Monday, February 1, 2010

First radio stations: XWA/KDKA

XWA Montreal first started by the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company, has claimed to be the first commercial broadcaster in the world. The station, which went on air on December 1, 1919 was called XWA, because the call letters stood for "Experimental Wireless Apparatus" because when the radio station was first formed, it only provided experimental broadcasts that were heard only by people with "crystal sets" or equivalent experimental devices. One of the first people said to be broadcasted on the experimental station was female vocalist Dorothy Lutton.

On May 20th, 1920, six months after it first aired, XWA started hosting “regular programming.” One of the first on-air personalities for the station, that was key in implementing this regular programming was operating engineer Darby Coats. Coats, who was one of the founding engineers operating the experimental station, said that he remembered borrowing a record player and records from a local store in return for mentioning the store on the air - thus introducing the idea of contra to the airwaves for the very first time. Aside from just playing music, XWA would also rip and read local news and weather forecasts from the local Montreal papers.

XWA got its first full licensed on May 15th, 1922. Later that year, on November 4th, the name of the station was changed to CFCF. -- And, while the meaning of the CFCF call sign hasn’t been officially confirmed, it is generally believed that it stands for “Canada’s First, Canada’s Finest.”

CFCF had Canada’s first broadcast studio in the Canada Cement Building in Phillips Square Montreal. It opened on 440 meters with 500 watts. By 1923, power had increased significantly, to 2000 watts.

The station, which has a rich history, is still in existence under the name CNIW. It is owned by Corus Entertainment, and is Canada’s, and perhaps even the worlds, oldest radio station.

Another Radio station that claims to be the oldest is KDKA radio.

The CBS radio station in Pittsburgh Pennslyvania, was the first commercially licensed radio station in the United States.

KDKA was started by Dr. Frank Conrad, an assistant chief engineer of Westinghouse Electric. In 1916, Conrad developed the developed a transmitter and installed it in a garage near his home is Wilkinsburg Pennsylvania. He licensed the amateur station under the call letters 8XK.

8XK halted transmission until after the war because of security reasons. When it resumed, 8XK broadcasted with other amateur radio stations. At that time, the amateur stations consisted of amateur radio operators who traded information with one another, describing the equipment they were using and where their stations were located. However, Conrad On October 17, 1920, Conrad put his microphone by a phonograph and decided to introduce his station to the airwaves.

At first, Conrad broadcast records for two hours on Wednesday and Saturday evenings. When he ran out of his own records, the Hamilton Music Store in Wilkinburg supplied records in exchange for promotion, becoming one of the first radio advertisers.

Westinghouse was granted a radio license on October 27, 1920, and on November 2, 1920, at 6 p.m. 8KX became KDKA Radio. KDKA began broadcasting at 100 watts from a make-shift shack atop one of the Westinghouse manufacturing buildings in East Pittsburgh. KDKA was the first radio station to carry election results, thanks in part to the Pittsburgh Post who provided election returns by telephone. results of the election were relayed to almost a thousand listeners, who learned that Warren G. Harding had defeated James M. Cox in the presidential race.

KDKA "Firsts"

  • January 2, 1921: Calvary Episcopal Church hosted the first religious service ever broadcast.
  • January 15, 1921: Herbert Hoover's first radio address.
  • March 4, 1921: The first broadcast of an inaugural address, as Harding was sworn into office.
  • March 10, 1921: The first broadcast from a theatre -- the songs of soprano Ruth Roye from the Davis Theatre, Pittsburgh.
  • April 11, 1921: The first sports broadcast -- a 10-round fight between Johnny Ray and Johnny Dundee.
  • May 19, 1921: The first regular government farm reports.
  • August 5, 1921: The first baseball play-by-play, announced by Harold Arlin from Forbes Field, where the Pittsburg Pirates defeated the Philadelphia Phils 8 to 5.
  • September 20, 1921: The first radio newsroom established, with a direct link to the Pittsburg Post.
  • July 23, 1982: KDKA became the first radio station in the world to broadcast in AM stereo.

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