Tuesday, April 28, 2020

NRR Project: The first transatlantic radio broadcast


First transatlantic radio broadcast
March 14, 1925

For one of the few times so far in this survey, I find myself stymied. Fortunately, no one could write a better explanatory essay on this entry than Cary O’Dell’s,which you can find here. The recording in question is not readily available, and most of it is of abysmal sound quality.

As O’Dell states, this was not the first transatlantic communication, but it was the first airing of a transatlantic broadcast intended for the public. It was a signal that was passed through a variety of long- and short-wave conduits on its way to home receivers, and that signal deteriorated with every step of the process. It’s not surprising that the end result was not much to brag about.

It was a necessary first stage, however. There was not much of a push from commercial interests to import foreign broadcasts. However the transmission of information, specifically news, from Europe would grow in importance as the Second World War loomed. This provided important perspective to millions of listeners from the first generation of broadcast journalists such as William L. Shirer, Edward R. Murrow, and Eric Sevareid.

Two years later, Lindbergh would be the first to fly across the Atlantic. The world was shrinking.

The National Recording Registry Project tracks one writer’s expedition through all the recordings in the National Recording Registry in chronological order. Up next: Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five and Hot Seven recordings.


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