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Broadcast Industry Celebrates Radio's 100th Anniversary

KDKA Nov. 2, 1920
KDKA takes to the air on the evening of Nov. 2, 1920 with a program of election return reporting interspersed with recorded music. Announcer Leo Rosenberg is second from right in this Westinghouse publicity photo of the broadcast. R. S. McClelland on stool served as a “standby.” Also shown are William Thomas, the licensed transmitter operator, and John Frazier, the telephone line “operator.” (Image credit: Getty Images)

WASHINGTON—One hundred years ago today, Nov. 2, the era of electronic mass communication began with the first recognized commercial radio broadcast in the U.S. on KDKA, a Westinghouse Electric-owned station, in Pittsburgh, announcing the results of the 1920 presidential election.

The broadcast industry is celebrating this historic anniversary in a number of ways. NAB has been using the hashtag #Radio100 to recognize key moments in broadcast radio history. Individuals and radio stations have also been using the hashtag to honor the “pioneer station of the world.”

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TVT’s sister publication, Radio World, recalls how KDKA was able to achieve the first radio broadcast.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai released a statement on the original broadcast, which, as he describes, “set the stage for a long line of radio broadcasts that have shaped the story of America.”

“As the earliest electronic mass communications medium, radio has allowed us to listen in on some of the most momentous occasions in American history, from President Roosevelt’s famous ‘fireside chats’ to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech,” said Pai. “It has entertained us, from ‘The War of the Worlds’ to ‘The Jack Benny Program’ to ‘American Top 40’ with Casey Kasem to ‘The Steve Harvey Morning Show.’ And radio still keeps millions of Americans company on long drives, enthralls us with coverage of our favorite sports teams, and when disaster strikes, is one of the most valuable resources for life-saving information.

“Radio has given us a way to come together in times of strife and times of triumph. On behalf of myself and the FCC’s dedicated staff, it is my honor to join all Americans in recognizing this milestone. Congratulations to radio broadcasters on a century of excellence. We look forward to the stories that radio will continue to tell.”