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    The story of radio began over a hundred years ago.  In 1895, Guglielmo Marconi  is generally credited with having conducted the first wireless transmission of a Morse code telegraph message over a distance of just over a mile!  Wireless telegraphy was born, and from there it was just a short hop to adapting the "speaker" and "microphone" technology from the telephone to transmit the human voice and music invisibly through the air without wires!  
    Commercial broadcasting did not begin, however, until some years later.  Until that time, "radio telegraphy", as it was called, was thought only to be useful for communicating Morse code to and from ships at sea.  The Titanic was the first disaster at sea, in 1912, that was able to utilize the new medium to demonstrate the importance of wireless communication.  Soon after that, radio telegraph stations were required on all ships.  
    It was considered a miracle when the first voice and music transmissions were heard, at first over very short distances.  In 1915, the first trans-Atlantic radio telephone conversation took place.  The first radio "programs" were readings of the news of the day over ship-to-shore radio telephone stations. 
    Isolated farming communities, too far from cities to have phone lines into their towns, relied only on printed weather reports that were often up to a day old before they reached them.  They were among the first to experience radio as we have come to know it.  The first regular radio broadcasts were daily government weather reports directed toward these farmers.  
    Finally, after a quarter century, radio evolved from it's infancy into mainstream culture.  The first radio station, KDKA, signed on the air in 1920 with the broadcast of the presidential election results.  Radio caught on quickly from that point.  Amateur broadcasters set up stations in their homes and garages to broadcast musical programs of Victrola records through their neighborhoods.  Radio was soon adopted as a form of entertainment.  Everyone wanted to buy a radio in the 1920's, especially as amateur stations started popping up everywhere.  
    Soon, so many stations were broadcasting that many were broadcasting over the same frequency and crowding the airwaves with noise.  At that point, the government had to step in to regulate the industry and assign broadcasting frequencies.  This is when the term "clear channel" broadcast came into being.  With these clear channels, new stations were able to optimize the quality of their broadcast, and with rapidly increasing technology they were able to service large areas with their powerful signals.  
    Big business entered the radio world at this point, when radio proved to have commercial selling value.  Large companies sponsored radio programs to benefit from the commercial advertising.  The public enjoyed listening to the music and variety programming that emanated from this speaker and glowing tubes in a box....and they bought the products that were advertised on the programs they would listen to.



Don's Radio Gallery:


From my personal radio collection......My Philco console (1942)



My Detrola Radio/Phonograph/Recorder..........This machine did it all in the 1940's!  Designed for portability and function, this machine had the ability to not only deliver your favorite radio program and play your favorite records, but it was also one of the very first portable recording devices that enabled the ordinary audio enthusiast to preserve sound events on record.






This book, originally published in 1940, explains how to make a home recording and what type of record to use for your home recording equipment!


Below are some illustrations from the book, which demonstrate how "easy" it is to make recordings at home.










My General Electric Console Phonograph/Radio was one of the first electric console models to have FM radio and a record changer!  The radio also receives standard AM broadcast as well as Short-Wave.  The phonograph pulls out of a drawer and can be concealed by closing the drawer.

Here is an advertisement for a similar model made by General Electric around the same time.  The concept of a console unit was not new.  Wind-up phonographs from the early 1900's were fashionable as a floor unit and served as a piece of furniture.  They were marketed as furniture because of their practicality and style.




My Philco cathedral-style table model radio was popular throughout the 1930's.



My RCA War-era Radios


On the left is my World War Two era RCA Victor bakelite table model with AM and Police band.  On the right is a similar style model in wood.  I can picture either of them sitting on a kitchen table tuned in to the latest war bulletins!


Here is one of my vintage plastic models, a General Electric made for the table or refrigerator.



This is my classic Channel Master refrigerator radio, circa 1950's.


My Zenith Trans-Oceanic multi-band radio.


More interesting pieces from my collection . . . A Zenith AM-FM and a Motorola AM clock Radio.  The Zenith is on the bench awaiting some reconditioning.  It was a $2 flea market find.  The Motorola has been in the family for years!




Annual Conference of the Antique Wireless Association Meets in Rochester, NY

     Each year, members of the Antique Wireless Association gathered at the Thruway Marriott in Rochester to participate in seminars designed to share knowledge of the history of the radio industry and to promote the preservation of antique radio equipment.  Highlights for members attending each year's function include an annual flea market and auction as well as a theme that features the history of a radio manufacturing company.  For more information on the AWA and antique radios, including how to listen to old time radio shows on your computer, check out our links on this page.




Research Radio History - Learn more about the invention of radio and broadcasting!

The Radio History Society

Library of American Broadcasting - Classic Radio Advertising

Padgett's Radio Page - A Hobbyist's Fantasy

Old Time Radio - Anything You Wanted To Know

Jeff Miller's Broadcast History Page - Very Extensive!

Radio Program Archive - WOW

Antique Radios Online - A Radio Club Magazine

The Thrilling Days of Yesteryear - An Internet Review

Bill's Antique Radio Emporium

The Vintage Radio Place

Vintage Radio Museum Tours - See hundreds of antique radios!

Antique Wireless Association Electronic Comm. Museum

Bellingham Radio Museum

Classic Radio Gallery

Virtual Vintage Radio

Hammond Museum of Radio

The Vintage Radio Emporium

Pelham's Collection

Crosley Radio

John Jenkins' Vintage Radio Collection

Classic Radio Gallery

Rod's Classic & Antique Radio Museum


Old-Time Radio Shows & Historic Radio Broadcasts - Listen to the actual historic sounds broadcast during the early days of radio, the best programming from the golden days of radio, and moments from the not so distant days of radio!

Antique Radios Online - Vintage Radio Shows

Library of American Broadcasting - Classic Radio Advertising

Old Time Radio - Anything You Wanted To Know

Radio Days - Radio Memories

Yesterday USA - More Nostalgia Radio!

Reel Radio - Classic  Aircheck Museum
Listen to classic radio jingles and DJ airchecks!


WRVO Playhouse - Old Time Radio Theater of the Mind
Listen every evening

Bob Cook's CBS Radio Mystery Theater website
MP3's of every episode!


My all-time favorite old-time radio programs:

X Minus One - "Adventures in time and Space"

The Shadow
  - "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?  The Shadow knows!


Shortwave Radio - Listen to LIVE short-wave broadcasts on the internet!

WWW Shortwave Listening Guide

Bell's Shortwave Listening Page


Modern Radio - Listen to LIVE internet radio and radio stations around the world that are "bitcasting" live over the internet right now! - Your programming guide to current live internet broadcasting




"Restless wonder roll into the sea........Nature is the Law"
                                                   (Richard Ashcroft)