New York's Broadcasting History
Before the invention of the television, Americans relied on broadcast radio to stay aware of what was happening around them. The use of radio was an important breakthrough for society, and families gathered around their radios to find out about the latest news and to enjoy exciting fictional stories. Broadcast has since evolved, but radio remains an essential part of communication. And through all of the changes in telecommunication, New York City has often been at the heart of it all.
In the worlds of fashion, finance, and entertainment, New York City is king. The role that broadcasting has played within New York is monumental and has helped to propel the city forward. From humble beginnings in AM and FM radio to modern-day digital media, both radio and TV broadcasting in the Big Apple have been an integral part of its development and cultural prowess. A hub to many major networks, New York City continues to play a major part in broadcasting for both radio and television. Today, it's the largest radio market in the United States. Networks like NBC are headquartered there, and huge events are broadcast live in the city and around the world. From sporting events to talk shows, radio and television broadcasting in New York is still an important part of our cultural landscape.
April 15, 1912: The sinking of the Titanic raises concerns about how radio was being broadcast at that time. This prompted The Radio Act of 1912, under which Congress assigned three- and four-letter codes to radio stations for better regulation and oversight.
June 2, 1922: New York City Commissioner for Plants and Structures Grover A. Whalen proposes the idea of a city-owned and -operated radio station.
July 8, 1924: WNYC begins broadcasting on AM radio in New York after the city finally received a working transmitter.
April 26, 1927: The newly created FRC, or Federal Radio Commission, assigns new frequencies for many stations in the city. Some stations retired, but the FRC did its best to make sure that all broadcasters were accommodated so they could continue with their work.
Jan. 1, 1927: The Rose Bowl game is announced on NBC, the nation's first coast-to-coast radio broadcast.
June 15, 1927: Frequencies nationwide are reassigned by the FRC, and in the New York area, the plan was to assign several stations to share individual frequencies. Between then and 1942, all new stations in the metropolitan area were just replacements of other stations.
Sept. 27, 1927: CBS is founded in New York City by William S. Paley, who rented studio space and established 16 different radio stations.
Dec. 26, 1933: Inventor Edwin Armstrong develops FM radio and receives a patent for this stronger, more powerful type of radio signal.
June 19, 1934: President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Communications Act into law, creating the FCC, a broadcasting regulation division of the government.
Oct. 30, 1938: The infamous War of the Worlds adaptation is broadcast by Orson Welles, creating panic all over the country when some listeners believed that real aliens actually landed in New Jersey.
June 1940: RCA's Orthicon tube is first used for an NBC broadcast, helping to increase and improve light sensitivity significantly.
July 1, 1941: The first official commercial airs on television on station WNBT in New York.
Sept. 30, 1947: The first televised World Series allows Americans to watch the Yankees beat the Dodgers over seven games.
Jan. 25, 1949: The first official Emmy Awards are broadcast on television.
Jan. 14, 1952: The Today Show first airs on television, broadcasting from New York City. Dave Garroway was the show's first host.
April 14, 1953: The FCC designates local television channels, and it also assigns 242 national channels in various markets to be educational and free of commercials.
Sept. 10, 1955: Gunsmoke makes its first television debut, sparking new popularity for Westerns.
Sept. 26, 1960: Don Hewitt of CBS produces the first-ever televised presidential debate, which featured candidates John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon.
May 9, 1961: FCC chairman Newton Minow airs a speech calling for "television in the public interest," sparking a revolution in public broadcasting.
Oct. 1, 1962: A young Johnny Carson begins hosting The Tonight Show, which would become a staple program broadcast from New York.
Nov. 22, 1963: The entire country watches the news as President John F. Kennedy is assassinated, becoming one of the most significant events in broadcast history.
Sept. 8, 1966: The first Star Trek episode airs, creating a new buzz around science fiction and America's fascination with outer space.
Nov. 7, 1967: President Lyndon Johnson signs the Public Broadcasting Act into law, paving the way for PBS stations across the nation.
Sept. 21, 1970: Monday Night Football has its debut on national television on ABC. This was a breakthrough for live television sports.
Oct. 11, 1975: Saturday Night Live premiers in New York City, beginning a sketch comedy legacy that would carry on for decades.
June 1, 1980: CNN goes on the air, offering viewers the first network that broadcasts entirely news-based shows and programming.
Feb. 28, 1983: The last episode of M*A*S*H airs, with more than 100 million viewers tuning in to say goodbye.
Jan. 17, 1984: The Supreme Court rules that consumers can record television shows and other programming at home on their VCRs. The ruling determines that this is not a violation of copyright law.
July 5, 1989: Television's Seinfeld first airs on NBC, becoming one of the most popular sitcoms of all time. The program takes place in New York City.
February 8, 1996: President Bill Clinton signs the Telecommunications Reform Act into law, reducing regulations for radio, broadcast television, and cable companies. This law will open the doors for more programming and more options for consumers.
July 29, 2008: Satellite radio broadcasters XM and Sirius merge; this new form of broadcasting would become one of the most popular formats in radio.