January 13th, a Commemoration of Public Radio Broadcasting

Red radio tower on orange background.

It’s on this day that we honor those who invented this phenomenal piece of technology, and the profound impact public broadcasting has had on all of our lives.

Before we had TV or the internet, radio was all the rage. It took off in the early 20th Century and reached its peak by the 1950s. The good news is it’s still in the lead, and the competition is high.

Despite a plethora of new entertainment options to consume news and entertainment, 92% of Americans still listen to radio weekly. That's more than the 87% that watch television and much higher than the 22% that listen to podcasts. It appears radio is just as popular now as it was in the 50s. 

The History Of The Radio 

The Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi is believed to have sent and received the first radio transmission in 1895. From there, the first voice and music signals heard over the radio were in December of 1906. Canadian Reginald Fessenden produced approximately an hour of music and voice production from Brant Rock, Massachusetts. 

Others tried to offer such listening pleasures, but no one could sustain continuous services, making it a challenge for the public to garner excitement. On January 13, 1910, the New York City Metropolitan Opera House broadcast an entire live opera that ran for several hours. The sound quality was considered poor, but this was the beginning of what we know today as 24/7 radio play. 

Throughout the 20th century, public broadcasting evolved from a rarity in wealthy homes to a commonality in houses and automobiles alike. Radio programs provided music, education, and awareness for local happenings and communities. It had a way of connecting everyone to everything—in a good way. This is why we still listen today and celebrate annually. 

Public Radio’s Place In Broadcasting 

Public radio took all the best of Radioland and transformed it into a radio wonderland. Furthermore, public radio offers immense variety in its programming for every listener. From news to educational content, entertaining podcasts and music, public radio’s programming is the pulse of what is happening culturally in our country.  

Genres of music that are often ignored by commercial radio are embraced by public radio. Prefer classical? Jazz? The news? No problem. They have it. Community events and local artists are highlighted so that locals can appreciate what they have near home.  

NPR has also had its share of firsts in broadcasting. The first woman in the U.S. to ever anchor a nightly news program was Susan Stamberg on NPR in 1972. Additionally, NPR completed the first nationwide satellite radio distribution network in 1980. Public radio has always been on the cusp of innovation and advancement in broadcasting. 

Commending Public Broadcasting Day  

If you would like to celebrate Public Broadcasting Day, consider some of the options below. 

  • Tune in to your favorite public radio station or discover something new by exploring their digital or streaming content

  • Donate money, your car or have your company sponsor a show, the latter is a great way to share your marketing message while supporting your favorite station

  • Spread the word by sharing your preferred station or program on social 

  • Share your favorite artist from Tiny Desk or personality from your favorite program with friends and colleagues

In a world full of noise, Public Radio Broadcasting Day reminds us there's still a place for thoughtful conversation, engaging storytelling, and gratitude for all things related to the arts. It's a celebration of the voices that challenge us, inform us, and entertain us. So, crank up the volume for all to hear and join in on the chorus of appreciation for the treasure of public radio.  

Let’s Work Together

Whether you’re interested in sponsoring one of our public media stations or learning more about turnkey sponsorship representation for your station, we can help. Complete the form, and we’ll be in touch soon.

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