Today is National Radio Day (In the U.S., Anyway)

National Radio Day cake

I had no idea there was such a thing as National Radio Day until last week when I started getting press releases about it. But as a long-time radio person, I’m fully in favour of something like this. Anyone want to bring it north of the border?

Here’s the spiel from those behind this celebration of all things terrestrial radio. Question: why is this only for NON-commercial radio stations?

Non-commercial radio stations in 30 cities across America are inviting the public to participate in the first coast-to-coast celebration of National Radio Day, Aug. 20. The nationwide celebration organized by Brown Paper Tickets gives everyone the chance to become a part of special National Radio Day broadcasts and enjoy local events hosted by participating stations listed at

“This is the first coordinated national event in honor of National Radio Day,” said Sabrina Roach, a Doer for Brown Paper Tickets organizing National Radio Day. “I wanted to introduce an opportunity for public radio, community stations and nearly 2000 new low-power FM radio stations to work on a common project to engage their communities by celebrating radio.”

As a result of the Community Radio Act, for the first time, dozens of 100-watt, nonprofit stations have been licensed in the nation’s most densely populated urban areas, where their signal can reach large numbers of people. “A low-power FM radio station is like community glue,” said Roach. “These new media outlets are significant resources that can inspire neighbors to organize, share, and find solutions to problems, together.”

National Radio Day offers these new neighborhood stations the opportunity to connect and learn from other non-commercial media and public institutions in their region to meet common goals, and forge valuable support networks in the process.

Anyone can be on the radio on National Radio Day, as listeners and independent producers are invited to record Sonic IDs and upload them through the event website. Like an audio postcard, Sonic IDs are described by their creator, Jay Allison of for Atlantic Public Media, as, “…short, surprisingly thoughtful moments designed for the modern attention span.” Participating stations will have access to all Sonic IDs submitted and can incorporate them into broadcasts on National Radio Day.

National Radio Day coincides with National Lemonade Day, and Coast Community Radio stations along the Oregon and Southwest Washington coast are inviting the public to join them at their studios for a dose of radio and a tall glass of lemonade on Aug. 20. “What could be better on a summer day than your favorite radio programs and an ice cold glass of lemonade,” said Susan Boac, Development Director at Coast Community Radio. Harvard Community Radio in Illinois will celebrate National Radio Day with special programming, such as their “100 Greatest Guitarists” event, and Philadelphia Community Access Media will host a live community broadcast featuring the station’s first podcast, PhillyCAM Radio, and local youth media programs.

The National Radio Day flagship event will feature a “Seattle Radio DJ Experience,” and a live broadcast from a pop-up radio station on the plaza at The Seattle Public Library, featuring local youth radio hosts who support low-power FM as an amplifier for local voices, arts and culture. A portable, interactive 8-foot art installation, the “Seattle Neighborhood Radio Tower,” will serve as an iconic ambassador for seven new neighborhood radio stations that will soon be broadcasting to 90% of Seattle neighborhoods.

National Radio Day has been celebrated since the early 1990s on Aug. 20, honoring the day the first news radio station, 8MK radio in Detroit (now WWJ AM), was licensed by the FCC and went on the air In 1920. On Aug. 31, 1920, 8MK aired the first news radio broadcast featuring local election results, and a new era for mass communication of news, information and community voices had begun.

For more information, go to, or email Sabrina Roach at [email protected]


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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