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Radio Service Bulletins, 1915 to 1932

Nos. 1 to 183

   Radio Service Bulletins were issued monthly by the Bureau of Navigation (and later the Radio Division, Department of Commerce) from January 1915 into the 1930s and beyond to keep mariners, aviators, radio listeners, and others abreast of developments in the new medium of radio.  Radio was used for radiotelegraphy, ship-to-shore, and ship-to-ship communications, and increasingly as the 1920s and 1930s advanced, broadcasting.  The bulletins reproduced here offer a snapshot of the state of the radio art during these years. 

Bulletins issued before 1921 are primarily concerned with radiotelegraphy communications between ships although there are some references to land stations too.  Present-day readers should keep in mind that these bulletins were intended for the use of radio operators who needed to contact other ships or shore stations to relay messages.  As such, the bulletins frequently list radio-equipped ships as well as rates for radiotelegraph and radiotelephone messages.  The bulletins also refer to weather, time, and ice warning stations, and occasional information such as warnings about areas that may contain explosive mines (after World War I).  After 1921, the bulletins increasingly refer to early pioneer broadcast stations, some of which still exist today (although generally on different frequencies and at different power levels than initially authorized).  Notice that many call letters presently used by broadcasters today were once assigned to radio stations aboard ships. 

The August 31, 1931, edition of the RSB contained an index to orders of the Federal Radio Commission which were published in the RSB up to that date.  For your convenience, this index (Index of Regulations and Miscellaneous Articles Appearing the in RSB, Years 1920 to 1931) has been extracted and is available separately at the top of the bulletin list on the left as FRC Orders in RSB

The August 31, 1931, edition also contained a list of items appearing in the RSB over the previous decade, under the heading Index of Regulations and Miscellaneous Articles Appearing the in RSB, Years 1920 to 1931.  This is also available as an item at the top of the left hand column as Items In RSB.

The continuous series of 183 bulletins (in PDF format) available here starts with No. 1 / January 1915.  Note that no bulletins were issued from April 1917 until August 1919 because of World War I.

When making selections from the drop down menu below, please allow suffcient time for the bulletins to download to your browser.  Depending on your connection speed, it may take a short time to download individual bulletins.  Users who want to download many issues or who are retrieving documents over slower Internet connections may want to download the entire set of PDF files to their computer in a single ZIP file.  Save it and unzip it to a directory of your choice.


Highlights in these documents include the following references:

  • Marine disasters in which wireless figured during fiscal 1916 (September 1916)
  • Total number of licenses issued (all types) (September 1919)
  • Merchant Shipping (Wireless Telegraphy) Act [Britain 1919] (September 1920)
  • WWV signals instituted by the Bureau of Standards (February 1, 1923)
  • Frequency to replace Wavelength in allocating stations (April 2, 1923)
  • Broadcasting Stations of Canada (January 2, 1924)
  • Broadcasting Station List (February 2, 1924)
  • Broadcasting Stations in Britain, France, Cuba; Important Events in Radio (March 1, 1924)
  • Broadcasting status in Mexico, Switzerland, Austria, Greece, Turkey, Japan; British Wireless Act (April 1, 1924)
  • Mexican broadcasting stations (May 1, 1924)
  • Piezoelectricity: Crystal use for frequency generation (October 1, 1924)
  • 6XBM, West Coast counterpart to WWV, established at Stanford University (October 1, 1924)
  • Foreign Broadcast Station list (November 1, 1924)
  • Recommendation to expand the AM broadcast band from 1200 to 1500 kc (November 1, 1924)
  • General increase to 1,000 Watts broadcast power (December 1, 1924)
  • Broadcasting Stations in Canada (August 1, 1925)
  • Foreign Broadcasting Stations list (356 outside the U.S., compared to 506 stations in the U.S. (September 1, 1925)
  • Important Events in Radio (December 31, 1925)
  • Canada / Mexico / Cuba / Haiti Station Lists (January 31, 1926)
  • Building Effects on Signal; Experimental Field Strength Measurements (March 31, 1926)
  • World Time Stations (March 31, 1926)
  • Foreign radio broadcast stations (July 31, 1926)
  • Important Events in Radio (December 31, 1926)
  • List of temporary permits issued by the Federal Radio Commission [FRC] (April 30, 1927)
  • FRC Orders 4,5,6,7; Radio Aids for Civil Aviation (April 30, 1927)
  • FRC Orders 8,9,10,11,12 (May 31, 1927)
  • Daytime-only AM applications to be accepted [FRC Order No. 10] (April 30, 1927)
  • FRC Orders 14, 15 (June 30, 1927)
  • Broadcasting Stations of Canada (July 31, 1927)
  • Regulation Concerning Mechanical Reproduction [sound recordings] (August 31, 1927)
  • Cuban Broadcast Stations List (October 23, 1927)
  • Important Events in Radio (December 31, 1927)
  • List of U.S. Broadcast Stations by Call Sign (January 31, 1928)
  • Broadcast Stations Using 200 Watts or More in the Eastern Hemisphere (February 29, 1928)
  • Radio Aids to Civil Airways (March 31, 1928)
  • Definition of Amateur Station, Amateur Bands (March 31, 1928)
  • Foreign Shortwave Stations by Wavelength (April 30, 1928)
  • Number and Class of Radio Stations in the World (1913 - 1927) (April 30, 1928)
  • Commercial and Government Ship Station Lists (June 30, 1928)
  • High Frequency [shortwave] Channels Allocated to Commercial Stations (August 31, 1928)
  • Principal Broadcast Stations of the World by Wavelength (August 31, 1928)
  • List of Broadcasting Stations of Canada (August 31, 1928)
  • Federal Radio Commission Order #50 -- Television and Picture Transmission (Nov. 30, 1928)
  • Important Events in Radio (December 31, 1928)
  • Foreign Broadcasting Stations list (January 31, 1929)
  • Broadcasting Stations, alphabetically by states and cities (February 28, 1929)
  • The Prague Broadcasting Frequency Plan [for Europe] (May 31, 1929)
  • Visual [television] broadcasting stations (June 29, 1929)
  • List of Cuban broadcasting, experimental, and amateur stations (July 31, 1929)
  • Revised list of European broadcasting stations under the Prague plan (August 31, 1929)
  • Index to FRC Orders published in the RS Bulletins (March 31, 1930)
  • General Orders of the FRC (April 30, 1930)
  • Australian amateur and experimental stations (April 30, 1930)
  • Frequency Allocations to aeronautical services chains (April 30, 1930)
  • Auxiliary (backup) station regulations (October 31, 1930)
  • Mexican broadcasting stations (January 31, 1931)
  • Cuban broadcasting stations over 100 watts (March 31, 1931)
  • Index to Federal Radio Commission orders in the RSB (August 31, 1931)
  • Unlicensed radio station operator fined $2,000 + 3 year suspended sentence (August 31, 1931)

Note: Before the creation of the Federal Radio Commission by Act of Congress in 1927 (and later the FCC in 1934), the Department of Commerce was responsible for the licensing of radio stations.

Some abbreviations in the Radio Service Bulletins:

  • C.Z. = Panama Canal Zone
  • P.I. = Philippine Islands
  • Do.   = Ditto (same as previous item)

For more information about radio or television broadcast stations, please call the Audio Division at (202) 418-2700 or the Video Division at (202) 418 -1600.

FCC > Media Bureau > Audio Division

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