Museum of Broadcast Communications

Museum of Broadcast Communications We believe in the power of broadcast, be it radio, television or the digital world. We also believe
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We are a hub to inspire inquiry, respectful discussion, thoughtful examination and celebration of entertainment and news. We teach historical framing to make the past relevant to today and tomorrow while ensuring the inclusion of diverse voices. We design and support exhibits, curriculum and programs to serve as a bridge between producers, consumers, academics and students.

On this day in 1923, the first barn dance radio program was broadcast. WBAP Fort Worth’s ‘Barn Dance’ introduced the cou...
01/05/2024

On this day in 1923, the first barn dance radio program was broadcast. WBAP Fort Worth’s ‘Barn Dance’ introduced the country variety format that would lead to several other barn dance broadcasts across the country, including WLS Chicago's ‘National Barn Dance,’ which aired for over five decades and was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame. These radio shows were precursors to WSM Nashville’s 'Grand Ole Opry,' which debuted in 1925 and remains the longest running radio program.

Pictured are a few Barn Dance Programs:
(top to bottom)
KLRA Arkansas Jamboree Barndance
Chicago’s National Barn Dance from its NBC years (1933-1946)
WHAS Old Kentucky Barn Dance

This week in 1927, RCA’s new network debuted: Blue Network. As a result of reorganization and RCA’s rapidly expanding ra...
01/03/2024

This week in 1927, RCA’s new network debuted: Blue Network. As a result of reorganization and RCA’s rapidly expanding radio presence, NBC was split into two networks: Red and Blue, named after circuit maps which were drawn in these two colors. While not exclusively, the Blue Network was associated with more educational programming and the Red Network with sponsored programming.

In 1942, as a result of the FCC’s multiple ownership rule, which cracked down on monopolization, RCA decided to sell the Blue Network. Who would buy this network you ask? None other than Edward J. Noble, the inventor of LifeSavers. Noble would rename his new network the American Broadcast Corporation (ABC).

Happy New Year from the MBC!
01/01/2024

Happy New Year from the MBC!

On December 29, 1952, the Sonotone 1010 was released, and became the first commercial product to use a transistor. This ...
12/30/2023

On December 29, 1952, the Sonotone 1010 was released, and became the first commercial product to use a transistor.

This hearing aid put the transistor to the test as a replacement for vacuum tubes. Yes, hearing aids used to have vacuum tubes! Starting with the Vactuphone hearing aid in 1920, which utilized the triode invented by Lee de Forest in 1906, to amplify speech through electric signals. But these hearing aids, much like vacuum tube radios, were large and clunky.

Introduced by Bell Laboratories in 1947, the transistor allowed for a smaller and more stable way to amplify sound. The Sonotone 1010 was the first commercial product to use this technology. As transistors were yet to be perfected, this hearing aid was a hybrid, utilizing the triode vacuum tube as well as a transistor. This model allowed for the highest signals and a smaller voltage requirement, and opened the doors for the potential of transistors to create more portable audio devices. And just two years later, the first transistor radio was released (Regency TR-1). By 1953, hearing aids were being manufactured without vacuum tubes and much like in radios, transistors took over as the norm.

We remember Tom Smothers of the Smothers Brothers who passed away Tuesday at the age of 86.Along with his brother Dick, ...
12/27/2023

We remember Tom Smothers of the Smothers Brothers who passed away Tuesday at the age of 86.

Along with his brother Dick, the Smothers Brothers sang folk music and performed comedy routines. They made their television debut on Jack Paar's show in 1961, and in 1963 performed on 'The Judy Garland Show', a time slot the brothers would soon inherit, as CBS was having difficulty competing with NBC’s 'Bonanza.' But Tom and Dick were able to do just this.

The groundbreaking ‘The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour’ debuted in 1967. The show ran during a time of social unrest in the United States. During an era of strict censorship, Tom and Dick fought against CBS to allow political statements and counterculture beliefs on their show.

In 2011, the ACLU honored Smothers for using the show to share vital information to the American public despite network censorship efforts.

On this day in history, The Beatles released their first Capitol Records single, “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” But Capitol...
12/27/2023

On this day in history, The Beatles released their first Capitol Records single, “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” But Capitol Records had initially turned down The Beatles at this point, not certain the band would be a hit amongst American audiences. Vee-Jay records were the first American record label to pick up the band, releasing “Please Please Me” in February 1963. The song was not a hit and The Beatles were tasked with writing a song with American audiences in mind, thus “I Want to Hold Your Hand” was born. The rest is history. Beatlemania swept the nation, with over 73 million tuning in to their first American television appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show.

Pictured is The Beatles' first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, February 9, 1964

Merry Christmas from the MBC!🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄
12/25/2023

Merry Christmas from the MBC!
🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄

On December 18, 1956, WGN-TV's "Garfield Goose and Friends" introduced Chicago area children to Santa Claus' three favorite elves, Hardrock, Coco and Joe. At...

This week’s Media Notebook includes:A John Williams ChristmasDick Clark/Ryan Seacrest New Years Eve Radio Simulcastand m...
12/22/2023

This week’s Media Notebook includes:

A John Williams Christmas
Dick Clark/Ryan Seacrest New Years Eve Radio Simulcast
and more

Full Media Notebook blog here:

A curation of news items about the media (Radio/Podcasts/TV/Streaming/Social) from this past week, with a particular emphasis on Chicago…

Physicist Reginald Aubrey Fessenden believed radio had a larger potential than sending dots and dashes. Fessenden turned...
12/22/2023

Physicist Reginald Aubrey Fessenden believed radio had a larger potential than sending dots and dashes. Fessenden turned to alternator-transmitters, which were able to create continuous waves and thus transport sound, creating amplitude modulation (AM).

On December 21, 1906 he demonstrated this technology. And three days later, on Christmas Eve, Fessenden took to the airwaves for a monumental broadcast. Fessenden sent morse code to nearby ship radio operators off the Atlantic coast to prepare for a transmission. What they heard next was to become the foundation for AM radio. Fessenden played a small program including records and ‘O Holy Night’ on his violin. Those listening became the first audience of a public radio broadcast of music.

Pictured is Fessenden circa 1906.

We remember the television legacy of Cicely Tyson, who was born on this day in 1924.Tyson appeared in several television...
12/20/2023

We remember the television legacy of Cicely Tyson, who was born on this day in 1924.

Tyson appeared in several television series and made-for-TV movies. She made the conscious decision to turn down degrading roles, and instead is known known for her portrayals of strong Black women both real and fictional, from Binta in ‘Roots’ and Jane Pittman in ‘The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman’ to Harriet Tubman in ‘A Woman Called Moses’ and Coretta Scott King in ‘King.’
Amongst her plethora of awards and honors recognizing her pioneering work, Tyson was inducted into the Television Hall of fame in 2020, and given the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016.

This month marks the anniversary of several Rankin/Bass television specials. Initially named Videocraft International, t...
12/16/2023

This month marks the anniversary of several Rankin/Bass television specials. Initially named Videocraft International, the production company became a staple of family viewing during the holiday season starting with its 1964 release of ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.’ 'Rudolph' and several other Rankin/Bass works including ‘The Little Drummer Boy,’ ‘Jack Frost,’ and ‘Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town’ use the stop-motion animation style, labeled Animagic, which was created in collaboration with Tadahito Mochinaga’s MOM Production Studios in Tokyo. ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ remains one of the most popular holiday classics, entertaining viewers for over half a century.

Fun fact: The copyright for the movie ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ was incorrectly written in Roman numerals as 1164 instead of 1964 in the opening credits, and as a result still images from the television special are in public domain.

Norman Lear sat down with the Museum of Broadcast Communications in 2013 to reflect on his career and the importance of ...
12/13/2023

Norman Lear sat down with the Museum of Broadcast Communications in 2013 to reflect on his career and the importance of broadcast museums. Check out the video from our archives on our YouTube channel.

A 2013 interview the Museum of Broadcast Communications had with television pioneer Norman Lear.

MBC remembers Norman Lear who passed away today at the age of 101. Lear revolutionized American television through his g...
12/06/2023

MBC remembers Norman Lear who passed away today at the age of 101.

Lear revolutionized American television through his groundbreaking sitcoms ‘All in the Family,’ ‘Good Times,’ ‘The Jeffersons,’ and ‘Maude’ to name a few. A drastic shift from other sitcoms of the day, Lear's shows tackled difficult social issues with a comedic angle, bringing heavy topics such as racism, sexism and homophobia into the American living room. Lear has made an everlasting impact on television and America.

The final episode of ‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus’ aired on this day in 1974. This British surreal comedy sketch show w...
12/06/2023

The final episode of ‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus’ aired on this day in 1974. This British surreal comedy sketch show was like no other and as a result, the word “Pythonesque” was created to define its style.

While widely successful in the United Kingdom, it took a bit longer for American audiences to appreciate the humor. It is to the credit of the Python’s manager, Nancy Lewis, who pushed the show to American stations that in 1974 KERA in Dallas picked it up and several other PBS stations followed, solidifying Monty Python as a success in America.

This week in 1956, Charles Van Doren made his debut on ‘Twenty-One,’ one of several game shows of the the 1950s which we...
12/01/2023

This week in 1956, Charles Van Doren made his debut on ‘Twenty-One,’ one of several game shows of the the 1950s which were rigged. Producers not only gave contestants questions and answers in advance, but directed their reactions and mannerisms as well.

Van Doren with his charming personality and prestigious background was selected by producers to defeat the incumbent champion, Herb Stempel, who was also being fed answers. Stempel was one of the first whistleblowers to expose the deception.

Van Doren was amongst several contestants and producers who were involved in the quiz show scandals of the 1950s. Van Doren, one producer and 17 other contestants were formally charged. But damage was done on a larger scale. The quiz show scandals cast a shadow of mistrust on the new medium of television. To prevent future deception, control of programming was taken away from the sponsors. Congress also amended the Communications Act of 1934, prohibiting networks from prearranging quiz show outcomes.

11/28/2023

As we continue to celebrate the world of broadcasting, The Museum of Broadcast Communications and Radio Hall of Fame are looking ahead and redefining what a modern museum that honors American radio, television and streaming looks like. Our Annual Fund provides our institution with vital support where it’s needed the most:

· enhancing public programming

· creating interactive online exhibits

· developing innovative school curricula to enhance media literacy

· preserving our archival collection used by thousands of researchers, documentarians and academics a year

· educating the next generation of leaders through hands-on training programs

To do this work, we rely on the support of generous donors like you! Please make a gift today.

While we explore our next physical location to showcase our next big exhibit in 2025: ‘The Story of Late Night Television’, expect new online exhibits, educational outreach and big events in the spring and fall of 2024. Our donors will be the first to hear all about it!

Your donation will help us transform our vision into reality, and provide opportunities for the public and broadcast professionals to engage and learn from one another.

We’ve made contributing easy at https://tinyurl.com/MBCGiving2023

Whether you donate $25 or $2,500, please contribute to our Annual Giving Campaign on this GIVING TUESDAY!

Our best to you and yours for a happy and healthy holiday season and a prosperous new year!

We believe in the power of broadcast, be it radio, television or the digital world. We also believe

Oh, the humanity! Happy Thanksgiving from the MBC! This year is the 45th anniversary of the classic "WKRP in Cincinnati"...
11/23/2023

Oh, the humanity! Happy Thanksgiving from the MBC! This year is the 45th anniversary of the classic "WKRP in Cincinnati" episode that showed turkeys do not, in fact, fly. The sitcom follows the trials and tribulations of a fictional radio station in Cincinnati. In the seventh episode of the first season, aptly titled "Turkeys Away," released on Oct. 30, 1978, the struggling station puts on a well-intended but poorly executed Thanksgiving promotion, dropping live turkeys from a helicopter outside a busy shopping center. In the episode, reporter Les Nessman (Richard Sanders) delivers a dramatic on-the-scene recount of the incident, mimicking journalist Herbert Morrison's broadcast of the 1937 Hindenburg disaster, "One just went through the windshield of a parked car. This is terrible. Oh, the humanity!"

Mr. Carlson swears turkeys can fly... tell that to the Pine Dell Shopping Mall!One of my all time favs...

60 years ago, on November 22, 1963, the world waited in suspense as the impending information regarding President Kenned...
11/23/2023

60 years ago, on November 22, 1963, the world waited in suspense as the impending information regarding President Kennedy’s condition came in. We have in our collection an Associated Press original news bulletin stating what was known from the events that transpired at 12:30 PM: “President Kennedy was shot today just as his motorcade left downtown Dallas.” The severity of his condition was uncertain, and the amount of information scant.

At 12:40, Walter Cronkite became the first to provide a national television report of the shooting. Over the course of the next hour, reporters rushed to get as much information as possible. As early as 12:45, rumors spread that Kennedy had passed away, but Cronkite held off on making any official statements on his condition. Verifying information was something not all reporters prioritized that day, with such spreading of speculative information cited by the Warren Commission for the spread of misinformation. At 1:38 PM, Cronkite received the news bulletin providing such confirmation. Though clearly affected by the news, Cronkite remained professional as he announced to the nation that Kennedy was pronounced dead and that Lyndon Johnson would now be sworn in as President of the United States. Within the course of an hour, the entire state of the nation had shifted, with Cronkite as the calm presence amongst the storm.

Pictured is the CBS news bulletin screen that market the beginning of Cronkite's coverage. And the Associated Press machine with the original news bulletin from that day.

Alan Freed was one of the most popular disc jockeys of the 1950s and helped popularize ‘rock ‘n’ roll,’ a term he was cr...
11/22/2023

Alan Freed was one of the most popular disc jockeys of the 1950s and helped popularize ‘rock ‘n’ roll,’ a term he was credited as inventing. He played music by Black artists which few mainstream stations were doing. He also boosted the careers of several musical legends such as Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry, to name a few.

But on this day in 1959, Alan Freed’s radio career halted. WABC-AM fired Freed for not signing a FCC statement that he was not involved in the payola scandal - a radio scandal of the late 1950s in which disc jockeys were discovered to be taking bribes for playing records on the air. Freed was subsequently blacklisted from the music industry. Over 300 disc jockeys across America pleaded guilty, yet Freed’s name is most closely tied to the scandals in large part due to his fame and popularity during the time.

On this day in 1988, ‘Murphy Brown’ made its debut, starring Candice Bergen as journalist and news anchor for the fictio...
11/15/2023

On this day in 1988, ‘Murphy Brown’ made its debut, starring Candice Bergen as journalist and news anchor for the fictional ‘FYI.’ The character was one of the first single parents on a sitcom, and received public backlash. Most famously, Vice President Dan Quayle bashed the show for “mocking the importance of fathers” by its portrayal of single motherhood. The show blurred the lines between reality and fiction when it incorporated Quayle’s speech into the show, in which Murphy Brown directly addressed the criticism: “Unfortunately it seems that for him the only acceptable definition of a family is a mother, a father, and children,” “and in a country where millions of children grow up in non-traditional families, that definition seems painfully unfair.” Bergen won an Emmy that year and thanked Quayle in her acceptance speech.
‘Murphy Brown’ won a total of 18 Emmys and ran for 10 seasons, with an 11th season reboot in 2018.

Did someone say “open sesame”? Well on this day in 1969, someone sure must have. Titled after this popular slogan, ‘Sesa...
11/11/2023

Did someone say “open sesame”? Well on this day in 1969, someone sure must have. Titled after this popular slogan, ‘Sesame Street’ debuted on November 10, 1969, opening the doors to over a half century of educational programming.

Revolutionary for the time, the goal of show creators Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyd Morrisett was to use the medium of television as an educational tool for young audiences, especially for those with less access to such resources.

Now on its 54th season, ‘Sesame Street’ has won over 100 Emmys, more than any other daytime show in history, and continues to educate young audiences in over 140 countries.

On this day in history, Congress passed the 1967 Public Broadcasting Act with the goal of ensuring non-commercial, educa...
11/08/2023

On this day in history, Congress passed the 1967 Public Broadcasting Act with the goal of ensuring non-commercial, educational television and radio programming. As a result, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting was established to support and distribute funds for such stations. CPB supported the 1969 founding of PBS and 1970 founding of NPR.

Pictured is President Johnson signing the 1967 Public Broadcasting Act.

Missed the Radio Hall of Fame induction ceremony? We've got you covered! Listen tomorrow, Saturday Nov 4,  on SiriusXM C...
11/04/2023

Missed the Radio Hall of Fame induction ceremony? We've got you covered! Listen tomorrow, Saturday Nov 4, on SiriusXM Channel 132 at 10am – Noon ET / 7am -9am PT.

You can also listen in on other great radio stations including:

KQAM-AM 1480 Wichita, KS
Saturday 11/4 6 a.m. – 8 a.m. CT

KQAM-X1 102.5 Wichita, KS
Saturday 11/4 6 a.m. – 8 a.m. CT

KEIB-AM 1150 Los Angeles, CA
Sunday 11/5 12 p.m. – 2 p.m. PT

KKTX-AM 1360 Corpus Christi, TX
Saturday 11/4 8 p.m. – 10 p.m. CT

WXKS-AM 1200 Boston, MA
Saturday 11/4 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. ET

WIOD-AM 610 Miami, FL
Saturday 11/4 3 p.m. -5 p.m. ET

KLSD-AM 1360 San Diego, CA
Saturday 11/4 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. PT

KLSD-X1 103.3 San Diego, CA
Saturday 11/4 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. PT

KMZQ-AM 670 Las Vegas, NV
Saturday 11/4 10 p.m. – 12 a.m. PT

KIVA-AM 1600 Albuquerque, NM
Sunday 11/5 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. MT

KHVH-AM 830 Honolulu, HI
Saturday 11/4 6 a.m. – 8 a.m. HT

WFDF-AM 910 Detroit, MI
Saturday 11/4 9 a.m. – 11 a.m. ET

KALZ-FM 96.7 Fresno, CA
Sunday 11/5 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. PT

KRZR-AM 1400 Visalia, CA
Sunday 11/5 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. PT

WRNO-FM 99.5 New Orleans, LA
Saturday 11/4 5 a.m. – 7 a.m. CT

KTOK-AM 1000 Oklahoma City, OK
Saturday 11/4 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. CT

KRQQ-FM 93.7 Tucson, AZ
Sunday 11/5 5 a.m. – 7 a.m. MT

KIDO-AM 580 Boise, ID
Saturday 11/4 12 p.m. – 2 p.m. MT

KIDO-X1 107.5 Boise, ID
Saturday 11/4 12 p.m. – 2 p.m. MT

WCBS-AM 880 New York, NY
TIME TBA

WOWO-AM 1190 Ft. Wayne, IN
TIME TBA

WFWI-FM 92.3 Ft. Wayne, IN
TIME TBA

WTRC-FM 95.3 South Bend, IN
TIME TBA

WTRC-AM 1340 Elkhart, IN
TIME TBA

WTRC-X1 101.9 Elkhart, IN
TIME TBA

Congratulations to the 2023 Radio Hall of Fame inductees: John DeBellaGerry HousePat St. JohnBob RiversShadoe StevensNin...
11/02/2023

Congratulations to the 2023 Radio Hall of Fame inductees:

John DeBella
Gerry House
Pat St. John
Bob Rivers
Shadoe Stevens
Nina Totenberg
Deborah Parenti
Charles Warfield

These radio legends are being celebrated at tonight’s induction ceremony in New York. Thank you for your contribution to broadcast history!

At 8 p.m. on Sunday, October 30, 1938, Orson Welles and fellow actors from the ‘Mercury Theater’ aired a production of “...
10/30/2023

At 8 p.m. on Sunday, October 30, 1938, Orson Welles and fellow actors from the ‘Mercury Theater’ aired a production of “War of the Worlds” by H.G. Wells.

The story, about an alien invasion, unfolds as though it is happening in real-time, with “news” breaking and “experts” being interviewed about a crash in New Jersey of what appears to be a Martian ship.

A front page article from ‘The Boston Post’ describes the audience response: “Hysteria Grips Listeners from Coast to Coast as They Mistake Drama Depicting Invasion From Mars as Real Event - Residents Near New York Flee Houses in Terror - Newspaper Offices and Police Flooded With Telephone Calls.” But Welles, who was a brilliant public relations strategist, planted a story claiming panic ensued. Also pictured is Welles talking with members of the press, claiming he did not intend to cause such panic.

Whether or not the panic was real, the uproar caused the FCC to investigate and adopt certain blanket restrictions for the airwaves, such as no more faux “bulletins” in any programming.

Welles and Mercury Theater were inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame at its inception in 1988.

Actor Matthew Perry, best known for his role on “Friends,” has died from an apparent drowning on Saturday, TMZ reports. ...
10/29/2023

Actor Matthew Perry, best known for his role on “Friends,” has died from an apparent drowning on Saturday, TMZ reports. He was 54 years old.

The circumstances surrounding the actor’s death remain unclear, although reports claim no foul play was involved.

On this day in 1966, ‘It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown’ aired for the first time. Linus and Sally miss the festivit...
10/27/2023

On this day in 1966, ‘It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown’ aired for the first time.

Linus and Sally miss the festivities, spending the night waiting in a pumpkin patch for the Great Pumpkin to arrive. An unseen character debuting in a 1959 ‘Peanuts’ comic strip, Linus believes the Great Pumpkin will arrive in the pumpkin patch “deemed most sincere and lacking hypocrisy.” Meanwhile, the gang go trick-or-treating, but Charlie Brown only receives rocks while everyone else gets candy. The television special was nominated for an Emmy and featured an iconic soundtrack by jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi.

For over 50 years, the special aired every year and became a seasonal tradition to many. In 2020, Apple TV+ gained the rights to Charlie Brown holiday specials, causing controversy over this mainstay of network TV now being owned by a subscription service. ‘It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown’ can be streamed for free from October 28-31.

On this day in 1861, the First Transcontinental Telegraph was completed. This addition replaced the Pony Express, and cr...
10/24/2023

On this day in 1861, the First Transcontinental Telegraph was completed. This addition replaced the Pony Express, and created almost instantaneous communication across the United States for the first time. Pacific Telegraph Company and Overland Telegraph Company constructed segments on behalf of Western Union, joining the existing eastern and western networks via a link in Salt Lake City.

The first telegraph was sent to President Lincoln by California’s Supreme Court Chief Justice, the first time such communication was possible between the east coast and west coast.

This technology was applied to early radio technology, using transmissions as a means of communication. Before its use as broadcasting programs, radios transmitted Morse Code and were referred to as “wireless telegraphs.”

Pictured is the first telegraph office in Salt Lake City, 1861.

Let's celebrate the memory and legacy of iconic American television host and comedian Johnny Carson today, on what would...
10/23/2023

Let's celebrate the memory and legacy of iconic American television host and comedian Johnny Carson today, on what would have been his 98th birthday! Johnny Carson's wit, humor, and charisma made him a beloved figure in the world of entertainment, particularly for his long tenure as the host of "The Tonight Show." His contributions to late-night television continue to influence comedians and hosts to this day. Happy birthday, Johnny Carson, and thank you for the laughter and joy you brought to so many people throughout your remarkable career.

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