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Radio News History – Frank’s Garage

radio news history

Radio news history started in Frank Conrad’s garage in 1919. Oh, to be experimenters again and start something new in your garage. 

Two years ago, I published a history of radio news. It’s a fascinating story and I invite you to take a look. Radio news history started in Frank’s garage in 1919.

Many industries have garage start-up stories. These include automobiles, microcomputers and yes, broadcasting.

Frank Conrad was an inventor and electrical engineer living near Pittsburgh. He was also a ham radio operator, 8XK. You may recall that ham radio was prohibited during World War I. When Frank got back on the air in 1919, he set up carrier wave station on the second floor of his garage, abandoning his previous spark transmitter.

As an experimenter with the new radio-telephone mode, Frank connected a microphone and record player to his transmitter. Just for fun, he started to play records, both his own and borrowed from a nearby record store. Just for fun, he started to talk about news and current events. Just for fun, his family did live concerts on the radio.

Pretty much all of the radio experimenters in the region listened to Frank and the response was great. A local department store, trying to sell radios, promoted the Conrad radio programs as “something to listen to”. Eventually, these efforts settled down into regular broadcasts on Wednesday and Sunday evenings.

The next year, Frank’s employer, Westinghouse, got into the radio business and leveraged his talents. Shortly the first licensed American radio station, KDKA was on the air.

Radio News History – Frank Conrad

Frank Conrad was a prolific inventor of which radio news history was just part. He spent 51 years with Westinghouse and held 200 patents in many fields.

I recognize him as one of the first people to consider radio as a broadcast rather than just point-to-point communications medium.

You might enjoy this video about Frank Conrad and early Westinghouse broadcasting history.

So, get out into your garage and invent something!


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