Birth of public radio broadcasting

1910 The New York Times advertisement for the wireless radio

The birth of public radio broadcasting is credited to Lee de Forest who transmitted the world’s first public broadcast in New York City on January 13, 1910. This broadcast featured the voices of Enrico Caruso and other Metropolitan Opera stars. Members of the public and the press used earphones to listen to the broadcast in several locations throughout the city. This marked the beginning of what would become nearly universal wireless radio communication.

First public broadcast


A 1907 Lee De Forest company advertisement said,

It will soon be possible to distribute grand opera music from transmitters placed on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House by a Radio Telephone station on the roof to almost any dwelling in Greater New York and vicinity ... The same applies to large cities. Church music, lectures, etc., can be spread abroad by the Radio Telephone. [1]

Several years later, on January 13, 1910, the first public radio broadcast was an experimental transmission of a live Metropolitan Opera House performance by several famous opera singers. [2] [1] [3] [4] [5] [6] This transmission was arranged by Lee de Forest. [2]


The wireless radio broadcast consisted of performances of Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci. Riccardo Martin performed as Turridu, Emmy Destinn as Santuzza, and Enrico Caruso as Canio. [6] [7] [8] The conductor was Egisto Tango. [9] This event is regarded as the birth of public radio broadcasting. [2] [1] [5] [10] [11] [12]

The New York Times reported on January 14, 1910:

Opera broadcast in part from the stage of the New York City Metropolitan Opera Company was heard on January 13, 1910, when Enrico Caruso and Emmy Destinn sang arias from Cavalleria Rusticana and I Pagliacci, which were "trapped and magnified by the dictograph directly from the stage and borne by wireless Hertzian waves over the turbulent waters of the sea to transcontinental and coastwise ships and over the mountainous peaks and undulating valleys of the country." The microphone was connected by telephone wire to the laboratory of Dr. Lee De Forest. [13]

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