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Radio in the 1920’s

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In the 1920’s Radio Broadcasting became one of America’s favorite sources of entertainment. During this time period most Americans depended on radio for their source of communication, since television was not yet invented. The invention of radio had a major impact on Americans. Radio stations sent out a variety of shows and programs such as; sports, musical concerts, and newscasts. The radio became a regular past time for Americans in this time period.

Radio became a production of mass market; manufactures were quickly overwhelmed by the demand of the American consumers. Between 1923 and 1930, 60% of American had radios. As radio sales went up, so did the number of broadcasting stations, and by 1922, 600 radio stations had sprung up everywhere around the United States.

Chicago’s first radio station was KYW, started in 1921 by Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company. KYW was also the first specialized radio station playing only opera music six days a week. The station was an instant hit and continued to be a favorite in Chicago, but after the opera season ended, the stations realized that they needed to diversify the programming. They began broadcasting things such as sports, classical music, lectures, popular music, fictional stories, newscasts, weather updates, market updates and political commentary. Radio stations created a sense of community among Americans, but as the technology grew, tension was created between the modern day and the old traditions of the United States.

Spread of radio listeners started disruption with the radio stations. Radio stations began to compete for the listeners and programs started to overlap. To go along with the problems, the government and emerging radio corporations thought of the radio as a public service. Radio announcers, deejays, and stations worked on a non-profit basis. Advertising over the radio was later in the 1920’s, changing it from public service to making money.

The radio had become a free for all and many listeners asked the government to regulate the airwaves. Responding slowly, the government gradually started passing laws to regulate the radio. The Federal Radio Commission was set up in 1926 and the Radio Act of 1927 organized the Federal Radio Commission. As the government spent more time investigating radio stations, portioning the times to the different radio stations, and monitoring growth of different stations, they became more comfortable with the responsibilities of regulating.

The radio continued to grow with the technological advances that the United States had created and Americans began to modernize, shaping the culture to the way it is today. Imagine living without radio, or music recordings… Without the Roaring 20’s or the invention of the radio, life today just wouldn’t be the same.

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