Radio Day

Significant historical event on William Street, now part of the ÉTS campus

Thursday, February 13, 2020
ottawa citizen

UNESCO has proclaimed that February 13 is World Radio Day. Speaking of which, did you know that William Street, which is now part of the ÉTS campus, was the site of a significant event in the history of radio? On May 20, 1920, the first broadcast from radio station XWA was aired from the Marconi Wireless Company Building,  located on William Street. 

The signal that originated in Montréal was heard up to 100 miles away, in Ottawa, to the immense delight of guests who had gathered at the Château Laurier for the occasion.

archives marconi
The Marconi Wireless Company Building, located on William street. 

ÉTS to reproduce the event

On May 20, 2020, ÉTS and Carleton University will attempt to reproduce that 1920 radio broadcast. Students from ÉTS and Carleton University will take advantage of their end-of-studies project to once again air the broadcast on the AM band. 

This event represents a welcome challenge for Salam Layouni, an Electrical Engineering student at ÉTS who is part of the project team! Although she has already successfully transmitted and received sound in the lab using frequency modulation (FM), the challenge takes on a whole new aspect when using amplitude modulation (AM). 

 Salam Layouni
Salam Layouni, an Electrical Engineering student at ÉTS.

Why? Because the students will not be the only ones transmitting over the radio spectrum, as was the case in 1920. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) limits them to broadcasting within a narrow frequency band. 

“We will be using carrier frequencies between 1 and 1.5 megahertz, and it is not easy to adjust! We don’t have access to a wide frequency band, like we do with FM”, she explains.

In addition, security standards for antennas have been tightened, which means that the students will have to make numerous attempts, increasing the amplifier gain each time, until they reach an output of 500 watts. This will give the students an opportunity to walk in the footsteps of radio pioneers.

The team of professors and students who will attempt to reproduce that 1920 radio broadcast.

Communication Service ÉTS 
Chantal Crevier
514 396-8800, ext.7893

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