Home Page


History Book

View of
the Lake

Radio 8.11.99

Merchants Hotel

WWII stories

Old Fire Truck

Museum History


Girl Scouts




Notes from the Paynesville Historical Society. . .

By Kari Brady

This past week I purchased a new Pioneer CD car stereo. My father and brother installed it for me with a little resistance.

The main problem was the wires crossing. When I turned my stereo on, my dashboard panel lights shorted out. When I turned my lights on, my stereo cut out. I could not drive at night with no lights and "Rob Zombie," nor could I have lights with no "Rob Zombie." Simple solution, learn the language of the manual.

The havoc of installing this upgraded Pioneer reminded me of our radio display. We have various large cabinet radios to the first headphone sets. Radio is one of the major mass mediums in our society. I recall my mass communi-cations professor telling us stories of how engaged people were with radio. They would "gather around at night after supper or possibly Sunday afternoons and stare at this talking box with such fascination."

Radio is a form of communication that transmits by electromagnetic waves. Early radio theories and principles of radio started in the 1800s by Michael Faraday and Joseph Henry. They developed the theory of a flowing current in a wire which could provide another current in a different wire.

Later in 1820, Hans Oersted found that a current flowing in a wire sets up a magnetic field around the wire. This discovery allowed voltages to be stepped up or down in value.

In the 1880s, Heinrich Hertz produced electromagnetic waves. He was able to transmit and receive radio waves by using oscillating circuits. He also measured the wave lengths along with the frequency to calculate the velocity. This proved that electromagnetic waves travel at the speed of light.

In 1890, Guglimo Marconi used the electromagnetic waves for long distance communication. He produced the first wireless telegraph system. His system sent a message across the English Channel in March 1899. In other words, radio was first used for communication at sea.

The first transatlantic communication did not actually occur until Dec. 12, 1901. It went from Cornwall, England, to Saint John's, Newfoundland, using the dot-dash Morse code system.

The first human voice to reach radio was in 1906. Reginald Fessenden, a physicist, spoke to ships in the Atlantic Ocean from Brant Rock, Mass.

Radio improved with the work of inventor Edwin Armstrong. He developed a better radio receiver. His receiver produced mixed frequencies which allowed the sound to change the frequency. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) allows the fre-quencies of the radio to be used by various segments of society. Each radio station is assigned a specific frequency. The receiver also reduced the interference noise caused by atmospheric disturbances.

The first radio program was aired in Pittsburgh on the evening of Nov. 2, 1920, when the Harding-Cox presidential election was boardcast.

Significant changes in radio occurred in the 1950s. The powerful effect of television hindered radio. However, the development of transistors increased the availability of portable radios and car radios.

FM (frequence moduation) radios originally came during the late 1940s and 1950s to counter the AM commercial formats. FM radio drew in a more diverse audience, in-depth news, and music. FM radio is transmitted at a very high frequency range and the sound is better.

Radio continues to increase with digital radio, weather satellites, and tracking systems.

Along with the technology, in general, radios have also become more convenient. Today radios are smaller, more portable, more expensive, and have more buttons and dials for their special features.

But my technological illiteracy still prefers old cabinet radios with only five buttons and dials as opposed to 10 or 20 buttons.

I need a sub what? Well, at least my radio is installed.