Wilson Remembered in Radio’s Beginnings

Commercial radio began during Wilson’s presidency with the first commercial radio station in the United States – KDKA Pittsburgh – beginning to broadcast toward the end of Wilson’s presidency on November 2, 1920. Ironically, KDKA’s broadcast history began with the reading of the 1920 presidential election returns to see who would replace Wilson in the White House.


Magnetic waves in the ether last night carried far and wide eulogies of Woodrow Wilson…” Thus began the Washington Post’s newspaper article from February 5, 1924. Entitled, “Wilson’s Spirit Still Lives: Tumulty Tribute by Radio”, the article describes the eulogies of Wilson following his 1924 death. The memorial broadcast was carried by WRC radio station in Washington, D.C. The newspaper also reported that the radio broadcast “was picked up in remote sections of the country.” This is one of two items related to the early days of radio that can be found in the archival collections at the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library in Staunton, Virginia.


The other item is a pamphlet that contains the transcription of a radio broadcast from station KPO in San Francisco on February 3, 1925. To commemorate the one-year anniversary of Wilson’s passing, former California senator James D. Phelan recalled Wilson’s work and his character via the airwaves.


Post written by library intern Tim French


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