Today is World Radio Day 2018. This year’s event celebrates sports broadcasting on the radio, something that continues to be very popular over 100 years.
Today is World Radio Day 2018, an annual celebration of radio broadcasting sponsored by UNESCO. This year’s theme is “Radio and Sports”, And UNESCO wants us to celebrate things like gender equality in sports and things like that. Instead, I will talk about radio and sports more generally.
When radio broadcasting came to life in the 1920’s, programming’s backbone was special events. Thinks like elections and especially sports events. Broadcast live with commentary. During 1920, radio cemented its relationship with sports events through boxing and, of course, the World Series of baseball.
At first, sports coverage used recreations based on wire service and telephone reports on the events. But by 1921, live coverage started. In the United States, college football was a big draw. The teams did not charge rights for the broadcasts, and the radio stations did not run commercials during the games.
This was all pretty incredible at the time. All of a sudden, large groups of the population across regions and whole countries could experience sports events as they happened. It was very intimate, and truly broadcasting where communities drew together.
But there was controversy, as well. Some team owners felt radio was reducing attendance. And newspapers were very unhappy about being scooped. For a period of time, the BBC was allowed to broadcast horse races but give no commentary until after newspapers had published the results. Yes indeed, the BBC just broadcast the sound of galloping hoofs. Sigh.
World Radio Day 2018 – Many More Competitors
Most listeners can still find coverage of sporting events on the radio. But it is just one of many media. Almost all major leagues have their sports on both television and Internet. Sometimes these are free to consumers, sometimes they are pay per view. Radio sports coverage is best for in-car or remote consumption.
Regulators in some countries deem some sports broadcasts to be in the public interest, and require broadcast of events available to all. In the U.K. this includes coverage of the World Cup and Olympic made free-to-air.
Most countries provide listeners with “sports radio” – stations that only do sports commentary and discussion. These format is quite popular.
So as we celebrate World Radio Day 2018, radio and sports is doing very well, as it nears its centennial. Well, actually, there was an experimental football broadcast in 1911, so the centennial may have passed already. Here's some more history.