUR, as the April, 1920 Electrical Experimenter reported that L. W. Elias, officer in charge, had broadcast entertainment for convalescent soldiers at Fort Sheridan, which was in turn retransmitted by the government station in Detroit, Michigan. These broadcasts featured phonograph records provided by the Brunswick Phonograph Company of Chicago, as publicized by their dealers in advertisments, including one by the Terry Sullivan Jewelry Co., which ran in the January 22, 1920 Hamburg Reporter, plus a Chas. E. Wells Music Company Advertisement, in the January 20, 1920 Denver Post, which proclaimed "The Brunswick Phonograph Scores Another Triumph". A short review of the Kent Bros. Radio Station in the February, 1920 Radio Amateur News reported hearing nightly concerts from NUR, while 237 Miles of Air-Music, from the May 1, 1920 Iowa City Daily Press, recorded the successful reception of a later broadcast.
  • DeForest Company engineer Robert F. Gowen's experimental station in Ossining, New York, 2XX, which beginning in late 1919 made test voice and music transmissions, reported by Gowen in Some Long Distance Radio Telephone Tests from the April, 1920 Electrical Experimenter, and by Marlin Moore Taylor's Long-Distance Radio Talk With Small Power, from the April, 1920 Telephone Engineer. These tests were followed by more comprehensive programs, with the February 10, 1920 Wilmington Morning Star reporting Hears Jazz Music Over Radio Phone, and a banner headline on the front page of the March 12, 1920 Hamilton Daily News proclaiming Wireless Phone Talks Heard In City, while later, a broadcast featuring Broadway's Duncan Sisters was reviewed in "Radio Vaudeville" Heard Miles Away from the May, 1921 Science and Invention.
  • Wireless Music in Their Home, from the December 14, 1919 Boston Sunday Post, reviewed a test transmission to local listeners by Allen H. Wood, Jr., of Winchester, Massachusetts, over his amateur station, 1DF. A notice in the February, 1920 QST reported that he was now transmitting concerts on weekday nights and Sunday afternoons.
  • In late December, 1919, the Baltimore American reported in Feast at Fort M'Henry / Concert by Wireless that the U.S. Navy had transmitted concerts from Baltimore harbor.
  • Also, beginning in late December, 1919, a series of reports told of the special holiday broadcasts being made by Colonel J. P. Lucas over the Signal Corps station, WN9, located at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
  • The January 1, 1920 Rocky Mountain News proudly announced that, beginning that night, the newspaper would be providing news summaries that would be broadcast by the radiotelegraph station operated by W. H. Smith at the Denver YMCA.
  • The Sacramento Union reported that on January 16, 1920, Lieutenant Herbert E. Metcalf, in conjuction with the Sacramento Radio club, broadcast round-by-round boxing match results from Mather Field .
  • A U.S. Navy station in the Anacostia section of Washington, D.C., which used the callsign NSF for "official business" and NOF for broadcasting, that began an experimental broadcast service on January 17, 1920 under the direction of Commander A. Hoyt Taylor, according to the NOF section of C. Austin's "The Romance of the Radio Telephone" from the May, 1922 Radio Broadcast. Taylor's Radio Reminiscences: A Half Century [NOF extracts] provides a general history of its activities, which started with phonograph records played to entertain amateurs, while S. R. Winters' report on The Passing of "NOF" as a Broadcast Station, from the March, 1923 Radio News, recounted the programming which had been provided during this station's three-year broadcasting career.
  • C. E. Urban's The Radio Amateur columns in the Pittsburgh Gazette Times reported a series of concerts presented by the Doubleday-Hill Electric Co., beginning on January 27, 1920. A short notice in the June 26, 1920 Indiana Gazette reported that the company had recently "furnished the music for three dances in different parts of Pittsburgh, by wireless from one central orchestra".
  • 8XB, an experimental station operated by the Precision Equipment Company in Cincinnati, Ohio, beginning in early 1920. A small advertisement in the January 24, 1920 Cincinnati Enquirer notified Radio Experimenters that "radio phone concerts" would be "starting soon". Concert Given by Wireless, on the front page of the February 4, 1920 Cincinnati Post, reported that a test broadcast had been presented by company president John L. Gates, while a short wire service report, Wireless Concerts Said Coming in the Near Future, carried by a number of newspapers, including the February 5, 1920 Seattle Daily Times, predicted that broadcasts heard nationally "will be an innovation of the near future". The June 9, 1920 Cincinnati Post reported that Precision Equipment owner Thomas W. New would be involved in transmitting Wireless Music for a local outing. Two days of promotional advertisements, beginning in the October 30, 1920 Cincinnati Enquirer, announced an upcoming special program -- Wurlitzer presents the new November Victor Records by Wireless Telephone. This was followed by an election night broadcast, as the October 29, 1920 Cincinnati Post reported in Wireless Phone Test that the company would be participating with Westinghouse's upcoming broadcast of returns from East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and a short summary, Victor Concert by Wireless, in the November 15, 1920 Talking Machine World, added that this broadcast had also included playing Victor records for entertainment. In the July 4, 1921 Cincinnati Post, Wireless Phone reviewed the station's ongoing activities.

    Lieutenant H. F. Breckel sought to keep alive knowledge of the station's pioneering work in Cincinnatians Gasped in 1919 When They Heard Programs From Peebles Corner Station from the April 13, 1924 Cincinnati Enquirer, 8XB First Station to Radiocast, from the October 4, 1924 Radio Digest, and Cincinnatian Refutes KDKA 'Pioneer' Claims, in the November 21, 1926 Omaha World Herald.
  • A cluster of stations in the San Francisco Bay area, an early example of which was the National Radio Company's 6XG, located atop the Fairmont Hotel, whose experimental transmission of the hotel's orchestra by Emile Portal was reported in Local Lad Puts Over Great Test of Radio Phone, from the February 17, 1920 San Jose Evening News. (Radio Telephone Development in the West, an overview of early regional radio activity by Harry Lubcke, comes from the February, 1922 issue of Radio News.)

    Most prominent, however, was Lee DeForest's experimental station 6XC, the "California Theater station", which, beginning in April, 1920, employed the transmitter previously used by 2XG in New York. Ninth California Theatre Concert, from the May 29, 1920 Pacific Coast Musical Review, noted that "the announcement was made by the management of the California Theatre that a wireless telephone plant had been installed upon the roof of the theatre". Two articles, in the June 20th and 21st, 1920 San Francisco Chronicle, noted that, inspired by Nellie Melba's recent London broadcast, daily transmissions of the Herman Heller orchestra were beginning. (Broadcasting Service of 1920 Compared With Concerts Now, from the June 18, 1922 issue of the same newspaper, noted that the station's broadcasts had used a large horn, suspended 40 feet (12 meters) above the orchestra, to pick up the music.) Wireless Telephone Demonstration in San Francisco, in the August 21, 1920 issue of Telephony, provided an additional report on 6XC's activities, while Talking to a Nation by Wireless, from the September 1, 1920 Journal of Electricity, reviewed a broadcast by 6XC of a talk by American Radio Relay League president Hiram Percy Maxim, who predicted that someday radio broadcasts would have audiences in the millions. And an entry in the November 2, 1920 News of Palo Alto, Stanford University, Mayfield, Runnymede, from the San Jose Evening News, announced that "Because of the invention of a wireless of peculiar adaptability, Lee De Forest of this city will help everyone who has a wireless to receive direct election returns to-night in this territory." Lieut. E. W. Stone, in the June, 1921 Pacific Radio News, provided a recap of activities of The California Theatre Radiophone.
  • In Colorado, the Forestry Service began investigating using radiotelephones to speed fire fighting communication. In conjunction with developing the equipment, H. R. Kylie took time out to make a test broadcast, as announced in Concert by Wireless Phone Will be Given in Denver Wednesday from the February 15, 1920 Rocky Mountain News, while the successful results were reported in Radiophone Gives State and Denver Jazz Concert, from the February 19, 1920 issue.
  • Prior to World War One, the University of Wisconsin in Madison had transmitted daily weather forecasts in Morse code over its experimental station, 9XM. After the war, a series of announcements beginning in early 1920 noted that not only was the daily radiotelegraph service being reinstated, but the university hoped to soon add full audio radiotelephone broadcasts, although that would not be achieved until January, 1921.
  • A number of newspapers, including the February 24, 1920 Lima Daily News, suggested If You Ever Go to Iowa Be Sure to "Listen In" to Robert Karlowa's nightly broadcasts from Davenport, Iowa -- contemporary station lists say his amateur station's call was 9BC. A later report, in the December 17, 1920 Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette, noted that Karlowa was the reason for a Cock's "Mornin" Heard 600 Miles.
  • A series of articles reviewed the activities of Charles C. Klinck, Jr. in Buffalo, New York, who began experimenting with broadcasting in February, 1920, and by August was reported to be transmitting nightly concerts over his "wireless conveying appliance". That November, the Buffalo Evening News supplied him with the information needed to broadcast election results.
  • A couple of experimental efforts conducted by Sergeant Thomas Brass in Atlanta, Georgia, the first occurring on March 12, 1920, as noted by an International News Service wire report carried by a number of newspapers, including "Jazz Tunes" are Played by Wireless from the March 25, 1920, New Castle News. This was followed by a concert performance by the Georgia Tech band in Atlanta, Georgia, reviewed in the June, 1920 issue of Telephone Engineer.
  • The American Telephone & Telegraph Company's experimental stations, licenced to its Western Electric subsidiary, provided widely heard test broadcasts, until AT&T management directed its engineers to concentrate on point-to-point efforts. An early announcement of a Wireless Concert Planned, over station 2XB in New York City, appeared in the March 19, 1920 Albany Evening Journal. A second station, 2XJ, located in Deal Beach, New Jersey, started operating a couple months later -- its nightly transmissions were producing Waves of Music by Wireless, according to the May 11, 1920 Lowell Sun, while the May 13, 1920 Geneva Daily Times reported that Henry Wheat in Geneva, New York was Hearing Things at Night. Syracusan "Listens In" On Messages Going Through Air, from the June 27, 1920 Syracuse Post-Standard, reviewed a broadcast where "a Western Electric announcer 250 miles away sang out his features like a side show barker", and the weekly Tuesday night concerts, consisting of "selections by famous artists, band music, humorous pieces and lectures" were showcased by Bright Outlook for Amateur Radio, in the October, 1920 Radio News, along with the prediction that "the next five years will see many radical changes". This station also inspired a whimsical innovation by W. Harold Warren, reviewed in The Radiophone on Roller Chairs, Radio News, August, 1920.
  • In late March, 1920 Dr. Herbert W. Harmon, head of the Grove City College physics department, began nightly broadcasts using vacuum tubes provided by the Bureau of Standards, reported beginning with Grove City College has Wireless Telephone from the March 22, 1920 Greenville Evening Record. On April 26th, Harmon and Grove City president Dr. Weir Ketler transmitted speeches to a Rotary Club meeting at New Castle, Pennsylvania -- this broadcast was re-enacted 18 and 50 years later by Dr. Ketler over the college's station WSAJ, with the initial transmission and both re-creations reported by the New Castle News, starting with Wireless Telephone Demonstration At Meeting of Rotary.
  • The front page of the April 6, 1920 Lowell Sun announced that the local radio club was planning to conduct an experimental broadcast of phonograph records that evening, and for a 50 cent admission one would be able to Dance to Music From the Air. In the next day's edition, a review boasted that one result of the success of the Dance to Music From the Air meant that "Lowell stands today preeminent over every other municipality in the United States, possibly in the world". In the April 10th issue, Man About Town speculated about using radio to transmit live orchestra music to various clubs, but decided it was cost-prohibitive. Meanwhile, in the May 2, 1920 Boston Globe, the company that had provided the record player for the broadcast advertised that the participants had been "Dancing by Wireless" with the Aeolian-Vocalion.
  • Beginning in early April, 1920, the radio club at Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania put on a series of concerts and dances using Signal Corps equipment.
  • A station, MCF, located at the McCook airfield radio laboratory was conducting point-to-point communication and Friday evening concerts, according to Plan Radio Concerts in the April 15, 1920 Sandusky Star-Journal, and William T. Prather's report, Radio Telephone at Dayton, Ohio, from the May, 1920 Radio Amateur News.
  • On May 1, 1920, a U.S. Navy armada made a port-of-call at New York City. As it approached, the flagship vessel, the Pennsylvania, provided entertainment in the form of a radio concert of band music, followed by a short speech by Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels. Interestingly, the entertainment was clearly heard, but the speech was all but drowned out by interfering stations, as reported by Atlantic Fleet in Hudson; 15,000 Sailors Welcomed from that day's New York Evening World, and Atlantic Fleet Here for Rest, from the next day's New York Sun
  • The May 6, 1920 Glenwood Opinion reported that Dr. Frederick Millener, taking a break from his attempts to hear signals from Mars, had provided a special demonstration of the radiotelephone to students at the local high school, with a Wireless Telephone Message Sent From Glenwood Tuesday. Millener also predicted that "homes of the future would have on the library table an instrument so constructed that when we desired to hear the latest sport news we would press a button and receive it, if we desired music by which to dance in our own home if anywhere in the land an orchestra was playing we could get in touch with the sound waves therefrom and have it rendered audible for our pleasure or if we desired to listen to the sermon Sunday morning while we lounged in bed the wireless telephone will accommodate us."
  • Physician Dr. William D. Reynolds had an early interest in the possibilities of radio telephony, operating from his home under amateur licence 9JE. His expanding work appeared in a number of articles in the Colorado Springs Gazette, beginning with Reynolds Plans Wireless Study; Outfit on Way in the June 6, 1919 edition. He initially experimented with point-to-point communication, in conjunction with the forest service, but soon moved on to entertainment broadcasting, with the May 14, 1920 issue reporting Dance Music by Wireless Transmitted by Reynolds, as local high school students "tripped the light fantastic to it with satisfaction". The October 25, 1920 Rocky Mountain News, in Reynolds Will Devote Time to Inventions and Wireless, reported that not only was he now broadcasting nightly radio concerts, but he had also suspended his medical practice and formed the Reynolds Radio Specialty Company. The November 18, 1920 issue of Colorado Springs Gazette reported in Dancers in Mountain Cabins Fox Trot to Wireless Tunes that the company was now transmitting regular twice-weekly radio concerts, and was also investigating the establishment of an "ultra-modern music service" to provide dance music to the surrounding mountain resorts. In March, 1922, Reynolds would establish the first broadcasting station in the state of Colorado, KLZ, with studio, transmitter and antenna system located at his home. The station was reviewed both in 9ZAF, Denver, Colorado in the January, 1923 QST magazine, and by KLZ is a Real Radio in the Home by Vera Brady Shipman, from the February, 1925 Radio in the Home.
  • It turns out that Dr. Reynolds was not the first person to propose sending out music for dancing, as the May 20, 1920 New York Evening Telegram reported that Orchestra Leader Diulio Sherbo was investigating setting up a commercial service To Send Dance Music from City to Suburbs by Radio.
  • Charles A. Stanley's amateur station, 9BW in Wichita, Kansas, featured Sunday night sermons by "the original radio preacher" Dr. Clayton B. Wells, beginning in May, 1920--these broadcasts were reviewed by the station's owner in Enter--The Radio Preacher from the November, 1920 Radio News and A Real "Sky" Pilot in the February, 1921 The American Missionary.
  • On Memorial day, May 30, 1920, the Navy transmitted the proceedings live from the field of an Army-Navy baseball game at Annapolis, Maryland, which were then relayed world-wide by high-powered radiotelegraph stations, as Radio Reports Army-Navy Game to World, from the August, 1920 Popular Mechanics.
  • 8MT, an amateur station operated by Robert M. Sincock in Uniontown, Pennsylvania. A one-line notice in the June, 1920 QST reported that the station was being used to "broadcast information on entries, schedules, etc., for the races to be held at the Uniontown Speedway".
  • The June 23, 1920 San Antonio Evening News, in Wireless Music Jazzes Up Elks 8 Miles Away, reported that, in addition to regular Thursday evening broadcasts, Sergeant Claude Sheldon, the head of the Brooks Field radio school, was transmitting a concert by the Kelly Field Band for the dancers at the annual Elks Club carnival.
  • The June 25, 1920 Lexington Herald carried a short review of A Wireless Jazz, reprinted from Letter of the Army Air Service, about test broadcast transmissions taking place at the Aviation Repair Depot at Indianapolis, Indiana.
  • Independence Day festivities in Massachusetts included a test radio broadcast, employing equipment loaned by the U.S. Navy, as the July 5, 1920 Boston Globe reported that Salem Hears Music by Wireless Telephone.
  • May L. Smith in Manchester, New Hampshire, who in mid-1920 was featured as the first prize amateur station winner in the August, 1920 Radio News: Radio Station of Miss May L. Smith.
  • 2AB, the amateur station of Morton W. Sterns in New York City, which Concerts de 2AB in the August, 1920 QST noted was broadcasting regular Friday evening and Sunday morning concerts.
  • Plans by the Michigan Agricultural College in East Lansing, Michigan for "a regular wireless telephone service, through which weather reports, crop reports, extracts from lectures on agricultural topics, etc., will be disseminated", reported in Michigan College Plans Wireless Telephones for Farms from the August 14, 1920 Telephony.
  • The American Radio and Research Corporation (AMRAD) operated experimental station 1XE in Medford Hillside, Massachusetts. Robert Northorp remembered participating, under somewhat primitive conditions, in 1XE's entertainment broadcasts beginning in the late summer of 1920, as told in Herald Announcer Tells Stories of Evolution of the Radio, from the August 3, 1930 Brownsville Herald. A Filene Department Store announcement in the December 21, 1920 Boston Globe, Wireless Receiving Set is a Toy, advertised that one could now purchase an AMRAD radio receiver, in order to listen to the concerts broadcast by that company.
  • Prior to World War One, Lee DeForest had talked about setting up a "wireless newspaper", but never figured out a way to charge subscribers. After the war a DeForest associate, Clarence "C. S." Thompson, formed the Radio News & Music, Inc. and began offering to lease DeForest transmitters to interested newspapers, with the "franchise open only to one newspaper in each city". Advertisements promoting the new company were run, beginning in the March 13, 1920 issue of The Fourth Estate and the March 18, 1920 edition of Printers' Ink, asking questions such as "Is Your Paper to be One of the Pioneers distributing News and Music by Wireless?" The company's first -- and apparently only -- customer was the Detroit News, which leased a low-power transmitter and initially operated under a standard amateur licence using the callsign 8MK. A local amateur, Michael D. Lyons, was employed by the newspaper to set up the transmitter on an upper floor in the newspaper's city-block sized plant -- in 1973, Lyons wrote a letter about his role in establishing the "Detroit News Radiophone" a half-century earlier.

    Following test transmissions that began August 20th, the station's first public broadcast, on August 31, 1920, featured primary election returns, which was followed by nightly (except Sunday) broadcasts that interspersed news items with entertainment, as reported in front page Detroit News articles beginning with The News Radiophone to Give Vote Results. The initial broadcast was also reviewed by News Bulletins by Wireless Latest Newspaper Feat in the December, 1920 Popular Mechanics. In view of the success of its new service, the News opined in its September 4, 1920 issue that Many to Get Radio Outfits, and nine days later, a small display ad for the Lyons Brothers offered Radiophone Receiving Sets in order to "Listen to the Detroit News wireless music and news items". Featured in the first week in September were First Dance by Wireless Gets Music From News, plus reports from the Dempsey-Miske heavyweight prizefight. A review of the newspaper's work in reporting a regatta appeared in Using Wireless to Catch the Newspaper Edition, from the October 9, 1920 Scientific American. October's programs included play-by-play reports of baseball's World Series contest, November 2, 1920 featured the broadcast of Harding-Cox presidential election returns, and at the close of 1920 a special broadcast celebrated the dawn of a new year. In October, 1921 the station was issued a Limited Commercial licence, along with the new callsign WBL, with the changeover documented in the newspaper's weekly Radio Department column. There was a later callsign change to WWJ, and two years after the Radio News & Music's Printers' Ink advertisement, the Detroit News ran its own advertisement in the May 23, 1922 issue, proclaiming its status, at least among newspapers, as The Pioneer in Radio. The station's early history is recounted in an extract from the 1922 WWJ--The Detroit News (extract), by the Radio Staff of the Detroit News.
  • Although information is sparse, at least three Los Angeles stations were reported to have made entertainment broadcasts in the summer of 1920: the Western Radio Electric Company's experimental station 6XD, Arno A. Kluge's experimental station 6XN, and Fred Christian, an Electric Lighting Supply Company employee, who operated amateur station 6ADZ from his Hollywood home.
  • 2ADD, an amateur station licenced to the Union College Electrical Laboratory in Schenectady, New York, which began weekly Thursday night concerts in October, 1920, according to Jetson O. Bentley in Radiophone Concerts, from the December, 1920 QST.
  • C. E. Urban's September 26, 1920 The Radio Amateur column in the Pittsburgh Gazette Times noted that the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company was building "a new high-power [radiotelegraph] station... at the Westinghouse plant in East Pittsburgh. It will be used to establish communication between the East Pittsburgh plant and the company branch factories at Cleveland, O., Newark, N. J., and Springfield, Mass." This station would be issued a Limited Commercial licence, with the callsign KDKA, on October 27, 1920. (KDKA's first licence made no mention of a broadcasting service, only the point-to-point operations that were the original reason for its construction. And the initial comment on KDKA's Department of Commerce's card file entry noted only its use for communication with other company sites, with "broadcast development" added later).

    Meanwhile, in late September, 1920, the Joseph Horne department store in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was selling crystal radio sets for "$10 upwards", as the store included a notice in its September 23, 1920 display ad, run in a number of local papers, that a demonstration receiver had been installed in its Toy Department. Soon thereafter store employees heard an "Air Concert" broadcast locally by Frank Conrad's station, 8XK, as noted in the store's September 29th placement -- We Knew You When, from the November 2, 1945 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, included a reproduction while celebrating KDKA's 25th birthday. The "Air Concert" advertisement caught the attention of Westinghouse executive H. P. Davis, who, looking for new consumer markets, decided to investigate developing a radio broadcasting service, to be financed by the sale of receivers. Since Westinghouse was already constructing the East Pittsburgh point-to-point station, the decision was quickly made to also employ this station for the broadcast service, scheduled to begin with the broadcasting of the upcoming Presidential election returns, as documented by entries starting on October 24, 1920 in Urban's The Radio Amateur column. The October 28, 1920 Cleveland Plain Dealer was one of the newspapers that carried the subsequent announcement that the company was planning To Give Election Returns by Radio on November 2nd. Operating initially under a temporarily assigned Special Amateur call of 8ZZ -- soon to be combined with the earlier announced KDKA point-to-point operations -- this marked the debut of an extensive service by the company that would do the most to introduce radio broadcasting to the United States. A review rerun in the November 6, 1920 issue of the Indiana Evening Gazette found this Sidelight of the Election Interesting, declared it a "complete success", and predicted that "four years hence the radio method of sending news of the election at that time will be almost universally used". In 1922, Westinghouse's Louis R. Krumm reviewed that company's contributions to date to the Development of Radiophone Broadcasting.
  • The Saint Louis Post-Dispatch also used the presidental election to introduce radio broadcasting, as it teamed up with William Evans Woods, providing election returns for him to send from a station located in his home.
  • The Denver Post reported on the three-day-a-week concerts broadcast by station 6WV, operated by the radio training school at the Fitzsimons General Hospital in Aurora, Colorado, in Music Lifted Over Rockies and Carried to Ranches in Montana by Wireless Phone from its December 10, 1920 issue, and three days later in Wireless Phone Concert Heard From Kansas to the Cattle Ranges of Northwest States.
In the June 8, 1919 issue of the San Francisco Chronicle, Francis A. Collins' When the President at the Phone May Speak to All the People foresaw the imminent expansion of radio broadcasting into a nationwide service, reviewing the "astonishing advance of wireless by which a single voice may actually be heard in every corner of the country", as recent radio advances were poised to "work a revolution comparable to that of the railroad and the telegraph". In the June, 1920, Electrical Experimenter, "Newsophone" to Supplant Newspapers reported on a proposed news service by recorded telephone messages, and also predicted that readers could expect to soon see "radio distribution of news by central news agencies in the larger cities, to thousands of radio stations in all parts of the world", which would mean that "any one can simply 'listen in' on their pocket wireless set". And the San Diego Sun noted Nellie Melba's Chelmsford concert and Dr. Clayton B. Wells' weekly sermons, as reprinted in the Current Radio News section of the September, 1920 Pacific Radio News, and wondered -- "Why can't all the world listen in?" Meanwhile, as Christmas, 1921 approached, the comic pages reported that the young son of Cicero Sapp was hoping that this year Santa Claus would bring him his very own "wireless telephone outfit" -- would he get his wish? (spoilers).

"Some fascinating stories were given to me by Thomas H. (Tommy) Cowan, the first announcer in the New York metropolitan area. He put Westinghouse's WJZ on the air in September, 1921. 'Because I had knowledge of the theatre, Colonel E. F. Harder, Newark plant manager of our company, selected me to talk over its new 'radio-telephone broadcaster.' After only about ten days on the air, we received a trunkful of mail, some from as far west as the Mississippi.' Despite the favorable reaction of WJZ's fans, Colonel Harder had a sour view of the broadcasting setup. Pointing to the loudspeaker in his office one day, he remarked to Cowan, 'I continue to ask myself why anyone would bring this thing into his home to destroy its peace.' Not long thereafter Cowan brought to the station the Gallo Opera Company for a full length performance of Aïda and again the Colonel showed some interest in radio. But not for long. One morning he called Tommy to his office and said decisively, 'I want this fantastic thing out of here! It's too demoralizing. Why, we open an envelope expecting to find a big order for electric fans--and what do we get? A letter from a silly woman telling us how well some nincompoop sang last night!'"--Ben Gross, I Looked and I Listened, 1954.