History of Radio

The tremendous growth of radio broadcasting saw the development of a wide
variety of innovative program offerings. Starting in October, 1921, children
listening to WJZ, Westinghouse’s recently established station in Newark, New
Jersey, were informed that “The radiophone, which is the wireless, has made it
possible for the Man in the Moon to talk to you”, as the station began evening
readings, by Newark Sunday Call journalist Bill McNeery, of short stories
written by Josephine Lawrence. In 1922, a collection of these “Man in the Moon
Stories: Told Over the Radio-Phone” was published, beginning with Chapter I of
The Adventures of the Gingerbread Man. Credo Fitch
Harris, the station manager at WHAS in Louisville, Kentucky, reviewed in Microphone Memoirs(programming extracts) the kinds of
programs produced by his station in 1922 and 1923, beginning with its inaugural
broadcast on July 18, 1922, which overwhelmingly consisted of live — and unpaid
— amateur talent. As radio’s mysteries captured the public imagination, it was
increasingly reflected in popular culture, including the publication in 1922 of
the wistful song, I Wish There Was a Wireless to Heaven .
(The Radio Song), followed six years later by a somewhat happier tune, A Bungalow, a Radio and You

Radio themes had
occasionally appeared in juvenile books up through 1921, three early examples
being John Trowbridge’s 1908 “The Story of a Wireless Telegraph Boy”, “The Motor
Boat Club and the Wireless” written in 1909 by H. Irving Hancock, and the 1911
“Tom Swift and the Wireless Message”, by Howard Garis using a syndicate
pseudonym of Victor Appleton. However the 1922 broadcasting boom triggered a
huge increase in radio related literature, including the introduction of at
least three competing lines of Radio Boys books, in addition to a series about a
group of Radio Girls. In most of these books radio activities served mainly as a
prop or provided a loosely related background plot. A notable exception to this
superficial coverage was the “Allen Chapman” Radio Boys books, written by John
W. Duffield, with forewords by Jack Binns. The teenaged protagonists in this
series do engage in the standard activities of besting bullies, while impressing
the leading citizens — and their daughters — in the fictional town of
Clintonia, located not too far from New York City. But extracts from the first
five books in this series also provide an unusually detailed and technically
accurate review of the excitement of the rapid spread of radio broadcasting in
1922. In the series’ opening book, The Radio Boys’ First
Wireless, the boys build award winning crystal receivers, which use
headphones. In The Radio Boys at Ocean Point, they
improve their receiver design, by adding a vacuum-tube detector and
loud-speaker, while experimenting with umbrella and loop antennas. The Radio Boys at the Sending Station includes a visit to
WJZ, the Westinghouse broadcasting station in Newark, New Jersey, and they are
also thrilled to pick up their first trans-Atlantic signals. In The Radio Boys at Mountain Pass our heros continue to
spread word of the wonders of the new technology of radio through the community,
witness the broadcast of a local church service, and speculate on the day when
cars will be equipped with receivers. And in The Radio
Boys Trailing a Voice they learn about radio communication applications in
the forest fire service, while Dr. Dale predicts that: “Radio is yet in its
infancy, but one thing is certain. In the lifetime of those who witnessed its
birth it will become a giant–but a benevolent giant who, instead of destroying
will re-create our civilization


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