Nowadays, radios are one of the things we use to entertain ourselves when we get tired of watching shows and movies on our favorite streaming platform, watching YouTube videos or even listening to podcasts.
In our time when there are many alternatives to radio, it remains one of the most accessible means of communication and broadcasting in the world.
However, there was a time when none of the technology we have now existed, and radio was all people had.
Here’s the story of how America got its first commercial radio station broadcast.
WWJ First Broadcast – A Quick Summary
Broadcasting originated in 1910 when Lee De Forest produced a program from the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, by the Law Library. However, De Forest’s broadcast and those that followed in 1915 and 1916 were purely experimental as technology using radio was still a new idea during the 1900s.
It was not until after the Great War that radio reached a point where it could be used to broadcast audio over radio waves to radio receivers.
Most people think of WWJ as the radio station that aired in America. According to the Detroit Historical Society, WWJ, which was originally known as 8MK, first aired via a broadcast station on the second floor of the Detroit News Building on August 20, 1920. During this historic broadcast , 300 radio amateurs were potentially listening to the station on the air for the first time.
The successful show made Detroit News the first newspaper in the world to have a radio station.
However, WWJ’s success was limited because its broadcast could only cover a transmission area of less than 100 miles.
Read more: Apple releases Safari 15.6.1 for macOS Big Sur and Catalina: Here’s what you need to know
The radio station then operated as a full-service radio station that kept Detroit residents informed of breaking news and entertained with the latest tunes.
In fact, in May 1922, the Detroit News finalized a programming schedule for WWJ that included housewives allusions, music, weather reports, market quotes, baseball scores, and church services.
It also became Michigan’s first radio station to broadcast a sporting event, national election results, and featured comedian Will Rogers’ first radio show.
Thanks to WWJ’s success in broadcasting, rapid advances in radio technology came quickly. By the end of 1924, 583 radio stations were broadcasting to various locations in the United States, and over 3 million people tuned in.
Advances in broadcasting technology came to a head in 1926, when the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), headed by David Sarnoff, presented its first national broadcast.
Where is WWJ today?
Amazingly, WWJ is still operational in 2022. According to The People History, WWJ is now known as WWJ Newsradio 950.
The station is now owned and operated by the Columbia Broadcasting System, or CBS.
Related article: Why starting an online radio station is better than a (just) podcast