The beginning of the rise of the frequency modulation radio or FM radio may be clearly observed only beginning with 1960s though FM radio was invented in 1902. The reason for the long lasting absence of demand for FM radio is in the oppression on the part of the giant’s of industry and public indifference. Though FM radio was invented in 1902, FM broadcasting became practical only during the period between 1928 and 1934 (Smith et al. 61). This became possible due to the efforts of Edwin H. Armstrong, who managed to promote FM despite the opposition of Radio Corporation of America that was concerned about the possibility of competition between FM and television. However, 1940 was the year that was marked by the creation of twenty two experimental FM radio stations. During World War II the growth of FM stations was stifled and after the end of the war the radio frequency was shifted from 88 to 106 MHz. This frequency shift appeared to be beneficial for the development of radio, as it reduced the danger of interference and added 60 more channels. During three post-war years 1000 FM radio stations were added. At the same time FM faced numerous problems; mainly they were connected with rejection of FM by the population that was caused by high demand for TV and expensiveness of FM receivers. The permission of stereophonic broadcasting that was granted by the FCC in 1961 was the event of crucial importance for FM radio that fostered its development. In 1970 FM stations were absolutely able to compete with AM stations (Smith et al. 63). One more significant stage of FM development was “docket 80-90”, the proposal of changes made by the FCC (Smith et al. 64). In 1990s the number of FM Radio stations was 12000 that was the proof of FM’s victory.
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Radio is known to be a powerful means of advertising. The significant and symbolic event is that the first paid radio advertisement was produced by WEAF radio station, the first advertising-supported station. The advertisement presented Long Island real estate firm.
Really, the period between 1920s and 1930s was marked by “radio boom”. Radio was developing as a mass medium, it brought entertainment to people. During 1930s there was the “golden age of radio” when it became an integral part of the domestic environment, the main trusted source of information and the main means of entertainment (Gorman and McLean 45).
Lee de Forest was the person whose impact to the development of radio is unquestionable. He may be called “the Father of Radio”. The ground for this title is that he was the person who transmitted and received code from one side of his laboratory to the other using radio waves. This method of wave reception was based on his invention that he called Audion (Smith et al. 17). This device bears special significance for the development of radio technologies, as it may be considered the forerunner of the triode vacuum tube and the ancestor of a transistor (Smith et al. 17).
Radio waves are created by oscillation and they have ability to travel not only in the atmosphere of the Earth but in the near vacuum of space (Smith et al. 303). Two antennas are needed for the process of transition of a wave: a transmitting antenna and a receiving antenna. “Two successive sets of electrical and magnetic fields of force – the positive phase and the negative phase … constitute one radio wave” (Smith et al. 305). After the wave is produced by the transmitting antenna, it is picked up by the receiving antenna where the wave restores the pattern of the transmitting antenna that may be characterized by lower amplitude.
David Sarnoff is a remarkable figure in the history on the development of radio. He was called the prophet of broadcasting for it was he who foretold the rise and reign of radio as an entertainment medium in 1915. However, the great part of his reputation is based on self-promotion, mainly connected with his contacts with the sinking Titanic. At the same time, Smith stated that he was not the only and not the first operator who received messages from Titanic (31). Besides, a full-blown music radio box plan, created in 1915 by Sarnoff gave him a strong reputation of radio prophet, though this version of a plan was never found. This is why the statement about Sarnoff’s right to be considered the first to envision radio as an entertainment medium may be doubted, though his being far-seeing is unquestionable.
Gorman, Lyn and David McLean. Media and Society in the Twentieth Century: A Historical Introduction. Malden: Wiley-Blackwell, 2003.
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Smith, Leslie F., Wright, John W. (II), Wright, John W., and Ostroff, David H. Perspectives on Radio and Television: Telecommunication in the United States. NY: Routledge, 1998.