Part of the Advanced Diplomatic Webinars series.
The webinar addressed the development of radio broadcast.
The basis for radio broadcasting was created by scientific and technological breakthroughs in wireless communication. Both Marconi and Reginald Fessenden, who in 1906 managed to transfer sound over radio waves, were attempting to create a wireless telephone. In line with the principle of unintended consequences, their pursuit resulted in something else. This, as David Sarnoff has suggested, was a ‘radio music box’. The technological basis developed for wireless telephony was used in one-way radio broadcasting.
Orson Welles’s radio episode The War of the Worlds was an early example of the power of radio broadcasting. His ‘announcement’ of the start of the war with the Martians created panic in the United States.
Radio broadcasting confirms that usually technological advances coexist with previous innovations, in spite of various ‘endism’ predictions. Traditional mail was not replaced by the telegraph. The telephone did not ‘kill’ the telegraph. Radio coexists with TV. In fact, with the exception of the telegraph, most communication innovations introduced during the last two centuries, including mail, the telephone, radio, TV, and fax are still in widespread use today. Mail, one of the oldest organised communication methods, is a growing business even today (e.g. DHL, FedEx). Radio broadcasting gets its renaissance on the Internet with thousands of radio channels broadcasted online.