Friday / Weekend Open Lines

Friday, August 28th. What is believed to be the nation’s first radio commercial was broadcast on the new medium on this date 93 years ago. Station WEAF in New York City carried that first ad — not for soap or automobiles — but for a group of apartment buildings in Queens. The cost was $100 for a 10-minute sales pitch. At the time, there were just 30 stations in the whole country, and only 60,000 households had receivers. By 1929, there were more than 10 times the number of stations, and the number of households with radios surpassed 10 million. Now, there are over 6,700 radio stations in the nation. Some two-thirds of Americans over the age of 12, around 117 million people, access the medium daily. You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau online at <>.

Saturday, August 29th. A perpetually hot topic, in summer and other seasons, is the fluctuating cost of gasoline and diesel fuel. Some discussion centers on the amount of taxes paid at the pump, as state taxes on fuels vary widely. The highest state tax plus fees on gasoline is 51.6 cents per gallon, levied in Pennsylvania. The Keystone State also imposes the nation’s highest rates on diesel, at 65.3 cents per gallon. Nationally, the lowest state taxes and fees are found in Alaska. The rate on both is below 12 cents per gallon.  There are 112,000 places in the U.S. to fill your tank — over 100,000 fewer than in 1967. Around 86 percent of today’s gas stations are connected with convenience stores. You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau online at <>.

Sunday, August 30th. Few of us have the opportunity to actually change the shape of people’s lives and help them to live more happily. Such a man was Dr. Claire Straith, whose birthday in 1891 is noted today. Treating soldiers wounded in World War I, he pioneered many techniques in plastic and cosmetic surgery that are still in use today. Later, noting that he was performing a lot of reconstructive surgery on crash victims, Straith successfully urged automakers to use safety glass and remove dangerous projections from the interiors of their cars. There are over 7,000 board certified plastic surgeons among the more than 907,000 physicians and surgeons in the U.S. You can find more facts about America’s people, places and economy, from the American Community Survey, at <>.