in the spring of 1923 the Chicago Daily News felt the need for
owning WMAQ independently. Looking around Chicago, they found many
new stations popping up almost everywhere, and in May there were
over twenty stations where a year previously there had been only
two. Radio broadcasting was still a new thing, but its possibilities
were beginning to develop. With the future in mind, the Daily
News arranged to buy out the 51 percent interest in WMAQ owned
by the Fair Department stores. This was done the third week in
May, and plans were immediately made to move the station to a
new and better location. New buildings were being erected in Chicago,
and the coverage of the city from the Fair
left much to be desired.
that time the La Salle Hotel was the tallest structure in the
Loop, and presented an ideal
transmitter location. Accordingly, the Daily News leased the top
floor of the hotel and started the construction of two new studios
and a high antenna late in May. The last broadcast from the Fair Building
was made the night of May 26th. The transmitter was
then shut down, partially dismantled by operator Weller,
and moved piecemeal to the new La Salle location. The process was a rather slow one, however,
and while WMAQ was off the air, its regular programs were broadcast
over WJAZ, the uptown Zenith-Edgewater Beach Hotel station.
the large number of stations in Chicago and the resultant
competition, there was a great spirit of neighborliness among
most of the stations during those early days, and most of the
stations were willing to cooperate with one another in meeting
emergencies or changes. This gesture of courtesy by WJAZ permitted
the regular news and feature programs of WMAQ to still reach their
audience during the move to the La Salle Hotel.
transmitter was relocated and made ready for use at the new location
late in June. Two new studios were opened on the eighteenth floor
of the hotel, providing every modern facility then available.
towers were constructed on the roof of the building, and the
tip of the highest tower was 400 feet above La Salle Street---at
that time the highest structure in Chicago, and visible for miles
equipment was finally installed and ready for operation the first
of July. After a test broadcast that evening, the new WMAQ was
formally dedicated the following night, July 2nd, 1923.
were two broadcast periods on the opening night, the first from
7:00 to 8:00 p.m., and the second from 9:00 to 10:00 p.m. Under
the direction of Judith Waller---still at the helm of WMAQ—an
elaborate profram was produced. Willie
and Eugene Howard were the featured artists. Myrna Sharflow
of the Chicago Civic Opera and Vera Poppe,
the famed British cellist were also heard. Miss Poppe
had come to Chicago especially for the dedicatory program; just
eight weeks before she had participated in the opening of WJZ’s
new Aeolian Hall studios in New York City. The future success
of WMAQ seemed assured within a few days after the premiere.
new frequency of 670 kilocycles was not a clear channel in 1923,
and WMAQ shared time every night with another local Chicago station, WQJ, owned jointly by the Calumet Baking
Powder Company and the Rainbo Gardens.
It was not until several years later that WQJ was gradually monopolized
by WMAQ and finally bought by the Daily News, leaving a clear
channel for WMAQ.