1915: First Pirate Radio Broadcast?

NYTribune01301915A hundred years ago today was perhaps the first example of a pirate broadcasting music over the airwaves.  The New York Tribune, January 31, 1915,  reported a mysterious broadcast of a phonograph record of Enrico Caruso. The previous year, Caruso had taken part in a broadcast from the roof of the Wanamaker Department Store, as previously reported here.

But this was apparently an unauthorized broadcast, and the source of the January 1915 signal  was a mystery. The paper reported that amateur wireless operators were surprised by the broadcast on the afternoon of January 30, which came from somewhere New York, and on a wave legth a few hundred meters below that used by the government. In what was perhaps the first recorded pirate radio broadcast, someone played, without further comment, a phonograph recording of Enrico Caruso singing an aria.

The article went on to point out predictions that within the year, there would be wireless telephone messages “flying through the air instead of code messages.”

Enrico Caruso

Enrico Caruso

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