« 99% Invisible

167- Voices in the Wire

2015-06-03 | 🔗

This week on 99% Invisible, we have two stories about the early days of broadcasting and home sound recording, produced by Radio Diaries and the Kitchen Sisters. The sounds that came out Frank Conrad’s Garage in 1919 and 1920 are … Continue reading →

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This is ninety nine percent- invisible, I'm roman, Mars radio. The hand or name you adopt, should be one of the guy he's done something special in your life, People living in the middle of Amerika, the beautiful everything your radio, meaning you do not see the picture. You hear the voice, money here. The human right minded radio involved the audience far more than tat some one, namely making every day. Thank you. Dear boy, music, take twenty zero people,
I await a cane online? There are those innovations that everyone loves and depends on your biggest like computers, electricity, the printing press and then there are the innovations that made you who you are punk rock music copyright cassettes, none shocks, but if I were to rank them, I think the two most important technological innovations to my life, broadcasting in homes sound recording it today, two of my favorite stories from two of my favorite any productions all about the early days of broadcasting and recording. Radio tokens radio diaries in the kitchen sisters represent the best of what we can achieve and audio storytelling, and here they are tackling the subjects that are near in dear to my heart, these pieces. Were first broadcast on NPR as part of the kitchen sisters lost and found answers. First up with story of Conrad's garage and the birth of commercial broadcasting in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. This is Joe Richmond from radio diaries produce,
in two thousand one sounds that came out of Frank Conrad's garage in nineteen nineteen and one thousand nine hundred and twenty are gone. There were no hoardings made and everyone who participated, no Spickly broadcast has died. In fact, there may be only one person still alive, who actually heard what was going on in that garage amended Harry Mills, this cave or h you hello, John. I condemn anyone age. The eight years gave worried you. How are you this evening? Harry Mills is ninety four years old, even end here for RCA most of his life, but for the last eight decades, going on the ham radio just about every day. Mills person covered radio in nineteen nineteen. He was twelve years old and his parents bought him a copy of the boy scout handbook. In the book,
after louder than camping, in setting up an ant moraine and helping the already cross the street and so on and the I was a chapter on how to build a wireless station I had never heard of such a thing. So I build one I'll show. You had worked out of, Graph plates and tinfoil condenser, and this is whether stripping- and this is a Ford forty. Oil which would help onto your aunt turn on your on the air, this is what radio sounded like windmills starting dashes Morse code. That's the letter. We would you used for test purposes we hear me he'd come back and we know the conversation simpler. Almost every night Harry Mills Woodland. This bed and listen to them
mature radio operators signal back and forth, and one night he heard something different. I remember with ten or eleven o clock at night and all at once. This voice appears on a wedding I yell, shouted some sort, my they're doing, who just got now the best command rapid doubtless measure. I was all right. Somebody had happened to me, and I said there. Look. I'm hearing has followed talking ratio, Headphones only have bread vans, He allowed a lavish right, Harry had stumbled onto the experimental transmissions coming from Frank comrades garage thirty five miles. The problem is as follows:
It was astounding I I didn't know you could do that begin with a voice before the music. It opens up a whole new world. Frank Conrad was not the first person to talk and play music on the radio adventures like not fastened in leader, Forest and Marconi. I'm doing such experiments nineteen o six. Then radio was seen as a method of one to one communication, like the telegraph few invasion, radios away to which many people at the same time, to broadcast Frank Conrad was among the first to use the word: broadcasting It was originally an agricultural term used to describe the distribution of seats over a large area in his garage. Comrade help to change the concept of
video, who didn't largely by accident after crossing, have been wanting three one: two three racist, Frank Conrad from God. This is what it would have sounded like anyway, It's probably fair to say that nobody cares more about Frank comrades garage than a man named Rick Harris Harris's, an image historian, who is dedicated his life to preserving and researching the history of that garage. He's collected replica of the equipment Conrad used a microphone made out of the top of a I'll, stick telephone mounted in a small box, stuffed with cotton in a hand, cranked Victrola. You turn the crank, Rick Harris says the story of Frank. Conrad's garage really begins with that Victrola Conrad was
near for Westinghouse, so we had access to vacuum tubes, which allowed him to transmit its voice over the air, but at the time continent wasn't thinking about broadcasting. He was simply trying to test and improve it transmit in equipment. The problem was his voice. After talking endless hours into the microphone I would wear out so he got the idea one day to put on a record that would give him two or three minutes to adjust his equipment and would save his voice this one. There's an ancient one side, what it's gonna sound and as soon as he started playing music, he began getting. As for more music, then he would get phone calls and letters asking him to play a certain song a certain time. So someone listening with their crystals could convince a relative could actually playing music over the air. He found
quickly that there was an unseen audience out there I would like to ask whether the transport they once said, there's no brain groundlessness, something coming out of the air. This is frank. Conrad recorded in the link thirty is not long before he died. Vonnegut. Do Thank you and I are arranged saying the programme Christ. We everyone, Saturday night, for that I had no idea what you're gonna end up into overtime. Comrades garage started to some more like a radio station along the phonograph records comrade will transmit piano solos by family members in baseball scores. And then when he started to run out of records to play, comrade went to the Hamilton music store. It has to be good bye. Some four is broadcast The owner said yes, as long as comrade agreed to announce the name of the store on the air
Billy comrade was building the one thing. The video industry hadn't yet thought much about an audience, but the real turning point came on September: twenty nine nineteen twenty, when the supporting department store placed this ad in the Pittsburgh son. Erica answered picked up by radio here, the music was from a Victrola and the home Comrade Mr Conrad is a wireless enthusiast and puts on the wireless concerts periodically for the entertainment of many people in this desperate or wireless sets, amateur or wireless sets around here and now isn't there really caught the attention of Conrad's boss Westinghouse a man by the name of her Ray Davis who had the story, goes old Conrad. In the next day and said, essentially I would like to put you out of business because I would like Westinghouse. To set up its own station and Davis, Ass Conrad, could that be done in
hundred said, of course, so over next month comrade and his team began constructing a wooden shack on the roof of the Westinghouse plant they built hundred what transmitter and six p dot m on the night of November. Second, one thousand nine hundred and twenty the new. Some station Katy K. I went on the air, the working hours, electric manufacturing company in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We shall now broadcast the elect the station launched by broadcasting the returns of the hardening Cox presidential election, who no record that broadcast, but in the late nineteenth thirties original Answer rear Rosenberg made this recreation weed If anyone hearing their broad would communicate with us. We are very anxious to know how far the broadcasters rigging and how it is being received. Well nobody's ever heard of such a thing before you had to wait till the next day to find out who won the election.
Harry Mills, who is thirteen by this time remember is going down to the local newspaper where they set up a receiving station. Somebody would sit at the receiver crowd gathered outside or a number of people, and they would watch these returns being updated, as the number came in bigger than x ray I'm the newspaper course the talk was g for the first time ever People were able to get the reports before them this paper is printed. I think it's very difficult for us aid. To imagine really quite what Magical moment. This was Susan Douglas. As a professor at the University of Michigan and the author of inventing American Broadcasting, she says the The decay election broadcast was a watershed event and because there, where no connecting wires because of this this concept of the ether. There was kind of a cosmic connection, people with a quays. I sort of spiritual event that these voices were coming out of the air into.
Home two weeks after that, first transmission western, has introduced the first radio for the general public, the aerial Laguna itself for twenty five dollars. I'd boom had begun in over them few years. Radio would move out of the garage and into the living room It gave a reverie today the UK is considered. The oldest radio station in the country's history has now Then this kind to Frank, Conrad's garage. This ball bulldozers began to clear the site. It will soon be a Wendy's. The borders destroyed comrades house but rigorous, and a group of supporters called the comrade profit managed to save the garage piece by piece.
Work, all the doors, the windows and some twenty five thousand or so bricks, the ones that survived anyway. I don't know it's, it's the more I learn about Frank Conrad and what he did and the fact that he is. Virtually unknown outside of Pittsburgh just something he's been overlooked for what he did. Someday Harris hopes to reconstruct comrades garage in turn into a museum, Frank Conrad. Have helped to launch the modern broadcasting industry, but that. Wasn't really his vision cannabis. The town did engineer tinkering late at night in the garage trying to connect to people through the air and that pretty well, tribes. What ninety four year old Harry Mills is still doing. Every night at ten o clock nobody one you ye I hear gave worried you. Thank you die as already knew very well after
All this time, Harry Mill says. He still feels the same way. He felt when I first heard Frank Conrad's voice coming out of the radio two maids it's difficult to describe the fascination of it. I know I use it all the time. How does it happen? I can't see fairer no wires going from here to there, and you can talk to him it was a phenomenon of interested me from the beginning, I presume is safe to say that that is. I'm never run over So that I'm gonna say good night for the use of your loudspeaker, Oh good night, bobbin, gonna, guide, everyone, tiara Cave or a Jew, yeah. They are
comrades garage was produced by Jo Richmond of Radio diaries in two thousand one for the lost and found sound series. Harry mills who was featured in that peace died in two thousand eight com. Its grudge is still a pile of loose bricks in storage awaiting its final resting place as a museum, so someday someday you'll be able to see for yourself. So. Here's the radio diaries has a pod casts part of radio utopia and recently their stories were featured on this american if a planet money in Joe Richmond of Hamley said to me when we are talking about today, show we'll see if you promoting the renewed areas, podcast unknown absent, invisible, will result, In more radio diary subscribers, then planet money or to Yale, I don't know if you know this about me, but I am extremely competitive, and so I need everyone hearing my voice. Does this
the radio diaries pot gas right now, here's the thing you'll get short fortnightly stories blow your my radio diaries will reach more people than ever and I'll get to demonstrate the power of this building. Operational battle station. Every one wins exe. Planet money in this american life. They're gonna lose so you got it subscribe. Now it's important. I was watching no, I want to push my luck here, but there is another podcast that you'll want to subscribe to you right now that equally deserves a rocket up the pot gas charts. It's called fugitive waves from the kitchen sisters and if you require Proof of why you need to subscribe to another podcast woven. I have the perfect story for you: is probably one of the top many stories of all time. It was first broadcast on impairs all things considered in two thousand for the steam by new items and robbers Eagle is really integrated into the story so I decided to presented, as is.
This is NP eyes all things considered, not I'm Robert Siegel and I'm no added circles. Each week we began our lost and found the sound series. With this thing. It's called music in marble halls his improvise duet, clarinet and high heels crossing a Manhattan office lobby was recorded in nineteen sixty two New York Audio Legend Tony Schwartz, one of the most original one, centric sound gatherers of the central. It was nineteen
forty five win. Tony Schwartz first stepped out of his apartment with a microphone to capture the sounds of his neighborhood. Now more than fifty years later, Tony Schwartz has a mass one of the largest and most eclectic collections of recorded sound in the world. The kitchen sisters producer is Davion, Nelson and Nicki sell them visited Tony and his midtown basement studio. Where he's surrounded by tape, recorders, mixing consoles, awards, photographs and row upon row of audio tapes, their story, Tony Schwartz, thirty thousand recordings later looks at the legacy of a man who has spent his life except at influencing the world through recorded sound beginning with a work called New York. Nineteen New York nineteen was we on commercial musical life of my postal and the postal is always nineteen at that.
It's one o o one. Nine. Where's the area I could travelling I'm not able to travel far. I have, of course, phobia and in walking Can't just go around my postal song. In the midst of Manhattan, I made the first portable tape recorder, I brought the vu meter from inside the case to the top, so I could look down at it and see a lot of things. Were I put a strap on it, so I can have it over my shoulder. That was one thousand nine hundred and forty five Park doing jump, rope, rhymes and I record of this street first rose. I made fourteen rectories for full poise right now and you can see them of their children's the industry cycle
until three missing at the bank, I was interested in the sound around us. So things that you are not allowed to carry a taxi. One is fish. There is very roost. Might Brush lapel MIKE. Pulling on Wristwatch banned imports, sleep, so I will just walk around records that way When I went into me pawn shop and I did care bureau routes that were recorded bird Semele care way that your pockets and little street a fifty nine street no popular lovely day time. Only after six as you yourself, have recorded the songs to boxes in
restaurants, your bars is tailored to the various groups around my postal. What I will do is get people in the restaurant who spoke here to come over and translate. For me, the country which I was born is sovereign many many back economic women Don T worry about them. In my country there are always flower that is, my father dies. I won't change Puerto Rico. Sixty New York, I will change, were written chickens, frozen chickens in the ice Box, a senior MAX Michael Cramer, South Africa,
calling tony sorts of New York. Yours, I'm bringing the greetings from Pittsburgh. Pennsylvania function, tiny land is Thomas, not noticing collated dietary island. My first, why every corner I asked the company They would give me the guarantee slips from people from all over the world, and this country three slash They were buying them because their interest in music,
what exchange wires with people in other countries who are interested in folk music and they would send me material from their countries? My name is Tony Schwartz. Music, you hear is approving indian playing his guitar on a quiet summer evening. This is one of fifteen thousand recordings. I've collected recalling the folk, music and focal recordings I've exchanged with people all over the world. The other day I'll, send you a wire now this stuff and I guarantee analysing and accomplished. If I didn't know you hear of city appreciate this guy music, we folks around here do this hillbilly stuff, that's how it started. Recordings came in from all points of view
Penn state from all parts of the whirly recordings on wire recordings on tape. One of my exchanges was with a man who wanted sounds. He no longer heard when I wonder if you'd do me a favor, I live out in the country, and originally I came from the city and I kind of miss it, and I was wondering if you would record some sounds of the city and send them out to me I'd really like to hear it about it. Part of my answer was recorded in times square. Again. A week later, I found this in my mailbox, Tony, I received your sounds a little this morning, and since them ever since I notice that you said that you recorded them about eight thirty at night disorders, reciprocate. Here's the sounds of my country, eight thirty at night,
the voice of the music of the world came into my apartment in New York City and I travelled no further than my mailbox they went in people talking losing the Italian and the way we might certain people speak. Through the bar crazy, spying loud and sought by showing sound used to be the Then there is growing Brian Street, people singing in the backyard are shouting in their backyard. Now the radio or television I did a whole record on this known selling? vote the moment shown will lose out on the street poison wagons, William Gran MA. Am you
that is why, a child who lose black eyes Marge go around buying old clothes, yo. The carriage clothes cash. It was February. Third, nineteen, fifty six when Tommy What's a barely information desk, the animal shouted to ask all the attendant will take even the adoption today of the dog cellophane. If there's anything, you tell him that keep on days old, strange jobs, working toward degree which cars it's like receiving a college, did a radio programme lines once a week, W N Y see for over thirty five years. I would do it
any subject that came up to me during the week. Good morning, every year, for the last thirteen years, I've been presenting the story and sound The growth of my niece. We ve all heard time lapse photography. Well, I'm going to apply this technique to be both of money in some fourteen years, indent two minutes. Thirteen seconds here go and there were two pair jack brought down and brought came tumbling poor. I would records the sound of my daughter growing up. I have her first cries: after being born,
I had a microphone over her bed. Bedroom in time I heard are beginning to wake up or something I can turn on the record on record the sound of her waking up colonel. Well, your if every had, if you have to make him the has broken. If he makes Lillian in that parliament had to slap, Well, then most paper, then he then to run again. He has spoken. What do you think of the russian swimming the dog open the satellite? Well, I hope he doesn't get hurt, but if he does I'm sure they have set up a medical center, working as a for a child and when she got home at night, I'd take her take a cab to go the Harlem, your shoes,
How can they wouldn't stop for her blacks? Couldn't get taxis to pick them up? I interviewed cabs drivers. Why they don't like to go to put that. I'm proud of our girls must my hand and throw Spencer for tonight. It says so I wanted to know a page by with a high top annesley alike and taken a tall lessons. That's funny. I take drama lessons after school. That's great and I've been working on school newspaper. I might be edited text next year and I've been discovering boys come to these ideas, Josephine being human working with sound, knowing
sounds good meal affected. Other people lies only journey was a pet journal. Tat will churning died, but you are a twenty four nineteen sixty four by turtle, Tony you gotta saw shell and they tried to save him by giving a hamburger red died. Bury him to serve a tragedy for me, I'm gonna play tat. The flag is because I like him just like the present when he dies accept, but he's like in my turn, link the total price
and Don T anybody can feel blue or your fears are banned, maybe rose wanted getting up time. Time magazine, store The euro is born. Harry, but frontier was Bob singer. When I I got him into the german this another working, sound. Is the banana loading yo.
I met a whirlwind voice care sheer may cease. Her name was Louise Bennett and she knew all the jamaican folklore. I played those songs, terrible I got for me night Club in Africa. Songs like we came away. Remember that an everybody loves Saturday night why I gave him the way worries Everybody loves night I gave too. Which is I see, no roaming city, speed singer. He also I watched jeopardy. On television ever watch that an
who's is the guy that is the wonder of Merv Grip, I gave him. Everybody loves Saturday night. And good morning today, I'd like to play too beautiful my whole robes I think he was one of the great singers time in the cars, ear, Robeson couldn't travel, because call him a communist which is ridiculous. My term in office, international. He wanted the sand tapes to various places around the world one I did send to England for his speech, for him was well
peace, so I had his song behind. Then I had his narration over that peace and friendship with our great war time ally and enduring peace growing out of United United Nations. Out of with a soviet people, I did it for many people who travel on four February The boys island record speeches have he wanted to give in South Africa after W Ebay, the Voice of New York, Riker and president of the PAN African Congress. The peoples of Africa greedy. Then, when me Hollywood ten were supposed to go to jail for being on American, and many of them had made movies, and I love I recall in all of them the night before they went to jail
trombone tell him when he was accused of how did they treat many committee was Anti semitic, anti labour the Negro Prow war, and then denounced by everyone from Roosevelt down over the ridiculous news of this Mccarthy era: He started the whole thing of loyalty, oaths, most people, think of evil. As the sounds of God, fire thunder, lightning, some something town. I believe that the most evil sounds in the world are the sounds. Arab amounts people I've used media to shame people into proper. Ever
improvement of cultures if someone did something shameful word of mouth around the village an hour or so in our Culture thing, anxious put the Rhine. The dress than someone country into a speed of sound fine Take a sixty four, the new second to reach across the country, telephone, radio, television or anything like that. Commercial? What's a with the Pope against nuclear weapons? I've been against them. Weapons. Nineteen one thing I have done- was the daisies spurned from President Johnson, how working for six or seven commercials and the campaign against Barry Goldwater.
One of them was a little girl counting down and picking petals daisy. Newsletter the stakes, Jamaica and watch godchildren oil to go into the garden. We must either love each other are. We must back. What would you say to young people who smoke? I would say that dead and buried foliage even take a direct. I had my boys box, that might drought I teach her course for Anwar you. I also cage media and public health in horror in both places time here.
A girl phobia I unable to travel? I have used the telephone to teach all over the world in Sweden, Japan, South America, Australia, my brother birthday one to radio, never worked, and I used to go up in the attic and play a spaceship. Like Jack Armstrong, I was my radio station in front my bed in the back, and I ran a telephone line up to the house. Broke my own receivers and huge twenty meter antenna stand my own little shack, where I had sixteen by sixteen. I had my radio station in the front my bed
In the back and I ran away line up to the house, so my mother, calling for supper. I made it shortwave Wessner Carnes speak to them. Radio tell him how they are coming in I think the most important thing we can work on in communication is to make the world safer for the people who live in it. People, that's what I like most interesting people in their their life
any longer tony shorts. Thirty thousand recordings later was produced by the kitchen sisters, Davy, Nelson and Nicky Silver, without from timber being Nina Ellis and Jim Addison mixed by Jim. A key at your wax productions in San Francisco this week lost and found sound thanks. Rina Schwartz Gabriel Louis and stations cake you, we D and that would u N Y see Tony Schwartz died in two thousand eight. You can still by his amazing recordings than Itunes they're worth every penny. She thanks to the kitchen sisters for introducing me to him Nicky Silver and Davy Nelson heroes to me their pocket Concentra listening, it's called fugitive ways
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Transcript generated on 2020-02-14.