Muzak Vs. Radio

WJW_Radio_jpg[1]The initial concept of Muzak arose from a vision by General George Squier. He was a renowned innovator, inventor and communications genius who patented the delivery of audio content via electrical (and eventually telephone) lines, using multiplex technology. Gen. Squier was not satisfied with the commercial structure of radio, because programs were funded by intrusive commercials. He envisioned a new network, void of commercials and supported by a fee. Sound familiar?

Even though Muzak had hundreds of distinguished Cleveland area residents as customers in 1934, success was not immediate. The start-up Cleveland company fell victim to the Depression. Cash strapped middle class consumers were more inclined to stick with a one-time radio purchase over the expense of a long-term lease.

Additionally, radio companies opposed the idea of Muzak competing for their listeners. In 1938, the Federal Communications Commission severely restricted Muzak’s market in radio’s favor by forbidding the company from using electrical power lines for broadcast directly into homes.

Although Squier’s inventions of wired wireless and signal multiplexing would later be widely adopted by cable and satellite broadcasters, by the late 1930’s Muzak would be restricted by law to commercial venues only.

Contributed by Bruce McKagan

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