Notes from watching Ken Burns' Empire of the Air (about radio)

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Because the titanic had wireless radio, 1912, and broadcasts distress signal, a nearby ship heard it and was able to rescue the survivors. If it hadn’t, they would have died. It became federal law that all major vessels be equipped with wireless. 

Radio started getting big in the very early 1900s. Like 1920 is when it started picking up a lot. 

In 1926, Sarnoff helped create the first radio network (collaboration between stations I guess), he called it the national broadcasting, NBC. 

There were basically three main men. The biggest thing was that two of them got into legal battles, Armstrong and Deforest, and Deforest basically wasn’t a genius but played around and got lucky on an original design, then Armstrong who actually understood the electronics improved on it a lot, and then Deforest tried to claim he owned the rights to Armstrong’s invention, after 20 years of battles, Deforest ultimately won, which is horrible, because Armstrong was the real victor here. 

FDR really helped stabilize the banks during the depression by using radio, which was the first main time it was used politically. This is where the term fireside chats comes from, he explained the banking system to calm down the oublic and get rid of rumors and get people to stop withdrawing all money. 

Amos N Andy, was the most popular show, but reinforced black stereotypes. Two white actors did the voices, it was an almost entirely black cast, but white people did the voices. 

For the beginning of radio, even when it was widely popular, it was staticy, especially during bad weather and it could not represent all range of voice. This was because it was amplification modulated, AM, so basically would represent the waveform I believe that stood in the air. Then, one of the three spent years working to fix this, coming up with frequency modulated, which means a much larger spectrum but could encode a wider range and would be less susceptible to static. 

Sarnoff was using all the money they were making from radio to finance the invention of television. They succeeded. 

By 1954/55, television was taking over. Most of the popular radio shows were on television instead. Television really cut radio short. It was only 10-15 years when  radio was all that. 

The FCC declared that all sound for television would be over FM. 

Armstrong, who really was the ultimate founder of radio, the only one who really did things that were impressive and inventive, killed himself after losing all his money suing companies who stole his work. He jumped from a window.