In North Carolina, radio broadcasting began in March 1922 with WLAC at N.C. State College. WBT in Charlotte and other stations in Asheville and Raleigh followed shortly thereafter.
Interest in the technical aspects rather than programming and service characterized the early years in North Carolina. The number of stations remained small with low power and irregular programming until the late 1920s. By then, radio stations increased power and improved facilities. Network affiliates became an important factor in station programming. Advertising developed slowly.
In the 1930s, programming became more elaborate and the number of stations increased gradually:
Charlotte, NC WBT (1922) and WHVN (1928) Raleigh, NC WPTF (1924) Asheville, NC WWNC (1927) Winston-Salem, NC WSJS (1930) Gastonia/Charlotte, NC WSOC (1933) Durham, NC WDNC (1934) Elizabeth City, NC WCNC (1939)
By the 1940s, 25 stations were broadcasting in North Carolina, and a similar number were under construction with licenses for operation. World War II (1941-'45) witnessed a shortage of personnel and equipment across the country. North Carolina was no exception. But public demand for information about the war focused attention on news. Expanding profits during World War II were a factor in the large post-war increase in the number of stations.
FM (frequency modulation) was introduced in North Carolina during this period and grew enormously after World War II. This rapid growth resulted in greater competition for audiences and advertising and a corresponding decline in profits. Radio station construction slowed. These and other events were precursors of the television era in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
Radio station licenses increased in the 1960s and 1970s. By 1992, there were 391 radio stations in North Carolina (229 AM and 162 FM).
(Note: Historical material for this summary was collected from Wesley Wallace's 1962 dissertation, "Development of Broadcasting in North Carolina, 1922-1948," and from the Broadcasting & Cable Market Place 1992 yearbook.)
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