chapter  2
16 Pages

National Broadcasting in Britain

RCA station WJZ and the BBC’s 2LO in London cooperated in sending out their own broadcasts, then relaying messages sent back to them from radio stations who had heard the programs around the world. The New York Times breathlessly reported “Parts of the American program were heard in

London, Paris, Buenos Aires, Havana and Bermuda, as well as everywhere in the United States . . . Thus virtually the entire Western world was linked together for a few minutes by invisible strands.” The London program suffered some atmospheric difficulties, but could be heard across the US as well as throughout Europe. This was indeed a demonstration of radio’s capacity to transcend national borders. RCA’s David Sarnoff, however, indicated where the major interest of most broadcasters lay in his transnationally distributed address, which in the quote above reveals the fundamentally national concerns underlying the occasion. If his words sound virtually Reithian, it should be remembered that RCA was just about to launch America’s first network, the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), for which the BBC would serve as both an exemplar and a contrast.