UNITED  STATES  EARLY  RADIO  HISTORY
THOMAS H. WHITE
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24

Original Articles
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Writings about United States radio history, emphasizing the early AM broadcast band (mediumwave). All articles are updated to at least January 1, 2014.
  • Mystique of the Three-Letter Callsigns - U.S. radio and television station call letters--especially the three-letter variety--hold a special fascination for many. This article concentrates on three-letter calls, but also reviews some early four-letter policies, including why KDKA got that odd call. For even more detail, Three-Letter Roll Call lists every three-letter call ever assigned to a U.S. AM (mediumwave) station. And for information about the assignment of K and W call letters, check out K/W Call Letters in the United States.
     
  • United States Callsign Policies - The three articles in the previous section include extensive information about U.S. call letter policies, but the information is somewhat scattered among them. This article starts by collecting the information from the above articles, then adds detailed background and research information.
     
  • Station licencing by the government began under the provisions of the August 13, 1912 "Act to Regulate Radio Communication". Some of the most innovative early radio work, including early broadcasting experimentation, was done by stations operating under Experimental, Technical and Training School, and Special Amateur licences, which were known collectively as Special Land stations. U.S. Special Land Stations: Overview reviews these unique stations, while U.S. Special Land Stations: 1913-1921 Recap is a list of the earliest Special Land station grants and changes.
     
  • Building the Broadcast Band - The structure of the AM band in the United States was painstakingly put together during an eight year period from 1920 to 1928. This is its story.
     
  • Years ago, I got frustrated because I couldn't find a complete and accurate list of the first broadcasting stations. So I've compiled a detailed review of the 389 broadcast service grants that were made through June, 1922, and the current status of each station. United States Pioneer Broadcast Service Stations, is an in-depth review of the licencing policies and procedures in effect at the Bureau of Navigation during the creation of the broadcast service, while U.S. Pioneer Broadcast Service Stations: Actions Through June, 1922 lists the new stations plus changes during this period.
     
  • United States Temporary Broadcast Station Grants: 1922-1928 - As I reviewed the old Department of Commerce radio station files for the earlier articles, I found that there were numerous temporary broadcast station grants, that weren't well publicized. This is a recap of the ones I was able to uncover.
     
  • I've also put together an overview of the early Commerce Department radio station records, with selected examples: Early Commerce Department Records: Examples
     
  • Kilohertz-to-Meters Conversion Charts - Up to May 15, 1923, U.S. broadcasting stations were assigned dial positions by wavelength, after which they were normally assigned by frequency. This explains the process for converting between the two.
     
  • Washington D.C. AM Station History - Overview of the AM (mediumwave) broadcasting stations which have operated in the area around the nation's capital, beginning with WJH, licenced on December 8, 1921.
     
  • Extraterrestrial DX Circa 1924: "Will We Talk to Mars in August?" - In August 1924, people around the world listened to their new radio sets to see if they could hear any transmissions from Mars. Some, thanks to stations like WHAS, would temporarily claim success.
     
  • The International Radio Week Tests - For three successive years in the mid-1920s AM stations on both sides of the Atlantic sent out special programs, to see how well their signals could cross the ocean, and be heard by the general public.
     
  • "Battle of the Century": The WJY Story - An early broadcasting test took place on July 2, 1921, when American Jack Dempsey defended the heavyweight boxing championship against France's Georges Carpentier. The fight took place in Hoboken, New Jersey, and was broadcast live over temporary station WJY, with the results relayed to KDKA in Pittsburgh. This is a comprehensive review of the events surrounding that broadcast. Equally interesting is how history was rewritten multiple times over the years, as various participants took unearned credit for the experiment.
     
  • Early U.S. Telephone-based Entertainment Companies - Although fragmentary and incomplete, I've put together some information I've found about the United States Telephone Herald Company and its affiliated companies, plus the Enunciator, Tellevent, Tel-musici, Telectrophone, Magnaphone and Musolaphone companies.
     
  • Nikola Tesla: The Guy Who DIDN'T "Invent Radio" - My (most likely futile) attempt to quash a widely believed myth.

 
"I seem to hear the facetious critic exclaim, 'Why, this is all scissors and paste.' So it is, good sir, much of it and so is all true history when you delete the fictions with which many historians embellish their facts. What one person said or what another did is not altered by the presence or absence of quotation marks. However, the only credit I claim is that due to collecting, condensing, and presenting my facts in a readable form--no light task,--and if my critics will award me this I will be satisfied."--J. J. Fahie, A History of Wireless Telegraphy, 1899.