Thursday, March 26, 2009

History of WMAQ Chapter 3, Pt. 2

Originally published in the February, 2009, Old Radio Times.(

The History of WMAQ Radio Chapter 3
Tom Gootee

There hal always been a question as to whether anyone actually hears that initial program from WGU. With the large building surrounding the decidedly inefficient transmitter and antenna, it was a miracle if the 360 meter signal ever crossed State Street. In fact, the program was not only the first broadcast, but also the last broadcast using the venerable De Forest transmitter. WGU was closed down the next day, and negotiations were soon begun to acquire newer and finer equipment, built especially for radio broadcasting. In spite of difficulties, there were a few optimistic persons at the new station who firmly believed in the possibilities of radio. Particularly, they were Miss Judith Waller and the Radio Editor of the Daily News, William Hedges. And with their help, the idea of continuing the station did not die down with the closing of WGU. The Daily News made arrangements to broadcast news bulletins and feature programs over the more successful KYW station, and an order was immediately placed with the Western Electric Company for new equipment.

But manufacturing processes were slow in 1922, due mainly to the increased demand for radio equipment, and it was several months until a new 500 watt transmitter was delivered to the station atop the Fair Building.In the meantime, other new stations came to Chicago. In May, 1922, a station was opened in the Palmer House using the call WAAF. Early in June, WDAP began operation in the Wrigley Building, and later in the same month Walter a Kuehl’s WQX went on the air. Other stations had applied for licenses to go on the air that fall, and the problem of allocating so many stations on two single wavelengths became an impossible feat. Finally, the Department of Commerce, under Secretary Herbert Hoover, reorganized the entire broadcast band. New and separate channels were set aside for different classes of stations, according to the operating power and according to geographical location. The old 360 meter channel had at last ceased to exist as a catch-as-catch-can boiling pot for all stations——and this meant that a new frequency would have to be assigned to the Fair-News station when it again went on the air.

This article was originally published at and reprinted in the Old Radio Times by permission.


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