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  • Writer's pictureManitoba Electrical Museum

World Radio Day

Did you know that February 13 is World Radio Day? Many of the young people today use Spotify or Youtube Music while they drive or do chores. However, radios are still an important media and source of information.

Radios became a significant invention during the 20th century. It provided an opportunity for people to have more ways to access information. This was especially true for people who did not have access to a television or for those that could not read the newspaper.

There are two major contributors to the creation of the radio: Guglielmo Marconi, an Italian who created the world of wireless communication and Nikola Tesla, a Serb who invented the theoretical model for the radio.

Starting in the 1920s, Winnipeggers started to become exposed to the new technological invention called the radio. By 1923, with the cooperation of the newspaper companies and the Manitoba government, The Manitoba Telephone System (MTS which is now called BellMTS) was born. This would be Canada’s first publicly owned broadcasting station. Though during this time and up until the late 1930s, radios would only summarize stories from the newspapers.

Starting from the late 1930s many developments occurred to increase the use of radios and the reputation of radio stations in Winnipeg. In Canada, two significant events lead to the rise of the radio: The 1939 Royal Visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, and WWII. During the Royal Visit, King George VI gave a speech to the entire Commonwealth that could also be hear in England. Radio coverage during WWII, allowed people to gain information quicker, with recordings directly from the warzone.

After the war, coverage and raising money for the 1950 Red River Flood became a template for how other emergencies were covered. Radio evolved to having a full-service newsroom and started to gather their own news. As the industry evolved, stations narrowed their focus to attract a specific target audience. News, talk and information programming became a format unto itself. Today, there are more than 150 radio stations in Manitoba.

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