Radio Services-- Pre-TV (1930-1946)
The early 1920s were a period of relative calm in American society. Life was simple, and the country had returned to the isolationism that for a long time had been interrupted by World War I. The 1920 presidential election of conservative Republican Warren G. Harding officially ended Woodrow Wilson's dream of active U.S. involvement in postwar world affairs.
The political turning point of November 1920 was shared with another less visible event. Little attention was paid at first to the fact that Westinghouse radio station KDKA had broadcast the Harding-Cox election returns on November 2, 1920. However, public interest in radio rapidly increased as scores and then hundreds of stations sprang up across the land. As daily schedules were diversified and lengthened, radio "suddenly symbolized a coming age of enlightenment. It was seen as leading to the fulfillment of democracy. . . . It would link rich and poor, young and old. It would end the isolation of rural life. It would unite the nation." 1 We can readily appreciate today that Harding's election in 1920 had nowhere near the impact on the future of American life as did the broadcast of the election returns on KDKA. The electronic age had arrived.
Unless one lived through this period, it is difficult indeed to visualize what public excitement this miraculous device created. (The dazzling emergence of television in post-World War IIAmerica was a relatively pallid performance compared with the phenomenon of radio.) Home conveniences such as electricity and telephone service and mechanical marvels like automobiles and phonographs were widely used then, but they were by no means universal. There were no electric refrigerators or oil burners, no supermarkets or rental cars, no bus routes