Charles Herrold, Inventor of Radio Broadcasting


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About the Book

Still broadcasting today, the world’s first radio station was invented by Charles Herrold in 1909 in San Jose, California. His accomplishment was first documented in a notarized statement written by him and published in the Electro-Importing Company’s 1910 catalog: “We have given wireless phone concerts to amateur wireless men throughout the Santa Clara Valley.” Being the first to “broadcast” radio entertainment and information to a mass audience puts him at the forefront of modern day mass communication.
This biography of Charles Herrold focuses on how he used primitive technology to get on the air. Today it is a 50,000-watt station (KCBS, in San Francisco). The authors describe Herrold’s story as one of early triumph and final failure, the story of an “everyman,” an individual who was an innovator but never received recognition for his work and, as a result, died penniless. His most important work was done between 1912 and 1917, and following World War I, he received a license and operated station KQW for several years before running out of money. Herrold then worked as a radio time salesman, an audiovisual technician for a high school, and a janitor at a local naval facility, still telling anyone who would listen to him that he was the father of radio. The authors also consider some other early inventors, and the directions that their work took.

About the Author(s)

The late Gordon Greb was an emeritus professor of San Jose State University. He was a distinguished broadcast educator, historian and investigative journalist. He lived in Chico, California.
Mike Adams has been a radio personality and a filmmaker. He is a professor emeritus of radio, television and film at San Jose State University, where he has been department chair and associate dean of the College of Humanities and the Arts. He is the author of six books and the creator of two award-winning documentaries for PBS. He lives in Scotts Valley, California.

Bibliographic Details

Gordon Greb and Mike Adams
Foreword by Christopher H. Sterling
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 259
Bibliographic Info: 72 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2003
pISBN: 978-0-7864-1690-5
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8359-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Foreword: Discovering Broadcasting’s Birthplace (Christopher H. Sterling)      1
Preface      5

1—Introduction to Broadcasting      13
2—Race for Radiotelephone      22
3—Education of a Gentleman      43
4—Shaping of an Inventor      64
5—Evolution of a Broadcaster      92
6—First Station Survives      113
7—Broadcasting for Everybody      141
8—Fight for Recognition Begins      164
9—Herrold: Lost and Found      187
10—Case for First Broadcaster      211

Notes      225
Bibliography      241
Index      245

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Intriguing title”—SPERDVAC Radiogram
  • “Well-researched…scholarly”—Radiogram
  • “Definitive”—The Old Timer’s Bulletin
  • “A very fine piece of scholarship…a book of merit…essential…compelling”—Antique Radio Classified
  • “Extremely well researched…definitely worth reading”—The Illustrated Press
  • “fills a big hole in the story of broadcasting…fascinating…illustrated with photos few have seen before”—Communication Booknotes Quarterly
  • “Well documented and sourced…a panoply of information and comment”—Journal of Radio Studies
  • “A credible job…fascinating…Greb and Adams must be commended”—Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media
  • “The scholarly research reads a bit like a mystery story, from some initial lucky breaks followed by decades of perseverance by Gordon Greb, who later enlisted colleague Mike Adams. Together they dug wide and deep to find the vital first-person accounts, contemporary documents and reports, and long-ago interviews and photographs needed to do the story justice. The authors reveal events that are often poignant, always interesting and absolutely important”—From the foreword by Christopher H. Sterling.