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TechStuff Classic: The Golden Age of Radio

2022-02-11 | 🔗

How did broadcast radio get its start? What were the challenges and controversies? And how did the golden age fade into history?

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Hey there, I'm Jes Milady confetti. Here I am psyche than I am hey shady lady, and welcome to boss level podcast refit your conversations with gas to levelled up bringing an experienced to the table. We pick the brains of professionals, creators and bosses and industries across the globe, the hope our listeners achieve their own boss devil. We are not just creating a podcast but a game, a fight and engaged community. This into boss level. On I hurt radio at Apple podcast or ever you got your pockets. There's a recipe for getting your car running just ride and Ebay motors dot com as all the ingredients you need. They have over a hundred and twenty two million car parts and accessories in stock. All at the prices. Now, that's tasty! they motors dot com. Let's ride today
The business needs most is creativity, so let's create new possibilities from intelligent automation to cloud management that requires less management. Let's create something that changes everything I b m: let's create learn more at IB and com. The welcome to textile. A production from I heart. Radio and welcome to text stuff. I'm your host Jonathan Strickland executive producer for Iheartradio, and I love all things deck today, we're going to listen to a classic episode, the golden age of radio. This episode originally published March 11Th, two thousand and fifteen. I will not stop talking like that. Cuz, I know it's not just.
couldn't resist. It probably should have. I apologise, but no we're gonna listen to this classic episode of the golden age of radio. I hope you enjoy radios. One of those things that I have After all, my life before he started working for a company that owns hundreds of radio stations and I have been a part of radio drama groups that didn't produce classic radio drama, but rather wrote new radio dramas in the style of the classic radio plays. So I have a real fondness for golden age radio anyway, let's take a listen to this episode, which arise published on March Eleventh two thousand and fifteen. Today Christian and I are going to talk about a subject that was suggested by a listener and first of all, I must apologize to said listener, because, despite my heroic. efforts of researching where this suggestion came from, couldn't find So I'm guessing this was actually an older one, but
The forward thinking bad prediction story about Hugo guns by gummy. Thinking about how crazy it must have been to have lived through the day view of public radio, all the eggs, and so little understanding fireside chats about radio history episode about the promises. popular notion surrounding radio, could be fun and so we wanted to talk about the dawn of broadcast radio. Before we get into that. I should mention that way back in April, two thousand eleven crisper let and I sat down and recorded an episode titled who in entered the radio which was mostly about the inventors who discovered radio waves and found ways to generate radio waves, obviously including the two big names, Tesla and Marconi, Anyone who knows anything about the patent wars knows about. There was a big kerfuffle between the two of those guys. A little peek behind the curtain- that is the first time and I think the only time I have recorded an entire episode.
And immediately said. We can't use that. Let's do it again, I recorded it Oliver, because the ghost of Marconi was haunting him. I there was that and we had in the old studio. We had a portrait of Nikola Tesla on the wall. Oh we felt judged, but Mais mainly Chris, and I both felt that we gave such a disjointed story that We were jumping around so much that it made no sense we after talking it through once we went back, recorded, so that step four, so that we recorded its lost time. We don't have any more. You wish, I can only hope, will be more organised today, but I'll tell you from going through This research that this is such a vast amount of formation here for this period of time, I feel like in its and you can you can get a phd in. Radio communication in the history of radio and understanding these things in it.
We will probably only scratch the surface today. I imagine yeah there and there are so many Craig. The dramatic stories of betrayal of of, a con man of big early media. It's like this pirate industry of people just messing with each other yeah. It's it's fascinating. In fact, there there's probably two or three podcasts worth of information that we could cover, but we're going to try and get this one if we can so first thing I mention is that radio radio are two different things: radio, in the sense of what Tesla Marconi were looking at. They were looking at ways of transmitting short signals across distance is without using wires. So that was They were looking largely at using Morse Code, so they might use a spark gap technology where they would. Create, sparks and send messages that way, but you couldn't really
Do a sustain message that way without creating a lot of static and noise, and that was a real problem. Oh, we need to look at another person for brow. Guess radio that would be a Canadian by the name of Reginald fastened and who essentially invented I am radio that would be the amplitude Modulated radio and so from your nerve notes here now, it's your notes It says here he worked with Edison or for Edison, were known and worked with us. He actually, he actually worked for both Westinghouse and Edison at different points in his career, so yeah he just like tests well Tesla also worked for both beer here, although you know again working for like it's like me, saying that you know I work for the head of our parent company. He had dropped out of school ass, a young man. He actually did not.
Plead his school work, but he was keenly interested in electricity and this potential to transmit messages. Why Lastly- and he was using that sparked gap technology, but that was the problem was that it was Craig so much static and noise that it was very difficult to get any intelligible message across so actually I want to interject here reassurance so in like the model of human communication and when scholars are looking at how human beings communicate with each other, regardless of media they, actually in Marconi model of transmissions as like the baseline for it, and it's all about like sending in receiving with feedback in feed for word and then there's a signal to noise ratio. The house all understood whether you you and I are sitting here talking in the same room or its Ass media or it's like
in the early days of radio that the way they literally thought of it was to ships that worth thousands of yards away from one another trying to contact each other using this old radio technology- and they would have much static they'd, have to constantly give each other feedback and feed Ford. To make sure the message was understood. It makes perfect sense. I mean it especially when you see the brilliance of fastened it he thought. Well, they I can. I can create these sparks of electricity, green, these electromagnetic fields and thus creating radio waves, but it isn't giving me the fidelity I need in order to communicate properly. He then thought what, if I to continuous wave. So I create a wave, an oscillating wave, the same amplitude same frequency, so it's steady numbers, carrying any information by itself. If you could if you could hear it, it would just be a steady tone, base actually told by using frequencies above the limit of human hearing.
well. Let's say you create this wave and then if you were to introduce a second wave one, It was created by your So you speak into a microphone. It gets conversion to electric ways. You add on top of the the listing wavy very created an you, allow it to change the amplitude. wave as the two waves are overlaid on top of one. Another sure It is genius, absolutely genius, so this was a m radio. This was the idea that were that became a m radio does modulating amplitude of that way. So the amplitude by the way, is the the peak to peak. The difference right, it's not it's not how many oscillations this is just the the amplitude of the wave, of how tall the pigs are how low the the
sir. If you are looking at the wave across align the way at Seattle mistake assuming that this innovation of his significantly reduce the noise and static it did. It did it did still have issues, and that you can have interference with other waves that were created at that same frequency. It also meant that you could interference with other electromagnetic signal perfect, but it was an incredible step forward and this was a revolutionary amity test it successfully. Nineteen hundred b did a short distance test, between two towers and it worked fine, and then in one thousand nine hundred and six, he had his infamous Christmas concert for sailors,
yeah. This is where I think that that boat to boat idea comes from yeah, because it turns out master of the Titanic would end up really making this an all clear. there were needed to be some radio communication for ships at sea. But what he wanted to do was he lied to send out a message to essentially telegraph operators aboard ships. That was his plan we proceeded the concert with an hour will telegraph message that Firstly translates into hey pay attention. and then once he did that he stared you. It was coming low rate. They were not most of em a really they just new to pay attention, because I got it s a healer frequency other there. There were like well here's the message. Whatever is going to happen, we need to really focus, and so what they were expected here were just the noises they were here for the dots and dashes of Morse code. So then, he gives a short speech.
he plays a violin and plays O holy night supposed other people who talked into the microphone to but most of them chickened out because they lived together like terrible stage fright break as they realized all the sun. that there are speaking too, like hundreds of people were arrayed. Just there So, anyway, it being a big head. Sailors up and down the Atlantic coasts were raised to hear him reported back to it. So it was known to be a success and that's. How a m radio got started. Yeah yeah I like that, It's nice! Yes, so that's a nice start to it ends up being or other thorny industry. It here so he demonstrates this. ability and immediately other physicists and engineers start to experiment with it, because some I've been independently working on the same kind of idea, fastened in ended up being the first to make it really work in a public demonstrates
So you had a lot of other people who wrote who either adopted his ideas or continue to develop their own ideas. A lot of amateurs were starting to experiment with radio transmissions, including transmitting out to telegraph operators who often we're very much entertained by this, because it was different from just listening to clicks on the headphones. This is the part that the most fascinating about the evolution of radio to me is that, even though the technology is is ultimate, made for mass communication. People originally started using it as one to one communication across long distances. It replacing a telegraph and then these amateur operators. These, like Dio, why people in there in their garages, just you know tinkering around with the technology that they could get ahold of yeah, were able to turn it in
at this mass communication yeah and it's funny, because when you look at the early ones, obviously they were using very low, wattage transmitters yeah, so that meant that they couldn't transmit very far. Most of them I mean, if you were a big name, you might be able to work with someone like General Electric, to get a really big transmitter and be able to to send a signal far away cause. The the signal's reach is largely dependent upon the power of the transmitter right, the further away get the weaker. The signal is, and the less you'll be likely. You are able to pick it up with a receiver, so In the early days, people were happy to experiment with as an There was really no regulation because there there I hadn't been a demonstrable need to regulate yet
because no one had the power to interfere that much with anything that was important. We have more to say about the golden age of radio. After these brief messages, I I I I I I there I'm just emulating confetti here, hi, I'm psyche- and I am a shady lady and welcome to boss level podcast, where we feature conversations with guests, levelled up bringing an experienced to the table. There was always my response was like I'm like a unicorn here because there's not allowed oak like out of the closet, Gamer is supposed to say, there's not been an increase. I know a lot of them like it was like a battlefield there like this. Is our cool police club here, no sorry, honey
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and so what college I've never in a town bell, Watto actually but a radio telegraph assembly, I the foundation for the college's radio station, though voice in music transmission wouldn't be part of it until the nineteen twenty perish. This became like again, it was some one of physics professor, in this case of physics, professor, who is already interested in radio and had been working on it independently, setting up a a thing that would eventually evolve into an early early radio station yeah and that's Another interesting aspect of this, too, is that these early, immature radio stations weren't jests de I kind of hobbyists jump. doing it on their own. A lot of it was educational institutions, just colleges, but also high schools, that you know trying to use it for educational purposes yeah. I know
sing later on. We have it and yet, when amateur radio sort of gets more regulated, it really reminds me of the early days of personal computers and how how first started off as a hobbyist thing and then ill bleeding edge adopters, who might not build a computer but they're curious how they might use it, and then later you had if all who were ah, you know more, it became more and more mainstream, as time went on so we've seen other emerging technologies that have followed a similar pathway to radio, not all these with the dramatics something there were some dozen dramatics in early personal computers to, but we some crazy stories to tell. But first we have another big name and radio that we have to mention yeah, so nineteen ten, this guy to lead a forest. Really he broadcasted, like the the first sort of broad meant for mass communication, radio,
cast specifically of a guy named Enrico Caruso, getting, I believe it was opera singing yet, but I understood the tenor and he assured in this area, Arrow radio communications and Fortunately, though, he even though he was broadcasting, probably unfair sentence, new system most part- is static and radio interference. The audience barely heard anything, but you know for a decade afterwards. Radio fans were both using these amateur radio units to broadcast and receive yeah yeah. It wasn't just them. see. Yeah wasn't like they were a passive audience. They were creating as well and again depending upon the power of their radio, transmitters, it may they were only transmitting to people in their general neighborhood or even small brown dear, but you wouldn't be able to have necessarily pit That signal for much further also depends on the quality of the receiver as well like you could build a very simple
a radio receiver that doesn't even require a battery. Install a very long antenna and some headphones, and you can pick up Radio signals if you're close enough to a transmitter, that's a fund project to do. You can look up how to do that on line, so also at nineteen ten, the same timely to forest was was experimenting with us. You had a guiding Charles David Harold who, the school that he called the Herald College of Engineering and wireless, and he was spare betting with wireless voice transmissions as early as night to no nine and providing a thrill telegraph operators who, sudden were able to hear voices over the telegraph lights of this is on California. So he's surprising
go out there, who normally they they weren't, expecting it at all, but they loved it right cause. You would imagine this job is a little pearly, very tedious yeah, so he actually started setting up a regular broadcast time like the first radio programming and away and by nineteen ten. He had created this this programme. That would include ring out news to telegraph operators and his wife Sybil got involved and she playing records record so playing music for these telegraph operators and holding the first radio contests she contest back. Then she would people listening to come by their house sign book with their name and where they were from it and they my went a little prizes. It wasn't calling over seven nope got another seven
and here's the coolest part. I think this little amateur station eventually over time in nineteen, twenty one would become K. Q W nineteen, forty nine, it would evolve into K c b s as in the sea be ass. Yet I thought that was really interesting, especially we'll talk later about CBS assertive importance in a big game of radio yeah about so nineteen ten is also in the? U S past the wireless ship ACT, which required all ships of the? U S, travelling more than two hundred miles off the coast in carrying more than fifty passengers to have a wireless radio equipment on board, with a with it, an operator in the transmission range had to be at least a hundred miles, and that meant that it could did a lot more radio transmissions broadcast without any regulation. This is where the United States government starts to say this is going to become a problem, because now we we already have a lot of radio traffic going on just through amateurs, as well as
ship to land land to ship communication, it's starting to get little crowded and restarting get interference. We need to figure out how to handle this so in nineteen twelve, they passed the radioactive nineteen twelve, which is good because of their Has the radioactive nineteen twelve, unlike nineteen eleven everyone would have been confused the first time the? U S, government, require radio stations to be licensed, so licensing was really just a create order. Chaos and it was really kind of like you know we to make sure that we are keeping certain frequencies free so that we can have these these very. Important transmissions, go unanswered did because I am transmissions if you try. the two things are the same frequency. You get lots of interference, I'm just leave them. There was a military campaign to this as well. Oh yeah has world war. One was on the horizon was happening and and they the government, banned amateur radio, yeah broadcasting during the war. For you know, the reason of that
they were trying to transmit signals to one another of important nature. If somebody was a king in their garage about the inner their favorite records right on thing or younger velocity area, the ones at the young people as yet they would overlap, and they wouldn't get these important messages they shut it all down and also just Rio detection to the room. What possibility that they might detect radio transmission it's from neither allies or enemies. It would mean that before they had a year, this is this is before the house, Chile Parka Big one thing, which is that I've taught about that in the previous episode of text up a nasty story, so nineteen fourteen Edwin Armstrong who's going to be important. Throughout this conversation, and story is amazing and tragic Patents are radio receiver circuit. That increase these electricity, which allows you to tune into specific frequencies and the sensitivity of radio receivers. That means it was able to pick up weaker
the signals in previous receivers right, so selectivity, obviously very important. You want to be able to say I'm looking at this particular band of frequencies, and I don't want anything outside of that. And we would see that get better and better and nineteen eighteen. He would advance the Super Hetero dine, radio, receiver or super hat. so this principles actually really fascinating and a guy Whittier Christian I had to really sit down and read this a few times to kind of get what was going. Rasper yak has every. This is radio, electromagnetic and radio broadcasts. I I have a, basic understanding of it, but it does go well beyond what I studied in school and it took but now I think I've got it. Examination of radio, whereas, like the technology of it, escapes me so yeah hit me. Let's say let's say I want to transmit
a radio signal at a high frequency. So it's not going to interfere with anything else, but that accessing high frequencies is a little tricky. So you might have a receiver that can process frequencies up to Just going to take arbitrary number. Five hundred but I want to transmit at fifteen hundred killers, if I were you introduce that frequency to and also later tuned to a different frequency son. We would be able to receive that not at the regional frequency transmit that, but the difference between that and the awful aiding one so Easy example at say that an obsolete in frequency at a thousand killers, Zere came that would mean that if you used a receiver, two to five hundred killer hurts fifteen. The killer hurts or two thousand five hundred kill hurts. You would pick up that signal could process it
Okay, so and I'm imagining that this is a process that is still used today. Yeah. This is the principle of transmitting and receiving with a radio so that your radio doesn't have to have as wide a spectrum. It's called an inner minute frequency and it took me a long time to figure out what was going on is the obsolete, or that was throwing me off and then I realized o, thus leaders tuned to a different frequency and that's what gives the broader range that you can pick up, it's pretty fascinating and again, Armstrong was absolutely brilliant coming up with this and that we up to the nineteen twenties. Twenties is when this educational stuff that I was talking about earlier, really hits a boon. There's like more than two hundred educational organizations across the. states of America. Lasting broadcasting licences so that they could transmit. Whether they are using it as an opportunity for this
students to learn about the technology or to broadcast educational information didn't really matter. The unfortunate thing is that thirteen years later, By nineteen thirty, three, seventy five per more of these educational institutions at folded, and Basically, it was because of in this is going to be a huge them of this episode because of ad based programming and stronger stations. Commercial stations that were able to overlap their signal yeah. You essentially had not just the fact, the companies had more technological off behind them, but that the government favouring those over the educational ones. I, when we go into a little bit more about the politics. You gonna hear that repeated a few times as its upsetting on a sinner, and I also had liked to say, like it's interesting has, despite whatever my political beliefs are reading
one of the articles that we used as as research for this was written in nineteen. Thirty, five from the perspective of at Harvard University. Looking back at the federal radio radio, Commit Commission yeah for it turned into the EP, see see that we have now in kind of just doing about a review of the last like ten years of this in its her here very similar in reminiscent of arguments that we have seen with media throughout the last hundred years and that we're seeing right now in arguments about that challenge. Yeah. It's really similar to net neutrality, the idea being that everyone, It should be free to use the internet to send and receive whatever information they want. in radio. We saw the same argument except in that case radio. It was our. It ended up being that those folks workin
pushed away, and the the the the corporations of the companies that had the money were, the ones that had the voice, yeah and, and so like. You know, as we were talking earlier, there's these amateur radio stations right and they they're here's the kind of content you might find an amateur radio stations, maybe somebody's, giving a sermon there or they're there they're just reading out of their Bible or they're talking about sports out of today's newspaper, sports around the country, in a poem, maybe they're, giving a speech about something political at the time, perhaps the usage of radio or lake We were talking earlier just playing records yeah and at the time there was no, you know licensing or copyright, in effect for for how music was broadcasted so throw any record on a kind of entertain. The neighbour rare in a way
think of it. As like blogs, yeah. You know it really in a real way. It was this was using this was an ability for some one to have a platform to have their voice heard. Some people may very good use of that frivolous use of it just It's like what we see with the internet, sure yeah exactly and that's is just like blogging, except for for people like us, I suppose who who do get A lot of these these to radio is that they were getting pay for this. They have day jobs. In fact, like one of the stories I read was about how theirs guy, who ran a gas station, but he also a radio station running out of his gas station and so he'd be on air and then he'd say hold on a minute. I have to go, sell some gas and had got you disappear for five minutes. They come back and pick up again.
yeah and those just how it is. They didn't really worry about dead air or anything like that funny yeah and at the same time there is also this other like broader, more important thing, which I think is why the gulf it started to become more involved in it, which is that radio allowed the listeners to sample other cultures from far away. State that it in word more about what this kind of idea of America as a nation meant. You know though they may have never visited Nebraska. They would be hearing what amateur radios in a brassiere we're talking about their work, giving them sort of a a peek into what what the culture in those towns were. It's really cool solutely. moving over to to nineteen twenty. That's when we get the first commercial radio station launching that's Katy Kay now amateur radio stations, like Christian was saying it already been around and a guy named Henry P Davis was inspired by an amateur, named Frank Conrad and saw the button.
The actually make some money this whole radio thing and not just not just broadcast out for free, but to actually make it a in a commercial enterprise. So the radio station went live on November. Second, nineteen, twenty Henry P Davis himself read out the results of the presidential elections on the air and he would become heavily vaulted broadcast radio, in fact becoming the first chairman of the National Broadcasting Company, also known as NBC. I didn't do exactly eager to argue that the opening of thirty rock in writing twenty six Kdka was owned and operated by Westinghouse Electric Manufacturing company. not be surprised to hear that Westinghouse use the radio station as a means of convincing people to go out and buy radios cause up to this point again. It was very much an amateur think. People who were interested in science would go out and get the equipment will build.
Equipment from their own, whatever they could write and that's all disappeared, but now we're talking about actually making commercial radio sets for people to go out and buy in. This is also the beginning of thing, sir. You get a little dodgy on the corporate side of things. Yes, a nineteen twenty one. Previously there as for radios were all over the place, but what happened? Was the big companies g E, a t and t weird that they're such familiar they asked out his g. Eighty anti international ready on Telegraph and Westinghouse all got together and said less pool together our patents and they created Rca, the radio Corporation of America, for the express purpose of allowing them to build and radio equipment like transmitters and receivers, designed not for broadcast but for telegraphing yeah, but also Keep these amateur radio out of
as yet again so that they couldn't just go and buy an out of the box kit anymore right would have that they would have the report RCA It's muscles in ways that I think just about anyone would describe odious in a in a lot of the stories we're going to cover yeah, yeah, yeah and and and what kind of interesting, is just that. You know. There's there's this other article that I read for this. That was called the the symbiosis that was all about on Germany of Radio and in its cooperation interacting and there's a quote from it that I want to read, which is about this specific things, as it was no accident that the General Electric Corporation G after acquiring rights to the Marconi Wireless patents in the United States, spearheaded The formation of the Arcy aid, which, in turn launch the National Broadcasting preparation and b c one of g, these many subsidiaries. Still as I believe right,
it gives you got universal with, even and in content company. So it's like, One thing led to another from one corporation to the next, as they are and have built out their their subsidiaries and spread their spread out kind of like an umbrella in it don't get me wrong. This wasn't all negative, very positive effects of time as well. From this, we will conclude: the story of the golden age of radio. If I can say such a grandiose thing after we take this quick break, I I I I I I I there's a recipe for getting your car running chest right and what are We're cooking up in the garage you'll find what you need Ebay Motors dot com they have. One hundred and twenty two million car parts and accessories in stock. All at the right prices I can help you turn your ride into something really tasty.
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and I find radio apple pie, cats or wherever you get your pipe cats. I love this. You have this bit about eighty and tea and there they had their business strategy, and this is one of the soul. Parenting they like repeatedly we're trying to charge people for commercial broadcasting over their sets and they wanted to charge tolls in the same way that they were charging people for phone calls, which I think It's amazing when you think about it. You know there's just these. These go she Asians between the public and the large. duration. When these new media hit the scene yeah in work were experiencing it right now, we're Pollio is be experiencing the. I imagine so- It's interesting to you. You make a delineation in are notes about how the radio system is treated in America, verses in other nations. Yeah. So
unique about the american radio system to say that that no other countries, this systems Marguerite system specifically evolved as unique combination between private prizes like these ones. It we're just talking about and government regulation, whereas in other countries for the most part it went for public owner, so places like Iceland, the United Kingdom, obviously with the BBC, ITALY. and the USSR. It was all public, and so the problem radio had that was unique in America. Is that all These consumers could receive any signal at equal equality, much like again blogging right, you're in theory and that any broadcast however, whether it's NBC or a guy operating out of his garage would be able to overwhelm multiple frequencies near an override what was being played by somebody else's broadcast
the very least you could interfere with the the signal we'll talk about I felt a little bit the interesting difference. One of the many interesting differences between Evan FM is of two M broadcast that are coming out of the sea. Signal they interfere with one another, the same frequency I should say they interfere with one ear. If you have two of the same frequency, it's whichever free see is the most powerful is the one you will receive, so you could have a little station that broadcasting in a very small amount of power that, if you are close to it, you would be able to pick it up on an f him ban that would not may be for a radio station that might be miles away. That could be a giant corporations one. So there's a lot of back and forth with this too, which today we think of this as you and I were talking about this the other day when we proposed this idea, we think of it as pirate radio array, and I think I always think of but the volume of the year and Christian Slater,
driving around his neighborhood with his his pirate radio station on the back of his car is also similar. I did a story with Chuck Bryant about it. It was tv, not radio, but the same same principle. at the MAX headroom incident, well right, yeah yeah in Chicago that was also the same principle as Fm Radio in that, if you were able to send a signal on the same frequency, but at a higher power rate than you could overpower that and people would receive your signal. yeah, but it's a become interested as well as we talked about, and especially because of military so the Navy says you know what we should really taken troll of this as a means of national defence in the way that data
it should be run, was basically like the post office that the you know that the federal government should own and control what is broadcast on radio signals, obviously that at an end up happening. But then you get this huge boon because of the amateur radio movement from nineteen twenty two to nineteen twenty three. The number of Yes, it's an american increase from sixty thousand to one point: five million huge adoption. Yet massive and nineteen twenty two. There were twenty eight states in operation, but I think it like exploded to hundreds yeah very quickly and then enter the scene little guy named Herbert Hoover, who was at the time, the Secretary of Commerce right in the end, the Department of Commerce oversaw radio. At this time, yeah yeah, he was really the initiative of that idea. He was the and who said you know
that he really one of the Department of Commerce to control. At first ball, I also said- and this is another quote- he said at first- The idea of making money off radio seem profane, it is incomes evil that we should allow so great a possibility for service for news for entertainment and for vital commercial purposes, drowned in advertising chatter, this is Herbert Hoover, who subsequently ends up using the government to support the businesses in terms of businesses over amateur in terms of their licensing and his other analogy for radio. Was he thought of it as transportation rather than the the post office analogy that the Navy was using? Need that it was like we should think of them is like waterways, and that the public should be be able to are these waterways, but that the government would regulate how they did. So. I, like this message here too of the war
one of the world's first radio ads aired on August, twenty ninth nineteen twenty two: for a housing development in queens yeah. This is their thereby Equally lake am advocating We would now call judge for like get it. This is well from that add, get away from the solid masses of brick where children grow up, starved for run over a patch of grass. The might I've, never seen what a tree look exactly at a key. This is the first thing that we sold on radio hats hilarious, but well. Hoover goes on and and eighteen twenty two he calls together. First american radio Conference, which, as he brings together representatives from- and I put this in quote radio industry, because it really wasn't an industry just kind of an included. Not only you know, of the businesses that had interests in mind, but also the amateur radio operators and Action was taken. There were calls for
dislocation and they introduce to build a Congress congresses like now. We don't want to have anything to do with this and therefore but over reason behind that that I get into later within by nineteen twenty four, we ve got bored one hundred radio stations, not just the station a twenty eight or twenty eight yeah you say you ve got these big commercial broadcasters that are forming networks like NBC and see BS both of them. They put forward in my six and eighteen twenty seven respectively and it's very similar today to the same that NBC and CBS. We understand as being television rise. Now now I've got the getting of one of the weirdest stories. I've ever heard. Yet I think you should do whole episode up ass. I could easily do a whole episode about this guy and and he's going to pepper through power.
of the rest of this up episodes of nineteen. Twenty three is what we're talking about here, we're going back just a little bit it to set the stage. That's when Doktor I use. in quotes. John R Brinkley starts up a radio station called Kf Kb in Kansas, so let me tell you about. Doktor Bruce first of all, he wasn't a real doctor- is like the original snake oil salesman. He he at least perfected it to an art form right here. To medical school, they never graduated, but he bought a diploma from a diploma mill. for five hundred dollars, not an insignificant amount of money. That's not bad it gave him the right to practice medicine in some states, including Kansas. He purchased the not not an actual like proof that he had the training that would allow him to do this so anyway, he starts practicing medicine. Previously had been involved in some scams and cons, including things like selling
tinted water as if it were an actual medicinal and injecting it people But these are. I want to see a movie about this guy's life honestly, and I want to see the movie. I want to see a movie about this guy. I want to see him cast. I want. I want Simon Pegg to play him he's just like deviously, injecting things into people when cutting open their necks, I think I think either sewing pegs. Neil Patrick Harris would be brilliant yeah. He would be good. Oh, it's like evil, Doogie, Howser, yeah yeah. So here that he had been hired as a house doctor for a meat packing company, and he observed the rigorous mating habits of goats, so, let's slow down for a second. This means that he watched goats have sex for a long time right and let me go. At least I don't know about him, but the goods for certainly enthusiastic, so
was talking to a male patient once about the fact that the male patient was having problems in the bedroom, he was having a failing, libido erectile dysfunction. Perhaps the the actual nature of the problem was not what explained and all the sources I looked about railway had something to do with a feeling, libido or or now virility. And so supposedly what data Brinkley did was jokingly, suggest that perhaps they should translate plant. Some goat quarter quote glands and gonads. Here. To the male patient, and he said: let you less far up is like the original body modification. Recent events are then go so he does. He actually do start performing this, and then he started to suggest like he began to essentially advertising. This is a way to restore virility for men. I let me do this. This
medical procedure for a not insignificant amount of money, so flesh or to nineteen twenty three when it gets the radio station any starts to fill his broadcast time with music and me medical lectures, and he would end up advocating for this. and a treatment at other treatments that were equally bogus away advertising to gap, and he was, he was essentially thoroughly business to surgeons, into pharmacists and getting kickbacks every single time and making a mint off it. So he's in full operation and will end up believe it or not defined in part, why the radio is regulate the way it is, but we'll get that in a way. I know he's important to the history of it. In the meantime, Hoover's continuing to negotiate with stations and the government on how it should be regulated and
basically as the Secretary of Commerce. themselves which frequency is going to be used when and how they relate. It wasn't really having it out. He will he wouldn't occasion we make decisions and happened, was a night in twenty six, the federal court was, I pull a well, you don't have this power and specifically the attorney general of the United States, who you know was from the same administration that the Secretary of Commerce was decided Hoover didn't have this power. He could not grant permits at request and all the sudden, these airwaves turning Even more of this, like wild wild west of broadcasting than they already were obviously listen as even is necessary and Coolidge is that at the time he favors the control by the department. Commerce, obviously, because it's under his branch and opposing any kind of commission being form Senate.
However, didn't like the idea of one man being and control in this where the political angle comes and because they knew that Herbert Hoover had his eyes presidency, and they didn't want to give him any political prestige for taking care of the radio problem. interesting and also this will probably see familiar to people following the net neutrality arguments where one of the big problems was. The F c c had brought a case against Comcast for blocking bittorrent traffic and then the response. was you know, have authority to tell Comcast what it can and cannot do, because internet, transmissions were a title, one classification title to I'm If you want to know more about that, you can listen to the tunnel to pod cast, I did and common carrier pie. Guess I did from a while back take to learn more about it, just suffice it to say that this is so. being that we ve seen before and will likely see again. The edge
it's fascinating that, like the future of this, major media was, by people who wanted to screw over a political candidate, potentially running yeah yeah, and sometimes just people who wanted to screw over inventors. Yeah. It's crazy will talk more about those two and nineteen. Twenty seven Congress creates the Federal Radio Commission and passes the radio act of nineteen twenty seven. Now before that time, it was all the Department of Commerce, like Christian, was saying so the commission, job was to get radio into shape and they wanted to have a little more power than Department of Commerce which could grant broadcast licences but couldn't deny a broadcast licence. So if you request If you did all the things you were supposed to, do, you would get one you couldn't be told. No, so the Federal Radio Commission was supposed to be able to say no. If it was warranted the question how they determined how it was warranted, was something of a problem:
and the act also laid out rules for content programming could not have of scene indecent or profane language and the cool it could and did use content factor when deciding whether or not to renew a broadcast license. So if you were broadcasting and not paying a whole lot attention to those content rules wouldn't necessarily have your license revoked, but when you went back get your license renewed! You might be denied right. makes sense in light of other arguments were going on with media over the twenty years. Probably surrounding this, yes, with the cinema, and I would assume newspapers and comic books as well yeah, all looking at the government, the government trying to deem what was profane or wasn't, but also trying to leave it in the public's hands,
There is also a real worry about. How far can you rule on these things before it becomes censorship. So that mean that's a real Murray right because they didn't want to be. A key issue is the height of taking away somebody's right too free speech, sure, yeah and so that the F r C Federal Radio Commission. It was really just like this compromise. Is political compromise The idea was like really like: they just assumed they being Congress. It was going to go away after a year as part of political deal, basically to keep Hoover out of office and especially because of the commercial radio interests these guys, who are lobbying their politicians? They wanted the regulation to go back to the Secretary of Commerce. They just didn't want it to be Hoover yeah, and so they and their supporters in Congress would a little the Pharisees accomplishments, even as they had they had subsequently argued that it should exist,
yeah and as it was going along with this is tat, well you're not doing a good job and and the efficacy was handicap for a number of things in the ep- limited financial resources at an inadequate staff and, as we are talking about here, really have any power authority and its existence was in question from tee that it was. It was created, I it was like they were constantly on probation yeah, it was one of the things where there are also there very organization ended up being a problem. So one of the three about the ever see was that they were organised so that the entire United States was divided. It is only a year they called the sectionalism each zone was giving given the same number of broadcast licenses, essentially as every other zone right, which you know from
everybody, gets the same amount You don't have enough broadcast licences for the northeast, and you have too many for the South West, so These were sought, simple things. Just the way things were set up kind of said, the F r C for failure. It did yeah, especially because when that happens, southerners in particular felt like they weren't being treated fairly and it led to the Davis Amendment in March, twenty eight nineteen twenty eight. The idea was that there had to be an equal allocation of licences, band frequencies periods of time for operation station power for each of these five zones yeah, and that so you know obviously sectionals and was a huge problem for the
I see this is even before we get into the business interests angle right right. This is just in the operation part of the other sea, not even going into the business section but these are doubly important things to consider. The idea of being able to say here is that, frequency, you are allowed to use here's the amount of power your transmitter is allowed to have. So that way, we can make sure that we don't have these battling frequencies interfering with one another, because that's not gonna be good for any by it's, not good for the transmitter. It's not good for the consumer is trying to receive these all of that made sense, but they were here so much- and also I mean there were a lot of political amateur radios and they there's, an actual Frc memo,
is not room in the broadcast ban for every school of thought, whether religious, political, social, social or economic. Each can have its own separate broadcasting station for a mouthpiece in the ether so they ve. Yet there are coming down pretty hard on these, these amateur stations that we give providing you know a pulpit essentially to anybody who had the means to to operate a broadcast in favor of the businesses that were, you, know, lobbying to have them created in the first place, yeah yeah so very, very complicated issue: the technology. Oddly enough less complicated than the politics and culture surrounding it. In this case, right the stories and I'm getting like it, it's the when element there really throws the monkey wrench in here yeah. So, for instance, like you ve got.
Happens. The efforts says you know this, isn't it is inappropriate for your beliefs, the labor movement which very powerful the says wait a minute. We should have a clear channel that we can broadcast over these five zones. So we can talk to people about labour interests, then educate I said yes, so should we is all this pressure from the public. Then, subsequently com Chris uses that in just keeps pushing on the up our ceasing, you're, really boy here, yeah so got a great bullet list here of the working principles of the F r C, let's go through those. Yes, this is how they would a sensible decide. Things This is that the station, with the longest record of continuous service had this peer you're right for broadcasting on a particular channel right, but they had a stipulation. There were other conditions as well, so in order to fulfil the fair and equitable distribution that was quick required by them
applicant, who wanted to broadcast needed from financial standing and efficient equipment? That's pretty vague, yeah right like SOS up to this F's r C, not f, C C, F, R C, commissioner. At the time to determine what firm financial standing means and what efficient equipment means, especially as this equipment is. evolving at a rapid pace, right right and then you also have to have a bay the rules of the option of not broadcasting of scene content like Renard run earlier and basically keeping it. The the dissemination of propaganda was, controlled by a single group and that creeds, worse position, find that is another. I love their way into the market of ideas to be on the air. There is this dear that there was a there would be a natural kind of process through The radio operators and the public
decide which political agendas should get to be broadcast on the radio or not, and rather than just giving everyone the upper it'd be too yeah and that would actually change to there'd there'd eventually come a decision where people would say you know what we need to make sure that everyone has an equal opera, ninety to voice their tend to put their political voice out there, but that would an idea that would come around a little later, yeah, so saying, let's just put this out and see what happens in, and I trust that whatever outcome there is, it will be for the best. It always work outside its like saying the laws of nature will decide who the best person for president of the United States would be so. what sort of stuff did we get as a result of this? Well, subsequently, the effort
see didn't want to regulate advertising, not only because the advertisers interests were also their interests, but also because the commission chose to further the ends of the commercial broadcasters as part of they called the public interest. If censorship and it couldn't be held responsible for questionable advertising such as cigar, Those like church corny cigarette the duty or honor It is right that realism, if you ever, was an old timey radio that has the commercial still in it. You will hear tons of the air, so they did want to censor those, but at the same time they would rule that public stations that were on the air could or could not be on the air because of their quality of character. He's gonna fascinating that you know is, I would assume
the time that it was maybe arguments of political beliefs right, yeah, very likely religious. This actually makes me think of how its unrelated tangential, but how If I'm watching a streaming content on my one of my devices whenever it gets The content part like whatever I'm actually trying to see, I might encounter buffering three or four times, depending upon the connection, but commercials always seem to play with perfect clarity and no buffering Whoever isn't that interesting is especially when you, when you're on Youtube in Youtube Scott, that new sort of passiveaggressive alert that comes up at them on the rise, he just see. No, this is an asset to the limits of Europe about bandwidth provider and write a merciless at. So it's interesting to me also that the public, you know you would think
like all other public, where they crying out on behalf of the little guy, and it turns out they they weren't. In large part, they were actually siding with the big networks, yet they were in what was gonna interesting about. This is They were more interested in the content that NBC our cfcs was were putting out and even though some people argued you know, Arcy has a monopoly on this industry is interesting, there was another argument that was essentially that look. The mass public just wants entertainment from these radio channels. They don't want to be educated. They don't want to listen to your political, screens and subsequently their complacent about the whole thing and they don't really care whether or not these amateur radio stations are getting edged out, and so there again I turned back to this nineteen thirty five article by this guy Herring out of the Harvard Review, and he proposed that
two potential solutions which I think are really interesting now that we have the the advantage of being so far ahead in time and looking back on this, he said, the only possible solutions are we go for full government ownership cite an example was the BBC at the time. And he said yeah, there's criticisms that come in the form of minorities, not not ethnic minorities, but like minorities of a voice. Blaming that they aren't given equal opportunity to access stations, that's the one negative drawback to that he said, or we could a lot a fixed percentage of radio facilities just for non profit. Rams and then whatever it is, whether its they allocate a certain number of frequencies. or maybe they say you know, the commercial stations can broadcast for these twelve hours a day and then another twelve hours a day. It's our nonprofit stations, but even if they did There was so much demand for non profit. radio. They didn't have enough a common enough
commentator Valley there well known of another and with it would literally in this case, garrisoned the Werner frequencies, to facilitate it yeah yeah. So this is really. we note in twenty eight and thirty four, where we see the beginning, radio industry, an actual, yo industry that is crucial, ized and there questions that were going around about well, how should broadcasting be financed? How should we produce our programmes? How should we distribute all this stuff and Amateur broadcasting moved away as much as it was like, I think, of it as being like the of today. You know like the keep thinking it's amateur broadcast were that's what its end, there are so many fandoms expressed their butt Ultimately, other stations that had commercial enterprises behind them, or even
commercial enterprises themselves like department stores or music stores and or doctors or Mr Brinkley. Yes, I've doktor bring, Yes, he didn't in three years, not graduating medical school to be called mister exactly. It means that five hundred dollars well spent yeah. They are Some it leaves were able to. You know, put push out these interests that sorry, amateur broadcaster, right So, like r C, a g e and Westinghouse they form and b c, because they want to keep their interest from diverging. He rather competitiveness is. There also, you know, united against amateur radio, this leads to the rise of advertising sponsorships, which were well from a rather than the pot casting world and with ad agents, is really the first time that they had like whole. Add agencies were working together with these companies can of coming up with how the Sufis can be broadcast, and how is the best way to convince the audience.
To to move from queens or to buy cigarette. So Looking back to our friend that we refer to a second ago, Doktor John, are Brinkley here the F r C denied his broadcast renewal licence. Nineteen thirty so Doktor Brinkley comes up, therefore sees as a time for me to give him Stamp on here, so I can continue my my good deeds of posting error broadcasting fraudulent. Medical practices and getting kickbacks and they said Nope They actually cited, the fraudulent claims and the content as the reason saying it was against their cause. Ten rules and that's why they were not renewing his license. So brings actually an instance where they did that yeah and it was for the good with a greater great for the greater good. In this case, although Brinkley Brinkley said that what was happening was effectively censorship, obviously, and We protest, and why does he buys a radio station in Mexico? The broadcasts
much higher power than almost any station. The. U S, it was thousand watts eventually will have to a half million watts and so very powerful radio station compared to the other ones that were active at the time he D, the intended northward, into the United States is scattered some days so Here's here's the deal this is this is what's going to come back and haunt him the way work worked was that he would he would actually is studio was in the United States, the the stuff. He was brought casting would go to Mexico to be transmitted by radio and that's, what would eventually come back to get em, but that would be another couple of years. The haste and fascinated by this guy is just ISA. Rather the huts than the mark, see
was a side. No one of the things that was mentioned, a thought from that listener message yet was empty hours, fireside, chats, yep and those began in nineteen thirty three. So this is really when I mean fireside chats not happen any more, but I am fairly certain that the present United States still records a weekly message that goes out on re and it becomes an institution yeah. The presidency recognises the importance of this media Now the communicating to the mass public also in nineteen thirty three. That's when Edwin Howard Edwin, Howard, Armstrong, remember, we talked about earlier created frequency, modulation, radio, FM radio, so I am remember we mentioned changes. The peak to peak voltage changes the amplitude of that wavelength. Frequency modulation doesn't change the amplitude
it changes the number of oscillations per second, the actual frequency of the wave within a fairly narrow band, because obviously you have to tune to a band of frequencies in order to pick things up, then, if it went outside of that, you wouldn't get any more, which is why you can overlap stations, causing interference. Long as you know, so you know if, if you're going, an area where the power levels are almost the same for the frequencies, that's when you start getting that weird thing where you'll hear one station and then the other station, maybe you'll hear both at the same time, but it's pretty rare. So. it's also not as prone to static get widespread adoption, Armstrong was essentially Baxter by his former friend David Sarnoff, who was head of guess what our ca, and the rrca obviously had a big vested interest in Am Radio FM was rising as a competing technology. Sarnoff went nuclear. He
he had wanted Armstrong to go and create technology to make am radio broadcast more clear, more free of static, and instead Armstrong, comes up with this alternative to am radio, but our heaven invested in any area, so rather than say: let's adopt this new technology and build on it, he went nuclear, and he started lobbying. We have c c to deny and experimental licence for two. Testing FM radio, essentially, free time Armstrong tried to make a move to push FM radio forward. Rc a blocked it or tried to block it are complicated litigation ensued. They got very expensive it here's where things get really tragic in the aid and by the time you get to the nineteen forties arms on was effectively bankrupted by the litigation
He yeah he was still trying to pursue the guy trying to fight and the year. He goes to his wife to ask her for some of the money he had given her in there their relationship that she had put aside for their retirement. denies him this, he He has been beaten down totally and he he gets enraged and does a horrible act. He grabs a fire poker hits his wife in the arm injuring her arm. She Obviously, she leaves of that evening. He sits down rights, an apologetic letter and jumps out the window of his thirteen floor building and kills himself okay, yeah tragic, tragic story. So there are some amazing and powerful stories here. Brinkley, Armstrong, Tesla! Marconi is it. I mean there's a movie. There are many movies to be made from this.
Moving on the nineteen, thirty four communications act, huge huge p of legislation. This is the formation of the FCC, the One section of the act is actually refer to as the Brinkley act. This is within the overall nineteen, thirty four communications, I it and, of course isn't that named after our good buddy. actor John R Brinkley So this was the? U S: government attempt to finally shut down Brinkley and his attempts to continue broadcasting, and they said that, if transmitting information, from the United States to another country to be broadcast. That is a tie of international commerce and thus can be regulated sure lay down rules? They said you cannot do this against the law. Now we have put that into law. It put us up to his transmitting and he ended up trying to do other things. He also by the way really
the government's attention, not just by transmitting messages about quackery, terrible. no cures for things he sided with the Nazis right before the before the units. After the war, exactly as is before the United States was in in world war, two, but he say with the Nazis did not go over well eventually would die of a heart attack in nineteen. Forty two while and seen in sea and road Doktor Brinkley. By very little Brinkley, I mean Hasna. His actions are what a defect there was not. There is a case back in the ninety nine, these that we're late, Two shutting down a an organisation that was using a similar means of transmitting from the United States to a radio antenna Mexico because they at the facility that they could use, and it was largely unregulated.
Even as lays ninety nine is we ve had cases that fall under this part of the air. Some reason I'm thinking about DD, O S, attacks yeah it's like that. There John, it's all about stepping around here elation right. There well, Congress, like you, said Abolish, therefore see which they were openly due to begin with the other, instead of just turning it back over to the Department of Commerce, the establishing of sea see the men. The activity is interstate and foreign commerce. In communication we have where the brink leaping comes in, and this is the, the three claims that they maintain, that the reason for the Ep Sissy Make sure that radio is available to all for reasonable charges and with adequate facilities do not necessarily listening to no longer. Would you be listening to an amateur out of their garage out of their gas station right, walk away from it
minutes to go pumps and gas and then come back. You want reliable radio service America and we're going to give it to you. This is also when we start seeing the allocation of large frequency bands for am Radio Fm Radio There are very specific band of frequencies. You are allowed to use. You can't use anything outside of that. It's kind of its kind of what hearing was arguing back in nineteen. Thirty is that that they buy is far more limited than that. I think what he was envisioning with the third Louvieres spectrum for non profit right and and- and he also argued that the FCC at the time had to decide they were going to support commercial broadcasters at the expense of non profit ones and ultimately, as we know who they decided to do that
and even though they were hearings going on and reports are being pulled together in the sea was looking at. All these things are also We what we know of as the golden age Radio saw the growth of these is a multi corporate network yeah Ross, the country. right and by this time we're talking about world war. Two radio now was adopted by a huge percentage of the population. in ten families owned a radio and listen to an average of three to four hours of programming a day right. This is like what we picture of that like we gathered Ray. I'm at my place is gone and they're all gathered around the radio it's your little orphan, Annie and and Lone Ranger and Green Hornet, and all that kind of stuff, and that was the text of classic episode. The golden age of radio, which originally published March Eleventh two thousand and fifteen, hope you enjoyed it and we will be
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Transcript generated on 2022-03-19.