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First Licensed Radio Station

August 20, 2014

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Profile America —Wednesday, August 20th. The nation's first licensed radio station began broadcasting in Detroit on this date in 1920 -- station 8MK, now operating as WWJ. The station was owned by the Detroit News, and for some convoluted reasons, the station operated with an amateur license, which in 1922 was changed to commercial. The first station to receive a commercial license was KDKA in Pittsburgh, which began broadcasting in October of 1920. From these rudimentary early broadcasts, the new medium grew rapidly. In 1922, there were 30 radio stations, but by the following year, there were 556. Now, there are more than 15,400 radio stations across the U.S. You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau, online at

Kane's Famous First Facts, 6294
Historical Statistics of the United States: Colonial Times to 1970, p. 796

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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Public Information Office | Last Revised: July 30, 2014