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Engineering the Public Interest, 1922-1925: Technological Rationality and Institutionalization of American Broadcasting
Unformatted Document Text:  30 League, 1936); QST, monthly magazine of the American Radio Relay League, national organization of amateurs; Susan Douglas, Inventing American Broadcasting, 1899-1922 (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989 [1987]); Michele Hilms, Radio Voices: American Broadcasting, 1922-1952 (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1997), 40-42. 2 On the natural monopoly, Susan Smulyan, Selling Radio: The Commercialization of American Broadcasting, 1920- 1934 (Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 1994), 36. On the public service arguments, L. R. Krumm, representing RCA, HHPL, Commerce Papers, Radio, Conferences, National-First (Feb. 27, 1922) Minutes, b. 496, 34-35. 3 Report of Radio Telephony Conference, April 26, 1922, mimeographed, HHPL, Commerce Papers, Radio: Correspondence, Press Release, Miscellaneous, b. 489, 2. On Hoover’s words, “It becomes of primary public interest to say who is to do the broadcasting, under what circumstances, and with what type of material.” Although this principle is actually only in theory, in the sense that conference participants still draw a line between private as commercial and public as non-commercial and/or non-profit. The falsity of this prioritization of public broadcasting was disputed by C. M. Jansky. Jansky Papers, State Historical Society of Wisconsin (SHSW), f.5 b.7. 4 This study uses wavelengths, spectrum, and channels without discrimination. The terms were used according to the change of time period. The term, wavelength, was used in the early days of radio. Frequencies were measured in terms of the distance between the peaks of two consecutive cycles of a radio wave, instead of the number of cycles per second. The distance between the peaks of two consecutive cycles is measured in meters. The relationship between a radio signal’s frequency and its wavelength can be exemplified by this formula: wavelength= 300 /frequency in MHz.; a frequency of 9680 kHz (9.68 MHz) would be equivalent to a wavelength of 30.99 meters. http://www.dxing.com 5 In September 1921, as the number of broadcast stations started climbing quickly, the Commerce Department formally established a new category of “limited commercial stations” on the separate waveband of 360 meters—a channel away from amateurs and free of interference. In December, 485 meters was reserved for government broadcasting functions, such as agricultural market and weather reports. Stations could easily switch from 360 meters to 485 meters when they broadcast government reports. 6 “Best Broadcasting Stations Will Operate on Longer Wave-lengths,” Radio News, Nov. 1922, 1016. 7 On KSD, “The First 400-Meter Broadcasting Station,” Radio News, Nov. 1922, 843. On new Class B stations, “Eleven Class “B” Stations Will Broadcast on 400 Meters, Radio Digest,” Radio News, Dec. 1922, 1087. 8 On high-class entertainment, “Best Broadcasting Stations Will Operate on Longer Wave-lengths,” Radio News, Nov. 1922, 862. On the number of broadcasting stations up to November 1922, “Radio Digest: Over 500 Broadcasters Licensed,” Radio News, Nov. 1922, 867. For quotation, Erik Barnouw, A Tower in Babel: A History of Broadcasting in the United States, Volume 1-to 1933 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1966), 101, 122. 9 On interference between Class B, “No Interference between 360 and 440 meters, Radio Digest,” Radio News, Jan. 1923, 1404. When Class B was created, the reduction of interference was expected. For the complaints of the interference, “Correspondence from Readers: Broadcast Interference,” Radio News, Mar. 1923, 1657. On the number of stations, Memorandum for the Commissioner of Navigation, from Chief Radio Inspector, Mar. 17, 1923, HHPL, Radio Conference, National- Second, 1923, b. 496. For the number of Class B, “Radio Digest,” Radio News,April, 1923, 1809. On the number of radio sets, Jr. Edward F. Sarno, “The National Radio Conferences,” Journal of Broadcasting 13: 2 (Spring 1969), 193. On Congress, Louis M. Benjamin, “Working It Out Together: Radio Policy from Hoover to the Radio Act of 1927,” Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, 42:2 (Spring 1998), 224. Radio Corporations stalled passage of the bills because they believed the bill would jeopardize their respective business interests. They wanted new legislation only after radio gained a solid economic base. On the Intercity case, Herbert Hoover v Intercity, 1923. 10 Memorandum for the Commissioner of Navigation, from Chief Radio Inspector, March 17, 1923, HHPL, Radio Conference, National- Second, b. 496; Radio Service Bulletin, Ibid, April 2, 1923, 10. About 540 broadcasting stations were operating on two wavelengths of 360 and 400 meters. 11 On Formulation of frequencies, Radio Service Bulletin, April 2, 1923, 9; Press Release on April 2, 1923 Department of Commerce, HHPL, Commerce Papers, National-Second, 1923, b. 496; Metropolitan areas were given specific frequencies. For example, New York City received three frequencies for its Class B stations; “Recommendations of the National Radio Committee,” Radio News, June 1923, 2079; “Wave-Lengths for Class A Stations Being Assigned,” Radio News, July 1923, 36. 12 On less interference, “Hoover Urges Government Radio Policy and Laws,” The 1923 Commerce Department Annual Report, Feb. 1924, 1193. On Class B as a “privileged class,” Christopher Sterling and John M. Kittross, Stay Tuned: A Concise History of American Broadcasting History (Belmont, CA: Wadworth, 1990), 83; Barnouw, A

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League, 1936); QST, monthly magazine of the American Radio Relay League, national organization of amateurs;
Susan Douglas, Inventing American Broadcasting, 1899-1922 (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press,
1989 [1987]); Michele Hilms, Radio Voices: American Broadcasting, 1922-1952 (Minneapolis, MN: University of
Minnesota Press, 1997), 40-42.
2
On the natural monopoly, Susan Smulyan, Selling Radio: The Commercialization of American Broadcasting, 1920-
1934 (Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 1994), 36. On the public service arguments, L. R. Krumm, representing
RCA, HHPL, Commerce Papers, Radio, Conferences, National-First (Feb. 27, 1922) Minutes, b. 496, 34-35.
3
Report of Radio Telephony Conference, April 26, 1922, mimeographed, HHPL, Commerce Papers, Radio:
Correspondence, Press Release, Miscellaneous, b. 489, 2. On Hoover’s words, “It becomes of primary public
interest to say who is to do the broadcasting, under what circumstances, and with what type of material.” Although
this principle is actually only in theory, in the sense that conference participants still draw a line between private as
commercial and public as non-commercial and/or non-profit. The falsity of this prioritization of public broadcasting
was disputed by C. M. Jansky. Jansky Papers, State Historical Society of Wisconsin (SHSW), f.5 b.7.
4
This study uses wavelengths, spectrum, and channels without discrimination. The terms were used according to the
change of time period. The term, wavelength, was used in the early days of radio. Frequencies were measured in
terms of the distance between the peaks of two consecutive cycles of a radio wave, instead of the number of cycles
per second. The distance between the peaks of two consecutive cycles is measured in meters. The relationship
between a radio signal’s frequency and its wavelength can be exemplified by this formula: wavelength= 300
/frequency in MHz.; a frequency of 9680 kHz (9.68 MHz) would be equivalent to a wavelength of 30.99 meters.
http://www.dxing.com
5
In September 1921, as the number of broadcast stations started climbing quickly, the Commerce Department
formally established a new category of “limited commercial stations” on the separate waveband of 360 meters—a
channel away from amateurs and free of interference. In December, 485 meters was reserved for government
broadcasting functions, such as agricultural market and weather reports. Stations could easily switch from 360
meters to 485 meters when they broadcast government reports.
6
“Best Broadcasting Stations Will Operate on Longer Wave-lengths,” Radio News, Nov. 1922, 1016.
7
On KSD, “The First 400-Meter Broadcasting Station,” Radio News, Nov. 1922, 843. On new Class B stations,
“Eleven Class “B” Stations Will Broadcast on 400 Meters, Radio Digest,” Radio News, Dec. 1922, 1087.
8
On high-class entertainment, “Best Broadcasting Stations Will Operate on Longer Wave-lengths,” Radio News,
Nov. 1922, 862. On the number of broadcasting stations up to November 1922, “Radio Digest: Over 500
Broadcasters Licensed,” Radio News, Nov. 1922, 867. For quotation, Erik Barnouw, A Tower in Babel: A History of
Broadcasting in the United States, Volume 1-to 1933
(New York: Oxford University Press, 1966), 101, 122.
9
On interference between Class B, “No Interference between 360 and 440 meters, Radio Digest,” Radio News, Jan.
1923, 1404. When Class B was created, the reduction of interference was expected. For the complaints of the
interference, “Correspondence from Readers: Broadcast Interference,” Radio News, Mar. 1923, 1657. On the
number of stations, Memorandum for the Commissioner of Navigation, from Chief Radio Inspector, Mar. 17, 1923,
HHPL, Radio Conference, National- Second, 1923, b. 496. For the number of Class B, “Radio Digest,” Radio News,
April, 1923, 1809. On the number of radio sets, Jr. Edward F. Sarno, “The National Radio Conferences,” Journal of
Broadcasting
13: 2 (Spring 1969), 193. On Congress, Louis M. Benjamin, “Working It Out Together: Radio Policy
from Hoover to the Radio Act of 1927,” Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, 42:2 (Spring 1998), 224.
Radio Corporations stalled passage of the bills because they believed the bill would jeopardize their respective
business interests. They wanted new legislation only after radio gained a solid economic base. On the Intercity case,
Herbert Hoover v Intercity, 1923.
10
Memorandum for the Commissioner of Navigation, from Chief Radio Inspector, March 17, 1923, HHPL, Radio
Conference, National- Second, b. 496; Radio Service Bulletin, Ibid, April 2, 1923, 10. About 540 broadcasting
stations were operating on two wavelengths of 360 and 400 meters.
11
On Formulation of frequencies, Radio Service Bulletin, April 2, 1923, 9; Press Release on April 2, 1923
Department of Commerce, HHPL, Commerce Papers, National-Second, 1923, b. 496; Metropolitan areas were given
specific frequencies. For example, New York City received three frequencies for its Class B stations;
“Recommendations of the National Radio Committee,” Radio News, June 1923, 2079; “Wave-Lengths for Class A
Stations Being Assigned,” Radio News, July 1923, 36.
12
On less interference, “Hoover Urges Government Radio Policy and Laws,” The 1923 Commerce Department
Annual Report, Feb. 1924, 1193. On Class B as a “privileged class,” Christopher Sterling and John M. Kittross, Stay
Tuned: A Concise History of American Broadcasting History
(Belmont, CA: Wadworth, 1990), 83; Barnouw, A


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