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June Highlights of Radio Tech History

What were radio people talking about 25, 50, 75 and 100 years ago this month?

This is the sixth installment in a recurring series that looks back at developments that have shaped radio broadcasting during the past 100 years, noting advancements and historical moments month by month. Read May’s story here.

100 Years Ago – June 1924: With regular radio broadcasting now about to enter its fourth year and production of consumer receivers increasing by leaps and bounds, entrepreneurs are looking for additional features to add to their products. The U.S Patent office this month received a half-dozen or so patent applications for “radio-phonograph” devices. However, all merely describe ways for the sharing of an acoustic phonograph’s “horn” with an electromagnetic driver connected to a radio receiver, as production of “electrically cut” records and reproducers that can drive a vacuum tube amplifier are still a year or so into the future. 

75 Years Ago – June 1949: The FCC is being praised for its decision to toss out the eight-year-old “Mayflower doctrine,” which mandated that broadcasters must take a neutral position in airing news and discussing political matters, and refrain from supporting a particular position in controversial matters. However, “fairness and balance” in presenting viewpoints was emphasized by the Commission in its reversal of the 1941 ban on editorializing. CBS Board Chairman William S. Paley was obviously delighted by this new regulatory stance, stating that “The reversal of the Mayflower decision by the FCC is a great step forward for broadcasting in this country.”

50 Years Ago – June 1974: The Radio Corporation of America, which has been involved in the manufacturing of consumer radio receivers since the 1920s, announced that it is leaving this market to concentrate on home video products. The company’s Consumer Electronics division has notified dealers and others that the 1975 lineup of radios, audio tape recorders, and record players would be the last to be offered, noting that sales of such audio-related products now only amounts to 5 percent of its business. RCA’s phonograph record production will not be affected by the cut.

25 Years Ago – June 1999: A presentation on the “crossed-field” antenna at April’s NAB Show by its developers continues to reverberate throughout the AM radio community. Engineering consultant Ron Rackley, in a Radio World guest commentary, likens it to “an oversized oil drum,” and ponders whether such 20-foot-high structures may be the answer to broadcasters that are hard pressed to gain approval for tall towers in urban areas, or if is just so much “snake oil.” While Rackley admits that “the idea behind the … antenna is an intriguing one,” he states that “there is simply not enough known (about it) at this point.”

A 3D rendering of a crossed-field antenna (Credit: Radio World)

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