Here are a few final thoughts from Conrad Project chairman and website designer Rick Harris, seen below in NMB's KDKA broadcasting shack replica at Carnegie Museum's exhibit entitled "Making Waves - the Beginnings of Broadcasting in Pittsburgh."
Several years ago the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh added a model of the Frank Conrad Garage and House to its acclaimed Miniature Railroad and Village. That and the kilowatt-hour meter on the side of every house are among the few physical reminders left of Frank Conrad and his work. If we fail to reconstruct the garage, is that all we'll have left to remember the man who gave the world the broadcasting industry?
With the fate of the Conrad Garage still very much "up in the air," the words of Alice Sapienza-Donnelly, originally written in 1972 to help save Conrad's garage from demolition, are still applicable today:
"It seems obvious that those who proudly proclaim to be the 'pioneers' of radio broadcasting owe a debt to history. Pittsburgh and Wilkinsburg, who jointly proclaim the honor of housing the first programmed broadcasts, share that debt. The Keystone state of Pennsylvania, justly proud in being the keystone in communications, also has an obligation. We who have lived during the conception, birth, infancy and growth of broadcasting are responsible to history, too. Indeed, the entire world owes a debt to all those associated with Frank Conrad and those early radio pioneers.
We Americans tend to destroy rather than to preserve physical evidence of our heritage. Already, many original artifacts of radio broadcasting have been destroyed, lost or abandoned. We have in the structure of Dr. Conrad's Garage the opportunity to preserve the cradle in which he rocked the miracle of mass communications . . .
Our work has only begun . . . Perhaps there is hope but hope is not enough. We need a commitment not to destroy the workplace where Frank Conrad annihilated distance in our universe! How remarkable that in recent years we have progressed from transmitting information from Conrad's garage to transmitting information to and from the moon!
In an age when we find it possible to build space ships and equipment which carry our voices to the distant universe why, then, should we find it difficult to preserve the little garage where it all began? Shall it be neglected and forgotten? Or shall it become a mecca? The hope lies with those of us who care to inspire the interest of those of us who can."
The members of the National Museum of Broadcasting have worked hard collecting, documenting, displaying and sometimes rescuing the history of radio and television as it relates to Pittsburgh
They have gone as far as they can as volunteers, contributing their own time and money to keep the Conrad Project alive.
Now the group must turn to local, county, state, and federal sources for ongoing funding as well as seek help from foundations, corporations, broadcasters and concerned individuals.
Every radio and television station and network, everyone who has ever worked in broadcasting, everyone who has ever listened to radio or watched TV, (and that would include just about everyone) owes at least a small debt to the work of Frank Conrad. If you would like to help repay that debt by helping NMB with the Conrad Project, please contact us or make a secure, online donation today.