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Chapter 1
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Chapter One - History of Broadcast Media

Marconi, Fessenden, and De Forest were early inventors who helped radio develop. Marconi developed wireless while Fessenden made the first radio broadcast using a high speed alternator on Christmas eve 1906. DeForest invented the Audion.

General Electric, Westinghouse, and AT&T were companies that were interested in early radio. Each company held patents needed by the others, and, as a result, many legal battles hampered radio’s early development.

During World War I, the Navy took responsibility for patent infringement, which allowed for significant technical improvements in the medium. When the war was over, a new company, RCA, was formed and quickly became the leading company in American radio.

Many improvements during the war allowed for greater range and reception. The 1920s were a significant period for radio. Early stations were experimental, and the notion of broadcasting was discovered more or less by accident. Frank Conrad began KDKA in Pittsburg, experimenting with broadcasting from his garage. Others soon followed. The new fad grew quickly, and soon there were hundreds of stations on the air. Radio networks and radio advertising were developed, and in 1927, Congress passed the Radio Act.

The period from 1930 to 1948 was the "golden age of radio," as the medium was the prime source of news and entertainment for the nation. This situation changed as television came on the scene in the 1950s.

Zworykin and Farnsworth, TV was first unveiled in 1939 at the New York Worlds Fair. After its development was interrupted by World War II, television quickly became popular, and by the mid-1950s it had taken radio’s place as the number-one medium in the country.

The FCC froze applications for TV stations from 1948 to 1952 while it determined standards for the new medium. After the freeze, TV growth skyrocketed. Networks dominated TV until the 1970s when cable emerged as a formidable competitor.

Radio reacted to TV by becoming a loc`alized medium that depended on formats to attract a specific segment of the listening audience.

Television’s Fox network premiered in the 1980s, which caused ABC, CBS, and NBC further audience erosion. The ownership of all three major networks changed hands during the 1980s and 1990s. New Networks such as UPN and WB entered the world of Network television.

The Internet and the shift to digital technology will have an impact on the future of radio and television broadcasting.

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