Radio Advertising History: Where Was the First Radio Spot?

Radio Advertising HistoryOne person’s version of radio advertising history may be quite different than another’s – at least when it comes to when the very first radio advertisement aired. There are no fewer than five different scenarios that have some validity. We at JKR Advertising & Marketing can’t say for sure which should be deemed the first, because, well, … we haven’t been around that long!

Radio Advertising History: The First?

The most recognized of the five happened in August 1922. The Queensboro Corporation of New York took to the airwaves (radio station WEAF) to sell real estate, a venture that proved very successful. A book called The WEAF Experiment outlines this “toll broadcasting,” as they called it. Run on a total of five broadcasts over a five-day span, the ads cost $50, plus AT&T long distance access fees. Shortly thereafter, AT&T actually went to court to gain control over all future advertising. Had they not lost that case, it’s quite possible advertising during that time period would have taken an entirely different turn.

Others point to March 1922 as the beginning of radio advertising history. At that time, Remick’s Music Store in Seattle was co-owner of radio station KFC (no affiliation with the “other” KFC). Remick’s sponsored a once-weekly program urging listeners to come to their store and buy the music they heard on the show.

Still others point to April 1922, when Massachusetts auto dealer Alvin T. Fuller purchased multiple time slots on radio station WGI. A short time later, it was determined that Fuller was violating US Department of Commerce standards. Fuller immediately stopped advertising when he was issued a cease and desist order by the DOC.

The first “trade-out ads” aired around 1915. Charles Herrold owned San Jose, CA station KQW, and music store owner Wiley Allen provided the music KQW played. In exchange for the music, Herrold made sure his listeners knew where to buy the music.

Finally, there is even a documented claim that radio advertising history took place outside the United States. In 1893, a “telephone broadcast” service from Hungary reportedly sold 12-second spots between their news broadcasts and music segments. Each sold for the US equivalent of 50 cents.

Make Your Own Radio Advertising History

Radio advertising is the ideal source to capture the necessary frequency on a modest budget. JKR Advertising has the experience, creativity, scientific data and media buying savvy to make your radio advertising campaign successful. Call us today at (321) 397-0777 to get the wheels in motion, and take advantage of the form on this page to get your FREE Marketing Report!