Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Chamber of Commerce Radio

American City Magazine was a trade publication that began publishing around 1909 and was in circulation through the late 1920s. It normally focused on statistics, chamber of commerce activities, garbage disposal, coal prices, beautification, municipal affairs, paving techniques, street lighting, and the works of civil engineers. The magazine was pretty dry. It literally had regular articles about the placement of public drinking fountains. But in June of 1922  The American City Magazine uncharacteristically published an  article about radio.
The article reported that an Albany Chamber of Commerce meeting being broadcast live on the radio April 12th 1922. The article claimed that it was the first "radiophone" chamber of commerce meeting held in the United States. I'm pretty confident it was the first anywhere.
"More than 1,100 members and friends of the Chamber of Commerce gathered in beautiful Chancellors' Hall in Albany to hear the speakers, musicians and other participants in the program at the radio broadcasting station of the General Electric Company in Schenectady (WGY). The audience was therefore assembled about twenty miles from the performers. The program consisted of piano, violin and soprano solos, followed by a radio telephone speech delivered by Roy S. Smith, Executive Manager, Albany Chamber of Commerce."
They received "telegrams, letters and newspapers from scores of cities." apparently on that night reception was possible as far west as Terre Haute. Albany had notified many other Chamber of Commerce groups of the broadcast and many sent notices confirming reception.

The broadcast  included a speech by Chamber of Commerce President Roy Smith titled  "The Forces That Build Cities" which was described as a "short outline of chamber of commerce work."  I'm sure it was riveting.  then in an even more novel move, they followed that broadcast with a stunt on April 26th. To launch their membership drive, they employed a Fokker airplane to carry Mr. Smith—flying 2,500 feet over Albany to make a broadcast from the air. It was reported that it was heard over a 200 mile radius of Albany. Since the aircraft was equipped to send and receive, at the conclusion of the program they began receiving messages one from as far away as Newark, NJ. It is unknown if all this actually increased membership.