Detroit News Orchestra

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=The Detroit News Orchestra playing in a WWJ radio station studio
Detroit News Orchestra in WWJ radio studio
Otto E. Krueger, conductor

The Detroit News Orchestra was the world's first radio orchestra, first broadcasting in 1922. It was composed of already-distinguished members of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, broadcasting from radio station WWJ in Detroit, Michigan. The orchestra's broadcasts could be received across most of North America and as far away as Hawaii.


The 16 members of the Detroit News Orchestra were drawn from the city's Detroit Symphony Orchestra, having previously achieved distinction as accomplished soloists. The orchestra broadcast on radio station WWJ, first debuting on May 28, 1922.[1] The broadcasts were sponsored by The Detroit Bank and could be received across half of North America.[2] The Detroit News Orchestra was the first symphonic ensemble in the world organized specifically to play on radio.[3][4][5]

The Orchestra, sometimes referred to as the "little symphony," played at the WWJ Detroit News radio studio from Monday through Friday at 7:00 P.M., as well as at 2:00 P.M. on Sundays.[6] On occasion they also performed recitals for churches, schools, and other non-profit organization as a public relations outreach to their listeners.[3][7]

Listeners in Hawaii[edit]

On November 23, 1922, at thirty minutes past midnight, the Detroit News Orchestra played the waltz "Three O'Clock in the Morning" in studio in the Detroit News building. The transmission was received clearly at 6:30 P.M. local time in the Hawaiian Islands by A. F. Costa, the postmaster at Wailuku, Hawaii. Several people listened to the program in its entirety at the Wailuku post office, over 4,400 miles (7,100 km) from Detroit. The notes of the music transmitted from the Detroit News radio station in Michigan took about one fiftieth of a second to arrive in Hawaii.[8]


Detroit News Orchestra
Detroit News Orchestra players
Map of station WWJ broadcast range
WWJ broadcast range


  1. ^ Gavrilovich 2006, p. 62.
  2. ^ Detroit News 1922, p. 12.
  3. ^ a b Detroit News 1922, p. 21.
  4. ^ Sies 2008, p. 785.
  5. ^ Anzovin 1997, p. 30.
  6. ^ "First Radio Orchestra". Wisconsin State Journal. Madison, Wisconsin. 23 July 1922. p. 9 – via open access.
  7. ^ Fourth Estate 1922, p. 26.
  8. ^ "Distance Records Broken When Hawaii Picks Up Detroit News". The Paducah Sun-Democrat. Paducah, Kentucky. 25 January 1923. p. 5 – via open access.
  9. ^ Fuller 1997, p. 422.