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This Day in Pop Culture for August 20

Radio microphones

1920: The First Commercial Radio Station Begins to Air

The first radio transmitters capable of audio transmissions began around 1915 which led to the idea of creating broadcasting stations for newspapers. In 1916, the DeForest Radio Telephone Telegraph Company began airing a “wireless newspaper” which featured music and news in New York City. Surprisingly, the idea didn’t catch on right away and Mr. DeForest was unable to attract any publishers. Then, with World War I starting, all civilian radio stations went silent. The ban was lifted in October of 1919 and DeForest began airing his show once more offering local franchises and national advertisers ad time. The Detroit News was the only taker. Then in May of 1920, the newspaper made arrangements for DeForest to develop and broadcasting service in Detroit. Michael DeLisle Lyons, a teenager, was an amateur radio operator was was hired to get the station up and running by installing a transmitter connected to an antenna at the top of the building. The first in a series of trial broadcasts began on this day in 1920. Later on August 31, The Detroit News Radiophone broadcasts began. Today, the station is known as WWJ, 950 AM and is owned by CBS Radio. (Image: Wikimedia)


  • 1890: H.P. Lovecraft (author)
  • 1931: Don King (boxing promoter)
  • 1946: Connie Chung (jounalist)
  • 1947: Ray Wise (actor)
  • 1953: Peter Horton (actor)
  • 1954: Al Roker (TV weatherman)
  • 1956: Joan Allen (actress)
  • 1974: Amy Adams (actress)
  • 1974: Misha Collins (actor)
  • 1992: Demi Lovato (singer)

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Jeffrey Totey View All

I write about pop culture, arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.

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