Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Montage of images and link description. Rescue at Sea Imagemap: linked to kids and home
The Film and More
Imagemap(text links below) of menu items
The American Experience
The Film & More
Interview Transcripts | Bibliography

Phil Petersen on: James Gordon Bennett
Phil Petersen Q: Tell me who James Gordon Bennett was and how he got involved in 1899 in bringing Marconi over to Sandy Hook to demonstrate his thing.

PP: James Gordon Bennett had a lot to do with coming out and bringing Marconi to America. James Gordon Bennett had heard about Marconi's invention and he was a very progressive publisher of the "New York Herald." In that time, the famous yacht races were going on, and they were racing off of Sandy Hook. Now when they had this race, every time they had it before radio came along, the fellows went out in their boats off of Sandy Hook and come back with the race results. They had to come ashore, go to the telegraph office, and find a copy, and a few minutes later would be in the "New York Herald" terminal up there in New York. They would print up his paper, but that took several hours to get it up to the operator, up to New York. So James Gordon Bennett, he heard about Marconi, now using a wireless system to report the races that were going on in a local yacht club to the shore and to people in and around England. And he said, "Oooh, I'm going to see if I can get Marconi to come over here and demonstrate the use of his wireless off of Sandy Hook, and then I can scoop the other newspapers here and be the first with the copy -- and those days you got to remember there weren't radio stations yet. So he got him to come over. Marconi was eager to come over. He brought his apparatus and he set it up on the Twin Lights lighthouse near Sandy Hook, on the northern New Jersey coast. As a result in that race, Marconi was able to send thousands of words of copy all during that race period right to the publisher's office in New York City within minutes from a boat out next to the yacht race. All the other newspapers had to wait 'til their paper man came in and filed it at the local telegraph office in Highlands. The result was so successful that the editor, James Gordon Bennett, again, publisher of the "New York Herald," gave all kinds of accolades to Marconi in the press. Soon thereafter, this was a catalyst if there ever was one, that showed that this service is a thing for the future and we should get behind it.

back to Interview Transcripts | next

Program Description | Enhanced Transcript | Reference