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Engineering the Public Interest, 1922-1925: Technological Rationality and Institutionalization of American Broadcasting
Unformatted Document Text:  4 technological services to the public. The radio corporations succeeded in making station power new criterion of the public interest, and eventually, in mutating the distinction between “private” and “public” broadcasting in the Second Radio Conference in March 1923. The implication of this change was the acceptance of corporate arguments based on a public utility framework. A few technologically and financially strong stations were granted the preferred wavelengths for “public broadcasting” service. Creating Class B: Initiation of a Two-tier Broadcasting System In August 1922, four months after the release of the final report of the First Conference, the Commerce Department authorized the creation of Class B stations on 400 meters in addition to the existing 360 meters. 5 Class B stations had to operate at between 500 and 1,000 watts of transmitting power. There were required studio arrangements to eliminate reverberations; equipment to prevent harmonics; the erection of a special antenna to prevent swinging, and other reliable equipment with spare parts to insure continuity and reliability of the announced schedule of broadcasting service. Live music and performance were required as high-class programs, and phonograph records were prohibited. Mechanically operated music was allowed in only an emergency and during intermission periods in regular programs. In March 1922, 55 licensed stations existed, and few exceeded 250 watts of output. 6 Class B broadcasters were technologically and financially distinguished from most early broadcasters who used between 100 and 500 watts and played only phonograph music. The first Class B station, KSD of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, was equipped with a new 500 watt transmitter and licensed in September 1922. It was because KSD broadcast the entire performances of a series of opera three times a week, as well as news bulletins and market reports, which were picked up in 42 states. By September 30, 1922, 11 stations were granted

Authors: Baek, Misook.
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technological services to the public. The radio corporations succeeded in making station power
new criterion of the public interest, and eventually, in mutating the distinction between “private”
and “public” broadcasting in the Second Radio Conference in March 1923. The implication of
this change was the acceptance of corporate arguments based on a public utility framework. A
few technologically and financially strong stations were granted the preferred wavelengths for
“public broadcasting” service.
Creating Class B: Initiation of a Two-tier Broadcasting System
In August 1922, four months after the release of the final report of the First Conference,
the Commerce Department authorized the creation of Class B stations on 400 meters in addition
to the existing 360 meters.
5
Class B stations had to operate at between 500 and 1,000 watts of
transmitting power. There were required studio arrangements to eliminate reverberations;
equipment to prevent harmonics; the erection of a special antenna to prevent swinging, and other
reliable equipment with spare parts to insure continuity and reliability of the announced schedule
of broadcasting service. Live music and performance were required as high-class programs, and
phonograph records were prohibited. Mechanically operated music was allowed in only an
emergency and during intermission periods in regular programs. In March 1922, 55 licensed
stations existed, and few exceeded 250 watts of output.
6
Class B broadcasters were
technologically and financially distinguished from most early broadcasters who used between
100 and 500 watts and played only phonograph music.
The first Class B station, KSD of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, was equipped with a new
500 watt transmitter and licensed in September 1922. It was because KSD broadcast the entire
performances of a series of opera three times a week, as well as news bulletins and market
reports, which were picked up in 42 states. By September 30, 1922, 11 stations were granted


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