The History of WMAQ Radio

Chapter 5

The sale of radio receivers, generally at fabulous prices, was very great during the winter of 1922-23, although the actual peak was yet several years away. Receiving sets had just passed from the “crystal set” era of the early days of radio to the “tube set” era that began about this time. Receivers made their appearance in many Loop stores, but local amateurs were still building and selling their own sets. Anyone with even the slightest knowledge of radio was considered an “expert: during this period in radio. Everyone was talking about “neutrodynes”, heterodynes” and “regeneration” without a conceivable idea of what they meant. Radio listeners would strike up conversations in the street cars or elevateds and brag about their new Fried-Eiseman, Radiola or Browning-Drake receiver---or discuss the merits of the leading tubes, the X99, the 200, the 200A and the 201 and the 201A. There were no pentodes or screen-grid tubes, and few sets had more than three or four tubes at most. Only a few higher-prices receivers used loud-speakers---winding horns, generally made of cast bakelite or occasionally tin. And all sets were powered with batteries---the acid from a “wet” A battery generally eating large holes in the costly living-room rug. Those were the glory days of radio!

Listeners considered it a pleasure to listen to each of the various brief operating periods of the different local stations. And from this group of radio enthusiasts came still another kind of listener: the DX fan. DX’ing in those days was done under much more favorable atmospheric conditions, but it was really an accomplishment. There was an unexpected thrill in hearing such far distant stations as St. Louis or Davenport, Iowa. And it was a major event when weather and varying receiver factors permitted a signal from WOW in Omaha, or stations as far away as Kansas City or Cincinnati.

In order to encourage DX’ing on a greater scale---and thereby encourage the sale of receiving sets---all Chicago radio stations agreed to remain silent one night every week. By mutual agreement Monday night was elected, and this new schedule began the night of February 26th, 1923. The idea was popular immediately, and continued every week until late in 1927.

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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