Henry Herman, the first to conduct commercial radio broadcast experiments

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Henry Herman, the first to conduct commercial radio broadcast experiments

Herman, Henry

Henry Herman, an American, was the first to conduct commercial radio broadcast experiments in the Philippines

Henry Herman, an American, was the first to conduct commercial radio broadcast experiments in the Philippines. He came to the country during the Philippine-American war as a soldier in the US Army Signal Corps, which exposed him to the workings of electronics and radio. Only 16, he lied about his age when he joined the US Army, which required recruits to be at least 18 years old. This would place his birth year at around 1883 if he came to the Philippines in 1899 at the onset of the Philippine-American war that led to the colonization of the Philippines by the United States. In 1903, he retired from active duty in the army. He married a Filipina with whom he had ten children, including novelist Harry Herman.

Like many war veterans of the Philippine-American war who received an incentive pay of around three hundred dollars to stay in the colony to help in its “Americanization,” Herman started a life in Manila by first going into the shoe business. He then capitalized on his knowledge about electronic communication and earned contracts to build infrastructure for telephone lines. He opened the Electrical Supply Company, a store where the merchandise included radio sets. To boost the sale of the radio sets he imported from the US, he began his broadcast experiments in Jun 1922 to transmit music to radio receivers that already existed in American homes in the colony. He played recorded phonograph selections and read news items on the air.

Herman conducted his test broadcasts using three 50-watt transmitters, one in Manila, one in Pasay city, and one a mobile station. Because 50-watt transmitters could not have produced a signal that would reach very far, the mobile station may have served as a relay to expand the coverage of the other stations. It is also possible that one of the two stationary stations was also a relay station for the other, with only one set of programming transmitted through all three transmitting stations. Two years into the experiment, in 1924, Herman consolidated the three experimental stations with a single 100-watt station with the call letters KZKZ. He set up the KZKZ studio at the Monte de Piedad building on Plaza Santa Cruz across the Santa Cruz Church, then transferred it shortly to his home in Pasay. His nickname for his station was Krazy Krazy.

On 4 October 1924, when KZKZ was only a few months old, Herman transferred its ownership to the Radio Corporation of the Philippines (RCP). He set up the RCP to get into both the broadcasting and wireless telegraphy businesses. RCP increased the station’s power to 500 watts within two months. Less than a year later, on 3 September 1925, RCP merged with its rival, the Far Eastern Radio, Inc (FERI), which had been handling wireless telegraph traffic between ships and shore. The name RCP was retained. In 1926, RCP was purchased by the Radio Corporation of America as its Philippine subsidiary. RCA was by then a leading broadcasting and telegraph company in the United States, which was also engaged in the development and sale of radio sets and radio equipment. FERI’s owners initially retained Herman in RCP but soon bought him out of the company. Herman then bowed out of the broadcasting business.

 

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