21 Days of Chicago Lightning – Teasers, Tidbits, Trivia (Day 16 – Radio 1920s) by Kaye Spencer #roaringtwenties #romanticsuspense #prohibitionera

Chicago Lightning is a romantic suspense novel that begins with the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in Chicago on February 14, 1929 and ends around midnight two days later in Five Points, New York City.


During the decade of the 1920s, radio, aka wireless telephony, made a meteoric rise in popularity in the U.S. Any discussion of this decade must include at least an overview of this important technological development in audio broadcasting.

Referencing Frederick Lewis Allen’s book Only Yesterday – An Informal History of the 1920s (1931 Harper and Row, New York) and the Wikipedia article Timeline of Radio and Golden Age of Radio, here is a summary of the high points of radio during the decade of the 1920s.

  • 1920, August.: WWJ radio station in Detroit, Michigan received a commercial broadcasting license and began news broadcasting.
  • 1920, October: First licensed, commercial broadcasting station opened in East Pittsburgh.
  • 1920: the station 2ADD (renamed WRUC in 1947) began airing Thursday night concerts followed by covering local sporting events.
  • 1921, July: Prize fight between Dempsey and Carpentier was called by three men at ringside out to 80 radio stations around the U.S.
  • 1921, November: Unknown Soldier was buried at Arlington Cemetery – crowds gathered at Madison Square Garden in New York and the Auditorium in San Francisco to hear the speeches blaring from amplifiers.
  • 1921: broadcast of the West Virginia vs. Pittsburgh college football game
  • 1921-22, Winter: A San Francisco paper descried the discovery that millions were making: There is radio music in the air, every night, everywhere. Anybody can hear it at home on a receiving set, which any boy can put up in an hour.
  • 1922: $60,000,000 spent on radio sets, parts, and accessories
  • 1929: $842,548,00 spent on radio sets, parts, and accessories
Vintage All-American Mohawk One Dial Battery Powered Radio c. 1920s (citing below)








During the 1920s:

  • every third home in the country had a radio
  • major broadcasting stations went nation-wide
  • tenement-house roofs had ‘forests of antennae’
  • early experiments with radio to transmit pictures visible as television
Free Concerts Radio Dealer Poster 1922 (citing below)


Notable radio shows in the 1920s:

  • Amos ‘n’ Andy: 1928-1960 – radio comedy ‘sitcom’
  • Atwater Kent Hour: 1925-1934 – concert music program, including Metropolitan Opera performers
  • Capitol Theater (New York): 1927-1931 – The Capitol Theater Family Show
  • Chase and Sanborn Hour: 1929-1948 –comedy and variety programs
  • Grand Ole Opry (previously Barn Dance): 1925 to present – country music stage show
  • House of Myths: 1926-1929 – dramatization of Greek classics
  • Mystery House: 1929-1951 – thriller and suspense radio drama
  • National Radio Home-Makers Club: 1920s – information shared about nutrition, menus, and beauty
Vintage Radio Advertisement – Ladies Home Journal (citing below)
  • Sam ‘n’ Henry: 1926-1928 – 10-minute program similar to a modern situation comedy
  • Standard Hour: 1926-1950s – San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and San Francisco Opera performances
  • Standard School Broadcast: 1928-1975 – weekly education program promoting music appreciation for students in the western U.S.
  • Voice of Firestone: 1928-1957 – classical music station




Images Citations:

  1. Radio:  Joe Haupt from USA, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons
  2. Poster:  Commercial magazine advertisement, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
  3. Ladies home journal poster: Joe Haupt from USA, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons

Until next time,
Kaye Spencer

Look for Kaye here—


Day 1 – Jan. 25th – Chicago Lightning – book video
Day 2 – Jan. 26th – Popular Songs of the 1920s
Day 3 – Jan. 27th – Notable Events of the 1920s – 1920 through 1924
Day 4 – Jan. 28th – Notable Events of the 1920s – 1925 through 1929
Day 5 – Jan. 29th – Chapter 1 – Micro Excerpt #1
Day 6 – Jan. 30th – Slang – 1920s era
Day 7 – Jan. 31st – Pre-order
Day 8 – Feb. 1st – 1920s Kitchen
Day 9 – Feb. 2nd – ‘Roaring 20s’
Day 10 – Feb. 3rd – Chapter 2 – Micro Excerpt #2
Day 11 – Feb. 4th – 4 Roaring Twenties Movies
Day 12 – Feb. 5th – 1928 Phantom 1 Rolls-Royce
Day 13 – Feb. 6th – Speakeasy
Day 14 – Feb. 7th – Chapter 2 – Micro Excerpt #3
Day 15 – Feb. 8th – Pre-FBI – brief history
Day 16 – Feb. 9th – 1920s Radio
Day 17 – Feb. 10th – Release Day, Micro Excerpt #4, and bullet resistant clothing
Day 18 – Feb. 11th – “The Hedge”
Day 19 – Feb. 12th – What did it cost? 1925-1929
Day 20 – Feb. 13th – Hello? Who’s calling?
Day 21 – Feb. 14th – 1920s reference books and book video

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