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AUG. 19, 2022

100 years since the first radio broadcast in Chile: interesting facts about that historic moment

Government authorities have highlighted the importance of radio in the history of Chile. It began with the first broadcast made in an improvised studio set up in the Universidad de Chile’s Casa Central. 

On August 19, 1922, a young agronomist named Enrique Sazié and professor of electrical engineering, Arturo Salazar, got together in the Universidad de Chile’s Casa Central, located on Santiago’s Alameda thoroughfare, with the aim of carrying out a test that would change telecommunications in our country. 

It would turn out to be the first radio broadcast made in Chile, and today it celebrates no less than 100 years. 

The initial test was a complete success, although a short-range one. The receiver was located just over five blocks away, on the second floor of the El Mercurio newspaper building, on the corner of Compañía and Morandé. 

- How many people were present for that historic moment? 

- On that day, exactly 100 years ago, the signal was heard only five blocks away, in El Mercurio’s central hall, located on Morandé and Compañía 360, by about 200 people who listened attentively to the broadcast. 

- What was broadcast that day?

- The program opened by explaining that they were broadcasting from a “studio” located in the university, and continued with violin music performed by Enrique Cabré and Norberto García. It was followed by a reading of a political current affairs text by journalist and writer Rafael Maluenda, who thus became the first Chilean radio commentator. Then there was a musical number, the day’s news, the Hymn of Yungay and, finally, a “good night” farewell. 

- Is it true that several of those present did not believe that such a broadcast was possible? 

- That’s right; several of those present believed that the voice they were hearing was coming from behind a curtain in the hall. Sazié therefore invited them to check the area and go to the university to see the broadcasting equipment. 

- What happened after the broadcast? 

- Thanks to the broadcast, the following year several incipient radio companies were born, which increased the demand for radio receivers in the country. Enrique Sazié and Federico Hoffman imported them from Argentina, solidly shaping Chile’s radio history.  

- How many countries had carried out radio broadcasts up to then? 

- Chile was the third in the world to carry out a radio broadcast. Only Argentina and Canada preceded us.