Radio and TV stations ask Nielsen to find out what programs people tune in to.

Radio Fun Facts

Events That Shaped the Media

1896 Guglielmo Marconi, the father of radio, receives a patent for his “wireless telegraph.”

1919 First radio station in America begins operations in Pittsburgh.

1921 The New York Giants’ World Series win over the New York Yankees is the first sports broadcast on radio. Radio speakers replace headphones, allowing radio broadcasts to be enjoyed by more than one person at a time.

1926 Radio’s first commercial jingle airs for Wheaties.

1933 President Franklin Roosevelt turns to radio to talk with the nation in “fireside chats.”

1939 FM radio makes its first appearance.

1952 First miniature transistor radios sold by Sony—radio headphones again become useful.

1970 FM stations begin to offer stereophonic music.

1971 AM-FM radios become standard in new cars.

1994 Radio broadcasts streamed over the web. First 24-hour Internet-only radio station begins operation.

2001 First satellite radio service begins.

2004 Introduction of digital AM and FM broadcast signals gives consumers more program choices. New term coined for Internet delivery of radio-style content: “Podcasting.”

2007 Internet radio grows in popularity with 57 million weekly listeners.

2012 Four in 10 Americans listen to online radio for nearly 10 hours a week.

Sources: The Media History Project and iBiquity Digital Corporation

By the Numbers

241 million American adults listen to radio each week.

70% of Americans tune in to radio for 2 hours and 40 minutes each day.

1 out of every 5 Americans has watched a video podcast.

17% of cell phone owners have listened to online radio from a cell phone connected to a car stereo.

A voice broadcast over the radio travels at 700 miles per hour. It can be heard 13,000 miles away— sooner than it can be heard at the back of the room where it originated.

There are approximately 14,865 radio stations currently operating in the United States.

15% of people in the United States download TV shows from the Internet.

There are approximately 60 different radio station formats.

Sources: Arbitron Ratings; The Media History Project; The Federal Communications Commission; The Infinite Dial 2010, 2011, and 2012, Arbitron Inc./Edison Research; RADAR, March 2012-Spring 2012; and Deloitte’s State of the Media Democracy survey, sixth edition.