An interesting step back in history – worlds 1st radio commercials

worlds 1st radio commercial

The first paid radio commercial was developed by WEAF in New York by American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T) in August of 1922. The book “The WEAF Experiment” by an (AT&T) employee describes the concept of “toll broadcasting” as it related to sponsorship of whole programs. (The first sponsor, and hence commercial – according to AT&T – came from the Queensboro Corporation of New York, to sell real estate. The set of five programs over five days starting 8/28/22 cost $50, plus the long distance access fee.) However, it appears other radio stations may actually have sold advertising before WEAF. As early as May 1920, an amateur radio broadcaster leased out his “station” in exchange for $35 per week for twice-weekly broadcasts. And, in Seattle, Washington, Remick’s Music Store purchased a large ad in the local newspaper advertising radio station KFC, in exchange for sponsorship of a weekly program, in March 1922. Additionally, on April 4, 1922, a car dealer, Alvin T. Fuller, purchased time or WGI of Medford Hillside, Massachusetts, in exchanges for mentions.

The BBC was formed in 1922 in U.K. as a number of radio manufacturers came together to promote the new medium. The government of the day worried that broadcasting was too important to be left to the market and set up an enquiry. In giving evidence to the 1926 Crawford Committee, John Reith – then Managing Director of the British Broadcasting Company – stated that “Broadcasting must be conducted in the future as it has been in the past, as a Public Service with definite standards.” The government accepted the findings of the committee and, in 1927 the BBC became a public corporation under a new Royal Charter, which set out its remit and governance structure.

In 1973, some 18 years after the BBC faced its first commercial competition in television, commercial radio launched (then known as Independent Local Radio or ILR). Stations were licensed by the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) and were local, generally covering cities or counties. There was only one station per area, except in London, where there were two with different remits: Capital, broadcasting entertainment, and LBC, broadcasting news and information. The rest of the commercial local stations around the country offered a broad range of programming – from news and chat, through pop music to classical music and religion – and were all locally owned and run. Localness has, therefore, been an important feature of commercial radio since its inception.

First official advertisement on British radio was of “Birds eye frozen food” which was broadcast on 8th October 1973, as part of the launch of LBC (London Broadcasting Company) – the UK’s first ever commercial radio station! Here is one of its audio clip

From the adverts played at the very end it is clear that there is not much change in the dialogue delivery over the years as we still experience similar formats ads.

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Exaget Team