THE FOOTE FILES (CBSDFW.COM) — Some 108 years ago, a major event (and one that was tragic) took place that cost the lives of more than 1,500 people. And radio and telegraph played a significant role during this time.
In 1912, 21-year-old David Sarnoff was managing the Marconi wireless station located at the Wanamaker Department Store in New York City. On Apr. 14 of that year, the ocean liner Titantic hit an iceberg and began taking on water. It also transmitted distress signals.
After three days at the Wanamaker location, Sarnoff went to Marconi’s Sea Gate radio/wireless station on Coney Island where he contacted the steamship Carpathia, which was in the process of picking up survivors and taking them to New York.
Sarnoff compiled the names of those passengers picked up and let their families know that their loved ones were safe. With that said, radio was on the map for Americans and for Sarnoff himself.
For those who work or have worked in the media business will know that Sarnoff spent a lifetime career as the top executive of the Radio Corporation of America, also known as RCA.
Not only was the company a leader in broadcast technology, e.g., color TV, but a leader in audience viewership both on radio and television.
In radio, there were two radio networks, NBC Red and NBC Blue, that carried shows like Bob Hope, Burns & Allen and Jack Benny. The NBC Television Network led the way for color television in the late 1959 and launched the line, “the following program is in living color on NBC.”
NBC News was a formidable competitor as well to CBS News and newspapers, and launched “Meet The Press” on network radio in 1947 with Lawrence Spivak. And its record division, RCA Records, had such talent as Elvis Presley, ABBA, Christina Aguilera and Glenn Miller, to name a few.
Enjoy this clip of David Sarnoff. Some of the footage is silent since sound motion pictures did not become more prevalent until 1929.