Sound Business: Newspapers, Radio, and the Politics of New Media

By Michael Stamm | Go to book overview

Chapter 1
Power, Politics, and the Promise of New
Media: Newspaper Ownership of Radio in
the 1920s

After broadcasting the Michigan primary election results in August 1920, the Detroit News station WWJ continued to deliver a regular slate of programming to an expanding listening audience. WWJ aired weekday concerts in the late morning and early evening, often by playing phonographs but occasionally by securing live singers and musicians. Later that fall, WWJ broadcast the results of the 1920 World Series and the 1920 presidential election. On 1 January 1921, the News claimed that WWJ was the first station to have broadcast a “human voice singing a New Year’s melody of cheer” as the clock struck midnight the previous evening. Press accounts lauded the News for being “first newspaper in the United States and, so far as is known, in the world, to perceive the possibilities of increasing its usefulness by furnishing the public with radio service.” The Detroit News activities inspired publishers around the country, and many soon followed the paper’s example and established their own radio stations. This original group included such prominent urban papers as the Kansas City Star, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Daily News, Atlanta Journal, Milwaukee Journal, Hartford Courant, Minneapolis Tribune, Dallas News, and three different New Orleans dailies (the Item, States, and Times-Picayune). Many newspapers in smaller cities quickly took to radio as well, for example, Indiana’s South Bend Tribune,

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