World Radio Day is coming up, and we are excited about it. What is World Radio Day, you ask? Why, it’s a day to celebrate the world’s most powerful and ubiquitous medium for disseminating information and entertainment. UNESCO proclaimed February 13 World Radio Day in 2011, and it was later adopted by the UN General Assembly as an International Day in 2012. With radio being so ingrained in our daily lives, it’s easy to forget how awesome it is that we can transmit messages and music through the air. Science is amazing. In that light, let’s take a step back and really appreciate the miracle that is radio by checking out these ten fun radio facts.
- In 1896, Guglielmo Marconi filed for the word’s first radio patent for his “wireless telegraph.” But radio isn’t the Marconi family’s only claim to fame. Guglielmo Marconi was the great-grandson of John Jameson, founder of Jameson Whiskey. Please note that we at ShareBuilders do not recommend mixing whiskey and radio broadcasting. That could lead to expensive FCC citations.
- The Eiffel Tower owes its continued existence to radio. It was built as the centerpiece for the 1889 World’s Fair and was meant to be dismantled in 1909. However, the tower soon proved useful as a means of broadcasting Morse code via radiotelegraphy during World War I. Prior to the outbreak of the war, an enterprising (and somewhat foolhardy) Lee de Forest scaled the tower to broadcast a selection of music to the Parisian suburbs in the world’s first public radio broadcast.
- A voice over broadcast radio travels at 700 miles per hour. It is believed that radio waves can continue to travel indefinitely unless they are absorbed by something else. While it is fun to imagine aliens enjoying Earth’s best Morning Drive banter, the only signals that would be picked up in space are likely military radar transmissions. Also, the broadcasts theoretically become indistinguishable from background noise at only a few light years away from Earth. Even so, assuming aliens were close enough, they could pick up our radio signals. Cool, right?
- Radio has the largest reach of any medium in existence, with about 92 percent of Earth’s population listening to AM/FM radio over the airwaves.
- Radio is the world’s most reliable signal, much more so than landline telephones or cellular networks. Because of its stability and vast reach, radio remains a critical communication tool in times of natural or other disaster.
- The very first commercial jingle aired on radio was an advertisement for Wheaties in 1926.
- Radios were first installed in cars in the 1930s, though AM/FM radios didn’t become standard in new cars until 1971. Morning and Evening Drive times remain radio’s most listened-to dayparts.
- The most powerful commercial radio station ever was WLW, operating at 500kW. At certain points in the 1930s, a nighttime transmission from WLW covered half the globe. Neighbors in the vicinity of the transmitter were less than enthusiastic about the station’s reach, claiming that they could hear the station’s audio through their pots, pans, and mattress springs.
- The well-known story that Orson Welle’s 1938 broadcast of The War of the Worlds caused panic among listeners was largely fabricated. As it turns out, the listening audience for the program was remarkably small, and most who did hear it assumed it was a prank. The supposed panic was mostly drummed up by newspapers seeking to discredit the new medium eating away at their market share.
- The newspaper industry was right to be intimidated by the power of radio. Radios weren’t used by civilians until the 1920s. By the late 1940s, over 80 percent of American households owned a radio.
Here’s to you, radio, you marvel of science, you pioneer of broadcasting. The contributions of radio as a medium cannot be overstated. We’d like to wish all our hard working and dedicated radio clients the happiest of World Radio Days!