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In its early beginnings, radio did not receive much attention. But after Guglielmo Marconi was granted a patent for a wireless radio that he devised, and it was used during wartime, radio began its journey as the valuable and varied medium that it is today.


Government & War

At its inception, the radio played a minor role in the lives of many Americans since it was used mainly for naval ships to make contact with other boats and with stations on land. For it was the telephone with which people communicated and listened to music, news, weather reports, and fictional stories. Only amateur radio operators filled the airwaves as they broadcasted messages to one another. Then, in 1912 the American government imposed regulations upon these amateur radio operators, requiring them to obtain licenses and limiting their broadcast ranges. In times of war, the president had the power to shut down radio stations with the aim of preventing interference with military operations.


Music & Shows

After World War I, radio stations began to gain popularity. In 1919, a station at the University of Wisconsin-Madison was the first to broadcast human speech over the airwaves. Shortly after that, the broadcasting of music brought many listeners to radio, as did some fictional stories and drama such as Superman and comedy such as Amos ‘n’ Andy. From these simple beginnings radio provided music, drama, and news to many listeners. In 1922, for instance, WGY of Schenectady, New York, broadcast original dramas, whose scripts were created and performed live by the station’s actors. The radio’s important role in providing news was revealed during World War II. President Franklin D. Roosevelt used this medium to communicate with the American people. Roosevelt’s “Fireside Chats” explained policies, quelled rumors, and inspired his citizens’ confidence in him.


With the invention of television, radio dramas and comedy shows became less popular; however, the radio found new life in the development of AM and FM stations. In the 1960s, AM stations, such as WLS of Chicago, broadcast widely over the airwaves rock’n’roll music to which millions of teens listened. By 1978, FM became more popular to listeners because it could transmit on any frequency. Nowadays, radio has made its way over the internet, and there is a wide range of programs for listeners such as a variety of music stations, conservative radio shows, and public radio which has cultural and entertainment programs.