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The Golden Age of Radio- Networks and News

Radio Lecture 6

Drew Hamilton

on 7 March 2011

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Transcript of The Golden Age of Radio- Networks and News

The Golden Age of Radio:
Networks and News
Radio Networks: How They Started
Before programming could be recorded, everything on radio was LIVE and expensive to produce
American Telephone and Telegraph Co. (or AT&T) owned WEAF and WNAC on the East Coast
The stations decided to connect the two stations using high-quality telephone lines, which AT&T owned
In 1925, other stations joined this connection and became known as the Broadcasting Company of America
BCA was the first radio network.
AT&T already controlled almost all telephone services in the country
AT&T considered radio just “wireless telephone service” so the company felt it should control all of radio as well
Of course, this was a problem for radio companies NOT owned by AT&T
The government eventually broke up AT&T’s monopoly and forced the company to sell off parts of the BCA radio network; they did, however, keep their lucrative monopoly on radio network lines
A Challenger Appears!
In late 1926, non-AT&T stations owned by GE, Westinghouse and RCA networked their own stations; but they initially had to use inferior Western Union telegraph lines, which lowered sound quality
They called this new network the National Broadcasting Company...or NBC.
NBC is the oldest network still in existance today
Network Affiliates
To join the network radio stations had to sign a contract that required them to carry designated network programs
Stations that signed up were called affiliates
Since the programs included commercials, the stations received a share of the network revenue. At the same time, the affiliates could run their own local commercials around the network programs.
This practice is still followed today by both radio and television network affiliates.
WMC-TV5 is an NBC affiliate
92.9 FM is an ESPN affiliate
Network Foundations
In 1926, NBC was founded by David Sarnoff
In 1928, a man named William Paley bought 16 radio stations to form a network…with the intention to help his father’s cigar business sell more cigars
That network was called the Colombia Broadcasting System, or CBS
In the 30s, NBC ran into their own monopoly problems
The company formed itself into 2 different companies, NBC Red and NBC Blue, to avoid government interference
In 1945, the FCC forced NBC to sell off NBC Blue to stop the monopoly
Life Savers candy owner, Edward J. Noble bought NBC Blue for $8 million and renamed it the American Broadcasting Company, or ABC
Press Radio War
Not only could radio broadcast music, they also broadcast news
Now, who might have a problem with that?
Obviously, radio had the advantage of being first with news and not only were they scooping newspapers, they started to take their advertisers
The newspapers, which had control of all the major news services, including the Associated Press (AP), the International News Service (INS), and the United Press (UP), launched a corporate war against the radio stations.
Press Radio War
At the center of the Press Radio War was the teletype
The teletype is a machine newspapers and radios used to receive news from across the world
Teletypes supplied the country's newspapers with regular summaries of news, feature stories, weather forecasts and bulletins
Newpapers threatened to block radio's access to teletypes.
CBS News
Faced with losing access to news services, CBS decided to form their own news service
Other networks followed suit in the following years
Edward R. Murrow was the star for CBS News, he was an excellent writer and had a deep, dramatic voice
His coverage of WWII was very memorable; made you feel as if you WERE THERE to witness the war
Murrow felt news should NEVER be corrupted and regularly battled with corporate executives who were prone to compromise news standards to protect advertising profits.
His news signoff was, “Good night and good luck.”
Edward R. Morrow
Murrow is most often considered the greatest newsman of all time
End of the Press Radio War
Radio won
They were given access to teletypes and were leading the news industry
However, the radio industry realized simply playing music was cheaper, easier, and didn't require employing a whole staff, like news did
Ratings also showed listeners wanted to hear music more than news
Over time radio essentially abandoned news
Radio News Today
News is essential to radio, but today it is gathered differently
Today, few radio stations are involved in their own newsgathering
Most of those who have newscasts switch to a audio network on the hour for a short news summary
Other stations simply read the latest news headlines from news wire services or even the local newspaper
Full transcript