Chase Hoffberger wrote a very interesting article on the solar-powered radio stations being broadcast in Austin and nearby Central Texas cities [“Anthem of the Sun
,” Music, Jan. 22]. Having published articles on the development of radio in the March and April (2014) issues of “AARCover,” the Austin Amateur Radio Club monthly report, I have comments regarding Chase's remarks under "AM/FM."
The first radio station broadcast was actually in San Jose in 1909 by engineer Charles Herrold with a 15-watt transmitter, sending out music and news. However, it was not until 1912 that regulations were set to assign call letters to stations. World War I started in 1914, and by 1917 it was clear that the U.S. was likely to enter it. Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels ordered a shutdown of all radio, so only the Navy could send signals out. Secretary Daniels tried to continue that monopoly after the war ended, giving the Navy permanent control of all radio in the U.S. However, he was vociferously opposed, and radio was freed up again by 1919. This led to the creation of KFDA in Pittsburgh in 1920 as the first commercial station in the U.S., which Hoffberger describes.
Edwin Armstrong submitted the patent for FM radio in 1930, and was awarded the invention in 1932. He created the experimental station W1XOJ in 1937 to demonstrate it to the FCC. The first commercial station doing FM broadcasting was W47NV in Nashville in 1941, later becoming WSM-FM. The FCC changed the FM bands after World War II ended in 1945, and a patent dispute on FM developed between Armstrong and David Sarnoff (who claimed his earlier patent included FM). This costly dispute led to Armstrong committing suicide in 1954, but the lawsuit continued, and in 1967 the Supreme Court ruled Armstrong had invented FM.
It is great to see radio development led to the creation of Sun Radio. Developing radio that "is not a burden to the Earth" is indeed an important step forward.