The 20th century was an age of inventions. Some good for a few people and some good for all the people. So many things that we just accept as having and using as normal were not here before the 20th century. Some of the things invented were for simple enjoyment. The Ice Cream Cone in 1904, the popsicle in 1905, Life Savers Candy in 1912, and Bubble Gum in 1928 sure brought many a smile on the faces of children. There were also more important things invented, some that helped in the medical field, such as the iron lung in 1927 and penicillin in 1928. Although all of these things are important, the greatest invention of the 20th century is the radio.
The radio opened a whole new way for the world to communicate. Before radio, people heard news from one another or by reading newspapers. At that time, there were a lot of rural areas, making it hard for people to communicate or receive news.
Radio was not only the way to receive news about what was going on around the world, but in time, became the major source of entertainment for families. Radio had something for everyone. Music for the ones who just wanted to relax and listen to big bands with leaders such as Tommy Dorsey, Duke Ellington or Guy Lombardo. There were soap operas for the ladies, “The Guiding Light” and “One Man’s Family,” to name a couple. For those people who really liked to use their imagination, there were exciting shows like, “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century,” “The Shadow,” and the “Lone Ranger.” As people have their favorite T.V. shows today, between the years of 1925 until the early 1950’s, people had their favorite radio shows. These years in the United States were called the Golden Age of Broadcasting.
Not only did people have their favorite shows, they also had special news reporters they preferred to listen to. Some of these reporters became as important to their listeners as the well known entertainers. Two of the most famous of these were Edward R. Murrow and Walter Winchell. Reporting the news was very important especially during World War II. Between the years of 1939 and 1945, people turned to the radio every day to get the latest news on what was happening in the war. Even the president of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, realized the importance of radio and the communication this wonderful invention allowed. He used the radio to take his government policies to the people through informal talks that he called “fireside chats.”
Radio was just the beginning of a network of world-wide communication. When television became popular in the 1950’s, many people thought that it would be the end of radio. People turned to television for soap operas and musical shows. However, radio still survives in all types and sizes. There are personal radios with earphones made for the listening enjoyment of only one person, shower radios to be listened to while getting ready to go out and radios made to look like cartoon characters. There are electric radios, car radios and battery radios for when the power goes out. Not only was the radio the greatest invention in the 20th century, it is still needed and used by millions of people today.