A Short History Of Talk Radio

Every day many of us habitually flip a switch and turn on the radio where we can enjoy our favorite talk radio broadcasters, news and genres of music. But have you ever stopped to think about how the radio and its broadcasters ever came about in the first place? We have and we would just like to share a little piece of this background with you right now.   Before you read on, check out the video documentary below that’s pretty good at providing a nice overview.

Quite often with technology and innovations there was something pioneered beforehand which paved the way for it to come into existence. The radio is no exception as it was inspired by both the telephone and the telegraph machine. Quite simply we could say that radio first began as a type of wireless telegraphy.

What many probably never knew is that during the 1860s in Scotland there was a physicist named James Clark Maxwell who foresaw the existence of radio waves. By 1886 it would then be the German physicist, Heinrich Rudolph Hertz that first exhibited that accelerated modifications of electric current could in fact be projected into space in such forms as radio waves. Finally in 1866 an American dentist – of all people – named Mahlon Loomis was the first to successfully demonstrate this wireless telegraphy to the world which would later be called wireless aerial communication. This would then be taken and used years later to where it would eventually become the actual radio.

Unofficial talk Radio was first being utilized for political expression and debating ever since the 1920s. It would be Aimee Semple McPherson that purchased one of the first radio stations known as KFSG which began airing shows in February of 1924. By the 1930s there were millions of listeners tuning in each week to hear a contentious radio priest named Father Charles Coughlin speak his mind on various issues.

Once a week beginning in 1935 there was the first current events forum known as America’s Town Meeting of the Air which showcased conversations and debates with a panel of guests from the largest newsmakers. It was also one of the first talk radio shows to permit listener involvement where the members of the studio were allowed to question and even interrupt guests with their comments or disapproval.

During the mid 1940s, talk radio with audience participation was quite huge and yet a man named Barry Gray that was working for the WMCA in New York became weary of only playing music all the time. His new idea was then to attach a telephone receiver up to his microphone to converse with a bandleader named Woody Herman. Listener call-ins would soon ensue and thus to many, official talk radio was born.

It would not be until several decades later in 1990 when the talk radio movement in the United States would have its most successful politically conservative pioneer commentator Rush Limbaugh. So great became his success that there became a nationwide industry for this kind of conservative controversy that was delivered with such passion for all to hear. From that time on, the face of talk radio would be forever transformed as it would continue to evolve into what we have grown to love and appreciate today.

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