Across the Free Space

Dear Thirsty,

Discovering 17th century semaphores used by Napoleon to build his empire was the first web hole I clicked into while searching for a nugget or two of intelligence on all things cool and beautiful in audio to bring you. Today in 1926, NBC Radio went on the air with 26 stations, heralding the end of radio’s pioneer days and the early beginning of an international entertainment industry.

Relying on the laws of physics as we discovered and put them to use, first to conduct war and commerce, and ultimately to the arts and pleasures, we have cleverly harnessed forces of the universe with technology to communicate across the free space- in other words, wireless, through the air. Through our long trek to now, we have refined that tech the point of tablets and pocket computers and more. And more refinements on the horizon. Hazards abound, of course, because it turns out that those invisible waves can hurt us in a myriad of ways.

Harnessing and transmitting sounds across light waves in the late 19th, and then the waves below the visible spectrum in the early 20th, inventors and scientists brought radio right into our willing and waiting ears. The 1920s were the Wild West days of radioland as much as they were in Hollywood, and the events of those years played a huge part in creating today’s entertainment industry. Whole books have been written on those years. Suffice to say, in less than a century, the world is a louder place than ever. And the waves deeper and quieter than sounds disturb us on a completely different wavelength. Lucky us.

Hearing is a three hundred sixty degree sense and our mechanism for it is a delicate instrument. Use it wisely. A few utterly biased recommendations:

Philip Marlowe, 1947-1949

I remain ever yours,


PS – Happy Birthday, Judge Wapner!

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