The invention of the radio was a huge step towards the founding of literal breaking news. The radio stems from experimentation with wireless telegraphs, where the sounds for morse code were transmitted via sound waves. In 1888 Heinrich Rudolf Hertz was able to prove the idea of electromagnetism, therefore making the idea of traveling sound possible. Guglielmo Marconi followed behind Hertz, building the first complete wireless telegraphy system in 1998.
Some of the first recorded sounds can be heard below:
Once the 20th century began, the radio industry took off in an insane timeline, beginning with the first voice broadcast in 1901 and by 1907 a commercial transatlantic radio broadcasting system was in place. Following this, the sinking of the Titanic caused a turn in the industry which allowed for government intervention and regulation. A boom in the radio industry followed, where journalists began using this new media to communicate with an audience in an instant.
In an effort to explore the world of radio, radio broadcasters began with a few events that quickly gained interest from the public. In 1920 the Pittsburg Post announced the Cox/Harding election results over the radio. And in 1921, the first world series event was broadcasted. And in 1924 the first political convention was broadcasted. These real-time results, however, pitted the radio producers against the print journalists.
Hence, a press war ensued. They battled for rights to breaking news until the 1933 Biltmore Agreement, where specific times for radio news were scheduled not to interfere with the times of printers’s publication. With this truce, radio news was broadcasted two times a day, and signed off with “for more check out your local newspaper.”
After this agreement was reached, radio boomed. Even the president at the time President Franklin Roosevelt used the radio as a news source to reach mass amounts of the American public, featured in his weekly “Fireside Chats.” (seen in the video above)
The radio became more and more of a news source, eventually becoming a household commodity, which became essential to American life, especially during World War 2. The founding of the radio radicalized journalism, in that breaking news could be announced instantly, even reported live. The radio is considered one of the biggest technological advancements in the media world, rivaling only the printing press.