Profile America: FM Radio Debuts

First commercial radio broadcast: Results of the 1920 Presidential Election -- Gov. Warren G. Harding's landslide victory.

First commercial radio broadcast: Results of the 1920 Presidential Election — Gov. Warren G. Harding’s landslide victory.

Sunday, March 5 — FM radio is 76 years old. In March 1941, the first commercial FM station went on the air — W47NV in Nashville, Tennessee. FM —standing for frequency modulation — was first proposed in a scientific paper written by Edwin Armstrong in 1922. By 1934, he was demonstrating to network officials how FM was unaffected by static, like all the radio stations then on the air, which used AM, or amplitude modulation. World War II interrupted the advance of FM broadcasting, which surged in the 1960s when it began broadcasting in stereo. Today, some 83,000 people work in radio’s 15,508 licensed stations, of which nearly 11,000 broadcast on the FM band.

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

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