THIS SUNDAY, MAY 20, 2018, will be the 98th anniversary of what might have been the world’s first real, scheduled, radio program.
It originated from XWA (later CFCF-AM) in Montreal, on the evening of May 20, 1920. The program was heard in Ottawa at a meeting of the Royal Society of Canada, with both the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Borden) and the Leader of the Opposition (W.L. Mackenzie King) in attendance. The Ottawa Citizen called the event a “veritable miracle”.
By 1920, radio (or what was called “wireless” back then) had been in various stages of experimentation for a couple of decades, but the Montreal broadcast marked an important step in the application of the technology to broadcasting – point-to-mass programming, spoken word and musical content, and, not too long afterwards, commercials.
So we can pause for a few seconds on Sunday to say “happy 98th anniversary” to Canadian broadcasting. But I hope we will do more – in the next two years, let’s plan something special to mark the 100th anniversary of Canadian broadcasting in 2020.
Ken Goldstein is president of Communications Management Inc. of Winnipeg. When he isn’t working on the economics of media in the future, he spends his time studying the history of Canada’s media in the past. If you’re on board, let us know at email@example.com.