The First Commercial Radio Station

Developed by Henry P. Davis, Class of 1880

In 1920, when he was vice president for engineering and manufacturing for Westinghouse, Davis became impressed with the growing interest in the entertainment value of radio broadcasting. In particular, he noted the popularity of an amateur radio station manned by Frank Conrad, assistant chief engineer at Westinghouse. Seeing the commercial potential of this new medium, Davis authorized Westinghouse to set up radio station KDKA.

On Nov. 2, 1920, it became the world's first commercial radio station. Davis, himself, stood before the microphone on that historic day to read the results of the presidential elections. A visionary and a skilled inventor (he earned more than 80 patents), Davis continued his interest in broadcasting throughout the remainder of his career and today is widely considered to be the father of commercial broadcasting. When the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) was founded in 1926, he became its first chairman, a post he held until his death in 1931.

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