Dr. Larry Burriss: Marconi Responsible for Sending first Radio Signals



Marconi’s receiver was examined by post office officials in Lavernock

Believe it or not, it was only in the last week in March 1899, when Guglielmo Marconi sent the first radio signals across the English Channel.
Today, when you look at the other basic form of communication, the printed word, there really haven’t been that many changes since Johann Gutenberg developed movable type in Germany around 1440. But today, even print technology uses radio, in the form of the electromagnetic spectrum, to send newspapers, books, magazines, and love letters.
But since the early days of radio, we seen the medium, in the form of a myriad of services, technologies and contents, grow to the point where instantaneous, clear communication is the accepted norm. And we tend to take it for granted until something goes wrong, and the system breaks down.


Now, when we talk about “radio,” we are not just talking about the traditional AM and FM, rock and classical, drive-time and late-night. We’re talking about technologies independent of time, space and content. After all, there is nothing inherent in radio that says it has to be used for songs and call-in programs.
It is important to remember it is the content here, not the technology, that counts. We can broadcast almost anything we want via radio. Newspapers do it, television stations do it, and millions of people do it, minute by minute, all day, every day.

Related: Marconi’s first radio broadcast made 125 years ago

Despite all of this, despite the technology, the equipment and the capability, radio, in whatever part of the electromagnetic spectrum you want, still comes down to, at base, two people talking with each other. This technological marvel we have created, would be useless without the messages we put on all of those carrier currents.
The promise of radio was not, and is not, simply faster, higher, clearer or further. 
The promise is in the ability to use the electromagnetic spectrum to improve life, bind us together and help us deal with the multiplicity of problems Marconi never could have dreamed of.
I’m Larry Burriss.

MTSU Dr. Larry Burriss
Larry Burriss, a professor in Middle Tennessee State University’s College of Mass Communication and president of the Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame, welcomes the crowd before the induction ceremonies at the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters conference in Murfreesboro for the Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame. (MTSU photo by Andrew Oppmann)