Thursday, December 12, 2013

December 12 In Radio History

In 1896...Guglielmo Marconi gave the first public demonstration of radio at Toynbee Hall, London.

In 1901...Marconi sends first Atlantic wireless transmission

Italian physicist and radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi succeeds in sending the first radio transmission across the Atlantic Ocean, disproving detractors who told him that the curvature of the earth would limit transmission to 200 miles or less. The message--simply the Morse-code signal for the letter "s"--traveled more than 2,000 miles from Poldhu in Cornwall, England, to Signal Hill in Newfoundland, Canada.

Born in Bologna, Italy, in 1874 to an Italian father and an Irish mother, Marconi studied physics and became interested in the transmission of radio waves after learning of the experiments of the German physicist Heinrich Hertz. He began his own experiments in Bologna beginning in 1894 and soon succeeded in sending a radio signal over a distance of 1.5 miles. Receiving little encouragement for his experiments in Italy, he went to England in 1896. He formed a wireless telegraph company and soon was sending transmissions from distances farther than 10 miles. In 1899, he succeeded in sending a transmission across the English Channel. That year, he also equipped two U.S. ships to report to New York newspapers on the progress of the America's Cup yacht race. That successful endeavor aroused widespread interest in Marconi and his wireless company.

Signal Hill, Newfoundland
Marconi's greatest achievement came on December 12, 1901, when he received a message sent from England at St. John's, Newfoundland. The transatlantic transmission won him worldwide fame. Ironically, detractors of the project were correct when they declared that radio waves would not follow the curvature of the earth, as Marconi believed. In fact, Marconi's transatlantic radio signal had been headed into space when it was reflected off the ionosphere and bounced back down toward Canada. Much remained to be learned about the laws of the radio wave and the role of the atmosphere in radio transmissions, and Marconi would continue to play a leading role in radio discoveries and innovations during the next three decades.

In 1909, he was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in physics with the German radio innovator Ferdinand Braun. After successfully sending radio transmissions from points as far away as England and Australia, Marconi turned his energy to experimenting with shorter, more powerful radio waves. He died in 1937, and on the day of his funeral all British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) stations were silent for two minutes in tribute to his contributions to the development of radio.

In 1915...Legendary singer Frank Sinatra, dubbed "Ol' Blue Eyes" and the "Chairman of the Board," was born. He died May 14, 1998 at 82.

In 1957...KEX, Portland, Oregon Disc Jockey Al Priddy, was fired for playing Elvis Presley's rendition of "White Christmas." He violated the radio station's ban against the song. The station had banned Presley’s interpretations of Christmas carols, believing that such a sexually-charged performer had no business recording religious music.

In 1961...Ham radio satellite Oscar 1 was launched with military Discoverer 36

In 1971...David Sarnoff, who founded the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) and throughout most of his career led the Radio Corporation of America (RCA), died at age 80.

In 1995...the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) announced the Radio Canada International service would end on March 31.

In 2003...Unkle Roger McCall, a long-time DJ on WCMF-FM, Rochester, New York, was fatally wounded by a gunshot in a robbery attempt.  His killer has never been brought to justice.

In 2008...Spike O'Dell did his last broadcast on WGN-AM. He spent 21 years with the station, 8 of them doing mornings.

In 2012...Veteran broadcaster (KABC-Los Angeles, KLAC-Los Angeles, KIEV-Los Angeles, KGIL-Los Angeles, KING-Seattle) Ray Briem, who ruled the Los Angeles overnight airwaves with his radio talk show for 27 years (1967-1994), died of cancer at 82.

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