BW – EP75: We Are Echoes—The Birth Of Radio (1887 – 1912)

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In Breaking Walls Episode 75 we go back in time to the beginning of radio to tell the story of how this medium began.

• Why the Blizzard of 1888 played such an important role in the need for wireless telegraphy
• Who Was Heinrich Hertz? What experiment made him the father of Hertzian Waves?
• What Oliver Lodge, Nikola Tesla, Alexander Graham Bell, and Amos DollBear have in common
• Guglielmo Marconi, father of
• The benefits to wireless telegraphy
• David Sarnoff — His start between 1900 – 1906
• Why the press want to get involved
• Lee Deforest — Inventor, Fraud, or both?
• What incredibly important event happened in December of 1901 in New Foundland
• Why the American Government wanted to regulate wireless telegraphy
• Reginald Fessenden, Christmas Eve, Oh Holy Night, and Brant Rock
• The Titanic Disaster — How it changed wireless telegraphy forever
• The Radio Box Memo
• What’s next?

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Background information:
Prior to television, people tuned in to Radio to hear their favorite comedies, thrillers, westerns, high-adventure dramas, soap operas, kids shows, and melodramas, along with the talk, news, music, and sports that still dominate the airwaves.

Radio Drama on the major networks of NBC, CBS, and ABC mostly went out after the growth of television in the 1950s and the story of this industry isn’t widely known to the general american public.

Going forward, Breaking Walls will tell the story of this medium, which still influences our entertainment patters today. We’ll start at the beginning of radio and move through the rise of the networks, the growth of programming, how the great depression and world war II influenced the country, why radio declined during the growth of TV, what happened to its stars and the people who worked at the recording studios after radio drama went out in the late 1950s and early 1960s, why fans began collecting shows, how this helped save countless hours of broadcasts, and where we can go next.

A tremendous thank you to today’s cast:
Samantha De Gracia
Olga Lysenko
Justin Peele
Nancy Pop
Fernando Sanabria
William Schallert &
John Stephenson

• Nancy Pop is a New York-based writer, producer, actress, and comedian. She hosts a monthly variety show in New York City called SHEbang, featuring an all-female line up of comedians and poets. With Valentine’s Day being this month, February’s SHEbang theme is all about self love.

You can check out the show on Wednesday, February 28th at Artichoke Basille’s Pizzeria located at 18 Wyckoff Avenue. It starts at 8pm, and there is no cover charge.

• Samantha Leon DeGracia is a New York-based musician and song writer. She’s got a show coming up LIVE at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 1 on Tuesday February 27th. The address is 196 Allen St, New York, New York 10002 in the Lower East Side.

To hear her most recent EP called Samantha Leon, search for Samantha Leon on itunes or spotify or go to

• Olga Lysenko and Fernando Sanabria run YelloTrace, a multi-disciplinary architecture and design firm with a focus in hospitality and residential. You can find out more information at

The interview clips in today’s open were courtesy of:
• Chuck Schaden, who’s interviews can be found at and
• Dick Bertel and the late Ed Corcoran’s Golden Age of Radio program that ran on Hartford, CT’s WTIC in the 1970s, who’s interviews can be found at

The reading material for today’s episode was:
• Inventing American Broadcasting 1899-1922 by Susan J. Douglas
• Empire of the Air by Tom Lewis
• A Pictorial History of Radio’s First 75 Years by B. Eric Rhoads
• Hello Everybody! The Dawn of American Radio by Anthony Rudel &
• The Network by Scott Woolley

I’d also like to extend a tremendous thank you to Walden Hughes, and John and Larry Gassman, three old-time radio enthusiasts who host their own old-time radio program through the Yesterday USA Radio Network, which you can visit at They’ve put me in touch with many golden age enthusiasts, and given me access to a lot of reading and audio material.

That thank you also extends to the late Les Tremayne and late Jack Brown for their wonderful 1986 documentary series, Please Stand By: A History of Radio.

Subscribe to Breaking Walls everywhere you get your podcasts.

A Special Thank you to:
Rebecca Shield

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