Date of Award


Degree Name



W. Page Pitt School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Corley F. Dennison III

Second Advisor

Ralph J. Turner

Third Advisor

Harold C. Shaver

Fourth Advisor

Leonard J. Deutsch


Modern radio came into being November 2, 1920, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The nation’s first federally-licensed radio station, KDKA, broadcast the Harding-Cox election returns:

These words changed our world forever…’This is KDKA of the Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company in East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We shall now broadcast the election returns…’ (StratiComm America 2).

The first radio announcer, or disc jockey, was ham radio operator Frank Conrad of Westinghouse. In 1919, Conrad played records supplied by a local store in exchange for free plugs on the air, the equivalent of today’s bartering or trading in which stations receive merchandise from a business or company in exchange for radio commercial time (Warner and Buchman 247). The forerunner of today’s KCBS in San Francisco, KQW in San Jose, California, claims to be the first radio station in existence, beginning as far back as 1909. However, KQW accepted no advertising until 1925 (StratiComm America 4).

In the beginning, radio advertising was considered in very poor taste. Dr. Lee De Forest, the creator of the vacuum tube, said:

What have you done with my child? You have sent him out on the street in rags of ragtime to collect money from all and sundry. You have made of him a laughing-stock of intelligence, surely a stench in the nostrils of the gods of the ionosphere (StratiComm America 4).

The founder of NBC, David Sarnoff, said “ ... radio should be a public service medium ‘untainted’ by money-making, and the costs be borne by set manufacturers, distributors, and retailers.” Secretary of commerce at the time and later president of the United States, Herbert Hoover “was shocked at the prospect of radio being ‘drowned in advertising chatter” (StratiComm America 4).


Radio advertising – Research – West Virginia – Huntington.

Radio advertising – Research – Ohio – Ironton.

Radio advertising – Research – Kentucky –Ashland.