AM Radio Celebrates 100 Years


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AM radio turns 100 this year. Monday was the 100th anniversary of the nation’s first widely recognized licensed commercial radio broadcast. On November 2, 1920, Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Co.’s KDKA-AM, in Pittsburgh, PA, broadcast the results of the 1920 presidential election.

Choosing to go on air on Election Day gave the station the chance to demonstrate the power of broadcast radio, as listeners could hear the results of the presidential race between Warren G. Harding and James Cox before they read them in the newspaper, according to the NAB. Listen to the KDKA broadcast here.  

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is a long-time fan of radio, having grown up in rural Parsons, Kansas, listening to ballgames at night on AM. He credits radio for helping to shape the country’s history. “As the earliest electronic mass communications medium, radio has allowed us to listen in on some of the most momentous occasions in American history, from President Roosevelt’s famous ‘fireside chats’ to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. It has entertained us, from ‘The War of the Worlds’ to ‘The Jack Benny Program’ to ‘American Top 40’ with Casey Kasem to ‘The Steve Harvey Morning Show.’” He continued: “And radio still keeps millions of Americans company on long drives, enthralls us with coverage of our favorite sports teams, and when disaster strikes, is one of the most valuable resources for life-saving information.”

“Radio has given us a way to come together in times of strife and times of triumph,” Pai said on behalf of himself and the FCC staff, it’s “my honor to join all Americans in recognizing this milestone. Congratulations to radio broadcasters on a century of excellence. We look forward to the stories that radio will continue to tell!”

The NAB has created a web page devoted to radio’s 100th year. Click here.

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