How Technology Used by Hawaii Talk Radio Has Evolved Over Time

The telecommunications industry in Hawaii has been undergoing a transformation with new technologies and services changing how politicians communicate with voters.

How Technology Used by Hawaii Talk Radio Has Evolved Over Time

The telecommunications industry in Hawaii has been undergoing a transformation with the introduction of new technologies and services, and the regulation of the industry is also changing. WWVH is the sister station of WWV in the Pacific and has a similar broadcast format. Like WWV, WWVH's primary purpose is to disseminate official US documents. The time signals transmitted by WWVH are identical to those of WWV.

In order to reduce interference with WWV broadcasts on the same frequencies, WWVH broadcasts at 5, 10 and 15 MHz are directional and mainly point westward. Despite this strategy, in certain places, particularly on the west coast of North America; and at certain times, due to ionospheric conditions, it is possible to hear both WWV and WWVH on the same frequency at the same time. The modulated information on the carrier is modified to reduce confusion if both are received simultaneously. In particular, voice announcements in one correspond to periods of silence in the other.

WWVH uses a female voice (Jane Barbe) to distinguish itself from WWV, which uses a male voice. WWVH time signals can also be accessed by phone. Receipt reports sent to that address will be answered, upon request, with a QSL card. When Frank Conrad flipped the switch for the first time, he could not have imagined how much the media would revolutionize political life.

For centuries, people had read the words of politicians. But with radio, it was now possible to listen to them in real time. Suddenly, politicians' personalities began to matter more. The way their voices sounded made a bigger difference.

And their ability to attract and entertain became a crucial component of their candidacies. Television and social media have built upon this drastic change in ways that have forever altered American politics. In 1920, employees of inventor and industrialist George Westinghouse came up with the idea of increasing radio sales by providing programming that large numbers of people could tune in to. The man who made it possible was Frank Conrad - a native of Pittsburgh whose formal education had ended in seventh grade but who would go on to hold more than 200 patents.

That night, from what would become the country's first commercial radio station, Conrad broadcast the result of the 1920 US presidential election that pitted Democrat James Cox against Republican Warren Harding. Conrad received the electoral statements by phone, and those who listened to them on the radio learned the result - a landslide victory for Harding - before anyone could read it in a newspaper the next day. In 1964, media theorist Marshall McLuhan stated that “the medium is the message”, meaning that the type of channel through which a message is transmitted matters more than its content. Politicians' impressions, along with their campaign approaches, changed with the arrival of radio.

For centuries, newspapers had been the main medium for mass political news. When Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas participated in a series of nine debates for a US Senate seat in Illinois in 1858, thousands attended in person while millions followed through extensive newspaper accounts across the country. The candidates were expected to present their arguments and each debate lasted three hours. Over time, politicians began to use entertainment to get voters' attention.

In the radio era, stars like Judy Garland sang songs on behalf of President Franklin D Roosevelt. With television's arrival, political strategy leaned even more towards spectacle. RCA had experimented with television broadcasting in the 1930s but by 1945 there were fewer than 10 000 televisions in use in the US By the 1950s, ABC, CBS and NBC were up and running. In 1952 elections, Eisenhower's campaign began working with advertising agencies and actors such as Robert Montgomery to create his television personality.

More than ever before, an attractive image became key to political power. In 1960 there were 46 million televisions in use in the US Kennedy was very photogenic but Richard Nixon showed up for his first debate pale-faced wearing a suit that contrasted poorly with the set and sporting a five o'clock shadow. Most people who heard the debate on radio thought Nixon had won but most viewers gave Kennedy their vote. Nowadays social networks have helped further transform political discourse moving from reasoned argument to images and memes that attract attention.

Politicians who now compete with hundreds of other channels and media need to capture voters' attention and for this they increasingly resort to ridicule or even outrage. The growing dependence on broadcasting and social media makes it harder to focus on arguments' merits but visual drama is something almost everyone can instantly identify with. Could Donald Trump have been elected president in 1860? Could Abraham Lincoln be elected president today? We'll never know! But if we trust McLuhan's word we must seriously consider both men as mass media creatures of their time. Democratic societies neglecting new forms of media's effects on political discourse quality do so at their own peril - government “of the people by the people for the people” as Lincoln said can only thrive when voters receive information through an exchange of ideas robust enough for them. Civil Beat has been named best overall news site in Hawaii for thirteen consecutive years by Hawaii section of Society of Professional Journalists. Kauai is a beautiful remote island boasting unique climate diversity - in its center lies one of Earth's wettest places Mount Waialeale (pronounced why-ah-lay-ah-lay) receiving an average 1148 centimeters (452 inches) rain per year while twenty-five kilometers away island's western coast receives only 56 cm (22 inches) rain annually.

Alton Siefferman
Alton Siefferman

Travel expert. Typical music aficionado. General food aficionado. Unapologetic twitter ninja. Total food maven.

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