Friday, January 16, 2009

History of WMAQ, Chapter 1, Pt. 3

Originally published in the December, 2008, Old Radio Times.(

The History of WMAQ Radio
By Tom Goatee
Reprinted with permission

Chapter 1

With the 1920 fall election approaching, the Westinghouse Electric Company conceived the idea of broadcasting the election returns. Accordingly, a large studio was built and equipped with the latest carbon microphones, and the original transmitter was overhauled, further adjusearer the studio. A new call was assigned to the station: KDKA, indicating that the transmitter was no longer considered experimental equipment. There was a line installed between the new studio and the offices of the Pittsburgh Post, and the election results were broadcast throughout the evening. The broadcasting idea was an instant success, and drew nationwide attention to KDKA. A new industry was rapidly in the making.

KDKA continued to operate on regular schedules of a few hours a day, and almost immediately the way was cleared for other radio stations, in other locations, to erect and operate broadcasting equipment. Radio patents held by the General Electric Company, the Western Electric Company, the American Telephone and Telegraph Company, and the newly formed Radio Corporation of America were pooled together, and arrangements were completed for the construction of radio tubes, radio equipment, and complete broadcast transmitters for sale to private individuals as well as to the government.

The Westinghouse Company itself was not slow to realize the immense possibilities of broadcasting, and got to work developing and constructing transmission equipment. In September, 1921, there was a grand total of four stations in the United States, and a fifth was put on the air in October. But it was not until November of that year that Chicago welcomed its first radio station.


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