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National Radio Hall of Fame Unveils Crosley Exhibit

Importance of radio broadcast and manufacturing pioneer explored

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National Radio Hall of Fame

at the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago has opened an exhibit dedicated to broadcast pioneer Powel Crosley, Jr.

Crosley was an American innovator and manufacturer who helped define the early radio industry.

The exhibit consists of a 30-foot by 10-foot wall timeline highlighted by six Crosley radios dating back to the 1930s. The narrative chronicles the important role Crosley played as a broadcaster, manufacturer and innovator.

Crosley was a manufacturing genius who was a leader in bringing affordable radios to the general public. He took his talents to manufacturing home appliances such as refrigerators, early televisions and even cars. Crosley was also a pioneer in sports as an owner of the Cincinnati Reds, introducing night baseball.

In addition, Crosley was an early radio broadcaster and built Cincinnati’s WLW(AM) into a powerhouse national broadcaster. For WLW he pushed his engineers to develop high-powered transmitters to increase the range of the station — which at one time output 500 kW and could be heard throughout the Eastern two-thirds of the country and much of Canada. Many say that Crosley’s overpowering WLW led to the eventual power regulations that continue to this day.

He’s also credited with being the first to put soap operas onto the air.

Crosley’s broadcast empire also included forays into television, starting in the 1940s.

Museum of Broadcast Communications President Bruce DuMont said, “Next to Marconi, Powell Crosley, Jr., is radio’s most significant innovator. He brought radio to the masses and launched a communications revolution and then proved to be a true visionary as a station owner, programming genius and the man who introduced night baseball.”

Many of the exhibits are on loan from the Manatee County (Fla.) Historical Records Library and the Powel Crosley Estate in Bradenton, Fla. The exhibit was made possible by a donation from the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, the tourism marketing arm of Manatee County. The CVB operates and maintains the Powel Crosley Estate on behalf of the ownership of Manatee County Government.