1920 – The first radio news program is broadcast by 8MK in Detroit.
WWJ, 950 AM (a regional broadcast frequency), is an all-news radio station located in Detroit, Michigan. Owned by the CBS Radio subsidiary of CBS Corporation, WWJ’s studios are in the Panasonic Building in Southfield, and its transmitter is located near Newport.
WWJ began daily broadcasts on August 20, 1920, operating under an amateur radio license with the call sign “8MK”. August 20, 2017 marks the beginning of its 98th year of broadcasting. The station has claimed to be “America’s Pioneer Broadcasting Station”, and where “commercial radio broadcasting began”.
WWJ is licensed by the Federal Communications Commission to broadcast in the HD Radio format. It is also simulcast on a subchannel of sister station WXYT-FM.
On August 20, 1920 a series of trial broadcasts began, to check if the equipment was ready for regular service. This date marks what WWJ considers to be its official anniversary, although because the station was still unpublicized the audience consisted of only a small number of interested local amateur radio operators. The test programs proved satisfactory, so, on August 31, 1920, the front page of the Detroit News announced that nightly (except Sunday) broadcasts by the “Detroit News Radiophone” would start that evening. The debut program featured regularly updated returns for a primary election held earlier that day, plus singing by Lois Johnson. At the beginning of the program, Elton Plant introduced Malcolm Bingay, managing director of the Detroit News, as the broadcast’s master of ceremonies.
The front page of the next day’s News contained enthusiastic reports attesting to the success of the election night broadcast, which had begun “promptly at 8:10 p. m.”, with the newspaper declaring: “The sending of the election returns by The Detroit News Radiophone Tuesday night was fraught with romance and must go down in the history of man’s conquest of the elements as a gigantic step in his progress”, while noting that the paper received “numberless telephone calls to The News office asking for details of the apparatus”. The station continued with daily broadcasts in September, most commonly between 7 and 8 p.m. Although the initial programs consisted mostly of phonograph records interspersed with news announcements, programming also included fight results from the heavyweight championship bout between Jack Dempsey and Billy Miske on September 6, and, in October, play-by-play accounts as the Cleveland Indians bested the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1920 World Series baseball championship. Weekly vocal concerts were begun on September 23, with Mable Norton Ayers as the first featured artist. By late October, the paper was boasting that “hundreds of Detroiters are now the possessors of wireless receiving sets by which they get the news bulletins, music and other features sent out by The News Radiophone”, as the station prepared to broadcast returns for that year’s presidential election on November 2.
1767 – Henry Joy McCracken, Irish businessman and activist, founded the Society of United Irishmen (d. 1798)
Henry Joy McCracken (31 August 1767 – 17 July 1798) was an Ulster Scot Protestant and industrialist from Belfast, Ireland. He was a founding member of the Society of the United Irishmen.
Henry Joy McCracken was born in High street, Belfast into two of the city’s most prominent Protestant industrial families. He was the son of Ulster Scot Presbyterian shipowner, Captain John McCracken and Ann Joy, daughter of Francis Joy, of French Huguenot Protestant descent. The Joy family made their money in linen manufacture and founded the Belfast News Letter. Henry was the elder brother of political activist and social reformer Mary Ann McCracken, with whom he shared an interest in Irish traditional culture.
In 1792, he helped organise the Belfast Harp Festival which gathered aged harpists from around Ireland, and helped preserve the Irish airs by having them transcribed by Edward Bunting. Bunting, who lodged in the McCracken’s Rosemary Lane home, was a classically trained musician.
McCracken became interested in republican politics from an early age and along with other Protestants formed the Society of the United Irishmen in 1795 which quickly made him a target of the authorities. He regularly travelled throughout the country using his business as a cover for organising other United Irish societies, but was arrested in October 1796 and lodged in Kilmainham Jail in Dublin. While imprisoned with other leaders of the United Irishmen, McCracken fell seriously ill and was released on bail in December 1797.
Following the outbreak of the United Irishmen-led Rebellion in Leinster in May 1798, the Antrim organisation met on 3 June to decide on their response. The meeting ended inconclusively with a vote to wait for French aid being passed by a narrow margin. A new meeting of delegates was held in Templepatrick on 5 June where McCracken was elected general for Antrim and he quickly began planning military operations.
McCracken formulated a plan for all small towns in Antrim to be seized after which rebels would converge upon Antrim town on 7 June where the county’s magistrates were to hold a crisis meeting. Although the plan met initial success and McCracken led the rebels in the attack on Antrim, the Catholic Defenders group whom McCracken expected assistance from were conspicuous by their absence. The mainly Ulster Scots rebels led by McCracken were defeated by the English forces and his army melted away. Although McCracken initially escaped with James Hope, James Orr, and James Dickey a chance encounter with men who recognized him from his cotton business led to his arrest. Although offered clemency if he testified against other United Irishmen leaders, McCracken refused to turn on his compatriots.
He was court-martialled and hanged at Corn Market, Belfast, on land his grandfather had donated to the city, on 17 July 1798, aged 30.
McCracken’s remains are believed to have been reinterred by Francis Joseph Biggar in 1909 at Clifton Street Cemetery, Belfast, alongside his sister Mary Ann. His illegitimate daughter Maria (whose mother is speculated to have been Mary Bodell), was raised by her aunt Mary Ann McCracken.
Society of United Irishmen
The Society of United Irishmen was founded as a liberal political organisation in 18th-century Ireland that initially sought Parliamentary reform. However, it evolved into a revolutionary republican organisation, inspired by the American Revolution and allied with Revolutionary France. It launched the Irish Rebellion of 1798 with the objective of ending British monarchical rule over Ireland and founding a sovereign, independent Irish republic.
This article was updated on Wednesday.
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