KDKA Radio Celebrates National Radio Day

Odd Pittsburgh explains how important Pittsburgh is to broadcasting

Andrew Limberg
August 20, 2018 - 1:09 pm

KDKA Radio


Related: Odd Pittsburgh: Baseball Has Been Around Longer Than You Think In Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH (Newsradio 1020 KDKA) - August 20 is known as National Radio Day in the United States and the day would not be possible without KDKA Radio!

On November 2, 1920 Westinghouse employee Leo Rosenberg announced the results of the Presidential Election better Warren Harding and James Cox on KDKA Radio and the world history was changed forever.

John Schalcosky, the founder of the Odd, Mysterious and Fascinating History of Pittsburgh says you can’t have National Radio Day without KDKA Radio.

But he says the history of radio in Pittsburgh actually goes back to the 1890s and the concept of radio started in 1860s during the Civil War.

“They had the potential for transmitting radio waves or figuring out how to put your voice on a wireless transmitter all the way back in the Civil War.”

In 1899 Reginald Fessenden, brought to Pittsburgh by George Westinghouse, sent a “radiotelegraph” message from Pittsburgh to the North Side (known then as Allegheny City).

Twenty one years later Westinghouse engineer Frank Conrad helped make world history with the first commercial broadcast from East Pittsburgh.

Since then the history of radio and broadcasting as a whole goes through Pittsburgh, even the term broadcasting originated in Pittsburgh.

Prior to World War I, while operating the experimental 8XK, that would later become KDKA, Conrad “started playing music over the air and it became such a success, he would get so many request from different people to play this song or that song that he eventually started “broadcasting” every Wednesday and Saturday night live music.”

Schalcosky says that within six months of operating and the reach they had, Westinghouse realized they had a responsibility to the public.

“They realized they could have mass communication and they had a responsibility to take this in all seriousness and in fact they came up with five guidelines.”

From 1921:

  1. To work hand -in -hand with the press.
  2. To provide programs of interest and benefit to the greatest number.
  3. To avoid monotony.
  4. To assign distinctive features regular times for the convenience
  5. of listeners.
  6. To operate a daily service of regularly scheduled programs.

It’s hard to imagine where the world would be without the work done by Dr. Conrad and countless others who helped us be here today.

Listen below for our conversation with Schalcosky and hear more great tales of KDKA Radio.



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