To celebrate World Radio Day 2024, whose theme is “highlighting the remarkable past, the relevant present and the promise of a dynamic future of radio”, we take you on a journey through the 10 of the most significant moments in the history of radio.

Since its creation, radio has witnessed some historic, moving and sometimes hilarious moments that have marked the history of this ubiquitous medium in our lives. From the first broadcast in 1920 to the present day, radio has evolved with the times while retaining its magical power to transport listeners through unique experiences.

1. The First Radio Show (1920) :

On 2 November 1920, KDKA in Pittsburgh broadcast the first commercial radio. This event ushered in a new era of mass communication, connecting people across physical boundaries.

2. Inauguration speech of Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933) :

For the first time, the inaugural speech of a president was broadcast on the radio, marking a milestone in political communication.

3. The War of the Worlds (1938) :

Orson Welles directed a radio adaptation of H.G. Wells’ novel. The realistic dramatisation caused panic among some listeners, who thought a real alien invasion was under way. This moment illustrates the power of radio to influence public opinion.

4. Speech by Winston Churchill (1940) :

During the Second World War, Winston Churchill’s inspirational speeches were broadcast on the radio, uniting Britain and giving courage to a nation at war. Radio became an essential tool for maintaining morale and resilience.

5. Radio pirate broadcasts (1960s-1970s) :

Pirate radio stations, such as “Radio Caroline”, have defied the rules and broadcast uncensored popular music, helping to shape the musical landscape.

international radio day

6. Live broadcast of Woodstock (1969) :

Millions of people were connected by radio during the live broadcast of the Woodstock Festival in 1969.

7. “All Things Considered” on NPR (1971) :

All Things Considered was launched on NPR in 1971. It marked the beginning of radio journalism based on in-depth reporting and analysis.

8. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1978) :

This radio comic science fiction by Douglas Adams, became a benchmark of geek culture, demonstrating the diversity of possibilities offered by the medium.

9. “Serial” podcast (2014) :

The Serial podcast became a global phenomenon. It popularised the true crime format and represents the modern evolution of radio with podcasts.

10. Interactive shows (2010s – ) :

For example, some shows allow listeners to choose the songs they want to hear on the radio by voting online or via social networks. This kind of direct interaction transforms the radio experience, allowing listeners to shape the show in real time and creating a direct link between the station and its audience.

We’ve revisited a (small) part of radio’s rich and varied history and celebrated its profound impact on our lives. But our exploration doesn’t stop there. Above all, radio is a living medium, shaped by the voices and experiences of individuals !

What do you think are the defining moments in the history of radio? What shows, presenters or events have left an indelible mark on your listening memory? We invite you to share your memories and contribute to this global celebration of radio !