In order to celebrate the time and effort the disk jockeys fulfill every day, I am bringing to you a “History of Radio”. It is National DJ Day today, and the professionals in the industry deserve a salute for all those years of service, bringing you constant radio content, several different ways and formats. Without a DJ, you would have to spin all those records yourself (remember the vinyl?)!?!


Radio is technology of modulating, signaling and/or communicating using a radio wave, which is an electromagnetic waves in the low frequency just above the sound wave between 30 kHz and 300 GHz. The electronic wave is generated by a transmitter connected to an antenna which radiates the wave, and tuned by a radio tuner connected to a receiving antenna. Radio is used in communication, television, radar, navigation, remote controls, remote sensing and other variety of other applications. In the whole spectrum of energy, it all starts on the low end with

  • Sound/resonance waves
  • Radio waves
  • Microwaves

Then the spectrum turns to rays as the perpendicular lines start to radiate in conjunction with the wave-fronts of the actual light or ray, and that points in the direction of the energy flow Leading into:

  • Infrared rays
  • Visible light rays
  • Ultraviolet rays
  • X-rays
  • Gamma rays
  • Cosmic rays

The Electromagnetic Spectrum – Radio Placement

 Non-Iodizing Radiation
Static Electricity
0 Hz
Low Frequency
Traction Current
.3 to 30 Hz
10 million to 18,000 km
Low Frequency
Alternating Current (6,000 km=Municipal Electricity)
60 Hz
18,000 to 10 km
Radio & Television
30 kHz and 3 GHz
10 km to 100 mm
3 GHz to 300 GHz
10 mm to 1 mm
Terahertz Waves
300 GHz to 3 THz
1 mm to 100 μm
Infrared Waves
3 THz to 300 THz
100 μm to 1 μm
Visible Light
Violet: 380–450 nm (688–789 THz)
Blue: 450–495 nm
Green: 495–570 nm
Yellow: 570–590 nm
Orange: 590–620 nm
Red: 620–750 nm (400–484 THz)
300 THz to 315 Hz
1 μm to 100 nm
Iodizing Radiation
Ultraviolet Light
315 Hz to 317 Hz
100 nm to 1 nm
317 Hz to 318 Hz
1 nm to 100 pm
Gamma Rays
318 Hz to 320 Hz
100 pm to 1 pm
Cosmic Rays (Hard Gamma Rays)
Over 320 Hz
Over 1 pm

History of Radio

Radio was initially invented in 1895 by the shared 1909 Nobel Prize Guglielmo Marconi– an Italian inventor and electrical engineer, in the honor of physics (with Karl Ferdinand Braun). In the early years was developed experimentally the years 1905–1906 for transmission of talk, news and musical content, and in 1920 commercially available amplitude modulating stations started out broadcasting on the still unchanged AM band. In the late 1920’s, Edwin Armstrong invented frequency modulation and VHF stations started broadcasting in 1936 and commercially in 1940. The original FM band which was located between 42 to 50 MHz, and it was found that there was still of tropospheric and Sporadic E propagation, so in 1946 FM was moved to the current frequency band of 88-108 MHz. The original FM bandwidth was re-assigned to non government fixed and mobile plus original television’s start of channels 1-6, and channel 1 (44 to 50 MHz) was the end part of that frequency, still having quality issues whereby the channel was abandoned nationwide and never utilized in other countries. The original VHF Low TV band (50 MHz to 88 MHz) was located jut below FM from 1946 to 2009. Channel 6, depending on the city, has a sound channel that is on either of 87.7 or 87.9, depending on which main city guidelines are in use. These sound channels have still been used to show up at the beginning of most FM receivers as FM stations 87.7 or 87.9, but have until July 13, 2021 [have been granted more time] to figure out a digital plan to succeed continuing transmission, or cease completely as analog is being phased out completely for the original channel 6. FM practices the same selection whereby each main city is off by .4 MHz, so the cities can have the same amount of stations and the stations do not “bleed” over each other. All FM radio stations in the U.S. always broadcast on an odd 10th of a frequency (100.3, NOT 100.2 or 100.4). Originally commercial stations used to start out with 93.1 MHz all the way up to 107.9 MHz, and educational and not-for-profit radio was 88.1 to 92.9 MHz. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) (a department of the U.S. Executive Branch) has still likes to issue these frequencies as being con-commercial, but exceptions have been known to emanate. Each market has 16 high powered stations and  and equal portion of low powered stations on the in-between frequencies. The main stations are spaced exactly .8 MHz apart with low powered stations smack dab in the middle of the two high powered stations. Each market is spaced apart by .4 MHz to allow stations not to bleed. The FCC allows exceptions based on antennae being transmitted in a directional fashion, per station results.

Radio was taken to new avenues and limits in the years of the 40’s through the 60’s. In World War II FM Doppler radar was used to replace inferior AM radar for obvious reasons, interference and a lot of severe limitations. In 1945 the FCC moved the FM broadcast band from the 42–50 MHz to 88–106 MHz band, though later extended to be 108 MHz, making the existing radios useless unless a converter was purchased. By the 50’s, television began to get more popular whereby people tended to have someone “on the block” who had one towards the beginning, and by the end of the decade more and more families were adding one to the household. Networks took off with 4 main networks on both radio and television. FM was still not beginning to catch on and in fact didn’t become greatly popular until the late 70’s. The changeover is slated to be one of the reasons the setback stunted the early growth of FM. Other reasons for the change vary in opinion, but those times it was hard just to get equipment modifications in a changeover, as compared to out somewhat disposable lifestyle we lead these days. The new band offered far less interference, as the original FM band was before the missing channel “1” before the original channel 2 on analog television, and we all know how badly that station came in, as a revisit to the past! Channel 1 was dropped due to the fact that it just could not handle the quality needed to render the video signal. Radio went through various changes in the playlists, but Top-40 mastered the dial infusing different styles “all on one” station. FM really began to take off by the mid to late 70’s with the disco era in full swing, but AM kept it’s clientele until a little later–in the 80’s era,

Radio taken to even more new heights in the 70’s and 80’s. At the beginning of the 70’s, the record industry went through dramatic changes in the quality of recordings, with introduction of 4 track recording. The whole aura of the 70’s was better and best…the re-mastering of records, and also a great improvement of the quality of the vinyl used to press a record. All this led to a great turnover to the FM dial from the AM. Every year throughout the decade showed a dwindling on the AM and a surge of persons going FM, with full realization that the audio on the AM dial was only to 5 kHz, and hearing goes to 20 kHz, so there was a substantial muffled effect on the sound quality, as demonstrated by a report on AM radio. The amount of ratings went way over the persons listening to AM. There were some really great DJ’s like Wally Phillips and Larry Lujack, that drew a lot of listeners and were able to capture very great ratings. More and more people liked to hear that awesome stereo sound they had going on even though the FM bands statistics are still the same as they were in the hey days- going up to only 15 kHz. still to this day transmits from 50 Hz to 15 kHz, which is demonstrated by a report on FM radio
. The whole stereo still works the same way, The two channels left and right are transmitted through one channel and at the 19 kHz pilot signal from the center of the carrier frequency, which in the day was the little red light on FM dials. If you ever noticed when they made stereos with the red light, when the light went out, the stereo faded. It takes a lot of power to have the pilot light decode the multiplexing of the channel separation. Other formats that came and gone were the introduction of quadraphonic FM in the mid 70’s, but never went far because of the whole 8-Track tape fad, costs and technical problems. Then there was AM stereo…with no improvement to the muffled 5 kHz sound by the mid to late 80’s. The whole deal with that was that you needed two radios, one tuned to the left of center tuning and one to the right of center. They were trying to get listeners back to listening and reviving the listenership, but the poor quality muffled to popularity, and by 2001 the last AM stereo station ceased such broadcasting. FM always came out on top throughout the whole era in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, until HD AM/FM came out.

Present day radio is taking a serious blow from COVID-19 restrictions. Right before the crisis landed, this year already started off with two radio station closures in the Chicago area. When a station turns in the license to the FCC, it means that the station is worthless, which is a growing trend these days, especially for lower powered AM stations. The radio industry is suffering the largest change in the history of it’s existence. Sirius-XM still continues to offer so many stations that, despite monthly price increases, still has a major pull of ratings. And to make matters worse, internet companies like Google’s YouTube, Spotify and other apps are able to be streamed into a lot of newer cars right in a USB port, which powers the phone enough to have it not lose too much power, while a stream, yet needing a subscription to port into without using too much cellular memory up from a monthly plan. Also, stay-at-home orders from the government and work-at-home orders from jobs have made commuting an all time low, and the place where radio has been known to be for everyone is at the workplace and while commuting. Even while people work at home, people opt to keep television on over the radio counterpart. Radio contests are not new, and I have seen movie skits, television shows and writings all over featuring radio contests and the like. I have been contesting for years (since the late 80’s) and I won a contest in the summer of 2020 from a major radio station and the prize was to have my name read on the air, so I know this present environment that radio is experiencing is very seriously troubled.. Therefore competition isn’t always another station, which makes the Nielsen ratings way more worthless, as they don’t measure the anti-radio competition. The Nielsen’s have for years measured the capacity and popularity of radio and help assist the radio marketplace with a means and way to measure the capability of a station to market and advertise, and a way to formulate advertising rates for stations. The National Nielsen ratings have a city-by-city list and locally in my area, the Chicago Nielsen ratings are just one link away from showing the latest ratings of all stations. The area’s latest number ones have been WVON FM and the longest running AM & FM number one being WBBM. Every Christmastime, WLIT FM changes it’s format and goes number one for several years with an all-Christmas format. Most presently, the radio dial had celebrated it’s 100th anniversary on November 3, 2020.

Sources of Radio

We also salute all the radio transmitters worldwide, as without the invention, the procurement of entering the modern era would not be possible. The simple electrifying of radio waves by transmitting an electronic signal, either analog or digital is done via signal and frequency using either of amplitude modulation, frequency modulation, or phase modulation–all three methods of modulation with either a digital signal or analog–or both, but not exactly at the same exact signal. They are offset in either frequency, or multiplexed, or both, to make the signals render properly and distinctly. Antennae are all over the world, usually always placed in a higher area of altitude in comparison to the distinct locale, be it on a hill or tall building. The transmitters always need to be operated by a licensed operator sanctioned by the FCC, except low powered operations, such as the operator of a drive-in theatre, your own house, or a Christmas or Holiday display. I am from the Chicago metro broadcasting area, so I am going to use it as an example of excellence in broadcasting. Every area in the world has an equally excellent style of broadcasting, and I honor each and every area. I like to support not for profit ventures, so I recommend reading the following great website for tips on great radio reception: North Country Public Radio: ARTICLE = Good FM reception tips from Radio Bob, and if you can, please leave a donation.

The Willis Tower (Sears Tower), has been considered one of the longest lived best signals in the world. To this day has the best location and equipment to transmit multiple VHF signals in the whole Chicago marketplace, because the The Willis Tower formerly the Sears Tower stands over one quarter of a mile high at 1450 feet high. The tallest Chicago skyscraper is Chicago;s largest touristic attraction, and its two from a far visible roof antenna masts also serve as primary TV and FM-transmitters in Chicago metro area.

875 North Michigan Avenue Building (The John Hancock Center), stands 100-stories tall, and one of the most distinctive places making a stunning city’ skyline, is thanks to two greatly huge antenna masts that are indistinguishable with the rest, on the roof is also one of the most important regional TV and FM transmitters.

The Aon Center or Building (The Amoco or Standard Oil Building), houses even more Class B 50,000 watt equivalent stations, operating with power reductions according to their antenna heights, the maximum power being allowed, including WDRV-FM, of which I had the unique opportunity to be the day’s guest “Daily Driver” back on June 4, 2018: See “I am Guest on WDRV-FM, Chicago, IL for Today”

Radio Perks: The Radio Contest

This part of the article is written to reflect that my experience of radio contests in the Chicago radio marketplace, not a full general history of radio contests. Sweepstakes generally have been going on since pioneer days, including overseas with the “Irish Sweepstakes” from the earlier 20th century, and way more. . .Radio contests are not new! Every marketplace has radio station contests, giveaways and the like. I have been involved with radio contests from my hey days of the 1970’s and beyond, and through and through there have been many of contests featured throughout the period all the way through the present. Some of the featured contests:

These are contests involving calling in to the radio station’s hot-line, contest line or phone studio line:

  • Station was going to “Make You Rich” (WMAQ-AM 670) – 1970’s
  • Random “Be Caller number 1 to 108)” Sometimes coordinated with the frequency of the station’s frequency, with a random amount or cash, gift card or other gift–sometimes coordinated with the frequency of the station. This method is presented most randomly, for any reason, even a DJ’s discretion unannounced until the contest – 1970’s to 2000’s
  • Guess the Serial Number of a $1000 Dollar Bill (WeFM FM 99.5) – 1970’s & 1980’s
  • The Birthday Game (WCKG-FM), a contest where a day of a year was revealed, and caller #19 revealed their birthday, and how it matched meant the prize amount.  You had to match either of the month, the day or the year. Matching one got you $100. Matching two got you $1000. Matching all three got you $10,000, and the contest ended for the period. – Early 1990’s
  • Songs of the Day (Most Popular)  (The Blaze, US-99, WLS-FM, and others), with a random amount or cash, gift card or other gift–sometimes coordinated with the frequency of the station – 1990’s to 2010’s
  • The “A to Z Game”, is periodically played on WDRV-FM, where a music artist or group (“A”-“Z” last name of artist if person, not numeric) is secretly picked and contestants (callers #19) keep calling in as it is zeroed in on by random picks throughout each session. Each time the winning pot goes up $100 ($1000 on Thursday and Friday at 3 p.m.) if a contestant picks the wrong song artist. Each pick is revealed that the secret artist is closer from the name of the contestant’s artist pick that it is either closer to “A” or “Z”, until the correct secret artist is revealed. The contestant who picks the exact artist Wins whatever amount is in the pot – 2010’s to Present
  • “Double Your Paycheck”, which is going on right now on 101.9 The Mix (WTMX-FM), entertains having you sign up online and the station calls names and the city they are from all day long and if you hear your name, you have to call in in the twenty minute period to claim your winning. Also if you win from a referral link, the referrer also wins $500. This contest is going on when this article was published, see below for my current referral link, if there is a contest running right now – 2010’s to Present

it is important to know that the contests can be local and nationwide, but in order to qualify to win a radio contest, in most cases, you must be entering from within a caller’s marketing area, as described in the rules. That means if you are away on a vacation, you almost always are not eligible to win from a station that is calling out a contest that is not in your residing market. Your only option is to install an app and listen to your market’s call-in contest and try to call  them from where you are vacationing from. If they are nationwide contests, you need to make sure that the contest from the vacationing spot is eligible in your calling area, and mention your market’s call sign, in order to be eligible to win. If you try to enter the contest from the market area that you are vacationing, in almost all cases you will forfeit the prize due to ineligibility to win. All radio stations declare a market region before the contest starts, and what locales are available to win.

Radio and television sponsored texting “Keyword” contests whereby random amounts of money, gift cards, and prizes including concert tickets are given out to one or more random winners who text the keyword to a random text number. If you are a winner, you are notified sometimes by text or a call will transpire. You absolutely have to answer the call or follow the instructions in the winning text in order to win, or they will select a new winner as described in the contest rules. The contests can be local and nationwide. In order to qualify, you must be texting from within a caller’s marketing area, as described in the rules.

Entering of radio and television sponsored internet contests whereby random amounts of money, gift cards, and prizes including concert tickets are given out to one or more random winners who enter via internet entry. If you are a winner, you are notified sometimes by email, text or a call will transpire. You absolutely have to follow the rules and answer the email, answer the call, etc.–in order to win, or they will select a new winner as described in the contest rules. The contests can be local and nationwide. In order to qualify, you must be entering from within a caller’s marketing area, as described in the rules.

Future of Radio

This is the biggest and most trying time for radio. It costs a lot to broadcast with a vast array of expenses for a station to make it. If you want to keep radio on the air, I really suggest going to the following website to connect with fellow radio buffs like myself: We Are Broadcasters. They are on radio and television’s side to keep Congress informed that there are a following of constituents who want radio to stay on the air at no cost to the consumer. I have always loved radio and my hope is that radio can continue for the next generation and beyond . . .

National DJ Day, Radio, Radio Contests

2 thoughts on “Celebrating National DJ Day – 2023 + Radio

  1. Radio used to be wonderful. In NYC, in the ’60s and ’70s, I listened to WOR-AM for talk, ditto for WMCA-AM. For the top 40, it MusicRadio WABC! Dan Ingram, Cousin Brucie…. I miss those days…the talkradio format has changed drastically, And all the music is on FM, and even that is going to talk. And your right – radio has taken an awful hit from the internet. I think I’d trade in the internet now, if I could go back to those days, listening to the old shows on my little Radio Shack transistor radio.

  2. At one time, when I was a teenager, my parents divorced. So needless to say, my mom wasn’t getting her child support or anything! So I became a radio junkie! It really fascinated me! Like how can radios in the same house play different radio stations at the same time? Why doesn’t the frequencies get mixed up and play on the wrong radio stations? You sound like a scientist explaining the frequency, speed, etc. Cool article!

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