Public Radio Broadcasting Day

For over a hundred years, public radio has served an important function in the lives of millions of Americans. These stations were able to reach people in rural areas that didn’t have access to other forms of news, and they provided a wide range of programming that informed and entertained their listeners.

It has historically been an important medium and will continue to be so into the foreseeable future. That’s why we now observe January 13th as Public Radio Broadcasting Day — a holiday that remembers radio’s past and looks forward to its future. This is also a day to remember that radio has been underestimated in the past and yet continues to serve an important role.

The History of Public Radio Broadcasting Day

The first American public radio broadcast is credited to Lee de Forest. He transmitted the voices of Enrico Caruso and various other opera stars on January 13th, 1910. This broadcast was in New York City, and members of the press and public used earphones to listen to the broadcast at several locations across the city. This marked the beginning of wireless radio communication and the start of the public radio phenomenon in the U.S.

While the history of public radio is quite clear, the history of Public Radio Broadcasting Day isn’t. We couldn’t find out who created this holiday, why they created it, or where it was invented. All that we know is that it has been around for a few years and is widely observed across the U.S., especially by people who listen to public radio as well as the public radio stations themselves.

Some Interesting Facts About Radio

When we thought about adding a section of interesting facts for Public Radio Broadcasting Day, we had two choices. We could either list boring stats about public radio, or we could pull back and instead list some interesting facts about radio in general. We decided to do the latter, and the following nuggets of information are what we decided to use in this section.

  • Canadian inventor Reginald Fessenden transmitted the world’s first voice message in 1900. Six years later, he made a radio broadcast.
  • The first public radio broadcast was done on top of the Eiffel Tower in 1908.
  • Radio stations located east of the Mississippi River use the “W” as the first letter in their call sign. For example, WLW out of Cincinnati, Ohio.
  • Radio stations located west of the Mississippi River use the “K” as the first letter of their call sign. For example, KSHE 95 out of St. Louis, Missouri.

Observing Public Radio Broadcasting Day

Anyone wishing to observe this holiday can do so simply by learning more about public radio or listening to public radio. People can also spread the word about public radio or this holiday by using the hashtag #PublicRadioBroadcastingDay on social media.

When is it?
This year (2024)
January 13 Saturday
Next year (2025)
January 13 Monday
Last year (2023)
January 13 Friday
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