What Would Marconi Think?

7 Nov

I’m an avid listener of radio. I listen to two, sometimes three different radio shows a day, not including the weekly podcasts that I ebb and flow. How would the creator of radio have perceived his invention changing the world?

Guglielmo Marconi is an interesting figure – like many inventors, was obsessive, ridiculed, and had to go to extremes to prove his idea. In his case, he left his home country to sell the idea to the British. This expanded to replacing the telegraph, allowing greater communication between different countries, eventually broadcasting entertainment in his lifetime. He also joined the Fascist Party (not “they’re Fascist,” I mean actual Fascists in Italy) and helped Mussolini with military communications between their campaign in Ethiopia and Italian military command. On the other hand, started the first Vatican broadcast with the pope, so… he’s complicated.

Of course, he died before the television was widely known, and much of radio’s dominance disappeared thirty years after him. Like any good industry, radio adapted, using different frequencies and different stations to address different audiences. There were only three television stations so they had to reach a wide audience to compete – radio had thousands of stations, although each market might have had 20-30.

With the Internet and streaming services, the industry adapted again. Many of those stations were absorbed by bigger conglomerates who could take advantage of the global reach. I remember listening to Israeli hip-hop in 2004 while living on a mountain in India. In 2006, I got addicted to a talk show in Sacramento while living in Cincinnati because some fan copied their podcast downloads and played it on a comedy stream.

Now I can listen to clips broadcast by people on social media I’ve never met. What would Marconi think? Well, once he got past the “Cover your arms, woman! Are you a strumpet?!”, he might be fascinated by the level of intricacy that the technology provides to allow for his original radio to spread. Personally, I’d point out how the commercials are geolocated for where I am in Arizona, so I don’t hear the Sacramento feed unadulterated.

But after that… where do you go when the idea you were fascinated with has been surpassed three steps ahead? Well, you start with a question. Why don’t we have flying cars? Can I start a regular spaceship service to the Moon? Most of the time, there are good reasons we can’t… but you need to keep asking questions, and I think Marconi would agree. If he could stop looking at the co-eds–he’s Italian after all?

What questions do you keep asking? Am I grasping for straws? Is it pointless to ask what dead people think of the modern world? Let me know in the comments below!

7 Responses to “What Would Marconi Think?”

  1. Maurodigital November 7, 2020 at 9:09 am #

    I am pretty sure that Marconi would be pretty schocked to see what we have achieved after his invention!

  2. Silk Cords November 7, 2020 at 10:14 am #

    I think he’d be pretty impressed. 🙂 TV was built on the back of his work on transmitting radio signals after all. WiFi could probably trace some of it’s origins back to Marconi also.

    As for his joining the real Fascist party; I suspect he viewed that as more a necessity to get any kind of opportunity to develop and promote his technology. The same is true in Russia with the Communist Party; only members go anywhere in life. None of which makes it morally right, it just doesn’t make him evil incarnate either.

    • Silk Cords November 7, 2020 at 10:15 am #

      Oh… forgot. Sacramento feed. Armstrong and Getty?

      • albigensia November 8, 2020 at 5:42 am #

        Yep – I’ve been a Fan Of Armstrong and Getty Over Ten Years. ☺️ I also listen to the Petros and Money show out of LA.

  3. Dracul Van Helsing November 7, 2020 at 5:05 pm #

    Marconi was indeed an interesting figure but it was actually Nikola Tesla who came up with the idea for radio before Marconi ever did.

  4. Amorina Rose November 7, 2020 at 6:31 pm #

    Actually I often wonder too and think after they marvel would they also be disappointed.

    • Silk Cords November 8, 2020 at 6:42 am #

      At the way their technology is being used or misused? Quite possibly.

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