World’s First DJ was From San Jose

World’s First DJ was From San Jose

Sybil Herrold became the  world’s first DJ in 1912. While working with her husband Charles Herrold who launched the world’s first radio broadcasting station in San Jose in 1909. Her “Little Hams” program was aimed at getting children involved in the radio experience.

Sybil Herrold and son Robert “on the air,” 1914.

Source: History San José: In the early 20th century, Sybil Herrold True, a trailblazing figure in radio history, left an indelible mark on the burgeoning world of broadcasting. A skilled radio operator and wireless teacher, Sybil collaborated closely with her husband, Charles Herrold, who is credited with launching the world’s first radio broadcasting station in San Jose in 1909.

Sybil’s journey into radio began while she was teaching Morse code at Charles Herrold’s College of Wireless. It was here that she pioneered a weekly Wednesday night program of entertainment for his pre-World War I broadcasting experiments. This program, aimed at engaging a growing audience, showcased phonograph records borrowed from local music stores like Sherman-Clay, effectively providing advertisement for these establishments.

Known as the “Little Hams” program, Sybil’s initiative aimed to involve children in the radio experience, tapping into the enthusiasm of amateur operators. Listeners eagerly phoned in requests for popular songs, with local music stores promptly selling out of the featured records the day after broadcast. The Wiley B. Allen Company, a retailer of Victrolas and sheet music, even partnered with Herrold’s College to establish a “listening studio” in their store, further fueling public interest in radio technology.

Sybil’s impact extended beyond entertainment as she organized promotional contests with weekly prizes, recording the winners’ receiver locations to gauge the station’s broadcast range. Her expertise as a telegrapher also proved invaluable in supporting wireless experimentation efforts.

In 1912, Sybil Herrold became recognized as the world’s first disc jockey, a title cemented by her groundbreaking contributions to radio broadcasting. Her legacy as a pioneer, educator, and promoter of wireless technology continues to resonate, embodying the spirit of the New Woman of the New Century.

Check out more information about Sybil and Doc Herrold at this History San Jose link.

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Dan Orloff