The History of WMAQ Radio

Chapter 10

During 1925 and 1926 WMAQ continued its normal operating ways, while all around it broadcasting had worked itself into a hopeless maze of confusion. Beginning late in 1924 there were entirely too many stations in Chicago. With little government control (there was no provision in the Federal laws for the establishment of any kind of controlling body to regulate radio broadcasting) there was a resulting chaos. More and more stations came on the air, and any person with a little money was certain to build a radio station (sooner or later) and start “broadcasting”. Many frequencies were clogged with three, four or even five stations in the same area going full blast at the same time. This condition was general all over the country, but it was particularly bad in Chicago. Many of the smaller 50 and 100 watt stations had absolutely no regard for frequency allocation or any time-sharing agreement. There was a need, at least in Chicago, for more and separate channels---and not a few stations in this area moved over to Canadian frequencies and continued operation. In July, 1926 alone, twenty-three stations took to the air in the Chicago district---all of them less than 100 watts in power.

The larger stations, such as KYW and WMAQ, were not greatly concerned or particularly worried over the multitude of low-powered stations that surrounded them on both sides of their allotted frequencies. They pursued a normal operating course, confident that sooner or later the government would step in and straighten out the tangle of confusion. This was finally done, but not until February, 1927, when a new government body took over the control of radio communication and radio broadcasting. This was the Federal Radio Commission. It proposed immediately to designate radio zones and allot new frequencies to radio broadcasters. Many stations around Chicago were denied a license to transmit, and others went off the air voluntarily. Within a few months broadcasting was back on the “straight and narrow path”---where it has since remained.

This radio cycle is significant. While the ether was overburdened with so many unnecessary stations, it caused the larger stations to improve the quality of their entertainment and educational programs.

Introduction and main index to this site
WMAQ radio history | "Amos 'n' Andy" | "Fibber McGee and Mollie" | "The Breakfast Club"
Dick Kay | Television at the Merchandise Mart | 1970 television facilities tour | Channel 5 turns 20
The "Chicago School" of television | "Kukla, Fran and Ollie" | Dave Garroway | Mary Hartline
"Lights Out" | Sound effects | 1930 studio tour | WLS | "Empire Builders" | Barry Bernson
Floyd Kalber | The Queen of Love and Beauty | "Today's Children" | Staff announcers | Carol Marin
Ron Magers | Studs Terkel l "Chicago Tonight" | Channel 5 News scrapbooks |Roger Miller recalls
Zoo Parade | Clifton and Frayne Utley | Val Press | Len O'Connor | Johnny Erp | Bill Ray | Daddy-O
Experimental Television: 1930-1933 | Bob Deservi | Kermit Slobb | Ding Dong School | Quiz Kids
Bob Lemon | The Korshak Chronicles | KYW: The Chicago Years | WENR | O.B. Hanson | Renzo
Jack Eigen | Ed Grennan | The World's Best Cup of Coffee | Glenn Webster | Mr. Piano | Hawkins Falls
Chicago Television for Kids |
Radio Hall of Fame |The NBC News Night Report: 23 February, 1967
Audio and video downloads
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