This was an archival project made to show why audio is important to our American culture by Pacifica Radio. State of the Arts NYC thought sharing these archival interviews would explain the passion of the folks behind the Pacifica Radio Network which includes WBAI. And we thought sharing some historical information about the history of radio would be fascinating too.


Guglielmo Marconi Marconi invented the first practical radio signaling system in 1895 and is therefore generally credited as being the inventor of the radio. The Birth of public radio broadcasting is credited to Lee de Forest. It was described as the “sound factory.” The first college radio station began broadcasting on October 14, 1920 from Union College, Schenectady, New York under the personal call letters of Wendell King, an African-American student at the school. As radio ownership increased, so did the number of radio stations. In 1920, KDKA was not actually the only operating radio station, but it remains a benchmark in most accounts. And by 1922, 600 radio stations had sprung up around the United States.

Radio became the first Immediate massive media outlet for information and entertainment. Radios were first obtained by the public through kits that used razor blades and crystals as main components. Widespread by the late 30s and early 40s, it starts as a service medium for farm reports, weather and amateur broadcasters. It was created by scientist that did not comprehend its possibilities and usually live shows had the spontaneity of theatre and vaudeville.

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