[photo, WYPR, 2216 North Charles St., Baltimore, Maryland]
  • Commercial Radio
  • Public Radio

  • WYPR, 2216 North Charles St., Baltimore, Maryland, April 2007. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.

    [photo, WNAV Radio Station, 236 Admiral Drive, Annapolis, Maryland] Efficient ways to communicate messages quickly over great distances evolved over the years from signal fires, to flagmen in towers, and to more mechanized towers using wooden arms. In England by 1838, studies in electricity and communication merged, enabling the first telegraph design to use electricity for sending messages through wires over many miles. Thereafter, Samuel Morse created a faster, and much simpler, and accessable telegraph, as well as a translation code that would become international. Maryland was at the forefront of this new technology, and the first American commercial telegraph linked Baltimore and Washington, DC, in 1844.

    WNAV Radio Station, 236 Admiral Drive, Annapolis, Maryland, September 2015. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.

    As technology improved, radio towers replaced telegraph poles. The first radio stations served as emergency communication posts for government and, later, private companies, predominatly for the U.S. Navy and for nautical applications, such as shipping, and cruise lines. These early stations, however, were limited: the technology broadcast on all frequencies, and more powerful signals could effectively block less powerful ones. With further development frequencies were isolated, and frequency specific signals used. Thereafter, a commercial market opened, and the public literally could "tune-in" to radio.

    Today, dozens of public and commercial radio stations operate in Maryland. Alongside them, hundreds of "ham" stations, run by amateurs (under Federal Communications Commission (FCC) guidelines), provide frequently needed emergency communications, which function when other systems fail. Among such ham operators are the W3ADO Ham Club at the U.S. Naval Academy, and the Anne Arundel Radio Club, based in Davidsonville.

    Though primarily known for Maryland Public Television (MPT), the Maryland Public Broadcasting Commission also is authorized to develop radio programming (Code Education Article, sec. 24-205).





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