In February 1932, the advances made in wireless radio reception was demonstrated, when Stainless Stephen, a well-known Sheffield comedian and broadcast artist, opened at the Imperial Rooms, on Pinstone Street, an exhibition of Marconiphone Magic Radio Stagecraft.
Marconiphone was an English manufacturer of domestic receiving equipment, notably radio receivers and later reel-to-reel tape machines. In 1922, Marconi had set up the Marconiphone department to design, manufacture and sell domestic receiving equipment. It complied with Post Office specifications and tests, and was therefore awarded the BBC authorisation stamp.
The company was sold to the Gramophone Company in 1931, which became Electric and Musical Industries (EMI) and produced domestic radio receivers using the Marconiphone trademark until 1956.
At the event, Stainless Stephen said that in the early days of broadcasting, reception was so poor that it was difficult for listeners to tell the difference between his voice and that of a famous tenor.
A demonstration of effective radio magic followed, and similar performances were given five times daily.
The audience was introduced to the performers – standard Marconiphone models – by a young lady who apparently was able to carry on conversation with the individual models. Indeed, the models sang together the well-known chorus of Uncle Tom Cobley, chiming in with precision and great effect.
Then they combined to present various items in an amusing village concert, and there was an admirable climax introducing a soldier on sentry duty, the ghosts of his former comrades, and a swinging marching song.
Another instance of radio magic was the introduction of the various sections of an orchestra, music being played by the strings, the bass instruments, the drums etc., apparently from different parts of a stage, and precisely when requested by the main receiving set visible to the audience.