He Started Listening To WMAQ Programs Almost 24 Years Ago

Right: Walt Lindsay, WMAQ supervising engineer WMAQ engineer Walt Lindsay

On a wintry day in November 1923, a young radio engineer walked into the office of William S. Hedges, then radio editor of the Chicago Daily News, and asked for a job on the newspaper's fledgling radio station.

The engineer was Walter Lindsay, who not only got the job but embarked on a career with Station WMAQ that now has stretched almost 24 years. He is the second oldest employee with the station in point of service.

Lindsay, who in those early days doubled as engineer, writer and announcer, is now WMAQ station engineer and supervisor of the station's 50,000-watt transmitter at Roselle, III., 28 miles west of Chicago.


When he joined WMAQ, Lindsay closed one chapter in an exciting and colorful career in the new radio industry. He went to sea at the age of 15, sailing Pacific waters between his native San Francisco and China and India as a radio operator aboard tramp steamers and freighters. He joined the Navy in 1917 and saw four years service, including two years in Siberia and China. He returned to civilian life to become a supervisor of radio installations in the United States Air Mail Service until joining WMAQ.


The new station's engineering department ---Lindsay and an assistant ---boasted no such specialization as field, studio and transmission engineers. If an outside pickup was ordered, Lindsay packed his equipment, set up on location, strung his own lines, and many times wrote, produced and announced the show.

One of his most arduous chores was announcing the told Chicago Civic Opera. Lindsay recalls the flood of letters he received from irate music lovers who were shocked by his pronunciation of Italian names and arias like "La Ci Darem La Mano."

Lindsay saw the station transmitter increase its power from the uncertain 100-watt signal of 1923, to 1,000 watts in 1925, 5,000 in 1928, and to present 50,000 watts in 1935. After the transmitter became a separate operation, Lindsay pretty well disassociated himself from the studios. He sets foot inside the Merchandise Mart studios only two or three times a year, and very seldom sees a radio program.

Lindsay and his wife Ruth live in Maywood, Ill. They have six children--a married daughter, Mrs. Robert Frase, and Marilyn, age 18; William, age 15; Donna Ruth, age 12; Rosemary, age 8, and Sandra, age 2 1/2. Lindsay is a member of the Institute of Radio Engineers and the American Relay League.

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