First Commercial Radio Station: Nov. 3, 1920

Chicago, IL

At the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago, among other things, you’ll learn about the first commercial radio station. Pittsburgh radio station KDKA broadcast results of the 1920 presidential election, becoming the first American commercial radio station offering news and entertainment. The announcer received tallies by phone and read them on-air to about 1,000 subscribers. After KDKA’s success, General Electric and the Radio Corporation of America created rival radio stations in American cities. By 1924, 556 radio stations were operating, and competition for available wavelengths was so great Congress passed the Radio Act, which assigned frequencies and created an oversight commission, which became the Federal Communications Commission in 1934.

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