Segments in this Video

Introduction to Radio (01:10)


On December 8, 1941 sixty million Americans tuned in their radios to hear FDR ask Congress to declare war. People relied on radio for information, entertainment and often religion.

Wasn't It Marconi? (00:44)

Most people credit Marconi With inventing the radio, but he had many collaborators. Previous discoveries by a host of scientists and great thinkers had given him a good place to start.

The Grand Collaboration (06:25)

War created the need to communicate quickly over distance. In the early part of the 19th century the discovery of the electromagnet made telegraphy scientifically possible. Maxwell, Hertz and Marconi are key figures in wireless radio transmission.

Can We Talk? (02:24)

On Christmas Eve 1906 wireless operators picked up human voices and music. The Alexanderson Alternator had been used to imprint sound on a radio wave. Amplitude Modulation, or AM, controlled the height of the wave.

Radio Wars (02:31)

Inventors and wireless operators experimented with ways to more effectively broadcast the human voice. A better, smaller generator and sophisticated receiver were needed. The first electronic amplifier was invented.

A Man of Destiny (09:42)

On April 14, 1912 Titanic collided with an iceberg and the ship's Marconi wireless operator sent out a call for help. As war loomed corporations fought for the patents to gain a stranglehold on radio. NBC was formed in 1926 and CBS followed in 1929.

America Loves Radio (08:15)

Radio thrived during the Great Depression because it was free entertainment. By 1930 syndication became big business and standardized the broadcast industry. Orson Welles' production of "War of the Worlds" caused panic in 1938.

FM Wins the War (02:39)

Radio played a dramatic role in WWII. The war reported news and demonstrated the use of radio as a weapon, in the form of propaganda. Entertainers took to the airwaves to rally support for the troops.

Migration to the Vast Wasteland (06:10)

After WWII television knocked radio for a loop. Performers who had made their names on radio found new homes on TV. In the 1950s the major networks tried to establish superiority. Car radios had become popular and began to play music.

Speaking of Talk (00:43)

Radio captures the imaginations of people living vicariously. Larry King calls talk radio rock and roll for adults.

The Numbers Game (03:51)

As listening alternatives appeared on the radio dial the audience became fragmented. More choices for advertisers meant that stations had to compete harder. The radio industry broke its audience down into categories, called demographics.

Credits: Modern Marvels: Radio—Out of Thin Air (00:53)

Credits: Modern Marvels: Radio—Out of Thin Air

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Modern Marvels: Radio—Out of Thin Air

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Early in the 20th century, Marconi and Tesla experimented with wireless radio waves. When voice was added, radio became a cultural phenomenon, bringing information and entertainment into homes across the world. This Modern Marvels program looks at the technology behind wireless communications. Distributed by A&E Television Networks. (45 minutes)

Length: 48 minutes

Item#: BVL42894

Copyright date: ©1997

Closed Captioned

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