Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Recognizing the Beginning of Radio Advertising

A little bit of history from today's RAB Radio Sales Today....

Today marks the anniversary of a very important, yet rarely celebrated event in Radio's history. At 5:15 p.m. on August 28, 1922, in New York City, a man identified only as "Mr. Blackwell" delivered what is widely believed to be the first paid Radio commercial. The ad was broadcast by station WEAF, cost $100, and was sponsored by the Queensboro Corporation of New York.

The rambling 10-minute spot was an effort to educate the listening audience about the novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne, as a tie-in to the Queensboro Corporation's recently opened cooperative apartment complex in Queens, Hawthorne Court. The text of the commercial began as follows:

"I wish to thank those within the sound of my voice for the broadcasting opportunity afforded to me to urge this vast Radio audience to seek the recreation and the daily comfort of a home far removed from the congested part of the city, right at the boundaries of God's great outdoors, and within a few minutes by subway from the business section of Manhattan. This sort of residential environment strongly influenced Hawthorne, America's greatest writer of fiction. He analyzed with charming keenness the social spirit of those who had thus happily selected their homes, and he painted the people inhabiting those homes with good-natured relish."

Upon hearing about the new commercial trend, Radio pioneer Lee de Forest reportedly exclaimed: "What have you done with my child? You have sent him out on the street... to collect money from all and sundry... [and] made of him... a stench in the nostrils of the gods of the ionosphere."

Despite de Forest's haughty protests, other companies slowly began to utilize the medium for advertising purposes, including the American Express Company, the Tidewater Oil Company, and the two large competing department stores in New York -- Macy's and Gimbels.

I find it very interesting that the rate was $100 for a ten-minute commercial. By today's standard that ad would cos
t $1,283.33 or $128.30 a minute. Pretty good rates for 1922!

To figure out what a dollar is worth from back in the day click here:

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