October 8, 1921: WVU vs. Pitt Marks First Live Football Radio Broadcast

Oct 8, 2019

October 8, 1921, marked the first ever live radio broadcast of a football game. The contest pitted West Virginia University against the University of Pittsburgh at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. It was aired on KDKA, the nation’s first radio station.

In this 17th meeting of the Backyard Brawl, WVU lost, 21 to 13. It was during a rough stretch for the Mountaineers, who had lost 10 of their last 11 to Pitt, with one tie. WVU turned the tide with wins the next two seasons but once again hit on hard times. Between 1904 and 1951, WVU won only four times against Pitt, while losing 29 and tying once. The rivalry didn’t become really competitive until the 1950s.

Despite WVU’s loss in 1921, the game helped launch a new era in sports. The first live radio broadcast of a baseball game, also on KDKA, had occurred only two months earlier, and the first airing of a World Series game took place only three days before.

Radio turned college football and other sports into a national obsession, which has continued to build in popularity from the 1920s to today.