CHAPTER 8

RADIO: The Hits Keep Coming

1

A Brief History of Radio 
EARLY DEVELOPMENT  In 1887, Heinrich Hertz ran an electric current through one coil, which produced a current in another coil across the room. Frequencies such as megahertz are measured in his honor.  By the 1880s Thomas Edison·s company, Consolidated Edison, wired the streets of New York while his The Edison Electric Light Company (which would later become General Electric) manufactured light bulbs for people to use with their new household current.  Scientists determined that radio waves were transmitted across an electromagnetic spectrum.
2 

In 1896, 20-year-old Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi combined Edison·s electric power, Hertz·s coil and Morse·s telegraph key with a grounding system and an antenna of his own design. The young entrepreneur registered his patent in England as a means for communication, set up an international corporation, and began manufacturing radio equipment to allow ships at sea to communicate through messages in Morse Code. Radio remained a form of wireless telegraphy until 1906, when electrical engineering professor Reginald Fessenden made the first voice transmission with a frequency generator he had designed.
A Brief History of Radio
3 

In 1907, Lee DeForest invented a tube to pick up and amplify radio signals. His Audion, better known today as the vacuum tube, became the basic component of all early radios.  In 1917 the U.S. entered WW I and the Navy took over the radio industry to use it for strictly military purposes. The Navy pooled all the patents, and declared a moratorium on patent lawsuits which encouraged holders of radio patents to band together and work cooperatively.  The Navy trained 10,000 service personnel in the new technology and after the war ended in 1918 those same people became the amateur enthusiasts and early professionals who developed the radio industry.

A Brief History of Radio

4 

THE RADIO CONSORTIUM  When WW I ended the U.S. government made it difficult for Marconi·s American business by awarding contracts to his American competitors. Eventually the Navy·s America-first policy was made into a law that forbid any foreign company from owning more than 25 percent of an American broadcasting system.  Two years after the war AT&T, Westinghouse, General Electric (GE), and GE subsidiary RCA formed a consortium to take over the radio business in America by manufacturing radio receivers and setting up stations.  The companies started out cooperating but soon became fierce competitors, as vigorously as Google and Yahoo! compete today.
A Brief History of Radio
5 

THE FIRST BROADCASTERS  On November 2, 1920, engineer and radio enthusiast Frank Conrad announced over Pittsburgh·s KDKA that Warren G. Harding had won the U.S. presidential election.  KCBS in San Francisco, WHA in Madison and WWJ in Detroit all debuted around the same time.  AT&T believed in toll broadcasting, under which anyone who wanted to broadcast could pay a fee and use the telephone company·s facilities. AT&T·s New York City station WEAF scheduled sustaining programming to fill unsponsored airtime.

A Brief History of Radio

6 

THE RISE OF THE NETWORKS  A broadcast network is a group of interconnected stations that share programming and a parent company that supplies programming to stations.  When networks own and operate some of the local stations that they provide programming to, they are called owned and operated stations (O&Os).  Most stations in a network are network affiliates, local stations that are not owned by, but have a contractual relationship with the network.

A Brief History of Radio

7 

The first radio network was born in 1923 when AT&T connected its New York and Boston stations.  In 1926, RCA·s David Sarnoff formed the first two national radio networks, NBC Red and NBC Blue, and dominated the industry.  Network radio helped unify the country by providing an experience in which people coast-to-coast were listening to the same programs at the same time.  In 1927, William Paley bought the money losing Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) from the Columbia Record Company. By the end of WW II CBS was the acknowledged leader of radio news.

A Brief History of Radio

8 

In 1934 a coalition of independent stations that were not affiliated with the major networks formed The Mutual Broadcasting System.  ABC was created in the mid-1940s, when the government forced RCA to sell one of its networks. RCA sold NBC Blue to a group of people led by Edward Noble, the owner of Lifesavers Candy Company.  Network affiliates were originally linked to network headquarters through telephone lines but since the 1970s have been linked by satellite.

A Brief History of Radio

9 

EARLY PROGRAMMING  Radio networks invented formula dramas, situation comedies, soap operas, game shows, musical variety, talk shows, broadcast news and sports.  Because of spectrum scarcity radios were a jumble of static as broadcasters interfered with one another.  The Radio Act of 1912, the first law governing radio, was passed largely in reaction to the Titanic disaster. Radio operators of other ships in the area missed distress calls because they had turned off their equipment for the night. The law required ships at sea to leave their radio on 24 hours a day and required federal licensing of all radio transmitters.
A Brief History of Radio
10 

The Radio Act of 1927 established the Federal Radio Commission (FRC) with powers to limit the number of broadcasters, assign frequencies, and revoke the licenses of broadcasters who did not in comply.  It also required the broadcaster to operate in the public interest, convenience, and necessity.  With few exceptions it was decided that a station·s call letters would begin with a W if it was east of the Mississippi River or with a K if it was west.  The FRC became the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) with the Communications Act of 1934 which gave it authority over interstate telephone, telegraph and radio communication.

A Brief History of Radio

11 

EDWIN ARMSTRONG AND THE BIRTH OF FM  AM, or amplitude modulation, created its signal by changing (modulating) the power (amplitude) of the carrier wave. AM radio tended to have static and a poor sound quality for music.  Scientist Edwin Armstrong believed that FM, or frequency modulation waves that created their signal by modulating the speed (frequency) at which the wave traveled, would be of higher quality. He first demonstrated FM in 1936.

A Brief History of Radio

12 

THE GOLDEN AGE OF RADIO  Radio·s golden age lasted from the 1930s until just after WW II.  Talk shows were broadcast in the morning and soap operas in the afternoon. Musical shows featured big bands with singers like Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra.  Comedy shows featured Jack Benny, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Abbott and Costello, Bob Hope and a fictional team named Amos and Andy.  Radio dramas included, The Shadow, The Lone Ranger, and The Green Hornet.

A Brief History of Radio

13 

Original plays like ´War of the Worldsµ were regularly broadcast and popular game shows included Truth or Consequences.  After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, 60 million people tuned in to hear President Roosevelt·s address to Congress.  FDR used frequent ´fireside chatsµ to broadcast encouragement during the war. Americans felt as if he were in the room with them, like a friend or neighbor.  When the drama, comedy and game shows moved to television, however, radio needed help in order to survive.  By 1958 the radio industry was using the superior sound of FM to compete with television.
A Brief History of Radio
14 

THE TRANSISTOR PORTABLE  A second development that helped radio compete with television was the transistor, a miniature version of the vacuum tube, which made radio portable.  The first transistor portable radios were introduced in 1954, and by the 1960s they were cheaper than conventional vacuum tube radios.  The portable radio became a virtual outgrowth of the American teenager·s ear as radios were taken to the beach, the corner hangout, or to the park.

A Brief History of Radio

15 

FORMAT RADIO  Format radio, a consistent programming formula that creates a recognizable sound and personality for a station, was the third development that allowed radio to survive television·s popularity.  Station owners like formats because they encourage listener loyalty. Advertisers like them because they enable ads to target audiences with specific needs and buying habits.  Top 40 was one of the most popular formats.  Format programming led to opportunities for women and ethnic minorities, although problems still exist in this area.

A Brief History of Radio

16 

CONCENTRATION AND FRAGMENTATION  Today·s 13,750 stations define themselves with increasingly narrower formats.  Clear Channel Communications owns 1,200 of the largest and most profitable radio stations in the U.S. Several other companies own hundreds of stations.  DIGITAL RADIO  In digital radio, transmitted sounds are assigned numbers (digits) that take up less air space than analog waves. This results in a crisp clear signal and means that more format choices can be offered.  Digital signals radiate from satellites, the Internet, and from local stations.
A Brief History of Radio
17 

WEBCASTING  As of 2008, around 10,000 Web radio stations were in operation. Around 4,000 of these were broadcast radio stations from 150 countries that stream online.  LOCAL DIGITAL: HD RADIO  Local station are also adopting digital radio which prepares them for the day when high definition or HD radio becomes popular.  According to equipment manufacturers, HD radio, which requires an HD receiver, brings FM-quality sound to AM stations and CD-quality sound to FM broadcasts.
A Brief History of Radio
18

Understanding Today·s Radio Industry 
DAYPARTS  Dayparts are how radio divides the day.  Morning Drive time: 6 a.m. to 10 a.m.  Midday: 10a.m. to 3 p.m.  Afternoon Drive time: 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.  Evening: 7 p.m. to midnight.  Overnight: midnight to 6 a.m.  Morning drive time is especially important, as programmers believe that if listeners tune in to a personality in the morning, they will be more likely to stay loyal to that station during the day.

19 

TALK/NEWS FORMATS  Talk radio, had around 170 stations in 1987. By 2007 that number had grown to more than 1,300 stations. The format appeals especially to working and middle-class adults who are over 35, and appreciate outspoken opinions of the show·s hosts.  News formats attract a somewhat more upscale audience by providing a formula that listeners can rely on for information.  The formula never varies at WINS, a popular New York City all-news station:  Complete news update every 22 minutes.  Time every 3 minutes.  Weather every 5 minutes.  Traffic every 10 minutes.  Sports at 15 minutes before and after every hour.
Understanding Today·s Radio Industry
20 

THE FORMAT CLOCK  Each segment of the programming hour is part of an overall strategy because keeping listeners listening is foremost in the mind of radio programmers.  The FCC requires station identification at the top of every hour, and the station·s business office will require that a certain number of commercials air.  Contests and other types of promotions designed to get audiences to listen at key ratings times of day have also become staples of most format clocks.

Understanding Today·s Radio Industry

21 

RATINGS  Print media can actually count the number of newspapers and magazines sold, but broadcast media have to rely on sampling, by which a small percentage of the audience is chosen to represent the behavior of the rest of the audience.  Stations use the results to prove to advertisers the number and types of people listening.  Out of the $13 billion in radio advertising spent in a typical year, $9 billion will be for local spots.

Understanding Today·s Radio Industry

22 

GROUPS  Group owners have two or more stations.  The Telecommunications Act of 1996 allows a group to own eight stations in larger cities and up to five in smaller markets, with no limit on the total number.  PROGRAM PROVIDERS  Today, most program providers call themselves radio networks.  Premiere Radio Networks, a subsidiary of the Clear Channel Radio Group, is a large program provider.

Understanding Today·s Radio Industry

23 

PUBLIC RADIO  Public radio, or noncommercial stations, consists of broadcast outlets that are supported by sources other than advertising time sales.  Congress set up National Public Radio in 1970 in order to connect noncommercial stations and produce programs for them to use.  In most other countries, public radio stations are owned and operated by the government and are more dominant than commercial stations. Public stations in England and Japan are supported through mandatory user fees.

Understanding Today·s Radio Industry

24 

STATION PERSONNEL  On-air talent includes talk show hosts, news, feature and sports reporters and disc jockeys.  The program director, sometimes called the music director, determines the station·s playlist, which typically includes three dozen new singles, or ´currents.µ A hot current will be placed in ´heavy rotationµ airing four or five times a day.  AUDIENCE  Most listeners want a station to be dependable and are loyal to just two or three stations.  Radio has also introduced listeners to music outside their own ethnic and regional origins.
Understanding Today·s Radio Industry
25

Controversies 
THE EFFECTS OF CONCENTRATION  Critics are concerned that concentration of ownership may cut down on the number of different voices that are heard on the important debates of the day and to open the way for abuse of power by large conglomerates and networks.  The Telecommunications Act of 1996 essentially did away with such restrictions and now more radio outlets are being placed into fewer hands creating potential conflicts of interest.  Disney was once criticized for refusing allowing its Disney-owned ABC radio networks to air news reports critical of its Disney-owned theme parks.
26 

HOMOGENIZED PROGRAMMING  There are more formats than ever, but many of them sound the same. Because successful formats tend to be copied, slogans such as ´More music, less talkµ or ´10 in a rowµ are heard on country, rock and hip-hop stations across the U.S. and increasingly, the world.  Program directors must deliver high ratings and advertising dollars to quickly pay off heavy debts incurred when broadcasting chains spent huge sums to buy new stations.  College stations have strong reputations for being experimental, forward thinking alternatives.

Controversies

27 

SHOCK RADIO  Shock jocks like Howard Stern derive humor and ratings by using vulgarity, racism, sexism, cynicism, and anything else that will attract amazed listeners. The FCC has levied fines against several stations that air shock radio.  The fines became so heavy by 2007 that shock radio moved mostly to satellite radio.  HATE RADIO  In the 1930s, Father Charles Coughlin told millions of listeners to hate socialists, Communists, ´international bankstersµ, and Jews.  During 1994·s ethnic massacre of 800,000 in Rwanda, the Hutu pop music station encouraged listeners to ´finish off the Tutsi cockroaches.µ

Controversies

28 

DIVERSITY AND CENSORSHIP  Some radical groups avoid censorship by creating pirate radio stations, which are unlicensed, illegal, low power outlets. Some pirates regularly move locations to avoid being closed down by the FCC.  The FCC debated whether to license low-power FM stations to increase diversity of broadcast voices. It would later license 590 low-power stations between 2000 and 2007.  Format programming led to the payola scandals of the 1950s.  Payola, when record promoters pay DJs to play certain records, didn·t end in the 1950s ² its target merely changed from DJs to program directors.
Controversies
29 

DIVERSITY AND CENSORSHIP  Some program directors began to use a legal form of payola called pay for play, which is done in the open.  With consolidation in the music and radio industries, it became easier for early-era payola deals to occur behind closed doors.  By 2006 the practice was so common that NY State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer uncovered clear-cut evidence against high-ranking executives in pay for play deals.

Controversies

30

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful

Master Your Semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Special offer for students: Only $4.99/month.

Master Your Semester with a Special Offer from Scribd & The New York Times

Cancel anytime.