This story was published in Radio Recall, the journal of the Metropolitan Washington Old-Time Radio Club, published six times per year.
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FIRST RADIO LISTINGS
by Irene Heinstein © 2012
(Edited by Jack French)
(From Radio Recall, June 2012)
Radio listings in the newspapers started almost as soon as the first stations were licensed. Twenty days after the first list of licensed broadcast stations was released, the NY Times new feature "Today's Radio Program" appeared in the paper. I did a thorough search of the paper from Jan 1 - March 30 to see if there might have been an earlier date, but March 30, 1922 is the first NY Times listing. I later found the Dec 1, 1921 Commerce Dept. regulations which provided structure and 'legitimacy' to unbridled radio broadcasting. The first list of stations which were licensed did not appear until March 10, 1922, twenty days before the first program listing appeared in the NY Times.
According to Radio News, June, 1922, page 1136:
"The adoption of the December 1, 1921 regulations by the Commerce Department restricted broadcasting to stations which held a Limited Commercial license plus an authorization to use the Entertainment wavelength of 360 meters (833 kilohertz), and/or the Market and Weather wavelength of 485 meters (619 kilohertz). These new regulations meant that stations operating under other license categories -- in particular amateur and experimental -- could no longer make broadcasts intended for the general public."
"The first list of broadcast stations operating under the new regulations was issued by the Bureau of Navigation for March 10, 1922--it included just 67 stations. However, the new broadcasting service grew rapidly nationwide, and only six months later, exceeded 500 stations, again triggering concern that there were too many stations on the air. (This article will discuss) ..the explosive growth, month by month, as broadcast stations were licensed in all of the then 48 states, plus the territories of Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. The last state to get a broadcasting station was Wyoming, with the licensing of KFBU in Laramie on October 3, 1922."
Understandably, in 1922, many of the early stations played records which met with general disapproval and thus began the enormous presence of live music and musical artists on radio. Initially performers were not paid. But 'canned' music eventually, of course, returned and prevailed decades later. In the NY Times, its first listing limited to radio programming had as its two primary sources were Radio Corporation of America and Westinghouse.
The March 30, 1922 program listings illustrated the lack of variety (basically weather reports and recorded music) which were aired, mostly in the evening.
WJZ, Newark: from 11:00 am to a weather forecast at 10:01 pm,
Army Signal Corps Station W.V.P. Bedlow's Island: a music program beginning at 9:00 pm
General Electric Station, WGY Schenectady: a music program beginning at 7:43 pm
Westinghouse Station, KDKA, East Pittsburgh, PA: 12:30 pm ending with a musical program beginning at 8:30 pm [length not stated]
Westinghouse Station, KYW, Chicago: a music program beginning at 8:00 pm [length not stated]
Westinghouse Station, WBZ, Springfield, MA: from 7:30 pm (Uncle Wiggly Bedtime Story), followed by a music program at 8:00 pm [length not stated]
However, as my research continued, I found an earlier program listing that predates the NY Times one by nearly two months:
Jan 12, 1922: Indiana Evening Gazette, Indiana, PA - under the title "Today's Radio Program", (the same title used by the NY Times which suggests the source of the listings was probably Westinghouse or RCA as it was in the NY Times.) Here's what Westinghouse offered on the air:
4:00 to 4:15—Music.
7:00—Hope Hampton, one of the younger moving picture stars, who is appearing at the Davis and
Grand Theatres this week, will sing.
7:30—Music and bedtime story.
7:45—Government market reports
and a report of the New York Stock exchange.
8:00—Talk by 'William H. Walker, Ph. D., dean, Duquesne University, t/n "Own Your Home Day."
9:05 to 9:30—Music.
9:55 to 10:00—Arlington time signals.
MUSIC SELECTIONS (8:30 until 9:30)
It's possible that this Indiana, PA radio listing was the very first one to appear in print.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Irene Heinstein is a genealogist and OTR
researcher in the San Francisco region. A
busy grandmother and a whiz on her
computer, she can find anything and
everything on the Internet.