First Radio President
This week marks 92 years since Warren Harding became the first president to be heard on the radio. It was still a new medium and few new how potent it would become in defining American politics by the 1990s.
It was on June 14, 1922 when Harding addressed a crowd dedicating the memorial site for Francis Scott Key, the composer of the Star Spangled Banner, a fairly non-controversial event. It was nevertheless historical day for media in America.
Harding was also the first American president whose election was called on the radio, by KDKA in Pittsburgh, the first radio station in America to broadcast election returns.
From the History Channel:
Harding was an advocate for advanced technology. In 1923, he recorded a speech on an early “phonograph” that recorded and played back sound on wax discs. Harding was also the first president to own a radio and was the first to have one installed in the White House.
Harding’s Francis Scott Key memorial dedication was heard by 125,000. President Coolidge’s inaugural radio address reached 23 million via the radio. … It was not until three years later, however, that a president would deliver a radio-specific address. That honor went to President Calvin Coolidge.
To learn more about how presidents successfully used radio to shape public opinion, read The Right Frequency.