Monday, January 24, 2005

On August 28, 1922 WEAF in New York (later WNBC) becomes the first "toll" radio station when it broadcasts a commercial message during the 5:00 p.m. program. The Queensboro Corporation's ad for apartments in Jackson Heights on Long Island seems to work; there are reports of increased sales as a result, and commercials are thereafter a regular feature. If the commercial trend pleases advertisers and station managers, it causes some radio purists considerable despair. "What have you done with my child?" cries Lee De Forest, the inventor of the triode and a staunch individualist who is often called the "father of radio." "You have sent him out on the street... to collect money from all and sundry... [and] made of him... a stench in the nostrils of the gods of the ionosphere."