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1920 __ 8MK — The first commercial radio station ?
Comment : August 20. Operated by The Detroit News, 8MK, Detroit, Michigan, begins operations on August 20 by broadcasting the words "This is 8MK, calling" at 8:15 PM, followed by the playing of two phonograph records: "Annie Laurie" and "Roses of Picardy," a query by an announcer asking his listeners "How do you get it?" and closing with the playing of taps. It is reported that the broadcast, launched under the name "Tonigh'ts Dinner," was received in 30 Detroit homes. On August 31, it broadcasts the results of a local election. The station call letters were later changed to WBL and is currently WWJ. [...] November 2. Once the wartime ban on entertainment was lifted, 8ZZ (later KDKA) in Pittsburgh, Penna., broadcasts the election results of the Harding-Cox presidential race with a 100 w transmitter. This was, and still is, reported as the very first broadcast in the world (but we know better). Built by Frank Conrad in 1916 and licensed on October 27, the station started with a daily one-hour evening program, from 8:30 PM to 9:30 PM, expanding to longer hours soon afterwards. KDKA is regarded by most as the nation’s first true radio station, broadcasting regularly scheduled music programs, news, and sports. (Barry Mishkind, “The Broadcast Archives”, [http://www.oldradio.com/ www.oldradio.com])Name originally spelled Cripps, newspaper publishers and bookbinders emigrated form England, the Scripps family--James Edmund Scripps, William John Scripps--founded the Detroit station 8MK, later WBL, later WWJ, which claims that on Aug. 20, 1920, it 'became the first radio station in the world to broadcast regularly scheduled programs.' According to this claim the first broadcast began at 8:15 p.m. from the second floor of The Detroit News Building with the words 'This is 8MK calling,' followed by the playing of two phonograph records, 'Annie Laurie' and 'Roses of Picardy,' a query by an announcer to unseen listeners, 'How do you get it?,' and the playing of taps. The broadcast is thought to have been received in some 30 Detroit homes. The station, then and now licensed to the Detroit Evening News, says it has been on the air continuously ever since. The newspaper was established in 1873 by James Edmund Scripps, who apparently first became interested in radio in 1902 after listening to a Detroit experimental wireless operator, Thomas E. Clark. James E. Scripps and his only son, William Edmund Scripps, attended a private demonstration of Clark's system of wireless transmission of Morse code and then helped finance Mr. Clark's work. Meanwhile, William John Scripps, known then as 'Little Bill,' son of William E. Scripps, was by 1918, at the age of 13, a devoted ham radio hobbyist. Out of that hobby grew WWJ. It was largely in the Detroit News plant that young Bill did his radio experimenting and it may have been in deference to the boss's son (J. E. Scripps died in 1906), that the newspaper started a radio page which later led to the formation of the newspaper's station. (“Many Claims Have Been Made, But Radio's Paternity Is Still a Question”, Broadcasting, Nov. 2, 1970)"The first commercial radio station" means that the correct answer is probably WEAF, which was the first station to sell advertising time. But the four usual contenders for "oldest broadcast station" are Doc Herrold's operation in San Jose (now KCBS), WHA Madison at the University of Wisconsin, WWJ Detroit and KDKA Pittsburgh. Most historians accept a paper first published in the Journal of Broadcasting (Volume IV, No. 1 Winter 1959-60 pp. 40-55) as the definitive examination of the question. It's called ' "Oldest Station in the Nation"?' by R. Franklin Smith. Smith offers five characteristics of a broadcasting station: 1) Wireless transmission 2) Transmission of telephony rather than telegraphic signals 3) Content aimed at the public 4) Continuous program service 5) Licensed by the government. However, he says the license issue is not a valid base "for verifying historical claims of broadcast primacy." Using the other four criteria, he says Fessenden's 1906 hour-long program on Christmas Eve was the first broadcast, but since it was a one-time experiment rather than the start of continuous service, it was not the earliest broadcasting station. San Jose (later KQW) began radio telephone transmission of programs in 1912. Herrold had been sending code since 1909. KDKA was the first radio station licensed for broadcasting (as opposed to either amateur or experimental operation), and has been in operations continuously since then. That's the basis of their claim as "first". But clearly, there were others doing something that resembled broadcasting before November 1920. WWJ was one of those. (John Ross)
French comment : Le 31 août, le "Detroit News" diffuse sur la longueur d'onde de 200m, sous l'indicatif "8 MK" un programme de musique et d'informations. Le journal annonce que le "Detroit News Radiophone" diffusera le 2 Novembre, le résultat des élections générales. A Pittsburgh, la "Westinghouse Electic and Manufacturing Company" s'émeut. Avec l'aide d'un journal local, ses dirigeants décident de relever le défi. Le 27 Octobre, elle se voit attribuer l'indicatif "KDKA" et diffuse les résultats avant la station de Detroit. L'un des artisans de ce succès s'appelle Vladimir Kosma Zworykin. Il fera beaucoup parler de lui comme directeur de la recherche au département télévision de R.C.A. (D'après Erik Barnouw: "A History of Broadcasting in the United States")
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