National Museum of Broadcasting

To Preserve the Birthplace of the Broadcasting Industry

Shortwave

The Voice of the World

From the cradle of Frank Conrad’s garage, broadcasting had taken its first steps at KDKA and soon would grow up in the living rooms of homes across America and around the world.

Frank Conrad continued at Westinghouse, breaking new ground in the electronics field with his pioneering work with shortwave radio.

Shortwave station circa 1924In the early 1920s, when most radio engineers considered the shortwaves practically useless, Conrad demonstrated that although shortwave signals faded relatively close to the transmitter, they became stronger at greater distances. From a high-powered shortwave station on the Greensburg Pike in Forest Hills, shortwave broadcasts were made that were heard in Europe, Australia, South Africa and the Antarctic. For the first time in history, a person could speak into a microphone and be heard virtually anywhere on the planet.

Marconi visits shortwave stationSo revolutionary was this concept that radio engineers from all over Europe, including Marconi himself, traveled to the Forest Hills station to tour the state-of-the-art facilities. From this site, Westinghouse operated the first national and worldwide radio networks, sending out programs to its affiliates by shortwave which were then re-broadcast to the public in their respective cities over the standard AM radio band.

Shortwave historical marker

Next Page: Electronic Television