The Evolution of Broadcasting in Alabama 1900-1934






Submitted In partial fulfillment of the requirements for
the degree of Master of Arts in the Department
of Broadcast and Film Communication in the
Graduate School of the
University of Alabama




Chapter                                        Page

I.       INTRODUCTION                               1

Statement of the Problem  ............... 2

Procedure of the Study  ................ 2

Definition of Terms  ................... 3


COMMUNICATION .........................  7

Commercial Radio-Telegraphy Stations .                      8

The Amateurs ,.,. ..                                                                                                          9

Special Land Stations  ................ 13

Government Stations ..................  16

Private Land Stations  ................ 18


STATIONS  ............................. 20

Outstanding Contributors to Broadcasting 20

Development of Alabama Commercial

Broadcasting Stations  ............... 25
WGH, Montgomery Light and Power Company,

Montgomery, Alabama .................  26
WSY, Alabama Power Company,

Birmingham, Alabama  ................. 29
WEAP, Mobile Radio Company,

Mobile, Alabama  .................... 33
WMAV, Alabama Polytechnic Institute,

Auburn, Alabama  .................... 34
WOAY, John Malcom Wilder,

Birmingham, Alabama .................  38
WAIG, Mathews Electric Company,

Birmingham, Alabama .................  39


Chapter                                        Page

WEAN, Alabama Radio Manufacturing

Company, Montgomery, Alabama  ........ 40
WBRC, Bell Radio Corporation,

Birmingham, Alabama  ................. 42
WAPI, Alabama Polytechnic Institute,

Auburn, Alabama:  .................... 44

WIBZ, A. D. Trum, Montgomery, Alabama .  .................. 48

WKBC, N. L. Ansley, Birmingham, Alabama  ........ 49

WJBY, Electric construction Company,

Gadsden, Alabama  .................... 50

WSFA, Montgomery Broadcasting Company,

Montgomery, Alabama .................  51

WOOX, Mobile Broadcasting Corporation,

Mobile, Alabama  ............................................................ 54
WFDW-WMAC, Raymond C. Hammett,

Talladega-Anniston, Alabama                    .                          .                 56
WHET, Troy Broadcasting Company,

Troy, Alabama  ............................................................... 57
WBHS, Hutchins Hardware Company,

Huntsville, Alabama  ....................................................... 57

WNRA, Muscle Shoals City, Alabama           . .  .............. 58

IV. THE EVOLUTION OF PROGRAMMING  ................................. 60

Recorded Music .......................  61

Variety Programs  ..................... 62

Religious Programs  ................... 64

Remote Broadcasts  .................... 66

Special Broadcasts  ................... 67

Market Reports  ....................... 68

Weather Reports  ...................... 69

Lectures  ............................. 69

Sportscasts ..........................  71

Newscasts ............................  74

Program sponsorship  .................. 76

Professional Talent  .................. 78

Network Radio ...................................................................  79


Chapter                                        Page

V. CONCLUSION                                82

Recommendations for Further Study .                    . . 103

APPENDICES ...................................  105


BROADCASTING ........................  106


EXISTING FROM 1922 TO 1969 ..........  110



D NUMBER OF ALABAMA STATIONS: 1922--1936 . . . 114

BIBLIOGRAPHY .................................  115


Text Box: fl



Radio today is the most universal of all the communications media in the United States, More than 98 per cent  of the country's homes may be reached by radio. Radio has become so commonplace that it is largely taken for granted. Many, especially the younger generation, find it difficult to remember the day when radio did not exist.

Even so, radio is a relatively young medium and much had happened over a short period of time. The devel­opment of broadcasting occurred in this century and in less than fifty years it has become a significant force in our culture. It is important, for this fact alone, that its development should be a part of our recorded history. It is also important that the historical dimensions of broad­casting be studied at this time while information can

11969 Broadcasting Yearbook (Washington, D.C.; Broadcasting Publications, Inc., 1969), p. 25.



still be gathered from existing documents, and from the individuals who pioneered this communications medium.

Statement of the Problem

It is the purpose of this thesis to uncover the evolution of broadcasting in Alabama. The paper will cover the period of early broadcasting until the enactment by Congress of the Communications Act of 1934. By that time radio had outgrown the unstable years; it had established a sound system of private financial support, and was exist­ing under the regulations set forth by the federal agency established to control telecommunications.

Procedure of the Study

The historical method of research will be used. The ephemeral nature of broadcasting in the first quarter of this century resulted in poorly kept records, if any records were kept at all. Many records that were kept have been lost or destroyed because they were not deemed to be important to their owners. Alabama newspapers, therefore, must be relied upon to provide much of the information about early broadcasting in this state even though they

may be required as secondary sources.

The center of population in this period was Birmingham and the largest state paper was The Birmingham News. This newspaper kept a running account of the devel­opments in broadcasting and will be relied upon for much of the information contained in this study.

At the time of this research, a few of the early pioneers of Alabama broadcasting were still alive and could be located. They were interviewed personally for intona­tion bearing upon the early history of broadcasting in Alabama.

Finally, government documents and periodicals dealing with broadcasting were surveyed for supporting evidence to verify findings and to fill in the information blanks;

Definition of Terms

1Broadcasting--the dissemination of radio communica-

tions intended to be received by the public. 2

Commercial Broadcasting Stations--stations which

2U.S. Congress, Title 47, 151.

4 are equipped to engage in broadcasting and licensed by the appropriate governmental agency to do so. Broadcasting stations did not initially sell commercial time as commer­cial stations do today.

Common Carrier--a person engaged as a common carrier for hire, in interstate or foreign communication by wire or radio in interstate or foreign radio transmis­sion of energy; but a person engaged in radio broadcasting shall not, in so far as such person so engaged, be deemed


a common carrier.

Ether--a common term used to designate air or atmosphere.

Frequency--the group of frequencies to which a broadcasting transmitter is assigned. The frequency assigned an N4 broadcasting station is identified by the central frequency of the group. Frequency is also appro­priately called a "channel" and is expressed in kilpcycles (Re) or kilohertz MHz). Kilohertz has only recently come into use in the United States.



License--a permit obtained from the designated agency of the federal government which allows the holder to use a broadcast channel. The broadcast channel is not owned by the licensee since it is considered by our federal government to be in the public domain.

Power--the quantity of electrical current supplied from a transmitter. Power is expressed in watts and, along with other factors, determines the range of the signal transmitted.

Programming--the nature of the material broadcast by a station or stations considered in its entirety.

Radio--an all inclusive term pertaining to all broadcast communications.

Radio Communication or Radio Communications--any intelligence, message, signal, power, pictures, or com­munication of any nature transferred by electrical energy from one point to another without the aid of wire connect­ing the points from and at which the electrical energy is sent or received and any system means by which such transfer

'Th   of energy is affected.4

4Public Law No. 632, 69th cong., sec. 31.


Radio-telegraphy (Wireless-telegraphy)--broadcast

of information by use of the International Morse Code. Radio-telephony(wireless-telephony)--broadcast of a signal upon which is superimposed Sound or speech.

Set--a device for detecting and reproducing a broadcast signal; a term meaning a receiving set.

Wave Length--a term used in the early days of radio

which represented the length of the radio wave transmitted. The term, expressed in meters, was abandoned when radio

waves came to be measured by their frequency. To convert

wave length to frequency, use the following formula:

F = frequency in kilocycles (or kilohertz)

V = 300,000,000 meters per second or speed of the wave

WL = wave length in meters



These . . . amateur ventures became professional pursuits that led by circuitous routes to some­thing new. What the new might be, none on the way could be sure. Some had a destination in mind, without knowing how to reach it. Mean­while they shared the excitement of the journey.1

As our country expanded westward, the need for better and faster means of communicating became more acute. By 1843 the visionary Samuel Morse had obtained an appro­priation from Congress to construct a telegraph line between Washington and Baltimore, thereby demonstrating the value of his invention in solving some of these communica­tion problems. By 1876 Alexander Graham Bell had demon­strated that he could transmit human speech over wires. Just 25 years later Marconi produced still another wonder

1Erik Barnouw, A Tower in Babel: A History of  Broadcasting in the U.S. (Chicago: Oxford University Press, 1966), p. 36.

8 when he sent electromagnetic signals through the ether to be received across the Atlantic Ocean, The logical climax came shortly afterwards when Reginald Aubrey Fessenden transmitted speech and music through the air using a con­tinuous wave on which voice and music were superimposed as modulation.2

Commercial Radio-TelegraQhy Stations

After passage of the Radio Act of 1912, the United States Department of Commerce began printing documents listing all radio telegraphy stations in the United States. The first of these documents was published in 1913 and listed two stations in Alabama. They were WFM, located at Fort Morgan, on the eastern point of the mouth of the Mobile River, and WMB, located at Mobile. Both were operated by the American Marconi Wireless Company. 3

Exactly when these stations began operating, the writer was unable to determine. WFM and MIS were listed in the

21bid., p. 19.

Department of Commerce, Bureau of Naviga­tion, Radio Stations of the United States (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing office, July 1, 1913), p. 13.


initial publication of the Department of Commerce


American Marconi, a subsidiary of the British !'larconj's Wireless Telegraph Company Ltd., had been incor­porated under the laws of New Jersey on November 22, 1899. Originally this company had been formed for the outright sale of wireless-telegraphy equipment but a new policy soon evolved and it turned to the sale of the sending of



The Amateurs

There were ten amateurs who operated licensed sta­tions as early as 1913. Mobile appears to be the most active of Alabama cities since there were four amateurs listed as being located in the port city. They were

Daniel M. Booth, Ernest M. Curtis, Otto E. Kirchner, and Gus A. Sieple, Jr. Montgomery was second in the number of amateur stations operating in 1913. Operators in Montgomery were George B. Dibble, Jackson W. Harrison, and George M. Marks, Jr. Birmingham, Bessemer, and Huntsville claimed

48arnouw, A Tower in Babel, p. 17.


one amateur operator each at that time. They were

Harold S. Brownell of Birmingham, George D. Cockran of Bessemer, and Robert N. McLgjn of Huntsville. 5 Brownell was later to become very active in radio at Alabama Poly­technic Institute (now Auburn. University).

Though the development of amateur radio stations in Alabama lagged behind other states, there were twenty-three amateurs operating in the state in 1922, the year of the advent of commercial broadcasting in Alabama.6

As early as 1912, amateurs in Birmingham had banded together and formed the Birmingham Wireless Club. By 1922 the members of this club operated eleven radio­telegraph stations and five radio-telephone stations.7 Of the five radio-telephone stations, "three were licensed and two unlicensed.'8 The club met weekly at the YMCA and


U.S., Department of Commerce, Radio Service,

Amateur Radio Stations of the U.S. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, July 1, 1913), p. 123.

Department of Commerce, Bureau of Naviga­tion, Amateur Radio Stations of the U.S. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, June 30, 1922), pp. 135-37.

76irmingham News, March 19, 1922, p.4. 8lbid.


participated with the American Radio Relay League in transcontinental relays of messages.9

At least one high school formed a radio club as early as 1924. A group of students at Phillips High of Birmingham began to hold regular meetings.10 The forma­tion of this club by no means represents the starting point at which young Alabamians became interested in radio. Harold Brownell was around fourteen years old when he operated station SAN in Birmingham in 1913.11 Luvern Stringfellow, of Reform, built his station in 1921 at the age of fifteen. 12

Amateurs in the early days were particularly interested in long distance transmission and reception. Robert McLain of Huntsville operated his transmitter in 1913 with 1,000 watts when other stations in Alabama averaged slightly more than 300 watts. 13 Dudley Connolly,

9Birmingham   News, January





108irmingham   News, March






Birmingham Age-Herald, February 5, 1922, p.


Birmingham News, February 25, 1921, p. 2.


Department of Commerce, Amateur Radio Stations of

the U.S., July 1, 1913, p. 123.

12 operating station 5M1 in Birmingham, broke existing local records in 1924 when he received cards from England stating that he was "Q.S.A." (lour and clear). 14 Amateurs took pride not only in achieving long distance transmission but in the rapidity with which they could send and receive messages.

Amateurs also had their problems. Complaints were registered against certain amateurs who were consistently interfering with the reception of commercial broadcasting stations. The Birmingham News reported in 1924,

The ether around Birmingham is in an unusually quiet and orderly condition today. The secret is that the radio inspector of the 5th district is in the Magic City.15

The Birmingham Radio Club was very careful, however, in policing its members to avoid complaints.

The early amateurs in Alabama helped to stimulate interest in radio. They obtained much publicity through newspaper reports telling of their exploits. No doubt they contributed significantly to the technology which

14 BirminghamNews, May 4, 1924, p. 14.

15 BirminghamNews, May 18, 1924, p. 7.


established the basis for broadcasting in Alabama. At least three amateurs became commercial broadcasting station licensees. They were H. L. Ansley (WKBC),16 Carlisle Bell (wBRC),17 and J. M. Wilder (WOAY).18 "Dud" Connolly became a regular announcer on WBRC.

Special Land Stations

Certain stations were classified as Special Land Stations. The call letters of these stations were made up of three symbols. The first symbol was a number which designated the radio district in which the station was located. In the case of Alabama, the number was 5, desig­nating the 5th Naval radio district. The second symbol was

either an "X,"      or "Z," although not mandatory. °X" denoted that the station was an experimental station, "Y" indicated a station owned by a trade school, and 'Z' was

Department of Commerce, Radio Division, Amateur Radio Stations of the U.S. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, June 30, 1927), pp. 66-92.

17ibid., pp. 61-73.

18 "Broadcasting by States, Radio Broadcast, I (October, 1923), 84.

14 used for 'a special amateur station. The third symbol was merely an additional letter further identifying the sta­tion. The third letter was to be used if necessary. 19

There were two stations operating under the clas­sification of Special Land Stations by 1920. They were 5fl at Auburn, and 5YZ at Mulga. These were spark or arc transmitters and used code.

The Auburn station was operated by the Alabama Polytechnic Institute and transmitted on a wave length of from 200 to 375 meters. As the call signal indicates, it was operated as an experimental station. 20 While a stu­dent at Auburn in 1922, Herbert Brownell wrote to his father:

Two and a half years ago a few pieces of radio apparatus was found scattered about the labo­ratories of the electrical engineering depart­ment by V. C. Mcllvaine, the present chief

Department of Commerce, Bureau of Naviga­tion, Radio Service, commercial and Government Radio Sta­tions of the U.S. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, June 30, 1920), pp. 9395.

20 U.S.,- Department of Commerce, Bureau of Naviga­tion, Radio Service, Commercial and Government Radio Sta­tions of the U.S. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, July 1, 1920), pp. 93-95.


operator. He was given permission to do what he could with the remains of the old station. Through the earnest efforts of Professor A. C. Dunstan, who has been our loyal friend through­out, the college has made several appropria­tions to the station. The college now has a first-class radio station. The staff of oper­ators has grown in two and a half years from one to eight. Watches run from 9:00 each night until anytime after midnight that the man on duty desires to quit. •

The station had "a maximum reach of 2500 [sic] miles," 22 and was used in the technical training of stu­dents. On February 21, 1921 student operators gained national recognition for their school as a "distinguished college" by decoding words in a message delivered by President Harding and placing them in their correct order. 23 On December 17, 1921 the station set what was described as "a new record for practical service" by handling 102 messages in thirty days. This activity resulted in the formation of a rather novel fraternity of radio enthusiasts. It was dubbed the "I Tappa Key Club." 24

21 BirminghamAge-Herald, February 5, 1922, p. S.

22 BirminghamNews,March 7, 1921, p. 5.

23 BirminghamNews, June 23, 1921, p. 24.

24 BirminghamNews,December 17, 1921, p.

16 At Auburn SXA continued to interest students of electrical engineering and in 1922 was to gain a sister station which had the capability of transmitting voice.

Station SYZ, the other Special Land Station operating in 1920, was operated by Thomas D. Sewell on a wave length of from 200 to 375 meters. The call letters indicate that it was licensed as a station Operated for the purpose of training by a trade school. 25

By June 30, 1922 five more Special Land Stations had been licensed. They were: SXC, SZAS, and 521 all in Birmingham, and SXR, Montgomery. 26

Government Stations

The military services were active in early Alabama radio. By the end of 1904, the Navy had established twenty stations around the coastline of the United States.27 It

25 Departmentof Commerce, Commercial and Government  Radio Stations of the U.S., July 1, 1920, pp. 93-95.

26 Departmentof Commerce, Amateur Radio Stations of  the U.S., June 30, 1922, p. 110.

27 GleasonL. Archer, History of Radio to 1926  (New York: American Book-Stradford Press, Inc., 1938), P. 75.

17 was operating station NGT, located in Mobile on top of the Battle House Hotel in 1920, and the station was capable of receiving messages from 150 to 200 miles off the coast. 2,8

The army maintained WUR at Fort Morgan in 1915.29 Although the station is not listed earlier in government documents, a 1921 issue of the Mobile News-Item stated that it had been in continuous operation for twenty years.

(This is highly unlikely.) The article expressed concern over the Army's abandoning the station. 30 A subsequent editorial in the same paper reiterated the concern and mentioned that the local Chamber of Commerce had made appeals to have the service restored. The editorial also pointed out the commercial value of the station in report­ing weathercasts, and relaying messages to ships leaving and entering the port channel. 31

28 Department of Commerce, commercial and Government  Radio Stations of the U.S., July 1, 1920, p. 73.

Department of Commerce, Bureau of Naviga­tion, Radio stations of the U.S. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, July 1, 1915), P. 14.

30 Mobile News-Item, August 30, 1921, p. 4.

31 Mobile News-Item, August 31, 1921, p. 5.


Private Land Stations

Private Land Stations were so designated because they were owned by commercial concerns and were used for the conducting of private business. Station W10, owned by the Tropical Radio Telegraph Company, 32 was operating at Fort Morgan, Alabama in June, 1922, 33 and was the only such station in Alabama until 1924 when two other stations were licensed. They were WPM in Birmingham Port operated by the Inland Coastal Waterway, and WKIJ, a Nashville, Chattanooga,


and St. Louis Railroad Company, located in Guntersville.

In summary, the forebears of broadcasting in Alabama were the early radio-telegraphy stations. News­papers and other publications carried exciting stories as the commercial and government point-to-point stations

Department of Commerce, Bureau of Naviga­tion, Commercial and Government Radio Stations of the U.S. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, June 300 1922), p. 10.

33 RoyMason, "The History of the Development of the United Fruit Company's Radio Telegraph System," Radio Broadcast, I (May, 1922), 398.

34 U.S.

Commercial and (Washington, D

1924), p. 22.

Department of Commerce, Radio Division, Government Radio Stations of the U.S. .C.: Government Printing office, June 30,


achieved greater and greater sending and receiving dis­tances. Meanwhile, amateurs added to the excitement of wireless telegraphy through individual feats and promoted


radio through the clubs they formed. The growing need for wireless telegraphy operators in commercial enter­prises, and eventually by the armed forces in World War I, resulted in wireless telegraphy taking an academic place in educational institutions. During this time experiments in radio telephony continued throughout the nation by such people as Reginald A. Fessenden, Lee DeForest, Frank Conrad and E. H. Armstrong. Their contributions, along with the World War I developments, set the scene for radio broadcasting.



Station Licensees rushed to the air--by the hundreds. Who were these hundreds? Such a question, if asked, was likely to be answered by further questions. With such an audience developing, how could one stand aside? Would one want to say to one's children, "It

happened, but I was on the sidelines?" The sense of history was part of the moment.1

Outstanding Contributors to Broadcastinq

There were several organizations which contributed in various ways to the growth of early broadcasting in Alabama. They ran all the way from educational institu­tions to private companies and from public utilities to newspapers both from within and without the state.

Newspapers in general lent impetus to early broad­casting in that they publicized the new medium in the

1Erik Barnouw, A Tower in Babel; A History of  Broadcasting in the U.S. (Chicago: Oxford University Press, 1966), p. 96.


21 state. This was particularly true of The Birmingham News. Early in 1922 the News began to carry the program log of KDRA, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, the first commercially licensed radio broadcasting station in the United States. Shortly after, a full page was devoted weekly to news about radio broadcasting. On May 4 of that year, the News began to carry the program log of WSY, Birmingham's first com­mercially licensed broadcasting station. In addition to carrying the program logs of near and distant stations, this newspaper printed circuit diagrams of receiving sets, thus encouraging the public to build their own.2

The interest of the News in broadcasting was also demonstrated by the fact that the publisher donated equip­ment to Alabama Polytechnic Institute, thus making it possible for that school, located at Auburn, to have its own broadcasting station.3

The Montgomery Journal began to feature a radio column on the editorial page in mid-February, 1922. News

2 BirminghamNews, May 4, 1922, p. 14.

3 Birmingham News, November 23, 1925, p. 10.

22 stories about Montgomery's radio station, WGB, were carried, but this paper evidently did not sense the growing popu­larity of radio in Alabama at this early period for it was much later before they carried program logs. 4

Educational institutions were by no means small contributors to broadcasting in Alabama. The most notable was Alabama Polytechnic Institute. The early activity of station 5XA at Auburn has already been discussed. The following letter from Professor A. C. Dunstan to the editor of The Birmingham News reveals more fully the school's contribution to early radio in Alabama:

We have about 40 students in radio; seven of our students are 1st class operators who have shipboard experience. During the War we trained thirty radio operators for the


The University of Alabama became active in radio  when, along with Alabama Polytechnic Institute and Alabama College for Women at Montevallo, it became a licensee

4Montgomery Journal, December 5, 1922, p. 5Birmingham News, November 23,. 1925, p. 10. 6See below, pages 47 and 99.


of WAPI in Birmingham.7

Mathews Electric. Company, in addition to operating a broadcasting station for a short while, gave $2,000 worth of receiving equipment to Auburn which was placed in various, agricultural centers maintained by the school.

They made possible the distribution of agricultural news by the station at Auburn.8

Radio manufacturers and dealers also contributed to the growth of broadcasting in the state. The manufac­turers provided the foundation on which Alabama pioneer broadcasters could build. Through their owned and operated stations they created an interest in radio listening among segments of the Alabama citizenry. The promotion of their receiving equipment through Alabama dealers resulted in Alabamians investing in radio receiving sets.'

Two utility companies, the Montgomery Light and Power Company and the Alabama Power Company, contributed the state's first commercially licensed radio broadcasting

7P. 0. Davis, private interview held in Auburn, Alabama, May 22, 1968.

88irmingham News, March 26, 1922, p. 1.


stations. The Montgomery company "early recognized the possibilities of the radio telephone as an advertising [sic] medium and received the first commercial broadcasting

license in [the] state early (that] year (1922]."                                                  The Alabama Power Company's broadcasting station was dedicated to the service of the people of the state. °

Five amateurs were transmitting voice communica­tions as early as 1922.11 Exactly how long these amateurs had been engaged in this activity is lost to history.

Text Box: (Th

These amateurs were licensed for point-to-point voice or wireless telegraph communications. In 1920 the Department of Commerce had decided to allow certain other stations to broadcast news, information,, and entertainment on the 360 meter frequency and designated them Commercial Broadcasting Stations. In contrast to amateur stations, these stations were licensed to broadcast signals intended to be received by the general public. However, it is known that at least one amateur was broadcasting entertainment.

9Montgomery Journal, March 30, 1922, p. 1. 10 BirminghamNews, December 22, 1922, p.2. 11Birmingham News, March 19, 1922, p. 4.


·          . . Old Pop Ansley in Norwood back in the 20's (cranked) up his transmitter in the base­ment when neighbors asked him to broadcast some records.12

Interest in broadcasting in other parts of the nation spread to Alabama when Alabama newspapers began to publicize the medium. The selling of radio receiving sets and parts became a profitable business in the state. The first commercial stations in Alabama made radio reception possible for the average citizen who lacked money or suf­ficient interest to invest in the more expensive sets which were necessary to receive distant stations. With the increase in the number of people owning receivers came the incentive to build additional broadcasting stations. Thus, the stage was set for the birth of the broadcasting industry in the state of Alabama.

Development of Alabama commercial
Broadcasting Stations

By December 12, 1922 there were five commercial radio stations operating in Alabama. One was being

12 AlabamaBroadcasting Association, Proceedings of Annual Meeting(Tuscaloosa, Alabama, October 19, 1953)

26 operated by a radio and electric dealer, two by electric power companies, one by an individual, and the other by an educational institution. 3

Attention will now turn to the development of these and subsequent commercial radio stations in Alabama. 14

WGH, Montgomey Light and Power Compan1, Montgomery, Alabama

The first party to be granted a commercial radio broadcasting license in Alabama was, according to records available, the Montgomery Light and Power Company. This company's station, WGH, received the first commercial radio broadcasting license in the state early in 1922. 15Evi-dently the station took to the air for some tests and then went off the air for changes in its antenna. 6 When the station resumed transmission on or before February 12, 1922, it announced that a regular schedule was being

13 "Who Will Ultimately Do the Broadcasting," Radio  Broadcast, II (April, 1923), 524.

14 see Appendix A for a list of Alabama Radio Stations in the order they began broadcasting.

15 MontgomeryJournal,March 30, 1922, p. 1.

16 Montgomery Journfal, February 12, 1922,. p. 8.


arranged to broadcast news items, music, educational talks, and sermons.

Text Box: Company 

In March, 1922, the Montgomery Light and Power agreed to close WGH if the city of Montgomery to construct a modern long distance radio broad-


station.   The company felt that greater benefit

could be had in promoting Montgomery and Montgomery County by such a move and that such a station operated by civic and state interests for the greatest good of the farmers and others now having receiving sets and those who will install them as soon as this service is established." 18

The station operated on 360 and 485 meters implying that it broadcast weather reports, information, and enter­tainment. 9 No indication of the power of the station could be found. The station was located in the Power Com­pany building at lii Dexter Avenue and when it returned to

17Montgomery Journal, March 30 1922, p. 1. 18Ibid.

19 Threehundred sixty meters (833.31(C) was allocated by the Department of Commerce to news, lectures, entertain­ment, etc.; 485 meters (618.61(C) was allocated to govern­ment functions such as weather and crop reports.


the air by February 12, 1922 it had an antenna on top of the building 115 feet above the street. 20

The city of Montgomery did not construct a radio station and WGH evidently discontinued operation by December 1, 1922, because only five stations were listed as operating in Alabama as of that date. 21Only one of those stations was being operated by a power company and Alabama Power Company's WSY was on the air at this time. Furthermore, station listings as of August 13, 1923 do not include WGH.22

It is purely conjecture, but the station was prob­ably silenced because the Alabama Power Company donated money to Alabama Polytechnic Institute and the station commenced broadcasting between September 16 and October 5, 1922. This school was located in Auburn approximately eighty miles from Montgomery.

20 MontgomeryJournal, February 12, 1922 P. 8

21" who Will Ultimately Do the Broadcasting," 524.

22 Thewireless Age, X (September 23, 1923), 49.


Sf81, Alabama Power Company,
Birmingham, Alabama

The second broadcaster in Alabama to be granted a commercial broadcasting license was the Alabama Power com­pany in Birmingham. The announcement of the completion of WSY came on April S. 1922. At the time of completion, the station was licensed as an experimental station under the call letters of 5XC, 23 only a few programs were broadcast under this license. The call letters were changed to WSY upon the granting of a commercial radio broadcasting

license and the station broadcast its first program under its new status on April 23, 1922. Sf31 transmitted on a wave length of 360 meters and had a 200 watt transmitter. Its transmitting radius, under favorable weather conditions, was 200 miles. The license permitted the station to broad­cast news and entertainment features between the evening hours of seven and ten. The station was built by the Alabama Power Company's own engineers. 24

23 Birmingham Age-Herald, April 8, 1922, p. 5.

24 Birmingham Age-Herald, April 24, 1922, p. 1.


Although the station was located in Birmingham, the station was promoted in other areas of the state. On May 3, 1922, an advertisement appeared in the Mobile News-Times informing radio fans that programs were being broad­cast every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. 25,

WSY, operated by a public utility, served a multi­purpose. In addition to broadcasting entertainment, it was used as a public relations medium and a disseminator of information regarding the affairs of the company. The power company claimed to be the first public utility in the country to use radio for this purpose. Receiver sets were installed throughout the company's facilities and the station was used as an adjunct to the existing communica­tion system. 26

It is true that the station was used to promote the interests of the power company, but as one of the company's officials stated, "the station was Alabama's own and [was] dedicated to the service of the state." 27

The station had

25 Mobile News-Times, May 3, 1922, p. 4.

26 BirminghamAge-Herald, April 24, 1922, p. 1.


Birmingham News, December 22, 1922, p. 2.

31 an estimated listening audience of 50,000 people 28 and when a larger transmitter was installed, extending the signal coverage, hundreds of letters came in from over the United States and Canada. This resulted in plans being made for representatives from all sections of the state to appear on the station and promote Alabama to the nation. 29

Other services which WSY provided listeners were broadcasts to the blind, the broadcasting of religious services, and participation in civic affairs.

The original station, located at 1921 Powell Avenue, Birmingham, was eventually moved to the Loveman, Joseph, and Loeb Building. In June, 1922 a new $7,000.00 transmitter, purported to be the most powerful in the South, was installed. It had five 250 watt transmitting tubes supplied by a 3.5 kilowatt, 3,000 volt motor gener­ator (by modern standards a 500 watt station). An antenna was erected at a height of 150 feet above the store. The

28   BirminghamAge-Herald, May





29   BirminghamNews, December






old transmitter was to be moved to Anniston. 30

In time,

the power would be increased to 1,000 watts.

The station continued to offer a variety of pro­grams; some of these were innovations for that period of radio broadcasting. However, after 4923, the Alabama Power Company seemed to lose interest in the station. Programs during 1924 consisted mainly of denominational (Baptist) religious services. In February of that year, it was announced that the usual Tuesday and Friday evening broad­casts would be discontinued until further notice. 31It was announced in September, after WSY had been silent for some time, that the station would be moved to Roberts Field outside Birmingham. 32 The station was to be donated to the 106th Observation Squadron, Alabama National Guard. The reason stated for the action was that less interference was anticipated at the new location, but even the most naive observer would have to interpret this sequence of

30 BirminghamNews, June 23, 1922, p. 1.


Birmingham News, February 17, 1924, p. 13.

32 BirminghamNews, September 28, 1924, p. 13.


events as an attempt by the power company to bow out of radio station operation.

Although the Alabama Power Company stated that both WSY transmitters were to be moved to Roberts Field, newspaper accounts implied indecision as to final dis­position of one of the transmitters. Ultimately, the large 1,000 watt transmitter was given to Alabama Poly­technic Institute in April of 1925, 33 and the station resumed service that year on the campus under the old call letters of WSY.34

WEAP, Mobile Radio Company,
Mobile, Alabama

Mobile's WEAP was granted a commercial broadcast­ing license in 1922. The exact date the station began operation cannot be determined; however, according to government records available, the station was on the air

33 BirminghamNews,April 26, 1925? p. 10.

34 BirminghamNews, May 3, 1925, p. 11. See Appendix B for a delineation of Alabama Radio Stations existing from 1922 to 1969.

rTh          34 by June 30, 1922, 35 and was licensed to the Mobile Radio

Company, Inc. 36 The fact that the call letters of WSY and WGH contain only three letters and WEAP four indicates that WSY and WGH were the first to be licensed. 37

WEAP was operated on a wave length of 360 meters. The station, located in the O'Güinn Building, continued to operate until the license was given up in April, 1925. 38

WMAV, Alabama Polytechnic Institute, Auburn, Alabama

In March of 1922, prior to the completion of WSY, the Birmingham Newsannounced plans to donate money to Alabama Polytechnic Institute for the purpose of establish­ing a station there. This station was to have a continuous

Department of Commerce, bureau of Naviga­tion, Commercial and Government Radio Stations of the U.S. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Of f ice, June 30, 1922), pp. 70-73.

36 TheWireless Age, 50.

37 Duringthe spring of 1922 the Department of Commerce ran out of three-letter combinations and began assigning four-letter combinations. Barnouw, Tower in  Babel, p.100.

38 Birmingham News, April 26, 19250 p. 10.

35 wave transmitter as opposed to the spark transmitter of SXA, Auburn's experimental wireless-telegraphy station. This continuous wave transmitter, when modulated, enabled the institution to transmit human speech. The station, it was said, would be of great benefit to the farmers of Alabama. In anticipation of the forthcoming broadcasts, Alabama Polytechnic Institute's Professor A. C. Dunstan urged all commercial radio companies to stock low cost receivers and to demonstrate them to farmers. Plans were announced that the station would broadcast market reports, weather reports, and agricultural information. 39

Shortly after the announcement of the proposed gift by the News, Mathews Electric Company of Birmingham offered to donate $2,000.00 worth of receivers. These receivers were to be placed at various locations over the state for the reception of agricultural news. 40

No sooner had the plans for the station been announced when leading citizens began to inquire as to the

39 BirminghamNews,March 200 19220 p. 1.

40Birmingham News, March 26, 1922, p. 1.

36 cost of installing receiving sets.41 The cost of receiving sets ran anywhere from $15.00 to $300.00. However, the less expensive sets costing from $15.00 to $35.00 were believed adequate for farmers of the surrounding area to receive the station.

The Birmingham News donated $2,500.0042 and the station was licensed to transmit on a wave of 250 meters (1200KC) with a power of 250 watts, and the call letters of WMAV assigned. 43 The station went on the air between September 16 and October 5, 1922. 44

Information on the early programming offered by the station is sketchy. It is known that in addition to the broadcasting of agricultural information, the station offered entertainment. During November, 1922 plans were announced to broadcast the details of the Alabama-Georgia

411bid., p. 2.

42 BirminghamNews, March 20, 1922, p. 2.

Department of Commerce, Radio Division, Commercial and Government Radio Stations of the U.S. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, June 30, 1922) , pp. 68-81.

44 RadioBroadcast, II (December, 1922), 137.

37 football game from Craxupton Bowl in Montgomery. A direct wire between Montgomery and Auburn was arranged with Western Union. Although work on the station had not been completed, making it necessary to operate at one-third power, the estimated reach of the signal was a 1,000 mile (probably twenty miles during the day and possibly 1,000 miles at night) radius around Auburn. 45

The power and frequency continually shifted until the Secretary of Commerce deleted WMAV in 1925.46 It will be recalled that during April, 1925 the Alabama Power Com­pany gave the more powerful 1,000 watt WSY transmitter to Alabama Polytechnic Institute at Auburn. 47 The station operated for a while under the old call letters of WSY.48 On September 7, 1925 the WAPI call letters were assigned

45 BirminghamNews,November 23, 1922, p. 26.

46 LlewellynWhite, The American Radio (Chicago: The university of Chicago Press, 1947), p. 103.

47Birmingham News, April 26, 1925, p. 10.


U.S., Department of Commerce, Radio Division,

Commercial and Government Stations of the U.S. (Washington,

cm   D.C.: Government Printing Office, June 30, 1925), pp. 56-68.


to the station at Auburn. 49

To summarize, a wireless telegraphy station was given to Alabama Polytechnic Institute by The Birmingham  News. This station became WMAV when the News gave $2,500.00 to be used for a continuous wave transmitter. WMAV was deleted by the Secretary of Commerce and WSY, given to the Auburn school by the Alabama Power Company, was licensed. The call letters WSY were eventually dropped and the station became WAfl.

WOAY, John Malcom Wilder,
Birmingham, Alabama

In 1922 John Malcom Wilder was operating a special amateur station with the call letters of 5Z1. He was a member of the Birmingham Wireless Association, 50 and he had operated a regular amateur station in 1921.51 It is also known that in 1925 Mr. Wilder was on the radio staff

49 BirminghamNews,September 7, 1925, p. 6.

50 BirminghamNews,March 19, 1922, p. 4.


U.S., Department of Commerce, Bureau of Naviga-

tion, Amateur Radio Stations of the U.S.(Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, June 30, 1921), p.107.

39 of the Department of Electrical Engineering at Auburn. 52 His commercial radio broadcasting station, WOW?, went on the air between November 23 and December 12, 1922 53 and discontinued operation between March 19 and April 30, 1923. 54

WAIG, Mathews Electric Company,

Birmingham, Alabama

Mathews Electric Company has already been cited as being a promoter of broadcasting in Alabama. Two months after $2,000.00 worth of receivers were donated to the Auburn station, the company announced plans to take a more active part in broadcasting. In May of 1922, Mathews Electric Company released its plans to build a station of its own. The station was projected to be "the greatest broadcaster in the [5th] district, and was to carry the religious services of four Birmingham churches." 55


52 BirminghamNews, April 26, 1925, p. 10.

53 RadioBroadcast, II (February, 1923), 348.

54 RadioBroadcast, III (July, 1923) , 260.

55 BirminghamNews, May 11, 1922, p. 2.

n                                                                    40

station was on the air by March 18, 1923 with the call letters of WAIG. 56 It had discontinued operation by

August 24, 1923

WKAN, Alabama Radio Manufacturing Company, Montgomery., Alabama

Approximately nine months after the demise of WGH, another station, WICAN, was constructed in Montgomery. The licensee was F. P. Stephens, who owned and operated the United Battery Service Company at 309 Bibb Street58 and this station began to broadcast actively by August, 1923. 59 The license was listed as issued to the Alabama Radio Manufacturing Company- 60

WEAN broadcast three programs a week on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. The regular Wednesday and Friday hours were from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., but on Saturdays

56 Radio Broadcast, III (May, 1923), 82.

57 RadioBroadcast, IV (December, 1923), 176.

58F. P. Stephens, private interview held in Montgomery, Alabama, March 3, 1963.


The Wireless Age, 50.

60 RadioBroadcast, IV (December, 1923), 176.


programs began at 1:30 p.m. and ended at 12:30

The licensee of the station had been an amateur operator in New Jersey. 62 He did not manage the radio station personally, but instead hired a man by the name of 8ankhead63 to perform thu duty.

Although the station had only a 20 watt transmitter and operated on a frequency of 226 meters (1330KC),64 it reportedly had listeners from as far north as Maine and Canada, as far south as Central America, and as far west as extreme West Texas.

In May, 1924 Mr. Stephens made an announcement that he was temporarily closing WAN for repairs. He dis­closed plans to build a more powerful station "costing several thousand dollars" which would be the joint effort


Montgomery Journal, March 29, 1924, p. 7.

62 Stephensinterview.


Montgomery Journal, April 5, 1924, p. 3.

64 Departmentof Commerce, Commercial and Government  Radio Stations of the U.S, June 30, 1923, pp. 6881.

fl                     65 MontgomeryJournal, April 19, 1924 P. 9,

42 of himself and other local businessmen. 66 WXAN never came back on the air. Mr. Stephens' reason for closing the station was that his wife objected to his spending so much of his time with the station. 67

WBRC, Bell Radio Corporation,
Birmingham, Alabama

On May 21, 1925 the Bell Radio corporation began operation of WBRC in Birmingham. 68 This station, so far as the writer can determine, has been in continuous service ever since.

It has been noted that Carlisle Bell was one of the early amateurs that later became a broadcaster. 69 His station, WBRC, was billed as the "Biggest Little Station on Earth" and evidently transmitted over great distances. The following letter was received from an Akron, Ohio listener in 1925: "Your rebroadcasting of WFAA was much

66 MontgomeryJournal, May 9, 1924, p. 16.


Stephens interview.

68 BirminghamNews, May 21, 1925, p. 13.

69 Departmentof Commerce, Amateur Radio Stations of  the U.S., June 300 1921, p. 107.


louder than the original signal. . . You must make all 50 watts count." 70

WBRC was built in the shop of the Bell Radio Corporation. Mr. Bell gave this account of the construction;

The greatest trouble was the elimination of the motor generator such as large stations used, as no place could be found in the build­ing where the mechanical noise could be muffled. Plans stopped and the problem was approached at a different angle. Many weary nights were spent in elimination of the hum which was so objectionable, but after several weeks of con­stant experimental work, this trouble was


The next problem was good modulation which is only secured by the perfect coordination of every single instrument in the whole plane. This means adjust and test over and over again until the highest and lowest note in the musical scale are received, amplified, and broadcast without the slightest distortion. . . .7]

Reportedly the station was heard in every State east of the Mississippi River. Operating with 50 watts on a frequency of 1200 KC, the station was heard as far away as Toronto, Canada. 72

WBRC offered a variety of programs

70 Birmingham News, December 20, 1925, p. 12.

7]. Birmingham News, December 6, 1925, p. 11. 72 BirminghamNews, December 20, 1925, p. 12.


and was popular with Birmingham citizens. It continues in operation today.

WAPI, Alabama Polytechnic Institute,

Auburn, Alabama

The origin of this station has already been dis­cussed. It will be remembered that 5XA operated at Auburn for many years as a wireless telegraphy station. 73

WMAV was licensed after Mr. Victor Hanson of the Birmingham  News donated $2,500.00 to the Alabama Polytechnic Insti­tute to buy a continuous wave transmitter, The WMAV call letters were dropped when the Secretary of Commerce deleted the station and the Alabama Power Company gave Auburn the more powerful 1,000 watt transmitter of WSY. This station operated for a short time as WSY and then became WAPI.74

Mr. P. 0. Davis, who was in charge of public rela­tions for the Auburn extension service and experimental stations and directed Auburn's efforts in broadcasting, describes the events preceding the school's entry into radio-telephony:

73 Birmingham News,March 20., 1922, P. 1.

74 Birmin9ham News, September 27, 1925, p. 12.


The Birmingham Newscalled me and asked that I write them a series of stories on how Auburn would use radio in extending its services to the people of Alabama. Each, as I recall, was from 400 to 600 words and came largely from my imagination plus a few interviews. All were used as front page news. A friend later said to n "Mt. Hanson is a master of publicity. For a gift of $2,500 he is going to receive $10,000 worth of publicity." Mr. Hanson's gift was $2,500, and no more. 75

While Mr. Hanson's role in the founding of WAPI may have been magnified out of proportion, the fact cannot be denied that his gift, however small in relation to the total Auburn radio expenditure, was the prime mover which set the wheels in motion for Alabama Polytechnic Insti­tute's continuing engagement in broadcasting. 76


Mr. Davis attests:

Having written those articles and having enjoyed seeing them featured in the News,I forgot, so to speak, about radio . . . until Professor Dunstan made up a list of parts to be bought for an assembled broadcasting sta­tion. Nothing was included for studios and countless other essentials. These parts were ordered from RCA, shipped, and were at the railroad station when Mr. Duncan, the Director

75p. o. Davis, private interview held in Auburn, Alabama, May 22, 1968.

76 BirminghamNews,March 20, 1922, p. 2.


of Extension, came into my office to talk about radio.

President Dowell had called him (Mr. Duncan) over to talk with him about radio and to tell him that the college had no money for installing and operating a radio station. But since Mr. Hanson had made the gift, he was on the spot to operate.

So in about two minutes, I found myself in charge of a radio station in a railroad station.77

According to Mr. Davis, the equipment which was installed in Brown Engineering Rail was obsolete when received. Some problems were solved when the Alabama Power Company gave Alabama Polytechnic Institute the old WSY transmitter, but other problems were so great that Mr. Davis entertained the idea of ceasing operation and junking the equipment. A decision was made to buy a modern 1,000 watt Western Electric transmitter. The new transmitter was installed in Corner Hall on the agricul­tural grounds. 78 In September of 1925 the call letters, WAPI, were granted; 79 the station operated on a

77 Davisinterview.

79 BirminghamNews,September 27, 1925, p. 12.


frequency of 1210 KC. 80

It was later decided that WAPI should operate in the state's most populous area and center for talent, so the station was moved to Birmingham in December of 1928. 81In Birmingham, WAPI was "operated in co-operation with [the] state government and Protective Life Insurance Company, [with] additional funds being supplied by (the) city." 82

About this time, the University of Alabama was in the process of petitioning the Federal Radio Commission for a license to operate its own station. It was finally decided by the State Legislature in 1929 that the cost of operating WAPI should be borne by the University of Alabama, Alabama Polytechnic Institute, and Alabama College for Women at Montevallo on a 39 per cent-39 per cent-22 per cent formula. 83

80 U.S., Department of Commerce, Radio Division, Corn-inertial and Government Radio Stations of the U.S. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, June 30, 1926), pp. 61-73.

81   White, American Radio, p. 821bid., pp. 103-104.


83 Davisinterview.


In December, 1928 a new 5,000 watt transmitter was purchased 84and WAPI's frequency was, changed to 1440 KC 85 and it continues operating today.

WIBZ, A. D. Trum, Montgomery, Alabama

A. D. Trum, who had worked with F. P. Stephens in the operation of WKAN 86 acquired a license in 1925 to operate radio station WIBZ in Montgomery. The station was licensed to broadcast market and weather reports, music, concerts, and lectures. Operating initially on 10 watts with a frequency of 1300 KC, 87 Mr. Trum gained permission in 1927 to increase power of the station to 15 watts. 88

84 BirminghamNews,December 30,. 1928, p. 1.

85 U.S., Department of Commerce, Radio Division, Cortuuerc'ial and Government Radio Stations in the U.S. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing office, June 300 1929), p. 104.

86A. D. Trum, private interview, held in Montgomery, Alabama, March 16, 1968.


U.S., Department of Commerce, Bureau of Naviga-

tion, Radio Service Bulletin (Washington, D.C. Government Printing Office, September 1, 1925), p. 3..

Department of Commerce, Radio Division, Commercial and Government Radio stations of the U.S. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, June 30, 1927), pp. 66-92.


The original station was located at 811 Adams Avenue, 89

but moved to 217 Catoma Street in 1926,     and finally went off the air June 30, 1929.90 The call letters     stood for

awe Interest Business Zeal. 91

WKBC, H. L. Ansley, Birmingham, Alabama

In 1927 WKBC was being operated by H. L. Ansley in Birmingham at 1428 North. 12th Avenue. The assigned frequency was 1370 KC with an allotted power of 10 watts. 92 The frequency was changed.. to 1350 in 1928 93 and again in 1929 to 1310 KC. Also during 1929 the power was raised to 100 watts and the new licensee became the R. B. Broyles

89 Departmentof Commerce, Radio Service Bulletin, September 1, 1925, p. 3.

90Trum interview.

91 CitizensRadio Call Book Magazine and Scientific Digest, II (March, 1929), 22.

92 Departmentof Commerce, Commercial and Govern­ment Radio stations of the U.S., June 30, 1927, pp. 66-92,

93 Departmentof Commerce, Commercial and Govern-

ment Radio Stations of the U.S., June 30, 1928,

pp. 76-102.


Furniture Company. 94 The station was moved in 1930 to 2021 2nd Avenue in Birmingham. 95 By this time, Mr. Broyles had given the station to a nephew, Allen Clark. In order to interest Mr. Victor Hanson, publisher of The Birmingham News, in purchasing the station's facilities and having the license transferred to The Birmingham News, the call letters of the station were changed to WSGN, "the South's Greatest Newspaper." In 1935 a lease arrangement was com­pleted and that newspaper took over operation of the station. 96 The station continues operation today under a different licensee.

WJBY, Electric Construction Company,
Gadsden,  Alabama

In 1926 WJBY was licensed to the Electric Construc­tion Company of Gadsden. It was licensed to operate on 270.1 meters with a power of 250 watts. 97In the next four

94 Departmentof Commerce, Commercial and Government Radio Stations of the U.S., June 30, 1929, p. 104.

951bid., pp. 164-83.

96 HenryP. Johnson, telephone interview from Birmingham, Alabama, March 19, 1969.

97 RadioNews, VIII (December, 1926), 629.

5]. years it shifted frequency and power four times. By November, 1930 the station was operated at 1210 KC with a power of 50 watts. At this time the Gadsden Broadcasting Company, Inc., had become the licensee. 98

The station continued to operate until March 23, 1954 when the Gadsden Broadcasting Company requested that

the license be cancelled and the call letters deleted. 99

WSFA, Montgomery Broadcasting Company, Montgomery, Alabama

In the fall of 1929, Howard E. Pill and Gordon Persons formed the Montgomery Broadcasting Company and obtained a construction permit to construct a broadcasting station, WSFA.100 The station officially went on the air March 31, 1930 with a program which included company offi­cials, city officials, and local talent. Listed as company officials were: William T. Murray, Jr., secretary;

98 RadioNews, XII (March, 1931), 816.

99Broadcasting-Telecasting, April 12, 1954, p. 112.

100 HowardE. Pill, private interview held in cm. Montgomery, Alabama, March 3, 1964.


Howard E. pill, treasurer; and James E. Pitts, III, vice president. 101

Located at the corner of Montgomery and Catoma streets, the station was assigned to a frequency of 1410 KC with power up to 500 watts.102

Mr. Pill relates events which followed their obtaining a construction permit:

Be [Gordon Persons] was in the business of selling receivers and a fine electrical engi­neer and I was employed as sports editor for the (Alabama] Journal,.. . . and when the pub-usher found out that Gordon and I were going into the advertising business as a competitor, I promptly got fired.

Except for having little money, we were ready to get in the radio business. After a lot of scrounging around and through the help of Mayor Gunter and the Board of Revenue, we were able to get enough advertising contracts to make the down payment on our first


According to Mr. Pill, Mayor Gunter and County

101Alabama Journal and Times, March 31, 1930, P. 1.

Department of Commerce, Radio Division, Commercial and Government Radio Stations of the U.S. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing office, June 30,

cm    1930), pp. 164-83.


Pill interview.

53 Board of Revenue Director Hagood Patterson, were extremely interested in getting a radio station in Montgomery because of its potential value as a means of promoting the area and were successful in obtaining revenue in advance from the city and county for the purpose of buying time on the new station. The county furnished its own programs while the city donated its time to the Montgomery Chamber of Commerce. The call letters, WSFA, which stood for "South's Finest Airport," were selected and they reflect the com­munity pride out of which the station grew.

In granting the license, the Federal Radio Commis­sion required a split time schedule in which WSFA shared time with WODX in Mobile. The two stations alternated schedules as follows: both went on the air at 5:30 a.m. and broadcast all day until 6;00 p.m. when one became silent while the other continued operations until 9:00 p.m. The silent station resumed broadcasting at 9:00 p.m. and continued until midnight while the sister station was silent.

Neither station played records after 6:00 pan. All broadcasts consisted of live talent and as Mr. Pill


expressed it, "some of it was pretty awful." Talent on the station rarely received pay, because radio was still a curiosity and free talent was abundant. Occasionally, when a program was sold, talent was compensated. 104On January 1, 1932 WSFA joined the CBS radionetwork.105

Six of the persons who were employed during the early days of operation of WSFA continued careers in broad­casting. John Allen Wolfe became a CBS newsman. Meador Lowery became News Director for WFAA in Dallas, Texas. Charlie Holt and Marvin Rubin formed a partnership and established WUHY in Montgomery. Allen Woodall founded WDAX in Columbus, Georgia.

The station continued to operate as WSFA until 1937 when the call letters were changed to WUHY and the license transferred to Charlie Holt and Marvin Rubin. °6

WODX, Mobile Broadcasting Corporation, Mobile, Alabama

By November of 1929, Scott Molt, as trustee for the

104 Pillinterview.

105 MontgomeryAdvertiser,January 1, 1932, P. 3.

106 Pillinterview.

55 Mobile Broadcasting Corporation, had obtained a construc­tion permit for WODX with its antenna to be located in Spring Hill, Alabama and its studio in Mobile. 107

The station began broadcasting before June 30, 1930 with an allotted power less than 500 watts on a frequency of 1410 KC. 108 As mentioned above, the station shared a split time schedule with WSFA. In 1934 WODX became WALA when the license was acquired by William Papa under the corporate name of Pape Broadcasting Company. 109When WALIt appeared in station listings, the power and frequency had been changed to 1380 KC and 500-1000 watts respectively. 110 On December 3, 1964 WLJNI, Inc. acquired the frequency and continues operation on 1410 Kuz with a power of 5,000 watts and a nighttime directional antenna. ill


U.S., Department of Commerce, Radio Division,

Commercial and Government Radio Stations in the U.S. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing office,

November 30, 1929), p. 3.


Department of Commerce, Commercial and Govern-

ment Radio Stations of the U.S., June 30, 1930, pp. 164-83.

109 RadioNews, XV (May, 1934), 679.

110 RadioNews, XVI (February, 1935), 474.

1111969 Broadcasting Yearbook(Washington, D.C.: Broadcasting Publications, Inc., 1969), p. B-i,


WFDWWMAC, Raymond C. Hammett, Talladega-Anniston, Alabama

In 1929 a construction permit was granted to Raymond C. Hammett in Talladega. On March 28, 1930 WFDW went on the air with an allotted power of up to 100 watts On a frequency of 1420 XC. 112The original location was on Rattle Street in Talladega.113

Between September, 1932 and March, 1933114 the station was moved to Annistonánd operated on the same power and frequency as when in Talladega but the cAll letters were changed to WMAC. 115The station existed until 1935 and then was no longer listed among active stations. 116 The license was evidently vacated and the call letters deleted.

112 AlabamaJournal and Times, March 29, 1930, p. 6.


Department of Commerce, Commercial and Govern-

ment Radio Stations in the U.S.,June 30, 1930, pp. 164-83.

114 RadioNews,XIV (May, 1933)r 668.


Federal Radio Commission, Radio Broadcasting

Stations in the U.S. (Washington, D.C.: Government Print­ing Office, January 1, 1934)0p. 57.

116 RadioNews,XVII (January, 1936), 450.


WHET, Troy Broadcasting Company,
Troy, Alabama

On January 29, 1932, the They Broadcasting Company, owned by Joe K. Jernigan, Cyril W. Reddock, Julian C. Smith, and John T. Hubbard, began operation of WHET in Troy. 117 The station broadcast on a frequency of 1210 1(C with power of up to 100 watts. 18

Because Dothan was a larger city and offered pros­pects for more lucrative revenues, WHET was moved from Troy to that city in November.. of 1933. After about three

months, the call letters were changed to WAGF. This sta­tion today is operated by Julian C. Smith. 19

WBHS, Hutchins Hardware Company,
Huntsville, Alabama

This station was on the air by September, 1932 operating on a frequency of 1200 KC with a power of 50

117 JulianC. Smith, telephone interview from Dothan, Alabama, January 21, 1969,

Department of Commerce, Radio Division, Radio Service Bulletin(Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, May 31, 1932), p. 182.

119Smjth interview.


watts. 120 The licensee was the Hutchins Hardware com-

pany.121 It had disappeared from the listings of stations by December, 1936.122

WNRA, Muscle Shoals City, Alabama

By November 11, 1933 WNRA was in operation and broadcast the Armistice Day parade in Sheffield. 123The

station began operation with a power of 100 watts on a frequency of 1420 1W. 124It is unknown whose name appeared

on the license, but JerryLandrum, who made the initial application, gives this account of the station's origin:

I became interested in radio after a visit to the 50 watt station which was owned by the

Hutchins Hardware Company in Huntsville, After

I had filed an application with the FRC, I was contacted by Jack Richards, a promoter froa Atlanta, whose business was getting new stations on the air. He was broke and asked how much

120 RadioNews, XIV (October, 1932), 226.

121 JerryLandrum, private interview held in Florence, Alabama, March 26, 1969.

122 RadioNews, XVIII (January, 1937), 514.


Landrum interview.

124 FederalRadio Commission, Radio Broadcasting Stations in the U.S.,January 1, 1934, p. 57.


·              money I had. In those waning depression years it was not enough and it was decided that my father would put hint up in the hotel here

until he could find someone with enough


Mr. Richards, after eight months, finally found two persons who were willing to provide the capital investment. They were Katherine Jones of Detroit, Michigan, and Harry Danby of Sheffield. As part of the transaction, it was agreed that Jerry Landrum would be given the job of program director.

The original call letters, Wt4RA, stood for the National Recovery Act. Later in 1936 the station became WMSD (Muscle Shoals District). 126

After a succession of changes of licensees, the station became WLAY on March 101942 and continues opera­tion today with Cletus H. Quick and John Slatton as licensees. 127


Landrum interview.


127 CletusH. Quick, private interview held in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, March 26, 1969.



Meantime, a public which during the earphone stage had been delighted to hear almost any disconnected series of recognized sounds was demanding better programs, better continuity, better signals, now that it was buying receiv­ing sets costing anywhere from twenty-five to several thousand dollars. It had had a taste of grand opera, of prize fights and baseball games, of market andweather reports. It wanted more.1

Radio programming evolved. All across the country at this time radio stations were experimenting with program fare. Although almost a decade would go by before program­ming became standardized, this early period in programming is important in that almost all the program types found in broadcasting today emerged from this experimentation.

On March 19, 1922 The Birmingham News began print­ing the program schedule of KDI(A in Pittsburgh. At this

311ewe11yn White, The American Radio (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1947), p. 27.



time, there were 125 receiving sets in the city of Birmingham.2 From the Pittsburgh station, early Alabama set owners heard news, lectures, sermons, vocal and instrumental concerts, operas, market reports, fashion tips, agricultural reports, and children's bedtime stories. On May 14, 1922, shortly after WSY began broadcasting, the number of radio sets in Birmingham was reported to have doubled in a period of three weeks.3

Recorded Music

In 1921 H. L. Ansley operated an amateur station in Birmingham.4 During the early 20's he began broadcasting recorded music at the request of his neighbors.5

Subsequently, very little recorded music was included in the programs of early Alabama radio stations.

28irmingham News,March 19, 1922, p. 4.

3Birmingham Age-Herald, May 14, 1922, p. 2.

Department of Commerce, Bureau of Naviga­tion, Amateur Radio Stations of the U.S. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, June 30, 1921), pp. 6166.


aThd Bolt, from an address to the Alabama Broad-

casters Association, Proceedings of Annual Meeting  (Tuscaloosa, Alabama, October 19, 1953).


The reason was that the early stations could not afford the fees required by the American society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.6

Variety Programs

The majority of the programs in early Alabama stations fell under the category of variety programs. These programs featured local talent who sang, played musical instruments, and gave comic monologues and, as Mr. Pill of WSFA in Montgomery expressed it, "some of it was pretty awful. 117

The type of music which performers sang and played prior to 1925 were old time favorites such as "Listen to

the Mocking Bird,' 'Sorta Miss You," "Sweet Moment                                                                                                  a

others, mostly maudlin in nature. Conspicuously absent from programs during this period was jazz. Pressure from various church groups and ladies clubs kept jazz off the

6A. D. Truin, private interview held in Montgomery, Alabama, March 16, 1968.

7Howard E. Pill, private interview held in Montgomery, Alabama, March 3, 1964.

88irmingham News, May 10, 1922, p. 4.

63 air in early Alabama radio until 1925 when WBRC succumbed to the wishes of the general public. In June of 1925 WBRC announced a new program policy featuring jazz. "Without jazz, the program is lost," station management stated in an article.

The attitude which WBRC adopted in order to please the audience gives evidence to the fact that by 1925 listeners were becoming more discriminating. No longer was the audience interested only in long distance recep­tion; as the novelty of radio began to wear off, the number of stations available for reception increased, thus listen­ing became more selective. "I want you to get off the air. I want you to stay off for a while, so I can get Pittsburgh," said a lady in a call to WBRC. The station requested the listening audience to respond to the call and seventy-five people telephoned within an hour insisting that WBRC remain a permanent Birmingham fixture. 10

98irmingham News, June 14, 1925, p. 10.

10 BirminghamNews  September 21, 1925, p. 13.


Religious Programs

One of the early program features of WSY, Birmingham's first commercial radio station, was the broad­casting of religious services of many churches of Birmingham. Services were rotated so that a different denomination was featured each Sunday evening. 11

In addition to the broadcasting of church services, WSY featured many programs consisting mainly of religious hymns. The following log is typical:

1.    Opening announcement

2.    Baseball returns

3.    Market reports

4.    "Silent Night, Holy Night"--Elsie Baker

5.    "Nearer My God to Thee"--Ernestine Shwnann

6.    "Holy Night'--Evan Williams

7.    "shall We Gather at the River"--Harry MacDonough and Perry Hexmtte

8.    "Beautiful Isle of Somewhere"--John Barnes Wells

9.    "Lead Kindly Light"--Geraldine Farrar

10.  "In the Garden'--Mrs, William Asherland

11.  "The Ninety and Nine"--Harry McClucky

12.  "God Be With You Til We Meet Again"--Alma Gluck and Sf em [sic] Zimbalist

13.  "Whispering Hope"--Alma Cluck and Louise Homer

14.  "The Lord is My Light"--John McCormack

15.  "The Rosary"--John McCormack

11 BirminghamAge-Herald, May 14, 1922, p. 2.


16.    'crossing the Bar"--Evan Williams

17.    "To Thy Holy Care"--Lucy Marsh

18.    "Face to Face"--Herbert Johnson

19."Shall We Gather at the River"--The Hayden Quartet

20.   "Open the Gates to the Temple"--Evan

21.   Closing announcements and sign off 12

Requests from the listeners to hear church services prompted WBRC to purchase remote control equipment in

1926. 13 With the use of this equipment, WBRC began regular broadcasts of the Sunday morning services of the Sixth Avenue Presbyterian Church. 4

Although no regular church services were scheduled by WAPI in Auburn, revival services were broadcast occa­sionally. One such occasion was in 1927 when the YMCA, in association with local churches, staged revival services

which were carried by   WAPI. 5  Upon moving to Birmingham, WAPI   began regular broadcast of Sunday church services. 6

12   BirminghamNews,

May 41  1922, p.              14.

13   BirminghamNews,


7, 1926,



14   Birmingham News,

October   March 6, January

9, 1926,  1927, p.

21,    1929,

p. 14.


p.   3.

15 BirminghamNews,

16   BirminghamNews,


Remote Broadcasts

Remote broadcasting was a technique often used in early radio programming in Alabama. It allowed a station to expand its program service by broadcasting direct from the site of an event as it occurred.

WSY was the first Alabama station to transmit from sites remote from the radio studio. As mentioned above, the broadcasting of the services from Birmingham churches was one of the earliest of program forms. Since remote control equipment was not available to Alabama radio sta­tions until Westinghouse offered such equipment on a license-fee basis in 1926,17a crude method of connecting a microphone at the remote site to a telephone line to the studio was used.

Later WMAV began broadcasting sports events by arranging for a direct telegraph wire from Western Union which was run from the remote site to the studio. The play-by-play description of action was received by telegraph and recreated by the announcer over radio to 1isteners.8

Text Box: 17

Birmingham News,February 7, 1926, p. 11. Birmingham News, November 23, 1922, p. 26.


In 1926, WAPI at Auburn began using the method of sportscasting as we know it today. WAPI placed an announcer at the playing field of the Auburn-Oglethorpe baseball game who gave a play-by-play description of the game from the field. 19

Special Broadcasts

There were certain broadcasts which covered spe­cific events or were tailored for a special audience.

In December of 1922 the Vicksburg, Mississippi Civitan Club was granted a charter and WSY broadcast the ceremony as it occurred in Birmingham. The favorable response received from all over the "country" prompted plans to use the station to promote the commercial benefits which the state had to offer. 20

One of the earliest of WSY's programs was a special broadcast for the blind. The program was heard over a radio set placed in the home for the blind especially for

19 Birmingham News, May 2, 1926, p. 12.

20 Birmingham Mews, December 22, 1922, p. 2.


the occasion. 21 In May of 1922 WSY broadcast a program saluting members of the Alabama press who were holding their convention in Montgomery at the time. 22 Another of these special broadcasts was made when WKAN in Montgomery aired a program featuring the Boy Scouts. The purpose of the program was to recruit Scout leaders from the area. 24

Market Reports

From the beginning of broadcasting in Alabama, market reports were included in the programs of radio stations. 25 They were given daily, or at least on the days when the stations were in operation, and usually followed closely after the opening sign on announcement. 26

21 BirminghamNews,

22 BirminghamNews,

23 BirminghamNews,

May 4, 1922, p. 14.
 May 22, 1922, p. 4.
 May 18, 1924, p. 7.

24 MontgomeryJournal, April 19, 1924, p. 9.

25 BirminghamNews,March 19, 1922, p. 4.

26 BirminghamNews, May 4, 1922, p. 14.


Weather Reports

Early in 1922, weather reports became a regular feature in the program schedule of WSY27 and as other stations began operations they followed suit. The main purpose of establishing WMAV in Auburn was to broadcast agricultural infatuation, which included weather forecasts for the farmers of Alabama. 28

In 1923 weather became more than a matter of topical interest. Birmingham fell victim to a severe sleet storm which brought down all lines of communication in and out of the city. WSY, cooperating with the Birmingham News, was able to broadcast news and weather reports for the isolated city. 29


When the Alabama Power Company announced plans to build WSY,.one of the declared intentions was to bring distinguished and gifted speakers to the people of

27 BirminghamAge-Herald, May 14, 1922, p.

28 BirminghamNews,March 20, 1922, p. 1.


Birmingham News, February 5, 1923, p.


Alabama. 30 As it turned out, WSY's programs were more entertainment than information. It is true that there were lectures given on occasion, but it wasn't until 1926, with the advent of WAPI, that lectures became a regular part of programming.

The lectures broadcast on WAPI were given by the Auburn faculty and were presented on a variety of subjects. Many were directed to Alabama farmers and included such titles as "Feeding and Managing Baby Chicks," 31 "Crop Formation," "The Boll Weevil ,, 32 "The Function of Roots and Plants," 33 and "Food for Plants." 34 Other lectures were given for the benefit of the general public and covered such subjects as "Spring Clothes," "Gardening," "Control of Mosquitos," 35 "Birds of


Birmingham News, May 4, 1922, p. 14.

31 Birmingham News, March 7, 1926, p. 7.

32 Birmingham News, April 4, 1926, p. 10.

33 BirminghamNews, April 11, 1926, p. 10.

34 BirminghamNews, May 23, 1926, p. 9.

35 BirminghamNews,April 4, 1926, P. 10.


Alabama," 36 and "Locating and Correcting Car Trouble." 37

These lectures were the first educational radio programs offered to Alabamians.

Sports casts

The first sports programs to be broadcast in Alabama were baseball scores broadcast by WSY in 1922. These baseball returns followed the opening sign on announcement and preceded the market reports. 38

In the fall of 1922, WMAV in Auburn gave the first play-by-play description of a sports event in Alabama. The occasion was the broadcast of the Alabama-Georgia football game which was played at Crampton Bowl in Montgomery. A direct telegraph wire from Montgomery to Auburn was arranged with Western Union. Messages received in Auburn were translated by a sports announcer who related the action of play to the WMAV audience. 39 A few days later, WSY used the same method to broadcast

36 BirminghamNews,April 11, 1926, p. 10.

37 BirminghamNews, May 2, 1926, p. 12.

38 BirminghamNews, May 4, 1922, p. 14.

39 BirminghamNews,November 23, 1922, p. 26.


the Auburn-Georgia Tech game in Atlanta. 40

It was not until New Year's day of 1926 that a similar broadcast was made. Through a joint effort of WBRC, The Birmingham News, and the Associated Press, a radio-telegraph account at the Alabama-Washington Rose Bowl game was received, recreated and broadcast. The broadcast was very popular in Birmingham, causing many set owners to respond with letters of gratitude to the sponsoring agencies. Many listeners who did not own sets gathered at public places to hear the broadcast. 41

In May of 1926, WAPI at Auburn broadcast a play-by-play description of the Auburn-Oglethorpe baseball game. This occasion marked the first time in Alabama that a sporting event was covered with an announcer calling the play-by-play action directly from the playing field. 42In the fall of the same year WAPI used the same technique to

broadcast two football games which were played at Auburn.

40   Birmingham _NewS,

November   27,

1922,   p.



Birmingham News,

January   10,

1926, p.


42 BirminghamNews,

May   2, 1926,

p. 12.


These games were the Auburn-LSQ game 43 and the Auburn-Florida game. 44

WAfl continued this type of play-by-play broadcasting through the basketball season, carrying the Auburn-Sewanee and the Auburn-Georgia Tech games. 45

WBRC, The Birmingham News, and the Associated Press again combined facilities in 1927 to broadcast a sporting event of national interest. By stationing the WBRC announcer in The Birmingham News building at the Associated Press telegraph receiver, the Dempsey-Sharkey boxing bout was broadcast. The announcer, using remote control broad­casting equipment, relayed his report via telephone wire to the Temple Theater Building where the WBRC studio was located. 46This same technique was used to broadcast the Dempsey-Tunney bout. 47

WAPI celebrated its move from Auburn to Birmingham

43 Birmingham News, October 9, 1926, p. 14.

44 BirminghamNews,October 2, 1926, p. 12.


Birmingham News, February 6, 1927, p. 6.

46 BirminghamNews, July 17, 1927, p. 12.

47 BirminghamNews: September 18, 1927, p. 10.


with a broadcast of the 1929 Rose Bowl game between

Georgia Tech and the University of California. The station accomplished this through the cooperation of the Birmingham Age-Herald by the same technique that was used in the WBRC-

Birmingham Newsbroadcasts. 48


Newscasts, as a regular program feature, was rather late getting, a start in Alabama radio. The first regular newscast was begun by WBRC in 1928. 49 Only on one occasion prior to this time did newscasts break into the program schedule. This was during the previously mentioned severe sleet storm which isolated Birmingham in 1923.50

The newscasts initiated by WBRC was presented each week day at 9:00 p.m. The high points in the day's news were read from the newspaper by regular WBRC announcer Dud Connolly, or some member of the Birmingham Age-Herald

48   BirminghamNews,


1, 1929,



49 BirminghamNews,

June 6,

1928, p.


50   BirminghamNews,


5, 1923,




staff.51 Upon moving to Birmingham, WAPI secured this same arrangement with the Age-Herald. On occasion the

news was read over WAPI by a staff member of the Associated Press. 52

WSFA, in Montgomery, got in the news field in the early stages of operation after going on the air in 1930. Mr. Howard Pill described the station's news operation as follows

We subscribed to an independent news service which gave news by wireless. We employed our own operator and had him set up in a little room and he would just sit there with the ear phones on and type out the news as he received it on short wave. UP, INS, and AP wouldn't sell us and we had no way of getting local news. The newspapers were fighting us pretty hard, but I finally was able to get both the afternoon and morning papers to send a man down once a day to. more or less read the headlines after the papers were on the streets. The afternoon reporter was John Allen Wolfe.

Our big news program was at 6:00 P.M. and was called Tonight in Montgomery." It was a fifteen minute program sponsored by Capitol Mens Clothing Store.53

51 BirminghamNews, May 6, 1928, p. 14.


Birmingham News, January 6, 1929, p. 17.


Pill interview.


Program Sponsorship

Prior to 1926 Alabama radio stations were financed entirely by the owner whether the owner was an individual, corporation, or an educational institution. Various benefits were derived from ownership of a radio station. Radio provided businesses or corporations with a public relations medium as well as an interesting hobby which could be shared with others. Radio served educational institutions as a technical training facility for students as well as an extension for its services to the state. However, radio could not long exist under the system of owner support.

The cost of operating a station furnishing top entertainment was estimated at from $50,000 to $130,000 per year 54 in 1925. Since Alabama radio stations were using local amateur talent for the most part, these figures do not necessarily apply. However, Alabama radio stations were competing with radio stations operating on such budgets for an audience. It was obvious that some other method of financial support was needed.


Birmingham News, December 12, 19251 p.13.


Alabama radio stations followed other radio sta­tions in the nation and began selling radio time to sponsors. The first sponsored radio program in Alabama was the "Atwater Kent Hour" over WBRC in January, 1926. The sponsor of the program was the Atwater-Kent Manufac­turing Company which bought the program through its Birmingham radio dealers. Featuring popular music played by  ten-piece Birmingham group called "The Arcadians/ the program was well received. 55

The same month in 1926 WBRC engaged the "Ray 0 Vac Twins," a musical duet which traveled the country from station to station playing for the Ray 0 Vac Battery Company. 56 The following month of the same year WBRC signed a six weeks contract with the "Firestone Gum-Dipped Orchestra." This orchestra played on the national network "Firestone Hour" sponsored by the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company. This was a two-hour program which was broadcast on Monday night from 8;00 to 10:00. 57

55Birminghain News,January 3, 1926, p. 9.

56 BirminghamNews,January 24, 1926, p. 10.

57 BirminghamNews,February 28, 1926, p-9.


By November of 1926, about 400 stations or 70 per cent of the nation's radio stations were selling time. The manager of one small station set as his goal to sell one thousand hours per year at $25.00 per hour. With an annual volume of $25,000 he anticipated a comfortable income after expenses.58 As far as Alabama radio is concerned, business was not that prosperous. By the end of 1928, WBRC was averaging only six commercially sold hours per week. 59

But it had been established empirically that radio adver­tising was a salable commodity and through the sale of time to advertisers, radio could be privately financed.

Professional Talent

Until the advent of program sponsorship, the bulk of radio talent was local amateur talent. Since radio was still a curiosity, there was an abundance of amateur talent which was eager to be heard through the magic of radio. Station owners who were financing their stations from their own resources took advantage of the abundance of amateur


Birmingham News, November 28, 1926, p. 3.

59 BirminghamNews,December 26, 1928, p. 4.


talent, because of restrictions placed on broadcasters by royalty demands on recorded music by American Society Of Composers, Authors, and Publishers. 60

WBRC was one station which hired professional talent prior to commercial radio as we know it today. The cost of hiring professional talent was shared with Lowe's Theater which booked vaudeville talent and allowed per­formers one night on radio. 61

Amateur talent continued to perform after stations began selling time. This general rule applied: paid talent for sponsored programs, and amateur talent for unsponsored programs. 62

Network Radio

The first station in Alabama to broadcast a signal other than its own was WBRC. For a short while in 1925, WBRC practiced rebroadcasting the signals of other

60 Pillinterview.

61sirmingham News, January 31, 1926, p. 11.

622i11 interview.

80 stations. 63 Not until the opening of WSFA did a similar occurrence take place. WAPI carried the opening program of WSFA and WSFA rebroadcast a special salutory program from WAPI. Other than these two exceptions, early Alabama broadcasters were entirely dependent upon their own resources for program material prior to the establishment of a radio network in 1926.

Meanwhile, a nucleus of stations that was to become one of the NBC networks was forming in another part of the country. By March of 1928, the Red network of the National Broadcasting Company had a total of nineteen primary affiliates. 64

CBS, which was formed in 1927, signed WBRC in January of 1929 making a total of forty-eight stations in the new network. 65

WAPI joined the NBC

network in 193166 and in 1932 WSFA became a CBS affiliate. 67

63 BirminghamNews,December 20, 1925, P. 12.

64 BirminghamNews, May 10, 1928, p. 12.

65 BirminghamNews,January 6, 1929, p. 17.

66 MontgomeryAdvertiser,January 1, 1931, p. 5.

67 MontgomeryAdvertiser,January 1, 1932, p. 3.


The value of network affiliation at this stage in radio history is exemplified by the fact that WSPA paid six hundred dollars per month during the depression years to get network programming. 68 In return for this network fee, stations were able to feature such as Eddie Cantor and Ruth Etting of the Ziegfield Follies and Belle Baker singing herfaxnous "blues." 69

Text Box: (Th

From the beginning of commercial radio in Alabama through the year 1934, radio had passed three milestones. First, programming had evolved from the stage where long distance reception was of more importance in itself than the intrinsic value of the program content, to the point where radio was no longer just a curiosity but a medium of information and entertainment which could exist on its own merits. Second, a sound means of private financial support for radio had been established. And third, networks, operating within the private enterprise system, furnished a central program source.

68 Pill interview.

69 BirminghamNews,January 7, 1929, p. 3.


From the moment Morse first demonstrated the practical use of the telegraph in 1843 to the day Bell succeeded in sending speech over wires in 1876 represents a time lapse of thirty-two years. Twenty-five years after Bell's success, in 1901,Guglielmo Marconi sent trans-oceanic impulses through the ether. In contrast, Reginald Aubrey Fessenden transmitted voice and music through the air that was heard on receivers by the end of 1906.1 It would appear that radio-telephony was ready for some imme­diate practical use. The time between invention and innovation, however, proved to be about fifteen years, for it was not until November, 1920 that KDKA demonstrated the possibilities of radio broadcasting by transmitting the

1Erik Sarnouw, A Tower In Babel; A History of  Broadcasting in the U.S. (Chicago: Oxford university Press, 1966), p. 20.



Cox-Harding election returns.2 In 1922 WGH became Alabama's first commercially licensed radio broadcasting station.

As with the rest of the nation, Alabama radio broadcasting began with point-to-point communication. Radio-telegraphy enabled ships at sea to communicate with the shore and other ships at sea. It also enabled commer­cial concerns, especially those that depended on ocean and inland waterways for transportation of goods, to conduct private business. Mobile, located on the Gulf of Mexico and a point of import and export for Alabama goods, was a natural locality for radio-telegraph activity. Thus, Alabama radio broadcasting had its beginning in and around Mobile.

It was only natural that the American Marconi wire­less company, subsidiary of the British Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company, Ltd., would install radio-telegraphy stations around the mouth of Mobile Bay. The Marconi Com­pany was in the business of selling communication. For

2Llewellyn White, The American Radio (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1947), p. 13.


an annual fee, the company would install and maintain radio-telegraphy equipment aboard a- ship and furnish an operator. In addition to sending and receiving messages for the shipping company, the operator transmitted, for an additional fixed fee, "marconigrams' for the passengers. The Marconi Company maintained commercial land stations at various points along the shore for communication to these ships at sea. Marconi offered a modified plan of this procedure to the United States Navy Department but it was rejected for fear of aiding the British in establishing a world-wide monopoly over wireless.3 As a result, the U.S. Navy and Army established their own land stations.

For these reasons the earliest use of radio in Alabama, albeit radio-telegraphy, was provided by American Marconi's WFM and WMB, the U.S. Army's WUR, and the U.S. Navy's NGT. All of these stations were located in or around Mobile. Later, private land stations were estab­lished by the Tropical Radio Telegraphy company, subsidiary of the United Fruit Company, and Nashville, Chattanooga

38arnouw, A Tower in Babel, p. 17.


and St. Louis Railroad Company.

A study of the history of broadcasting in Alabama reveals that early radio-telegraphy amateur activity centered around Mobile--perhaps due to the interest gener­ated by the commercial and government stations located there. Later, the center of this activity moved to Birmingham and was fully organized there by 1922, the year the first Alabama commercial radio stations were established.

Alabama amateur radio-telegraphers followed the national pattern.

In the wake of Marconi, zealous followers sprang up everywhere. They were all ages, but mostly young. Marconi's youth acted as a spark. The fact that he had used materials available to anyone was additional incentive.. Some experimenters worked alone, others

jointly. At schools and colleges, groups

formed wireless clubs, and later radio clubs. . . . Some people were drawn by the drama that awaited them in the airways, others by technical fascination.. . . . These experi­menters . . . were not only the beginning of what became the radio audience; they were also the cadre from which many broadcasters were to spring.4

p. 28.

86 At first there were individual amateurs operating wireless stations in Mobile, Montgomery, and Birmingham. Eventually these amateurs banded together in clubs and competed with each other and other clubs in long distance transmission and the rapidity with which they could send and receive messages. Some of the Alabama amateurs became early voice radio station operators and later broadcasters.

On April 6, 1917 the United States entered World War I and that same day all amateur apparatus was ordered closed down and commercial land wireless stations were taken over by the Department of the Navy under the pro­visions of the Wireless Act of 1912. Suddenly the armed forces were interested in experienced radio-telegraphy operators. The knowledge of amateurs was in great demand. So were training facilities. Colleges and universities that had become active in wireless-telegraphy, such as Alabama Polytechnic Institute at Auburn, were able to aid in the training of operators. During World War I this

5Section 2, P.L. No. 264, August 13, 1912, 62nd Congress.

Text Box: Th


institution trained at least thirty operators for the armed forces.

The move of radio-telegraphy training to colleges and universities during the war gave this type of instruc­tion a legitimate place in the academic world that con­tinued. Eventually this instruction was expanded to the point that education for broadcasting took its place as an academic area along with other recognized subjects.

imateur restrictions were removed in 1919 and "now released from war duty, the men and mechanisms of radio began to address the population as a whole--with rever­berating results. ,6 The emphasis on wireless communication during World War I had brought about new developments and mass production of equipment. In 1920 KDKA of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, became the first in the entire nation licensed to offer a regular voice broadcasting service. Eight more stations were authorized in 1921. Then the radio broadcasting rush began. Over five hundred stations were authorized in 1922 and that year witnessed the debut

6Barnouw, Tower in Babel,p. 4.


of five Alabama stations. Now, newspapers lent impetus to the excitement of voice broadcasting.

Early in 1922, The Birmingham News published the daily program log of KDICA. In a matter of weeks it devoted a full page each week to the logs and news of stations capable of being received in Alabama and instruction on how to construct receiving sets. By May of that year the log of WSY, Birmingham's own station, was included. The Montgomery Journal followed essentially the same pattern in mid-February, 1922,

Nationally, radio stations were being established by makers and sellers of radio equipment, utility com­panies, educational institutions, churches, department stores, and newspapers and Alabama followed suit. Of the five radio stations existing in the state in 1922, one each was the property of the Alabama Power Company in Birmingham and the Montgomery Light and Power Company, one was operated by the Mobile Radio Company, one was operated by John M. Wilder, and the other by Auburn Polytechnic Institute. Although The Birmingham News contributed to the growth of radio in Alabama by donating money to Alabama

89 Polytechnic Institute for the establishment of WMAV at Auburn, it was 1935 before a newspaper became actively involved in Alabama radio broadcasting.

Broadcasting in Alabama fared rather poorly when compared with the rest of the nation. By 1922, the year the first Alabama commercial broadcasting stations took to the air, there were over five hundred stations authorized in the United States. At the close of that year, California led with sixty-six stations on the air.

Alabama, with four stations, was kept off the bottom of the list by the fact that Wyoming had none.7 California still led the nation at the end of 1925 but the number of stations in that state had dwindled to forty-seven. Alabama's neighbors, Georgia and Mississippi, had six and three respectively in comparison to her three.8

The first few years of the history of broadcasting in Alabama were very unstable just as they were in the rest of the nation. During the first year five stations became

7"broadcasting by States on September 21, 1922," Literary Digest,November 11, 1922, p. 29.

8Bi.rminghaifl News, November 3, 1925, P•4.


operative but only three of these, 1181, WMAV, and WEAP remained on the air for more than a year.9 Two of these stations, WMAV and MAP, lasted about four years. The other station, WSY, became WAPI in 1925 and still


By 1934, the year of the enactment of the Coinmuni-cations Act, a total of eighteen stations had been in operation within the state, but only ten remained on the air at that time. 10 Seven of these stations continue in operation today. Only one of the original eighteen

Alabama stations, WBRC, Birmingham, continues operation in the same city where it was originally licensed and retains the original call letters.

For the most part, the stations that were estab­lished in Alabama during the 1920's were not intended to realize profits. The nature of the indirect values--future radio set and parts sales, prestige, education--were not exactly defined. The cost of these indirect values were

95ee Appendices A and D, pp. 106-109, 114. 101bid.

9]. eventually to cause the demise of these stations. Those that did survive, or were later licensed and survived, found means to support their endeavors on a more subs tan-tial financial basis. There were many forces that gnawed at the fledgling radio stations in the 1922-23 period. Although many stations took to the air, many were silenced after only a while.

When the Radio Corporation of America was formed in 1919, American Telephoxe and Telegraph Company had been allocated the sale right to transmitters and to operate domestic telephone service. During 1922-23, A. T. & T. refused to allow stations not belonging to them to use their telephone lines for remote broadcasts. More impor-tnat, in 1922 A. T. & T. became concerned about infringe­ment of their transmitter patents. The wide sale of vacuum tubes made it possible for many local individuals knowl­edgeable in radio to construct their own transmitters. Of the six hundred radio stations on the air in early 1923, approximately 5 per cent had bought Western Electric

cm    (A. T. & P. subsidiary) transmitters. 11 A. T. & T.

113arn0uw, A Tower in Babel, p. 117.


regarded all stations who did not secure their transmitters

from A. T. & T. as violators of its patent rights. The parent company requested all regional telephone companies

of the Bell System to keep it informed of local radio matters. 12

Stations who had infringed upon their patent rights

were forgiven if they would pay a license fee to A. T. & T. for the privilege of continuing to broadcast. License fees

ranged from $500 to $2,000. Later the fee was changed to

$4 per watt, with a minimum of $500 and a maximum of $3,000.13 To impress the stations with its intent,

A. T. & T. took StUN, New York, to court during the year

but lost.

At the same time radio stations were confronted

with another license fee demand. The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers, representative of writers of songs, requested that radio stations pay for the right to use records of music copyrighted under the

12 Ibid.

131bid., p. 118.

93 1909 copyright law which stated that the holder controlled the right to perform publicly for profit.. Interestingly enough, to enforce its license fee demand ASCAP chose A. P. & T.'s own station, WEAl, New York, to pressure in early 1923. WEAF very quickly acquiesced to the demand. But stations were still slow to comply so ASCAP instituted a test case in the courts and won. Thereafter, radio sta­tions had to pay for using copyrighted music in their programming. The licensee fee at the time was $250 and



Meanwhile, activity that would affect station licensees was occurring in the Department of Commerce in early 1923. Secretary of Commerce, Herbert Hoover, reallo-cated the stations in the standard broadcast band. Sta­tions were divided into high-powered stations of 500-1000 watts or higher serving large areas without interference and were assigned to various channels between 300 and 545 meters. A second group was given 500 watts or less power and allowed to operate on channels between 222 and 300

141bid., p. 120.


meters. The last group of stations was assigned to the 360 meter channel to share time if necessary or restricted to daytime-hours-only in order to minimize interference. 15

The interested broadcasters and industry leaders in attendance at the Third Washington Radio Conference in 1924 urged Secretary of Commerce Hoover to abolish eighty-six stations still operating on the 360 meter frequency. By the end of the year dispersal had begun with stations of 500 watts power assigned among the regional medium-powered stations (222-300 meters). "Low-powered stations were tucked away in available--often miserable--time­sharing pockets." 16

During 1925 Secretary Hoover continued to attempt to shift stations from frequency to frequency as well as change power and hours of operation for the existing stations. He deleted stations which were unable to adhere to the assigned wave length whether the station wandered deliberately or because of equipment defects. 7

15lbid., p.121.
161bid., p. 179.


In the spring of 1928 the Federal Radio Commission issued General Order No. 32 requesting 164 stations to show cause why they should not be abolished. 18 "Among the 164 stations summoned to defend their right to exist, eighty-one made sufficient protests to survive in some font, usually with reduced time and power." 19

The crash of 1929 and the long deflation during the 1930's took their toll of radio stations. This affected broadcasters notably at the local level.20 Those stations that had national network affiliations were better able to survive the depression, While the nation's economy continued to slump and untold millions were unemployed, the national radio networks made a profit.

A scarcity of Alabama radio broadcasting station records, indeed, if any were kept at all, and the deaths of and the inability to locate the men that contributed to the evolution of radio in Alabama make it difficult to come

181bi6., p.


191bicL, p.


20lbid., p.


96 to definite conclusions as to why only ten of the stations of the original eighteen Alabama stations remained in existence by the enactment of the Communications Act of 1934 and why only seven of those stations continue in operation today. By correlating certain activities and actions that took place during this period, one can, at best, arrive at some theoretical conclusions.

Two stations (WSY and WOAY) discontinued operation by the time the United States Department of Commerce reassigned stations to one of three categori es. 21 Since both of these stations were located on the 360 meter wave length at the time of the change, they were probably reallocated the same frequency as a low power station and restricted to daytime operation.

Three stations (WSY, WEAP, and WMAV) discontinued operation in 1925 at which time Secretary of Commerce Hoover was abolishing some eighty-six stations clustered on the 360 meter wave length. Although one of these sta­tions, WMAV, operated. at 250 meters and was not in the

21 SeeAppendix C, pp. 112-13.

97 cluster of 360 meter stations, it operated at a power below 500 watts and would not qualify for the class 2 stations designated by Hoover on May 15, 1923.

One station (wlaz) discontinued operation within a year after the Federal Radio Commission issued General Order Number 32 informing 164 stations to show cause why they should not be abolished. 22

Four stations (WGM, WOAY, and WKAN) left the air after the American Telephone and Telegraph Company demanded that stations purchase their Western Electric transmitters or pay a licensee. It is interesting to note that all stations, with the exception of WAfl, taking to the air prior to 1930 kept their power below 250 watts, with most stations operating at 50 watts or less. It is probable that the $4 per watt, with a minimum of $500, was the primary factor for these stations maintaining low trans­mission power. Stations licensed to and operated by edu­cational institutions, such as WAPI, were not pressured.

Three stations MAY, WAIG, and WKAN) ceased opera­tion shortly after the American Society of Composers,

iTh       98 Authors, and Publishers demanded payment of royalties for the use of music licensed by them. 23 The fee of $250 and up was rather expensive for a station with no means of financial support such as advertising. All three of these stations were constructed by individuals or makers and sellers of parts and equipment.

Although it was after the enactment of the 1934

Communications Act, two stations (WFDW-WI4AC and WBHS) ceased operating during the depths of the depression. 24

One other station (WJBY) continued operation until 1954. At that time the station requested that its license be cancelled and their call letters deleted. 25The reason for this action is unknown.

On the other hand, three stations (WI½PI, WFDW-WMAC, and WHET) moved their stations to other cities in order to be located in metropolitan areas that offered a better financial advantage 26



26 Id.

n                                                              99

Two stations (WAn and WKBC) allowed their licenses to be transferred to other parties before the 1934 communi­cations Act. 27 In 1928 the Alabama State Legislature decreed that WAfl's cost of operation would be borne by Alabama Polytechnic Institute, the University of Alabama, and Alabama College for Women at Montevallo. Because of the tragic condition of state finances and the fact that many school salaries were more than a year in arrears 28 WAPI was leased, and then taken over by commercial

rm interests in 1931. With the exception of WHET, all of the original stations taking to the air in the years prior to the 1934 Communications Act have transferred their licenses one or more times to date. 29

Five of the remaining stations (WAn, WBRC, WSFA, WODX, and WKBC) became national network affiliates as soon

28, E. Frost, Jr., Education's Own Stations: The  History of Broadcast Licenses Issued to Educational  Institutions (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1937), pp. 71-72.

29 SeeAppendix C, pp. 112-13.


as possible after the establishment of networks or their operation began. 30

A study of these factors leads one to conclude that the demise of Alabama radio stations was directly related to financial matters. The station left the air because of one or more of the following:

1.    They could not afford to pay the American Tele­phone and Telegraph Company's transmitter fee.

2.    They could not afford to pay the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers' music licensee fee.

3.    The Department of Commerce, and later the Federal Radio conunission, forced the station to give up the license whether directly or indirectly by requiring the station to change frequency, power and hours of operation many tines or purchase expensive approved equipment.

4.    The depression of the 1930's forced the sta­tions to discontinue operation.


Text Box:

ioi The stations that survived after the communications  Act of 1934 continue operation today because of one or more of the following:

1.      Moved to metropolitan areas, Or were already there, in order to be located in cities that offered a better financial advantage.

2.      Allowed their licenses to be transferred.

3.      Affiliated with profit making national networks.

Underlying the more obvious factors that determined the rise and fall of the early Alabama radio stations was programming. At the inception of voice broadcasting, the public was content with the experience of DX-ing----receiving. distant stations. As both transmitting and receiving equip­ment became more sophisticated, abundant, and less costly, the public began to demand more in the nature of programs.

The cost of operating a station, furnishing top entertainment, in 1925 was beyond the reach of stations

operated by small concerns. 31 No Alabama radio station could afford such a budget nor could one attract the pro­fessional talent to compete with such a station.

I "


See above, p. 76.


Even so, an examination of the early Alabama radio history discloses early adoption of national program types and some novel program developments of their own. The value of radio as an entertainment and information medium was established early in the period. Before Alabama's first voice radio station was established, Auburn's 5XC was providing time signals. Radio as an outlet for local talent was a function of early Alabama broadcasting. The use of radio in an emergency was first demonstrated in 1923. Various program elements such as religious services, musical programs, market reports, weather forecasts, news and sports reports, speeches, and agricultural reports were developed during the incubation period. A crude audience survey was conducted as early as 1924.32In 1925 WBRC followed the concept of "giving the public what it wants" when that station decided that in order to please its audience it had to feature jazz. In these formative years Alabama radio stations experimented with recreated play-by-play sports events, remote broadcasts, on-the-spot coverage

32 MontgomeryJournal, April 5, 1924, p. 3. Free batteries were given to all listeners who called WKAN after hearing the offer.

103 of sports and special events, and interconnection of state radio stations. By the end of the 1920's national networks had been established and Alabama radio stations were affiliating with them to bring their listeners popular entertainers and entertainment.

The pioneers in Alabama radio broadcasting left their mark. Many names could be mentioned but their con­tributions to Alabama's broadcasting industry are legacy enough. They laid the foundation for a new industry by demonstrating that radio was not just a toy; it could pro­vide entertainment, information, and education for the people of the state.

Recommendations for Further Study

There are gaps in the knowledge about early Alabama. radio broadcasting. Still to be determined are the exact reasons for the failure of more than half of the commercial broadcasting stations that took to the air prior to 1934. A definitive study of each of these stations could possibly disclose unknown factors that affected the individual

/ \                                      stations as well as all stations.


This study has attempted little more than a cursory

chronicling of the program elements and types of early Alabama radio. A more detailed analysis of program types could provide information about what these broadcast sta­tions told, or did not tell, the people about themselves and their state.

A continuing study of the history of broadcasting, both radio and television, in Alabama to date could provide an insight into the cultural and economic force of this

(Th industry on the state.





Call Letters

Date on Air





By Feb. 12,         1922

Montgomery,   Alabama

Montgomery Light &   Power Co.



By Apr. 8, 1922

Birmingham,   Alabama

Alabama Power Co.



By June 15,

Mobile, Alabama

Mobile   Radio Co. Inc.



Between   Sept. 16
 to Oct. 5, 1922

Auburn, Alabama

Alabama Polytechnic Institute



Between   Nov. 23 and Dec. 12, 1922

Birmingham,   Alabama

John M. Wilder



By March 18,

Birmingham,   Alabama




By Aug. 13,   1923

Montgomery,   Alabama

Alabama Radio Mfg. Co.



By May 21, 1925

Birmingham   Alabama

Bell Radio Corp. Carlisle   Bell



Sept. 7, 1925

Auburn, Alabama

Alabama Polytechnic Institute

Text Box: 107

APPENDIX A--Continued


Power     Off   Air           Continues

360 and 485M            By Dec. 1, 1922

360M          200w.    By Sept., 1925      WAPI

360N                    By April, 1925

ThOM           250w.    1925                  WSY, then


360M                    Between Mar. 19 and

April 30, 1923

Aug. 24, 1923

225M           20w.     May, 1924

250M          50w,                         WBRC

ThOM           11000w.                        WAPI

Text Box: fl


APPENDIX   A--Continued

Call Letters

Date on Air





September, 1925

Montgomery, Alabama

A. D. Trum




By Nov. 10,

Birmingham, Alabama

H. L.



By Nov. 10,

Gadsden, Alabama

Electric Construc­tion   Co.




March 31, .1930

Montgomery, Alabama

Howard F.
 Pill and






By June, 1930

Mobile, Alabama

Mobile Broadcast­ing Co.




By Nov., 1930

Talladega, Alabama

Raymond . C. Hammett




By Jan.,        1932

Troy, Alabama

Jernigan,   Reddock, Smith., and




By Oct., 1932






By   Nov. 11, 1933



City, Alabama


APPENDIX As-continued

Frequency     Power    Of f Air -                                                                                                Continues

230M           low.      By June 30, 1929

22514         sow.                          WSGN

23414          Sow.      March 23, 1954

14 1OXC        500w.                       WHEY

14101W         500w.                       WALA then


142 OKC       100w.    By Dec. 10, 1935

I2LOKC        100w.                        WAGF

1200KC        100w.    By Dec. 10, 1936

14201W        100w.                        WMSD then



Text Box: (Auburn, Nov., 1922)
Text Box:
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U                                                                    Z                                                           1-4



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1	s	(3)
4 C)
Text Box:

o                                                           —

en             —

Ch          en                                      Nm

Text Box: (Talladega, March 23

- .— en                                               (no.



c-I                                       '

'......                                                                  N           (N fl             43 0)

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Text Box: (
Text Box:



tz.i —it ----C






May 15, 1923

3 station


End of 1924,

Dept.   of Commerce began to abolish 86 stations

- 1925, Dept. of

Commerce deleted

stations that

wandered from


Spring 1928, 83
 stations deleted

WGH (Dec. 1, 1922)

WSY (Sept., 1924)

WEAP (April,   1925)
 WNAV (1925)

WOAY   (April, 1923) WAIG (Aug., 1923)





WEAN (Nay, 1924)



WIBZ (June, 1929)



WJBY (1954)



WFDW-WMAC (1935)


WERS   (1936)


Text Box: 113

APPENDIX c--Continued

1922, A.T.&T.

demands   license

fee for


1922,   A.T.&T. refuses remote line use

1923,   ASCAP
 demands fee

- Competition

from   another

Gave   away to
 a new station



Request that
 licensee be


Moved to new

Early network




















Text Box: 114



Year             Number of Stations































(19697 of these exist today)



Archer, Gleason L. History of Radio to 1926. New York: American Book-Stradford Press, Inc., 1938.

Barnouw, Erik. A Tower in Babel: A History of Broad­casting in the U.S. Chicago; Oxford university Press, 1966.

Broadcasting Publications, Inc. 1969 Broadcasting  Yearbook. Washington, D.C.: Broadcasting Pub­lications, Inc., 1969.

Frost, S. E., Jr. Education's Own Stations: The History  of Broadcast Licenses Issued to Educational  Institutions. Chicago: university of Chicago Press, 1937.

White, Llewellyn. The American Radio. Chicago; Univer­sity of Chicago Press, 1947.


"Broadcasting by States." Radio Broadcast, I (October, 1923)j 84.

"Broadcasting by States on September 21, 1922." Literary  Digest, November 11, 1922, p. 29.

Broadcasting-Telecasting, April 12, 1954, p. 112.

Citizens Radio Call Book Magazine and Scientific Digest, II (March, 1929), 22.



Mason, Roy. "The History of the Development of the United Fruit Company's Radio Telegraph System." Radio  Broadcast, I (May, 1922), 398.

RaAio Broadcast, II (December, 1922), 137.
Radio Broadcast, II (February, 1923), 348.
Radio Broadcast, III (May, 1923), 8.2.
Radio Broadcast, III (July, 1923), 260.
Radio Broadcast, IV (December, 1923), 176.
Radio News, VIII (December, 1926), 629.
Radio News, XII (March, 1931), 816.
Radio News, XIV (January, 1932), 226.
Radio News, XIV (October, 1932), 226.
Radio News, XIV (May, 1933), 668.

Radio News, XV (May, 1934), 679.

Radio News, XVI (February, 1935), 474.
Radio News, XVII (January, 1936), 450.
Radio News, XVIII (January, 1937), 514.

"Who Will Ultimately Do the Broadcasting." Radio Broad­cast, II (April, 1923)f 524-25.

The Wireless Age, X (September 23, 1923), 49.


Alabama Journal and Times.1930.


Birmingham Age-Herald. 1921-1934.
Birmingham News. 1921-1934.

Mobile News-Item. 1921-1922.

Montgomery Advertiser. 1930-1934.
Montgomery Journal. 1922-1924.

Government Documents

U.S. Congress. Public Law No. 264, 62d Congress, sec. 2. U.S. Congress. Public Law No. 632, 69th Congress, sec. 31. U.S. Congress, Title 47, 151.

U.S. Department of Commerce. Bureau of Navigation, Radio Service. Amateur Radio Stations of the U.S. Washington: Government Printing Office, July, 1913; June, 1921; June, 1922; and June, 1927.

U.S. Department of Commerce. Bureau of Navigation, Radio Service. Radio Stations of the U.S. Washington: July, 1913 and July, 1915.

U.S. Department of Commerce. Bureau of Navigation, Radio Service. Commercial and Government Radio Stations  of the U.S. Washington: Government Printing Office, June, 1920; July, 1920; June, 1921; June, 1922; June, 1923; June, 1924; June, 1925; June, 1926; June, 1927; June, 1928; June, 1929; November, 1929; June, 1930; and June, 1931.

U.S. Department of Commerce. Bureau of Navigation, Radio Service. Radio Service Bulletin. Washington: Government Printing Office, September 1, 1925 and May, 1932.


U.S. rlepartment of Con%merce. Federal Radio Commission.
Radio Broadcastinj Stations of the U.S.

Washington: Government Printing Office, January, 1932 and January, 1934.


Davis, P. 0. Private interview held in Auburn, Alabama, May 22, 1968.

Johnson, Henry P. Telephone interview from Birmingham, Alabama, March 19, 1969.

Landrum, Jerry. Private interview in Florence, Alabama, March 26, 1969.

Pill, Howard E. Private interview held in Montgomery, Alabama, March 3, 1964.

Quick, Cletus H. Private interview held in Muscle shoals, Alabama, March 26, 1969.

Reich, Donald. Telephone interview from Mobile, Alabama, March 28, 1969.

Smith, Julian C. Telephone interview from Dothan, Alabama, January 21, 1969.

Stephens, F. P. Private interview held in Montgomery, Alabama, March 3, 1964.

Trum, A. D. Private interview held in Montgomery, Alabama, March 16, 1968.


m Alabama Broadcasting Association. Proceedings of Annual  Meeting (Tuscaloosa, Alabama, October 19, 1953).


ThL 1 S It  R i I

The evolution of broadcasting in Alabama, 1900-19341

Main Author: McSwain, Joseph Earl.

Title: The evolution of broadcasting in Alabama, 1900-1934

Format: Archival/Manuscript Material
Holdings Information:

Location Archival Facility (use Request Item button for


Call Number: T378 M249e 1969

Number of Items: I

Status: Not Charged

Location Hoole Library Alabama Collection

Call Number: HE8689.8 .M47 1969

Number of Items: I

Status: Not Charged


University of Alabama Libraries
Box 870266 Tuscaloosa, AL 35487