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On the Air: The Story of Radio Broadcasting 1944 Westinghouse Radio Stations, Inc.

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Published on May 22, 2016

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"Westinghouse film about commercial radio in the United States." A history of commercial radio broadcasting beginning with KDKA radio in 1920, followed by a description of the state of the Old Time Radio art as of 1944.

Public domain film from the Library of Congress Prelinger Archives, slightly cropped to remove uneven edges, with the aspect ratio corrected, and one-pass brightness-contrast-color correction & mild video noise reduction applied.
The soundtrack was also processed with volume normalization, noise reduction, clipping reduction, and/or equalization (the resulting sound, though not perfect, is far less noisy than the original).

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/b...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KDKA_(AM)

KDKA (1020 kHz AM) is a Class A clear-channel radio station licensed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. KDKA is owned and operated by CBS Radio... KDKA operates with 50,000 watts and can also be heard in the HD Radio format.

Created by the Westinghouse Electric Corporation on November 2, 1920, it is considered the world's first commercial radio station...

KDKA's roots began with the efforts of Westinghouse employee Frank Conrad who operated KDKA's predecessor 75 watt 8XK from the Pittsburgh suburb of Wilkinsburg from 1916. Conrad, who had supervised the manufacturing of military receivers during WWI, broadcast phonograph music and communicated with other amateur radio operators via 8YK. On September 29, 1920, the Joseph Horne department store in Pittsburgh began advertising amateur wireless sets for $10, which could be used to listen to Conrad’s broadcasts.

Westinghouse vice president and Conrad’s supervisor, Harry P. Davis, saw the advertisement and recognized the economic potential of radio. Instead of it being limited as a hobby to scientific experimenters, radio could be marketed to a mainstream audience. Consequently, Davis asked Conrad to build a 100-watt transmitter, which would air programming intended to create widespread demand for Westinghouse receivers. The KDKA call sign was assigned sequentially from a list maintained for the use of US-registry maritime stations, and on November 2, 1920, KDKA broadcast the US presidential election returns from a shack on the roof of the K Building of the Westinghouse Electric Company "East Pittsburgh Works" in Turtle Creek, Pennsylvania. There is some indication that the new license had not been received by that date, and the station may have gone on the air with the experimental call sign of 8ZZ that night. The original broadcast was said to be heard as far away as Canada. KDKA continued to broadcast from the Westinghouse building for many months.

The 1920s

Soon after its successful election coverage, KDKA upgraded to a 100-watt transmitter. Early programming often featured live musical performances from a Westinghouse band. KDKA provided its first remote broadcast by airing a religious service from Calvary Episcopal Church on January 2, 1921. The Calvary service soon became a regular Sunday evening offering, and the church continued broadcasts on KDKA until 1962. On January 15, 1921, at 8 p.m., KDKA broadcast a speech on European relief by Herbert Hoover from the Duquesne Club in Pittsburgh that was transmitted ten miles down a telephone line to Westinghouse's East Pittsburgh Works and broadcast on 330 meters. On July 2, 1921, the station featured the first national broadcast with live commentary of the Jack Dempsey - Georges Carpentier fight via teletype from New Jersey. On August 21, 1921, the station became the first radio station to broadcast a major league professional baseball game, when announcer Harold W. Arlin called the Pittsburgh Pirates-Philadelphia Phillies game from Forbes Field. In the fall of that year, KDKA became the first station to broadcast a college football game. KDKA hosted political comedian Will Rogers in his very first radio appearance in 1922. KDKA played popular music and advertisers began sponsoring special radio programs like The Philco Hour, The Maxwell House Hour and The Wrigley Party.

In 1923, KDKA began simulcasting its AM medium-wave broadcasts on shortwave.

Along with RCA and General Electric, Westinghouse was a co-founder of NBC in 1926, and thus KDKA was affiliated with the new network. When NBC decided to split its network up into two networks (NBC Red Network and NBC Blue Network), KDKA affiliated with the NBC Blue Network, with WCAE (now WPGP) and later KQV initially affiliated with the NBC Red Network. Westinghouse would later be forced to divest its 20% ownership stake in NBC in 1932 due to antitrust concerns...

1930s and '40s

In the 1930s, KDKA began the long-running (1932–1980) Uncle Ed Shaughency show...

Just before the FCC-mandated separation of the Blue Network from NBC, KDKA swapped affiliations with KQV and affiliated with NBC Red...

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