Profile America: Early Presidential Radio

FDR_Presidential RadioWednesday, February 22 — The history of radio and the presidency seems to center entirely on Franklin Roosevelt’s famous “fireside chats” beginning in 1933 in the depths of the Depression. But the first president to address the nation from the White House over the infant broadcast medium was, ironically, “Silent Cal.” President Calvin Coolidge spoke to a coast-to-coast audience on this date in 1924 on the occasion of George Washington’s birthday. His words were carried over a mere 42 stations. That year, there were 530 radio stations in the country, broadcasting to just 1.25 million households. Today, there are nearly 5,900 radio stations employing about 83,000 people. Nearly 100 percent of America’s 118 million occupied households have radios.

Profile America is in its 20th year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.

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