America’s First Wireless Newspaper

By: Nu Yang

America’s First Wireless Newspaper

It’s hard to imagine that people used to receive their news by carrier pigeons, but before 1903, that was the case with the residents of Avalon, located on the small Southern California island of Catalina. According to the website Gizmodo, if island residents wanted to know what was going on with the rest of the world, they had to rely on the carrier pigeon system and copies of the Los Angeles Times arriving by boat.                

That all changed when Catalina received the country’s first “wireless newspaper” on March 25, 1903. Named The Wireless and published by the Times, the newspaper printed the latest news sent wirelessly from Los Angeles via Morse Code. The Early Radio History website reported that a summary of the Times’ news was telegraphed every morning to a wireless station on the coast, where it was transmitted throughout the island. Then, the Avalon editor added his local items before getting the paper out. In addition to world news, The Wireless included local island happenings, tourist information, and sporting and social events.

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Published: May 7, 2014

One thought on “America’s First Wireless Newspaper

  • May 8, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    “The Wireless” was an interesting early experiment in transmission of news to Avalon. However, Avalon never really embraced The Wireless, because at the time the island population was very small, and largely tourists even then. News that arrived daily by the early boats was far more relevant, and in demand, than The Wireless. There is 100-year plus resentment on the island towards mainland media regarding Catalina, and most especially the LA Times, which is viewed by islanders like a persistent parasite or unwanted scab on the island scene – even to this day (The LA Times regularly runs negative stories about Catalina, even now). Insiders talk about a deep hatred between William Wrigley, the owner of Catalina, and the Chandler clan (deliberately lower-case “clan,” the owners of the LA Times), and it’s suspected that this is the cause of the Times’ ongoing negative press against Catalina to this day. I guess there is some sweet justice in knowing that all of the Chandler’s are out of the media business, yet Wrigley’s still own and are involved in Catalina. Time marching on sometimes deals out the most poetic justice. The failed Wireless project was soon abandoned by the Times, and by 1914 my newspaper, The Catalina Islander, was founded and for the past 100 years we have served Catalina and its mainland friends with all the news of the island. The newspaper launched its own website, last year, and that truly represents the entry into the wireless newspaper era, as far as islanders are concerned. It bears note that the Catalina Islander beats the LA Times readership on the island by some 100-to-1, but the pathetic LA paper still persists with its century-old hatred of Catalina, knowing full well islander and mainlanders see right through their agenda yet love and embrace Catalina in spite of them. So on the surface, your bit about The Wireless seems interesting and anecdotal, if not amusing, to Islander and those in the know. Which clearly, you are not. Kindly yours, Vince Bodiford Publisher The Catalina Islander



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