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Education, Entertainment, Greater Profits

Imagine America in the 1920s.  More than sixty per cent of the population is rural, with many living on millions of small, isolated farms.  Education and entertainment opportunities are scarce.  Important news arrives late... if at all.

The first radio station, KDKA in Pennsylvania, started broadcasting in 1921.  In a matter of years, hundreds of radio stations were in operation across the nation.  Radio was the internet of the 1920s... the information superhighway of its day.

The impact on farmers was truly enormous.  The Department of Agriculture (USDA) began broadcasting regular education programs to help increase crop yields and better manage livestock.  Advance weather reports let farmers harvest crops before storm damage occurred.  Market price reports enabled selling at higher prices.  And, a world of general news, music and entertainment was there for the asking.

The first broadcast to farmers was by broacaster Frank Mullen in 1923.  He helped found a particularly popular show - the Farm and Home Hour - started in 1929.

To learn more, check out the news clippings below on farm radio, published in various newspapers in the 1920s and 1930s...

Links to vintage newspaper articles and modern research papers

1922 article in Popular Mechanics Magazine

announces growing popularity of "radio telephone" (early name for radio).

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