Archive for the ‘Radio Facts’ Category

Transgender Woman Played Big Part in Radio History

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

Transgender Woman Big Part of Radio History

The new documentary film “RADIO WARS” has started its 2012 FILM FESTIVAL tour in Seattle, WA and features the story of Dr. Martine Rothblatt, the inventor of satellite radio, and a transgender woman.

Dr. Martine Rothblatt-Founder, Sirius Satellite Radio

RADIO WARS explores the evolution of radio and America’s love affair with music and communication. In the hundred years since its invention, radio has significantly impacted the world, from the way we share information…to the way we wage war. But few are aware of the secret battles for control of the medium.  

Also spotlighted in the film is unsung hero and radio’s inventor Nikola Tesla, shock jock Howard Stern, FM inventor David Armstrong, and the world’s first Virtual Radio DJ: Denise.

SCREENING: Saturday, May 5 @ 2:30pm
ADDRESS: Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave. Seattle, WA 98122 

From controversy to corporate rebirth, RADIO WARS will move and inspire you.

CONTACT: 323-521-3409

START DATE 4/27/12
KILL DATE: 5/6/12

Documentary Declares RADIO WAR

In the hundred years since its invention, radio has significantly impacted the world; from the way we share information to the way we wage war.

Hollywood, CA. April 27, 2012. Soon after World War I America began its love affair with radio, unaware of the hidden battles going on behind the scenes since its inception. Who should profit from radio? Who controls its content? Whose interests are threatened as it evolves? Therein lies the conflict that has raged in a dozen arenas over the past century.

This daring film explores the controversy behind the evolution of radio, those who strove to advance the medium, those who sought to turn it to their own benefit, and those who would have destroyed it. RADIO WARS takes audiences on the journey from radio’s beginnings to Sirius XM Satellite Radio’s modern day battle in the stars. This broadcasting clash turned traditional radio business models upside down, redefined free speech, and put a million investors on a billion dollar rollercoaster ride as the companies fought to survive. For a look behind the scenes, visit:

Award Winning Director Sandra Mohr

RADIO WARS Director Sandra Mohr

“The entity that controls broadcasting also controls culture,” says director Sandra Mohr. “It’s time we looked closely at the RADIO WARS throughout history and I hope the film will help viewers to understand how radio’s transformations have had a powerful influence on our personal lives.”

Mohr begins the movie with the very first documented radio war. Many believe that radio technology owes its beginnings to genius inventor Nikola Tesla, who was largely ignored by history when his financier JP Morgan blackballed the inventor for wanting to offer services free of charge. Telsa’s rival Guglielmo Marconi was backed by business giants Thomas Edison and Andrew Carnegie, and eventually gained worldwide celebrity for the invention. When Marconi won the Nobel Prize in 1911, Tesla was furious.

The film investigates the media battle between the Associated Press and radio. In the early 1920′s, the newspaper industry dominated the field of newsgathering.  Radio was becoming a free channel for the dissemination of information that people could engage in and listen to. Some newspapers got nervous. Print journalists spent nearly a decade trying to block the emergence of broadcast journalism, known as the press-radio war. In fact, in 1922, the Associated Press issued a notice to its members that AP news bulletins were not to be used for purposes of broadcasting. Radio shows were forced to find new ways of obtaining bulletins for their newscasts. CBS and NBC were born out of this battle.

Spotlighted in the film are shock jock Howard Stern, transgender satellite radio inventor Dr. Martine Rothblatt, FM inventor David Armstrong, and the world’s first Virtual DJ: Denise.

First Virtual DJ: Denise Gets Role in New Film “RADIO WARS”

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (Video Clips and Photos Provided)

She tells jokes, gives the weather and traffic reports, and just landed a part in the new movie RADIO WARSNot bad for the first day at work.

Download Denise’s First Show for Use On TV Here


San Antonio, TX. (Aug. 24, 2011) The San Antonio radio station KROV debuted the first “Virtual DJ” in history this week. It’s new artificial intelligence software called “Denise” has been programmed to do the announcing between songs instead of a live deejay.

Denise was originally an artificial intelligence (AI) program that was specially developed to serve as a virtual assistant. She could answer phone calls, check email, conduct Web searches as well as schedule appointments. But her job skills are growing and she can now add radio “DJ” to her resume.

According to it’s maker Guile3D, “Denise is a very unique software. Within time, she will improve until the day no one will be able to differentiate her from a real human being.”

Dominique Garcia, a radio personality in San Antonio, purchased Denise and programmed the AI to serve as a radio host. Denise launched her first show on the airwaves  Aug. 24 from 1 to 4 p.m. CST on KROV. Film crews were there for the event.

Download This Video for Use on TV


Director Sandra Mohr sent her camera crew to the studio to offer Denise a part in her upcoming film RADIO WARS-The Historic Battles that Redefined Radio. Denise happily complied. She even signed her own release. She will be seen in the historical documentary due out in September. Mohr is currently offering video clips of this unique day in broadcasting free to the media at the movie site

Not everyone is happy about Denise’s arrival, and many complain the new technology will put flesh-and-blood radio personalities out of work. “A lot of radio DJs are pretty upset with me because it does work,” Garcia told MSNBC.

Dominique Garcia, Introduced “Denise” the First Virtual DJ to Radio. Garcia is also an On-Air Personality and Journalist.

Download This Video for Use on TV

A script writer will generally tell Denise what to say between music sets, though “she” has the capability to tell jokes, do the weather forecast and find answers on the Internet on her own.

Her creator says the change to a virtual radio host could save stations hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. He told reporters “If you have a staff of five that is paid $100,000 a year each, that’s half-a-million dollars,” he said. “The entire (AI) program is $200, a one-time fee. You never have to pay an annual fee. It never has to go to the bathroom. It never goes on an egomaniac spree. It is always there.”

Music writer and broadcaster Alan Cross reacts with passion writing, “Radio strength is its intimacy.  A good radio personality is your friend, companion and filter. Without a genuine human touch, radio is nothing more than an unprogrammbale iPod.  With commercials.”

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All of the clips on this page are FREE to use when attributed to the movie: RADIO WARS

Download Denise’s First Show for Use On TV Here


Tommy Calvert, Jr., General Manager and Co-Founder for KROV 91.7-HD2FM (San Antonio Community Radio) gives his perspective on the historic broadcast at his station.

Download This Video for Use on TV



Music Writer and Broadcaster Alan Cross (Ontario, Canada) comments on Denise: The first digital, virtual,  computer DJ in history. She is in the movie RADIO WARS. This clip approved for media use when attributed to the movie RADIO WARS.

Download HD Video Clip for Use On TV




Journalist “Relmor” (Arizona) comments on “Old media vs new media” in the movie RADIO WARS. This clip approved for media use when attributed to the movie RADIO WARS.

Download HD Video Clip for Use On TV




Rick Phebus, Founder of the popular Satellite Radio News site comments on “Old media vs new media” in the movie RADIO WARS. This clip approved for media use when attributed to the movie RADIO WARS.

 Download HD Video Clip for Use On TV



Visit the RADIO WARS Website

Contact Denise’s Creator Dominique Garcia HERE




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Filmmaker Sandra Mohr has directed award winning documentaries and is also a published author based in Hollywood, CA. RADIO WARS will be available on Blu-Ray and DVD in the Fall 2011. Visit for more information.



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The First Recorded Sound in History-Not Edison?

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

For more than a century, since he captured the spoken words “Mary had a little lamb” on a sheet of tinfoil, Thomas Edison has been considered the father of recorded sound. But researchers say they have unearthed a recording of the human voice, made by a little-known Frenchman, that predates Edison’s invention of the phonograph by nearly two decades.

Isabelle Trocheris
The audio historian David Giovannoni with a recently discovered phonautogram that is among the earliest sound recordings.
Audio: 1860 recording:
The Phonautograph Recording from 1860 of ‘Au Clair de la Lune

The 19th-century phonautograph, which captured sounds visually but did not play them back, has yielded a discovery with help from modern technology.
The 10-second recording of a singer crooning the folk song “Au Clair de la Lune” was discovered earlier this month in an archive in Paris by a group of American audio historians. It was made, the researchers say, on April 9, 1860, on a phonautograph, a machine designed to record sounds visually, not to play them back. But the phonautograph recording, or phonautogram, was made playable — converted from squiggles on paper to sound — by scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif.

“This is a historic find, the earliest known recording of sound,” said Samuel Brylawski, the former head of the recorded-sound division of the Library of Congress, who is not affiliated with the research group but who was familiar with its findings. The audio excavation could give a new primacy to the phonautograph, once considered a curio, and its inventor, Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville, a Parisian typesetter and tinkerer who went to his grave convinced that credit for his breakthroughs had been improperly bestowed on Edison.

Scott’s device had a barrel-shaped horn attached to a stylus, which etched sound waves onto sheets of paper blackened by smoke from an oil lamp. The recordings were not intended for listening; the idea of audio playback had not been conceived. Rather, Scott sought to create a paper record of human speech that could later be deciphered.

But the Lawrence Berkeley scientists used optical imaging and a “virtual stylus” on high-resolution scans of the phonautogram, deploying modern technology to extract sound from patterns inscribed on the soot-blackened paper almost a century and a half ago. The scientists belong to an informal collaborative called First Sounds that also includes audio historians and sound engineers.

David Giovannoni, an American audio historian who led the research effort, will present the findings and play the recording in public on Friday at the annual conference of the Association for Recorded Sound Collections at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif.

Scott’s 1860 phonautogram was made 17 years before Edison received a patent for the phonograph and 28 years before an Edison associate captured a snippet of a Handel oratorio on a wax cylinder, a recording that until now was widely regarded by experts as the oldest that could be played back.

On a digital copy of the recording provided to The New York Times, the anonymous vocalist, probably female, can be heard against a hissing, crackling background din. The voice, muffled but audible, sings, “Au clair de la lune, Pierrot répondit” in a lilting 11-note melody — a ghostly tune, drifting out of the sonic murk.

The hunt for this audio holy grail was begun in the fall by Mr. Giovannoni and three associates: Patrick Feaster, an expert in the history of the phonograph who teaches at Indiana University, and Richard Martin and Meagan Hennessey, owners of Archeophone Records, a label specializing in early sound recordings. They had collaborated on the Archeophone album “Actionable Offenses,” a collection of obscene 19th-century records that received two Grammy nominations. When Mr. Giovannoni raised the possibility of compiling an anthology of the world’s oldest recorded sounds, Mr. Feaster suggested they go digging for Scott’s phonautograms.

Historians have long been aware of Scott’s work. But the American researchers believe they are the first to make a concerted search for Scott’s phonautograms or attempt to play them back.

In December Mr. Giovannoni and a research assistant traveled to a patent office in Paris, the Institut National de la Propriété Industrielle. There he found recordings from 1857 and 1859 that were included by Scott in his phonautograph patent application. Mr. Giovannoni said that he worked with the archive staff there to make high-resolution, preservation-grade digital scans of these recordings.

Listen: Au Clair de la Lune

Scott never dreamed of playing back his recordings. But this morning, the dream Scott never had will come true.
A cadre of audio historians, recording engineers, and scientists working in conjunction with the First Sounds initiative has transformed Scott’s smoked-paper tracings into sound. They will premiere Au Clair de la Lune at the annual conference of the Association for Recorded Sound Collections at Stanford University this morning. Examples of sounds evoked from French and American phon- autograph recordings made between 1857 and 1878 will also be played publicly for the first time.

Contrary to popular belief, Thomas Edison did not make the first recording in history.

The sound files of Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville’s phonautograms released in 2008 by the First Sounds collaborative were created using Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s virtual stylus technology. Unfortunately, as these phonautograms were not made to be played back, they do not adhere to the most fundamental technical requirements of sound recording; their tracings are “malformed.” Because modern audio processing software cannot handle such malformations, these precious phonautograms have remained mute. In the quest to better understand the work of pioneer phonautogram makers, Dr. Patrick Feaster of Indiana University, Bloomington, has devised an alternate approach to playback. Although it must necessarily ignore or misinterpret information contained in malformations, this approach is sufficiently robust to let us hear something from recordings that are otherwise too compromised to process. The following two recordings were played by Dr. Feaster using this approach.

Chi crederia che sotto forme umane e sotto queste pastorali spoglie fosse nascosto un Dio? Non mica un–["Who would believe that under human form and under this pastoral garb there would be found a God? Not only a...."]. As of mid-May 2009, this phonautogram of the opening lines of Torquato Tasso’s pastoral drama Aminta is the earliest audible record of recognizable human speech–at least, recognizable enough to follow if you already know the words. (The April 9, 1860 recording of Au Clair de la Lune appears to be earlier, but it is sung, not spoken.) Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville recorded it for the physicist Henri Victor Regnault, probably in April or May 1860, as a “study of the tonic accent,” so he was more interested in capturing the intonation than the words anyway. But there’s a mistake in the recorded recitation. “I was wrong,” Scott wrote at the bottom: “it should be umane forme.” By apologizing for reversing the word order, Scott indirectly identifies himself as the speaker.

Listen: Tasso’s Aminta

Vole, Petite Abeille – Fly, Little Bee (undated, probably September 1860)
This is the only phonautogram Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville identified as made with an “amplifying lever,” his last known phonautographic design change. It is therefore presumably also his last known phonautogram, dating from late September 1860 or maybe even later. Equally noteworthy is the content: a lively rendition of a song that is as much performance as experiment. When First Sounds first published this recording in May 2009, the selection was unidentified, except that the final syllables seemed to be the same as the inscribed title–”vole, petite abeille,” or “fly, little bee.” It turns out to be “La Chanson de l’Abeille” from the comic opera La Reine Topaze by Victor Massé, first performed in 1856. Thanks to Peter L. Goodman for his help in the search, as well as to David Lasocki of the William & Gayle Cook Music Library.
Listen: Vole, Petite Abeille

Vole, Petite Abeille – Fly, Little Bee (September 15, 1860)
The first of Scott’s alternate takes we’ve heard, this phonautogram again features “La Chanson de l’Abeille” from Massé’s La Reine Topaze but was recorded without the amplifying lever.  The sound quality is markedly different, even though both phonautograms were played back using identical methods.  On the other hand, the adaptation of the song itself is nearly identical in both cases.  Years later, performers would famously have to learn to cut pieces of music to fit the duration of a phonograph cylinder.  By comparing Scott’s two phonautograms of “La Chanson de l’Abeille,” however, we learn that a consistent abridgement of one song had already been worked out for recording purposes back in 1860.
Listen:  Vole, Petite Abeille (alternate take)


When we released “Au Clair de la Lune” and “Gamme de la Voix” in 2008, we chose a playback speed that presumed the singer was a woman or an adolescent. Discrepancies in Scott’s notes suggested several possible playback speeds (each consistent with one of his inconsistencies) and the singing sounded “right” to us at this speed. But early in 2009, upon hearing “Aminta” in which Scott indirectly identifies himself as the speaker, Dr. Feaster realized that this speed was too fast. When “Au Clair” and “Gamme” are slowed, their singer sounds very much like the speaker in “Aminta.” We have adjusted their playback speed in accordance with this reinterpretation. Great performances they’re not. But Scott made his recordings to be seen, not heard. He sang purposely into his instrument to reveal the shape of his sounds and the frequency of his notes. In listening to these phonautograms we eavesdrop on scientific experiments wafting imperfectly through briefly-opened windows in time.

Au Clair de la Lune – By the Light of the Moon (April 9, 1860)

Scott recorded the French folksong “Au Clair de la Lune” on April 9, 1860, and deposited the results with the Académie des Sciences de l’Institut de France in 1861. As with all four 1860 phonautograms on this page, the existence of a tuning-fork calibration trace allows us to compensate for the irregular recording speed of the hand-cranked cylinder. The sheet contains the beginning line of the second verse–”Au clair de la lune, Pierrot répondit”–and is the earliest audibly recognizable record of the human voice yet recovered.

The romantic image of a woman singing to us through the veiled curtain of time was at the heart of Scott’s allure as we introduced his work in 2008. As we are loathe to let her go, we maintain her two sound files below: the first version as released in March, and a restoration from September that applied more advanced technologies.

XM Radio’s First Broadcast-Test Run

Sunday, August 7th, 2011

June 19, 2001

This scene from the upcoming movie RADIO WARS.



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The Former History of Satellite Radio

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

Enjoy this article from the past, and discover how much things have changed for Sirius XM Satellite Radio. 

The satellite radio industry is dominated by two major players – Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Satellite Radio. Both companies charge a monthly fee for their services, but service payment plans often change to attract more customers. For example, starting in 2005 Sirius offers a $500 fee that is valid for the lifetime of the equipment. Sirius offers 65 music channels, without any commercials and traffic and weather reports for most of the major US cities. On the other hand, some of XM Radio’s channels did contain some commercials, but in much smaller quantities than those found on terrestrial radio channels. Today, XM has 67 commercial-free music channels, 21 channels with detailed traffic and weather information, 39 channels of news, entertainment and sports and an amazing number of 23 play-by-play sports channels. XM Satellite Radio Inc. owns the most impressive digital radio equipment and facilities, boasting over 82 end to end broadcasting studios. Sirius Satellite Radio is located in the heart of New York City with a huge recording studio. Sirius Satellite Radio has an impressive library of over 2 million music tracks.

Sirius Satellite Radio

Sirius Satellite Radio is one of the two main providers of digital radio broadcasting in the United States and it shares this important market with XM Radio. While you would think that XM and Sirius are 100% rivals, you will be surprised to find out that both companies are working together on a joint program in order to develop a receiver for both of their broadcast frequencies. Sirius uses three geosynchronous satellites that pass over the United States territory at regular time intervals and transmit the data alternatively. The Sirius satellite network is also located in a position that offers better line of sight – this means that transmission interruptions caused by trees, mountains or any other landscape form are less likely to happen. Sirius announced that the number of subscribers to their services goes beyond the 4 million count

XM Satellite Radio Inc

XM Satellite Radio Inc. began broadcasting in 2001 and has seen a continuous development ever since. The digital radio used by XM Satellite Radio Inc. is encoded using the CT-aacPlus technology which is broadcast in a 128kb/sec format that is high in fidelity and is similar to CD quality. XM Satellite Radio Inc uses two Boeing HS-702 satellites which are constantly orbiting the Earth at a height of 22 300 miles. IN order to minimize transmission ad reception loss, XM Satellite Radio installed terrestrial transmitters in most major cities in places where loss of signal is more likely to take place (tunnels, high building areas). XM radio claims to have an impressive number of over 6 million subscribers.
Working with the automobile industry

Both satellite radio providers saw a huge market in the car industry, so they began negotiating with al major car manufacturers to convince them to offer their services and equipment as standard or optional on the vehicles they produce. Some of the auto manufacturers that have either XM or Sirius satellite radio installed from the factory are: BMW, MINI, Rolls-Royce, Chrysler, Dodge, Mercedes-Benz, Jeep, Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, Volvo, Land Rover, Jaguar, Mazda ,GM, Cadillac, Buick, GMC, Vauxhall, Saab, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Nissan, Infiniti, Porsche, Lexus, Scion and Audi – to name just a few. Sirius has managed to get exclusivity from major car manufacturers such as Audi or VW2007 through 2012. IT was a major success for Sirius as Audi and VW previously also offered XM radio services and equipment on their vehicles. After conquering the vehicle industry both manufacturers tried to move the success of satellite radio into the homes of consumers by creating some trendy portable satellite radio receivers. XM satellite radio created the XM2go(tm) line of “walkman-like” receivers and Sirius developed a variety of portable devices, such as the Kenwood Portable Satellite Radio Tuner, Here2Anywhere and the Sirius S50. More attempts are being made for introducing satellite radio in the homes of conservative media consumers.

Find out more about the merger of Sirius and XM Radio in the movie “RADIO WARS.”

The Inner Workings of Satellite Radio

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

Here’s one perspective on the “nuts and bolts” of Satellite Radio.

Any song you hear on satellite radio starts as a recording in a specific format on different recording mediums. In most cases, the recording quality has to be maintained fairly high, usually around 384kb/s, while also being reasonably small enough to be transported on CDs and DVDs. The music tracks used in satellite radio are cataloged using a similar system to the MP3 cataloging criteria, the ID3 tags. The choice for the music tracks that will be played is made by each channel individually.

The DJ selecting the tracks usually chooses about 20-30 minutes worth of music. The DJ has to listen to the tracks to make sure they are in proper condition and then simply lets the computer decode the original file. The same thing is repeated once the initial 20-30 minutes are exhausted and the music playing cycle repeats itself.

Sound encoding in satellite radio

Encoding is one of the key elements of digital radio. Each channel is handled by a different encoder. The encoder basically takes the analog file and turns it into a digital one. The digitalization process is made in real time and the music files are transformed into 1′s and 0′s. This process is carried out by powerful computers that analyze sound waves and frequency and break them into binary code. The encoding process is carried out at 128kb/s, 44.1Kh which is actually CD quality. After the song is encoded, it is transmitted to a multiplexer where other channels are also present – the multiplexer basically takes all the channels of the satellite radio provider and combines them into a single broadcast transmission. The data is then sent to a satellite modem device which modulates the data and sends it to the broadcaster’s satellites, using unique transmission frequencies.
What happens above the Earth
Here is where the satellites are located. They receive the transmission and transmit it to the receivers we have in our homes and cars. The satellites are located at 23,000 miles above us –  Sirius XM Radio uses satellites located at this distance from the Earth. The satellites are located in geo-sync, which means that hey orbit above the location they are designated to service at all times. When the satellite receives the transmission encoded at 128kb/s, 44.1 khz it rebroadcasts it to the geographical area it covers. Both Sirius and XM Radio use satellites that cover certain areas of the United states – mostly the East and West coasts. For example, one of XM Radio’s satellites covers the western part of USA, probably an area located roughly from Seattle to San Diego on the West and Minneapolis to Houston on the east. The increased sound quality is possible because the broadcasted data (music tracks, news, sports transmission) don’t get sliced up too many times in the decoding process.

The antenna

The antenna connected to your satellite radio receiver picks up the transmission on L-Band. The recent technological advances have allowed digital radio broadcasters to create receivers small enough to fit mobile locations. In the early days of satellite radio, a large parabolic dish would have to be mounted on the car in order to receive signal. Also, before the more compact receivers were created, the early satellite radio receivers needed electronic movements that directed the dish towards the satellite line of sight. Modern flat panel receivers have eliminated all the problems of their predecessors and can be fitted almost anywhere without taking up too much space.
The receiver and the output
The receiver is the device that decodes the data, basically doing the exact opposite of what the encoding process was like. After receiving the signal from the antenna it amplifies it and converts it to usable sound. The car or home audio system is then able to play the selected satellite radio channel. The rest of the process is exactly like analog broadcasts would work, with an amplifier and speakers outputting the sound.

See the movie RADIO WARS to find out about the history of Sirius XM Satellite Radio.