Thinking about our recent road trip through Atlantic Canada, I can’t help but reflect on the fact that the radio has vanished from hotel and BnB (Bed & Breakfast) accommodations. This really hit home with me when we entered our room at The Great George on Prince Edward Island. Not since my days as general manager of beautiful music WFPG-FM in Atlantic City have I entered a hotel room to hear instrumental easy listening music playing, but that’s how the management of The Great George want it be for the next guests when they arrive.
WiFi Replaces Radios
The music we heard upon entering our room however, wasn’t coming from a radio station, but from a music channel streaming through our large flat screen TV.
Wireless internet is the must have lodging feature we find everywhere we travel. It’s always available throughout each property and I always connect our iPhones and my MacBook Air before we even unpack a single bag.
The other thing I’ve noticed is that the radio on the night stand by the bed has been replaced by a charging station with a clock in it.
In Montreal, our room at the Hôtel William Gray featured a Bang & Olufsen Bluetooth speaker that easily connected to my iPhone. The fidelity of B&O audio equipment is legendary and it was a joy to be able to connect any of my audio Apps on my phone during our stay.
Phone Books & Bibles
Radios aren’t the only item disappearing from hotel rooms, it’s getting harder to find both phone books and Bibles.
I know that when it comes to phone books, most people these days take them from their mailbox or hanging off their front door and immediately place them into their trash or recycling bin. So, having them disappear from hotel rooms doesn’t come as a surprise.
But those Bibles placed by the Gideons have been ubiquitous for as long as I can remember. In 2006, 95% of hotel rooms had a Bible in them and the most recent study I could find from 2017 said that number is down to less than 69%.
It was in 1908 that The Gideons International decided to place Bibles in hotel rooms. The idea was born when two traveling salesmen were forced to share a room in a crowded hotel in Wisconsin. They discovered their shared faith and decided to start an association of Christian traveling businessmen that would place Bibles in every hotel room in America.
Radio & Hotel Rooms
Commercial radio broadcasting was born in 1920 and it was only seven years later that the first radio set appeared in a hotel room.
Ellsworth Milton Statler is considered the father of the modern hotel building his first permanent hotel in 1907 in Buffalo, New York featuring a private bath or shower and running water in every room. By the mid-1920s he grew his hotel company into the largest in the United States owned by a single individual. E. M.’s slogan for his hotel business was “The customer is always right.”
In 1927, E. M. would open his last hotel, the Boston Park Plaza, and once again it would offer something no other hotel did, a radio headset in each of its 1,300 rooms.
On March 20, 1951 the radio show, Cavalcade of America sponsored by DuPont, featured the story of E. M. Statler in a thirty minute drama.
What Would E. M. Do?
If E. M. Statler were alive today, I’m sure he would have been leading the hotel industry with free, fast WiFi in every room. After all, if you want to stay in business you have to give the customer what they want.
Even Gideons International now has an App, which offers mobile access to Scripture with the popular features for reading and listening to God’s Word.
It’s just one more reason that the future of audio, including radio, is via a smartphone or other WiFi connected device.
Imagine how much better radio today might sound if broadcasters operated with the philosophy of E. M. Statler.