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Media

News, entertainment, education, data, and promotional messages are sent world-wide through this type of communication channel. Every broadcasting and narrow casting medium, like newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, billboards, direct mail, telephone, fax, and internet are part of what is the Media.

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Adolph Ochs (Cincinnati, Ohio) (1858 - 1935)

 

Ochs was born to a Jewish family in Cincinnati, Ohio, on March 12, 1858. His parents, Julius Ochs and Bertha Levy, were both German immigrants.

 

He was the eldest of six children. His father had left Bavaria for the United States in 1846. Julius was a highly educated man and fluent in six languages that he taught at schools throughout the South, though he supported the Union during the Civil War.

 

Ochs' mother Bertha had come to the United States in 1848 as a refugee from the revolution in Rhenish Bavaria, and had lived in the South before her 1853 marriage with Julius, sympathized with the South, though their differing sympathies didn't separate their household.

He became a printer’s devil (apprentice) on the Knoxville Chronicle in 1872 and later a compositor on the Louisville (Kentucky) Courier-Journal. In 1877 he helped to establish the Chattanooga Dispatch, and in July 1878, only 20, he borrowed $250 to buy a controlling interest in the moribund Chattanooga Times, which he developed into one of the leading newspapers in the South. He was a founder of the Southern Associated Press and was its chairman from 1891 to 1894; from 1900 until his death he was a director of the Associated Press.

On August 18, 1896, Ochs acquired control of the financially faltering New York Times, again with borrowed money ($75, 000). To set his paper apart from its more sensational competitors, Ochs adopted the slogan “All the News That’s Fit to Print” (first used October 25, 1896) and insisted on reportage that lived up to that promise. Despite an early shortage of capital, he refused advertisements that he considered dishonest or in poor taste. In 1898, when sales were low and expenses unusually high, he probably saved The New York Times by cutting its price from three cents to one cent. He thereby attracted many readers who previously had bought the more sensational penny papers, especially the New York World and the Journal. By 1900 Ochs was able to purchase a controlling interest in The New York Times.

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Philo Taylor Farnsworth II (Beaver, Utah) (1906–1971)

 

Farnsworth was a technical prodigy from an early age. An avid reader of science magazines as a teenager, he became interested in the problem of television and was convinced that mechanical systems that used, for example, a spinning disc would be too slow to scan and assemble images many times a second. Only an electronic system could scan and assemble an image fast enough, and by 1922 he had worked out the basic outlines of electronic television.  

Farnsworth made his first successful electronic television transmission on September 7, 1927, and filed a patent for his system that same year.

Farnsworth continued to perfect his system and gave the first demonstration to the press in September 1928. His backers at the Crocker First National Bank were eager to be bought out by a much larger company and in 1930 made overtures to the Radio Corporation of America (RCA), which sent the head of their electronic television project, Vladimir Zworykin, to evaluate Farnsworth’s work. Zworykin’s receiver, the kinescope, was superior to that of Farnsworth, but Farnsworth’s camera tube, the image dissector, was superior to that of Zworykin. Zworykin was enthusiastic about the image dissector, and RCA offered Farnsworth $100,000 for his work. He rejected the offer.

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Vladimir Zworykin (Murom, Russia) (1888 –1982)

 

Zworykin studied at the St. Petersburg Institute of Technology, where from 1910 to 1912 he assisted physicist Boris Rosing in his experiments with a television system that consisted of a rotating mirror drum to scan an image and a cathode-ray tube to display it. He then studied at the Collège de France, in Paris and served during World War I in the Russian Signal Corps. He emigrated to the United States in 1919 and became a naturalized citizen in 1924. 

In 1930 Westinghouse’s television research was transferred to RCA, and Zworykin became head of the television division at RCA’s Camden, New Jersey, laboratory.

In April 1930 Zworykin visited the San Francisco laboratory of inventor Philo Farnsworth at the behest of Farnsworth’s backers, who wanted to make a deal with RCA. Three years earlier Farnsworth had done the first successful demonstration of an entirely electronic television system. Zworykin was particularly impressed by Farnsworth’s transmission tube, the image dissector, and was inspired by its innovations to develop an improved camera tube, the iconoscope, for which he filed a patent in 1931. RCA kept Zworykin’s developments a secret, and only in 1933 was Zworykin able to announce the existence of the iconoscope. In 1939 RCA introduced regular electronic television broadcasting at the New York World’s Fair.

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Paul Nipkow (Lebork, Poland) (1860–1940)

 

The first practical television systems used an electro-mechanical picture scanning method, the method that Nipkow had helped create with his disc; he could claim some credit for the invention. Nipkow recounted his first sight of television at a Berlin radio show in 1928: "the televisions stood in dark cells. Hundreds stood and waited patiently for the moment at which they would see television for the first time. I waited among them, growing ever more nervous. Now for the first time I would see what I had devised 45 years ago. Finally, I reached the front row; a dark cloth was pushed to the side, and I saw before me a flickering image, not easy to discern."

A few years later, the leadership of the Third Reich saw the propaganda value in claiming television was a German invention, and in 1935 named the first public television station after Nipkow.  He became honorary president of the "television council" of the Reich Broadcasting Chamber. Nipkow died on the 24th of August, 1940 in Berlin. By government order, he was given a state funeral.

National Broadcasting Co., Inc. (NBC)

November 15, 1926

 

The oldest broadcasting network in the United States, the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) came into being on November 15, 1926, with a gala four-hour radio program originating from the ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.

 

NBC was the joint effort of three pioneers in mass communications: Radio Corporation of America (RCA; now RCA Corporation), American Telephone and Telegraph (now AT&T Corporation), and Westinghouse Electric Corporation.

 

Two early radio stations in Newark, New Jersey, and New York City—WJZ, founded by Westinghouse in 1921, and WEAF, founded by the American Telephone & Telegraph Company in 1923—had earlier been acquired by RCA and, after NBC was created, became the centres of NBC’s two semi-independent networks, the Blue Network, based on WJZ, and the Red Network, based on WEAF, each with its respective links to stations in other cities.

The formation of NBC was orchestrated by David Sarnoff, the general manager of RCA, which became the network’s sole owner in 1930.

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David Sarnoff (Uzlyany, Belarus) (1891 – 1971)

 

Born into appalling poverty in a Jewish settlement near the Russian city of Minsk, Sarnoff came to New York with his family in 1900.  He was nine years old at the time. Within days of his arrival, the young immigrant found employment hawking Yiddish newspapers on the mean streets of New York's Lower East Side. By the time he was thirteen, he had saved enough cash to buy a newsstand for $200. Profits gained for this early business venture only whetted Sarnoff's appetite for further gain.

Quite by accident, he wandered into the Commercial Cable Company telegraph office instead, where he was hired immediately as a messenger boy--and fired almost as quickly, for requesting time off for the Jewish holidays.

Undeterred, Sarnoff found work as a messenger boy at Marconi Wireless. He had already begun to develop his skills with a telegraph key, as he read voraciously from any technical journals he could find. In his spare time, he followed Marconi's engineers into their workshops, where he absorbed every possible morsel of technical information. At age sixteen, his persistence paid off. Sarnoff was hired as a junior telegrapher, earning $7.50 per week. A lifetime of vocational improvement through self-education had begun.

Sarnoff's next chance came in 1920, with the formation of the Radio Corporation of America (RCA). Created to prevent domination of American strategic communications by a foreign company like the British-owned Marconi, RCA was controlled largely by General Electric, which provided the startup funds. So it was to GE that Sarnoff next pitched his radio music box idea. To his delight, GE agreed to front $2000 for RCA to develop a prototype.

Sarnoff had correctly gauged the public's huge interest in the heavyweight championship fight between Jack Dempsey and Georges Carpentier. So he arranged for the fight to be broadcast live by RCA. The event drew hundreds of thousands of listeners. The public got its first real taste of what a radio broadcast could be. Sales soared and Sarnoff came off looking like a visionary.

In 1923, when federal investigators threatened to charge RCA, Westinghouse, and its other partners AT&T and GE for conspiring to restrain trade in the radio industry, Sarnoff suggested splitting off part of the conglomerate to form NBC, the first national broadcasting network. This satisfied the Feds, but the conglomerate remained unwieldy. Sarnoff understood that a complete break would be necessary for him to realize his dream of an RCA empire.

The opportunistic Sarnoff saw his chance in May 1930, five months after being named RCA president. The U.S. government announced its intent to pursue anti-trust actions against RCA. Smaller companies had complained that the patent-sharing system RCA, GE, and Westinghouse operated under resulted in unfair competition. While other executives braced for struggle, Sarnoff instead played compromise to his advantage.

Through two years of constant lobbying, the wily Sarnoff helped convince the Feds that breaking up the patent-sharing system would cripple an American communications industry already wounded by the Depression and pave the way for foreign control of the airwaves. Instead, Sarnoff proposed that the business relationship between RCA, Westinghouse, and GE be severed, and that RCA be given the benefit of a two year non-competition agreement in the field of radio. The Feds agreed. RCA became an independent empire, controlling broadcasting stations and manufacturing facilities nationwide. David Sarnoff ruled as its king.

In 1933, Armstrong, a friend of Sarnoff's since 1914, devised a new scheme for radio broadcasting called frequency modulation, or FM. Superior to amplitude modulation, or AM, radio which virtually all RCA broadcasting systems used, FM drastically reduced static and provided a much clearer sound. Armstrong proposed switching the RCA broadcasting system to FM; Sarnoff opposed this vigorously.

Armstrong left RCA to start his own FM station. In 1948, he sued RCA and NBC, alleging a conspiracy to influence the FCC in limiting the development of FM radio. Sarnoff sent for his lawyers, and bludgeoned his former friend in the courts for six years. In January, 1954, despondent and nearly destitute, Armstrong committed suicide.

Philo Farnsworth, the first inventor to patent a completely electronic television system, received similar treatment at the hands of Sarnoff and RCA. When RCA engineer Vladmir Zworykin applied for a new patent for television based, in part, on information gleaned from a visit to Farnsworth's laboratory, Farnsworth sued. The courts vindicated Farnsworth after a lengthy court battle, but by that time Farnsworth's will had been broken, and his patent had nearly run out. He would never see the millions he'd dreamed of; RCA reaped them instead.

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Sarnoff would again muster his iron will in the battle for color television. In 1945, CBS presented the first color television system to the FCC for approval. The mechanically-operated system was not compatible with RCA's existing black-and-white television sets, which operated electronically. Sarnoff realized that FCC approval of the new color system would devastate RCA. Anyone who wanted to watch color television using a CBS set would have to discard his RCA set. Sarnoff feverishly drove his engineers to develop an electronic color system, simultaneously lobbying the FCC to approve a system compatible with existing RCA sets.

In a blow to RCA, the FCC approved the CBS system in 1950. But Sarnoff's faith in his engineers paid off. They developed an electronic color system that worked compatibly with existing sets. Spurred by the mainstream press and Sarnoff's efficient public relations machine, the FCC reversed its decision in 1953. Under Sarnoff's tenacious leadership, RCA had won again.

Sarnoff's leadership skills extended into the political arena as well, with mixed results. He began his work with the government in 1929, negotiating a war reparations treaty with Germany. But with Hitler leading Germany, the treaty was ignored. During World War II, Sarnoff successfully directed the press communications for D-day, earning the rank of brigadier general in the process. General Sarnoff then returned home to fight the Cold War.

Sarnoff vigorously opposed Communism. In the 1950's and 60's, he wrote and lectured frequently, encouraging American's to "prosecute the Cold War to the point of victory." He corresponded frequently with Vice-President Richard Nixon about effective anti-communist strategy. Sarnoff proposed dropping millions of radios and compact phonographs on the Communist Bloc to broadcast pro-democracy propaganda, and influenced the formation of the Voice of America broadcasting network. His war against communism was even waged within his own company. Sarnoff supported Senator Joseph McCarthy's Communist witch hunts, and condoned blacklisting at RCA.

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William S. Paley (Chicago, Il) (1901 - 1990)

Paley was the son of immigrant Ukrainian Jews who conducted a thriving cigar business in Chicago.  (At age 12 he added a middle initial, S., to his name.) The family moved to Philadelphia when Paley was ready for college, and he attended the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania.

After entering the family’s new cigar business, he became vice president and eventually signed an early radio advertising contract for the firm’s products. The commercials boosted business, making Paley aware of the power of radio as an advertising medium, and in 1927 he invested in a relative’s small radio network, the Columbia Phonographic Broadcasting System. Paley became president of Columbia on September 26, 1928, moved to New York City, and quickly signed up 49 radio stations.

During World War II Paley served the U.S. government as supervisor of the Office of War Information (OWI) in the Mediterranean theatre, and later as chief of radio in the OWI’s Psychological Warfare Division (1944–45), of which he finally became deputy chief.

During and after the war, Paley supported and encouraged Edward R. Murrow in building an outstanding news staff for CBS. 

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Edward R. Murrow (Greensboro, NC) (1908 - 1965)

Murrow graduated from Washington State College (now University). Murrow was born Egbert Roscoe Murrow at Polecat Creek, near Greensboro, NC. His parents were Quakers. He was the youngest of four brothers and was a "mixture of Scottish, Irish, English and German" descent. He served as president of the National Student Association (1929–31) and then worked to bring German scholars displaced by Nazism to the United States. 

He joined the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) in 1935 and was sent to London in 1937 to head the network’s European Bureau. Murrow’s highly reliable and dramatic eyewitness reportage of the German occupation of Austria and the Munich Conference in 1938, the German takeover of Czechoslovakia in 1939, and the Battle of Britain during World War II brought him national fame and marked radio journalism’s coming of age.

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After the war Murrow became CBS vice president in charge of news, education, and discussion programs. 

Murrow was a notable force for the free and uncensored dissemination of information during the American anticommunist hysteria of the early 1950s.

In 1954 he produced a notable exposé of the dubious tactics of Senator Joseph McCarthy, who had gained prominence with flamboyant charges of communist infiltration of U.S. government agencies. 

He was appointed director of the U.S. Information Agency in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy.

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William Fox (Tulchva, Austria - Hungary) (1879 - 1952)

Wilhelm Fuchs (sometimes erroneously listed as "Wilhelm Fried") was born on the very first day of 1879 in the town of Tulchva in what was then Austria-Hungary. His parents were German Jews who brought their young son to America when he was only nine months old.

Somewhere along the way, Wilhelm's name was changed to William Fox, a direct English translation of his Germanic name.  This most likely occurred when his parents immigrated to the United States, as it was fairly common practice for immigration officials to enter into their books Americanized versions of European names. 

 

Fox grew up in New York City's Lower East Side. He started his own fur business in 1900, which he sold in order to start the Greater New York Film Rental Company in 1904 with the purchase of a run-down Nickelodeon in Brooklyn. 

As the new owner with an empty house, Fox hired a coin manipulator and a barker to attract patrons into the dark 146-seat theater. Once audiences adequately understood what moving pictures were, live acts were dispensed with. More theaters were opened and he became a successful film exhibitor.Fox opened a projection style theater at New York's 700 Broadway during May 1906. With its success, he purchased more Nickelodeons and converted them into theaters. 

With his fledgling chain of theaters, Fox fought against the movie monopoly of the Motion Picture Patents Company owned by Thomas Edison.

 

The fight ended in 1912 when the Supreme Court rules in Fox's favor.

 

Fox then founded Fox Films, which on average produced four feature films a year. Four years later, the company moved to 13 acres in Hollywood California, where many movie companies were relocating. Operations of Fox's exploding empire were consolidated into the Fox Film Corporation in 1915. It was composed of the Fox Hollywood studios and the Fox Theatre chain. 

On March 3rd of 1929, Fox shook the film industry by announcing his attempt to takeover the Loew's Corporation. Loew's Inc. President Nicholas Schenck agreed to sell a controlling interest in the firm to Fox Film Corp. for $10 million. That would have given Fox control of Loew's theater chain and its MGM studio subsidiary, but Fox wanted complete control.

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In 1985 the Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation (now minus the hyphen) became a division of News Corporation owned by Rupert Murdoch and was simply renamed Fox, Incorporated. Ironically, the film production unit was renamed the Fox Film Corporation in 1989, the original name that Fox gave his new movie studio in 1915. Despite the name change, 20th Century Fox still appears on the opening titles of films and television programming it distributes. 

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Robert Edward "Ted" Turner III (Cincinnati, Ohio) (1938 - present)

Turner grew up in an affluent family; his father owned a successful billboard-advertising company. Turner joined the family business, which was based in Atlanta, and became the general manager of one of the company’s branch offices in 1960.

In 1970 Turner purchased a financially troubled UHF television station in Atlanta, and within three years he made it one of the few truly profitable independent stations in the United States.

In 1975 Turner’s company was one of the first to use a new communications satellite to broadcast his station (later renamed WTBS, or TBS, the Turner Broadcasting System) to a nationwide cable television audience, thereby greatly increasing revenues.

 

To reflect the business’s shift from billboards, Turner renamed it Turner Communications Company, and in 1979 the venture became known as Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. Turner went on to create two other highly successful and innovative cable television networks:

 

CNN (Cable News Network; 1980), the first 24-hour news channel, and TNT (Turner Network Television; 1988). 

On June 1, 1980, CNN (Cable News Network), the world’s first 24-hour television news network, makes its debut. The network signed on from its headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, with a lead story about the attempted assassination of civil rights leader Vernon Jordan.

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