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Famous Like Me > Director > C > Frank Conrad

Profile of Frank Conrad on Famous Like Me

Name: Frank Conrad  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 17th May 1976
Place of Birth: Berlin, Germany
Profession: Director
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia

Dr. Frank Conrad (1874-1941) was a radio broadcasting pioneer who worked as the Assistant Chief Engineer for the Westinghouse Electric Company in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He began what are considered the first regular radio broadcasts from his Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania garage in 1920, and is responsible for the founding of the first broadcast station in the world: KDKA.

Early life

Frank was born in 1874 in Pittsburgh as the son of a railroad mechanic. He quit school in the 7th grade, never returning to formal schooling again, and went to work for Westinghouse at age 16. At 23 he began working in the Westinghouse Testing Department, where he developed several inventions such as the watt/hour meter. Altogether Conrad was awarded more than 200 patents throughout his life.

Early radio experiments

Conrad first became interested in radio in 1912 when, in order to settle a bet on the accuracy of a watch, Conrad built a radio in order to hear time signals from the Arlington, Virginia Naval Observatory. He then constructed a new transmitter in his garage licensed as 8XK, whose signal could be heard throughout the Pittsburgh area beginning in 1916. His broadcasts over the next few years became very popular, and due to the demand Conrad began broadcasting for two hours each Wednesday and Saturday night.

Most of the content of these early broadcasts were music: Conrad's sons were talented musicians and Conrad played numerous songs from his record collection. He soon ran out of records, however, and struck a deal with a local music store: if they supplied him with records he would give them on-air promotions. This exchange is arguably the first broadcast commercial in airwave history. There are also reports of football scores reported, as well as some talk programming. The Vice President of Westinghouse soon saw an ad in the newspaper for a toy store advertising radio sets that could receive Conrad's broadcasts. He saw the potential for mass communication that radio offered, and as a result Westinghouse began manufacturing radio receivers.


Westinghouse applied for a callsign in mid-October, 1920. The callsign arrived just in time for the November 2, 1920 election, and the radio station KDKA was born. The original station was a shack on top of a Westinghouse building in East Pittsburgh. Conrad was not there to witness the historical broadcast, however; he was worried that the station would go down and was sitting in his Wilkinsburg garage with his own transmitter as a backup.

Later life

After the great success of KDKA, Conrad turned his attention to the world of shortwave radio. He received numerous awards for his pioneering work, most notably the Edison Medal from the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, now IEEE, in 1930. He retired from Westinghouse in 1940, and died while on vacation in 1941.

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Frank Conrad