Grant Will Help Duquesne Preserve the Roots of American Radio

Duquesne University is teaming up with the National Museum of Broadcasting (NMB) to preserve invaluable history relating to the birth of American radio, thanks to funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Leveraging the museum and archival expertise of Duquesne University with the NMB's significant historical collection, the $124,219 Educational Access grant will allow for the creation of an accessible collection of historic archival materials about the birth of broadcasting in time for broadcasting's centennial in 2019-2020.

Western Pennsylvania put itself on the map in 1920 when KDKA became the first federally licensed commercial radio station to broadcast. The NMB's core of dedicated volunteers has preserved the pioneering role that Pittsburgh played in the birth of the radio and television broadcasting industry.

"Out of Pittsburgh came voice radio, commercial and shortwave broadcasting, the first national and international networks, electronic television and public broadcasting," said NMB Board Member Rick Harris, who is coordinating this project with Duquesne. "NMB's ultimate goal is the establishment of a major broadcasting and technology museum in Pittsburgh."

The collection includes hours of radio broadcasts; papers chronicling the early years of radio; artifacts; archival materials; and the dismantled garage of radio pioneer Frank Conrad, where the first radio broadcasts took place.

Duquesne University Archivist Thomas White will oversee a detailed initiative to work with the NMB to appropriately preserve the collection, creating a draw for scholars and the general public seeking to learn more about the history and beginnings of broadcasting as well as to commemorate Pittsburgh's role in this influential industry.

"The early pioneers of broadcasting were amateur enthusiasts with little or no formal training, yet they made discoveries and created a new form of communication that changed the world," said Duquesne President Ken Gormley. "We hope that organizing and preserving this important collection will help create a treasure trove of information for researchers and scholars of history."

Both Duquesne University and the NMB intend to create programs that foster creative inquiry through this partnership, including "virtual field trips" for high school students interested in learning about the birth and evolution of radio.

Veteran broadcaster Bill Hillgrove, who serves as NMB president, is excited about the potential impact of this partnership. "We believe the National Museum of Broadcasting in Pittsburgh-if properly planned, funded and promoted-can become a major educational and tourist destination for our region," said Hillgrove, a Duquesne University graduate. "This collaborative grant with Duquesne will help to ensure that our collection is properly conserved as we work to raise awareness and the funding necessary to make (a permanent) museum a reality."

The project will begin this Fall and will continue through 2018. This will allow Duquesne to play a significant role when the birth of radio celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2020, garnering national and international attention for this historical milestone.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and horizon-expanding education. A campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, Duquesne prepares students by having them work alongside faculty to discover and reach their goals. The University's academic programs, community service, and commitment to equity and opportunity in the Pittsburgh region have earned national acclaim. 

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