The First Ever Radio Commercial Was Broadcast 101 Years Ago Today in New York City

In 1922, WEAF, transmitting at 660 kHz on the AM dial, broadcast the first-ever radio commercial.

By Anna Breuer on 28 August 2023
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The first ever radio commercial was broadcast by New York AM station WEAF, broadcasting at 660 kHz on the AM dial, 101 years ago today, on August 28, 1922.  As a result, August 28 is recognized by radio enthusiasts as Radio Commercials Day.

The commercial was for the Queensboro Corporation, a real-estate developer that developed the area in Queens known as Train Meadow into Jackson Heights with the construction of garden apartments that closely resemble the garden apartments built in Charlottenburg by the Beamten-Wohnungs-Verein zu Berlin eG, or the Berlin Civil Servants Dwelling Association.

On August 28, 1922, the Queensboro Corporation paid $50 to WEAF in order to broadcast a ten-minute sales pitch for the Nathaniel Hawthorne apartments in Jackson Heights, something we would refer to today as an infomercial. The presenter, a Mr. Blackwell of Queensboro, then urged listeners to “seek the recreation and the daily comfort of the home removed from the congested part of the city, right at the boundaries of G-d’s great outdoors, and within a few minutes by subway from the business section of Manhattan.”

He continued as follows: “The cry of the heart is for more living room, more chance to unfold, more opportunity to get near Mother Earth, to play, to romp, to plant and to dig … Let me enjoin upon you as you value your health and your hopes and your home happiness, get away from the solid masses of brick … where your children grow up starved for a run over a patch of grass and the sight of a tree…”

From 1922 to 1926, WEAF was licensed to Western Electric, which was owned by AT&T.  It was purchased by the Radio Corporation of America, or RCA, in 1926 and was the callsign of the radio station that became first WRCA and later WNBC and served as the flagship station of the NBC Red network.   As WNBC, it was the first network radio station in the United States.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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