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Great Moments In Advertising: 1st Radio Spot


Great Moments In Advertising: 1st Radio Spot

The orthodox answer to the matter of the first paid radio commercial has been that it was developed by WEAF in New York by AT&T in August of 1922.

The book “The WEAF Experiment” by an AT&T employee describes the concept of “toll broadcasting” as it related to sponsorship of whole programs. (The first sponsor, and hence commercial – according to AT&T – came from the Queensboro Corporation of New York, to sell real estate. The set of five programs over five days starting 8/28/22 cost $50, plus the long distance access fee.)


In March 1922, in Seattle WA, Remick’s Music Store (which published and sold sheet music) sponsored a one night a week program on station KFC, co-owned by an electric shop and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper. Remick’s supported the show with big ads in the newspaper– inviting people to come in after the show and purchase the songs the Remick’s Singers had just performed. This seems to predate the WEAF broadcast by almost six months.

On April 4, 1922, car dealer Alvin T. Fuller purchased time on WGI, Medford Hillside, MA and did so again several more times. But by the middle of April, the District 1 Radio Commissioner, Charles Kolster, had written WGI a cease and desist order, since at that time, doing “direct advertising” was not permitted, according Herbert Hoover’s interpretation of the DOC Regulations.

There were other stations also reporting they were selling time for announcements.  In 1893, the Hungarian telephone “broadcast” service reportedly sold 12 second spots between the news and musical segments for the equivalent of (US) $0.50.

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