It all began in 1873 when Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell predicted radio waves existed (although he had no proof). Finally, German scientist Heinrich Hertz (1888) experimented with electrical currents, and was successful in creating, or harnessing, the radio wave. At last, Hertz proved Mr. Maxwell correct.
Everyday use of the radio boomed with the “Golden Age of Radio” beginning in the mid-1920s and lasted until about the early 1950s. Events at this time included many addresses, coverage of elections, news, and entertainment. Major world events helped radio gain popularity. Although Woodrow Wilson was the first U.S. president to make a broadcast, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the first to make great use of the radio. He addressed the nation after the terrible attack on Pearl Harbor, and also had regular addresses. These weekly “fireside chats” provided updates on the economy during the Great Depression, as well as new information on progress during the war.
The radio also brought people together through entertainment. But radio also showed great influence over the public. The best example is the science fiction radio play of Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds, which led people to think that Martians/space aliens had attacked Earth and led the country into mass-hysteria. Laws from then on forced radio stations to clarify before every broadcast that it was just a story, “not an actual news event.”
Music and radio really took off during the 1950s, when radio met great competition with television. Teens in the ‘50s craved the latest music, and radio stations brought it to them, keeping radio going.
As you can see, radio really has supplied information to Americans for a long time and has brought Americans together in both emergency and rejoice. Although radio has lost popularity, I believe it will regain its strength through internet radio. Being around it since birth, I couldn’t think about a world without radio. Now, can you imagine our country being where it is today without radio?
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