Christmas Eve commercial radio celebrated it’s 100th anniversary.
On December 24th in 1906, Reginald Fessenden switched on his transmitter and broadcast a short program of music and talk.
One interesting piece from the podcast, there was this story of the early growth.
From 1920 to 1922, the number of radio stations went from nothing to 600, with almost all of them run by individuals who programmed exactly what they wanted to hear.
The mom and pop stations were usually playing the songs that were popular in the neighborhood, the bands that were playing in the local dance halls. The incomprehensible singing of one of the new ethnic groups swelling the tenements of the Lower East Side.
By the end of the decade, however, big corporations like GE and RCA had convinced the federal government to regulate the airways. To their advantage, of course.
In 1927, Washington wrote the first real broadcast regulations. And they were worried about the same things that politicians worry about today, including decency and guarding sensitive ears.
The big corporations were more than happy to corner the high-brow market. And, like today, the government was more than happy to stack the deck in their favor. The time when radio was wide-open to small entrepreneurs was over. And the era of corporate control of the airwaves had begun.
A little lesson from history for those who believe there’s nothing wrong with letting the big telecom companies control the web.