The History of WMAQ Radio


Chapter 12

During 1927 and 1928 prosperity arrived in Chicago with a bang! Business was goos and local industries were operating with a wide financial profit. As a result, new buildings and skyscrapers were making their appearance in the Loop district. New office buildings and commercial structures loomed higher and higher above the Chicago skyline, until the WMAQ towers that had once dominated the Loop were no longer visible. By early fall the 1000 watt transmitter was only 50 percent effective in the coverage of the city. It was quite evident, then, that the WMAQ transmitter had to be moved outside of Chicago where a greater coverage efficiency could be obtained. Since the art of radio broadcasting was also undergoing constant change, it was also felt that newer and more efficient equipment would greatly improve WMAQs broadcasting service. Accordingly, an application was made to the Federal Radio Commission to change the location of the transmitter, and to increase the power.

Ground was broken at Elmhurst, Illinois, for a new transmitter site in February, 1928, and construction of the buildings was begun. A new 5000 watt Western Electric type 104-B transmitter was purchased and installed at Elmhurst, and twin radiating towers were erected, but this work was not completed until late in May.

In passing through 1928, it might be interesting to note that on the evening of March 19th two unknown radio characters made their first broadcast over WMAQ---locally. They were introduced simply as Amos n Andy.

On June 2nd the new Western Electric transmitter was formally dedicated and put into operation at Elmhurst. WMAQ continued to use the La Salle Hotel studios, but the towers above the hotel were removed later.

In February, 1929, the transmitter was slightly revamped to incorporate duplicate crystal control---and 100 percent low-level modulation. WMAQ, incidentally, was the first Chicago station to employ full crystal control and 100 percent modulation.

The studios remained in the La Salle Hotel until late in August, 1929. The need had been quite apparent for new and enlarged studios, and arrangements were made for the construction of entirely new studio units in the Chicago Daily News Building, at 400 West Madison Street, just west of the Loop. Most of the La Salle equipment was moved to the new location, and the studios were formally dedicated August 18th. They consisted of three main studios and two smaller ones, and were in constant operation from that time until May, 1932. WMAQ was fully incorporated at this time.


QUICK ACCESS LINKS:
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
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Created by Rich Samuels (e-mail to rich@richsamuels.com)