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1933 WFAA Radio Log Book


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#1 Dismuke

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Posted 10 May 2004 - 01:25 AM

Here is something that I picked up some while back that people might find interesting. It is a radio log book published by The Dallas Morning News in 1933. The book has 15 pages plus the inside front and back covers. Most of its contents were actually published by and copyrighted by Haynes Radio Log out of Chicago and apparently was made available to various organizations such as newspapers and radio stations throughout the country to brand as customize as they saw fit.

The booklet has a listing of every radio station in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Cuba. It also provides a listing of all the major short-wave stations which could be picked up in America as well as the frequencies that police calls could be heard on in various US cities. One section has the radio dial (which, in those days was AM) broken down by frequency with parallel columns listing all of the stations on those frequencies by region of the country. Another section has each station listed alphabetically. Included is information about each station's signal strength and national network affiliation, if any.

Also included in the book is a little chart broken down by day of week and evening listening hours between 6:00 PM and 11:00 PM where people could make a log of the stations they were able to pick up. Even today, since AM signals travel great distances at night (WBAP, for instance, can be heard in 38 states), there are people who enjoy seeing how far away they can pick stations up. (Here in D/FW, I have picked up KDKA Pittsburgh and a station out of Cuba when weather conditions were just right. I have listened to XEG in Monterey, Mexico up in Kansas and I understand that its signal goes clear up to Canada) Back in the 1930s, however, there were far fewer stations and many signed off at sunset. As a result, with a good radio set, one could easily pick up clear channel stations on the east coast and it was not at all uncommon for people to regularly listen to distant out of town stations. So, for this reason, such log books actually came in handy for a lot of people.

Only a few pages of the booklet are devoted to WFAA specific information and I have reproduced all of them below.

A few things about WFAA and the state of Dallas/Fort Worth radio in 1933, some of which are indicated in the images of the booklet:

In 1933, WFAA was owned by The Dallas Morning News. The News also published an afternoon paper called The Journal which is mentioned in the booklet. At the time, WFAA was at 800 on the dial and shared the 50,00 watt frequency with WBAP which was owned by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. People listening to the frequency would, every so often, hear an announcement that one station was signing off and the other was signing on. The frequency carried programming from both the Red Network and the Blue Network of the National Broadcasting Company. Other local stations at the time included KRLD which was owned by the Dallas Times-Herald. It was at 1040 on the dial and carried programming from the Columbia Broadcasting System broadcasting at 10,000 watts. Other stations included KTAT Fort Worth, a 1,000 watt station at 1240 on the dial; WRR, a 500 watt station at 1280 on the dial owned by the City of Dallas and Fort Worth station KFJZ which broadcasted at 1370 frequency and was only 100 watts strong.

Except for KTAT, all of these stations are still with us today, though some of them have new call letters. And, apart from KTAT (its stronger signal was taken over by KFJZ in 1939), all of the call letters survive in some form or fashion (unless I am wrong about KFJZ- I believe those letters are still being used). In 1938, frustrated at having to share half the broadcasting day with WFAA, Amon Carter purchased station KGKO in Wichita Falls and moved it to Fort Worth. KGKO was at 570 on the dial and it became an outlet for Blue Network (which became ABC in 1945) programming. On March 29, 1941 the Federal government implemented a major rearrangement of frequencies and the stations moved to the spots on the dial where they are today. KGKO stayed at 570. WFAA/WBAP moved to 820. KRLD moved to 1080. WRR moved to 1310 while KFJZ moved from KTAT's old 1240 spot to 1270. In April, 1947 KGKO ceased to exist and WFAA and WBAP both shared the frequency when the other was broadcasting on the clear channel 820 frequency. 570 carried ABC programming while 820 carried NBC programming regardless as to which station was using the frequency at the time.

The frequency sharing between WFAA and WBAP lasted until 1970 when the Star-Telegram purchased the better 820 frequency for WBAP and WFAA got the 570 frequency. In the '80s, the News sold WFAA and, after a few name changes, the frequency was purchased by KLIF which moved from its old 1190 frequency. Channel 8, however, still uses the WFAA call letters. WBAP is still at 820 and KRLD is still at 1080. The City of Dallas sold WRR in the late '70s and it became KAAM (the call letters of which are now in use at 770) and is now KTCK. However, WRR's FM sister station which signed on in 1948 is still owned by the City of Dallas. Last I was aware of, KFJZ was a Spanish station at 870.

Anyhow, that is brief overview of where D/FW radio was in 1933 and how we got to where we are today. Here are the images from the booklet:

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Observe that, at the time, WFAA's studios were on the third floor of the Baker Hotel. Later on (I believe in the early '40s) the station's studios moved to a penthouse on top of one of the buildings in the Santa Fe Building complex. The WFAA sign is still visible and was restored when the building was converted to lofts. I am not sure exactly what year WBAP moved its studios to the Blackstone Hotel.

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Observe that absolutely no mention is made of WBAP or the fact that it shared the 800 frequency.

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In the 1930s, it was illegal to broadcast commercial phonograph records (though that didn't always stop some stations from doing so). As a result, for music stations either relied on their own in-house musicians, broadcasts from remote locations such as nightclubs and hotel ballrooms or pre-recorded program transcriptions specifically made for radio stations. Network stations such as WFAA/WBAP also carried soap operas, childrens' programs, westerns, dramas and comedies.

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WFAA and WBAP maintained separate studios but, since they shared the frequency, the also shared this transmitting facility. Note the statement that the building was located "equi-distant from both Dallas and Fort Worth." Undoubtedly Amon Carter would not have stood for the facility being an inch closer to Dallas than to Fort Worth! I also seriously doubt that the huge WFAA sign and the big plugs for The Dallas News and The Dallas Journal actually existed. They were probably drawn in for the booklet. Can you imagine Amon Carter allowing WBAP and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram to be snubbed in such as way on a building in which he was half owner?

The old Nortwest Highway essentially evolved into today's Highway 114. I am not sure of the exact spot where the transmitter stood. I have seen a number of sources refer to it as being "near Grapevine." At any rate, WFAA/WBAP was forced to abandon the facility in the late '60s when it was condemned to make way for D/FW airport.
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#2 Bill Sievers

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Posted 10 May 2004 - 07:33 AM

This was really interesting reading Dismuke! I've read various accounts about this frequency sharing arrangement before concerning WBAP and WFAA, but this one seems to be the most concise. When I moved to FTW in 1955 (and thereafter), I remember hearing the changeover between the two stations at the appointed times. If I remember correctly, when WBAP signed on, they used a cowbell to announce they were now transmitting. Pretty quaint! I doubt that kind of thing would be done today in this "antiseptic" world of automated programming etc.

I've listened on 820 Khz up here in the Boston area, but have not been able to hear WBAP reliably. You're right though in that AM broadcast signals can be heard great distances when the Ionospheric propagation is just right. My dad used to listen to WOAI out of San Antonio (a 50KW clear channel power house on 1200 Khz)) when he was stationed on Midway Island in the Pacific in the mid '40's! Unfortunately we have a local 24 hour station (WKOX) up here in the Boston area that is also on 1200 Khz, so it's vitually impossible for me to hear WOAI now.

Another station in FTW that is now legendary in the broadcast world, was KXOL. They really have an interesting history, and the URL below will take you to a very interesting Website which explains all about its operations. Too bad it's no longer with us.

http://66.140.41.204/index.htm


Thanks for your interesting post!

Bill Sievers
W5IQJ

#3 djold1

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Posted 13 May 2004 - 06:15 AM

Interesting old radio log. I have had several similar at one time or another. Even though this Log is not really old in years it come from a time when radio was only about 7 years into its formal regulated status. And it was all very strange. To some radio of that period was related to the theater & movies. To others it was more like a talking book or a live music concert. The 1930's was outwardly a much more formal time than our era and public presentations of any kiind were generally not very casual. Pomposity was the order of the day.

When I was getting into radio in 1956-57 I worked a little for one of the share time operations in Kansas. KSAC was owned by the college in Manhattan and WREN was a commercial station in Topeka some miles away. Some of the people I worked with had been in radio in those old days of the the '30's and had some interesting stories to tell. Some of them still affected the Continental accent that was the proper thing in the theater, movies and on radio and for "cultured" people in the depression days.

The '50's was a very transitional period in radio as TV began to take over the traditional block entertainment programming and radio moved into music and events programming. Of course this was aided by the fact that after WWII local stations began to develop with local programming. Equipment was transitional as well. Early on I used 16" transcription turntables playing syndicated programming platters. The Magnecord tape recorder with it's knuckle busting 3" reels was coming in. No cart machines yet. 45's had just come out. No LP's or CD's of course. Interesting times for a young guy..

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#4 AndyN

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Posted 14 May 2004 - 11:25 AM

Interesting you mention the transcription turntable, djold1. I just purchased a transcription record of old Pearl Beer commercials and I am trying to figure out how to get them dubbed off to something I can listen to. For some reason, I just can't fit the 16" record on my home turntable. If anyone knows somewhere I could find a transcription turntable, please let me know

There is an interesting description of Northern Texas Traction's sponsored radio programming on WBAP in the library's history archives. The transit company sponsored performances of local and national music shows, talent shows and radio shows, all the while extolling the virtues of riding the streetcar/interurban. Dependable, safe & economical. Now that would be some transcriptions I'd like to find.

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#5 djold1

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Posted 14 May 2004 - 12:03 PM

Andy..

Isn't there a "Radio Museum" in Dallas somewhere? Seems to me that was at one time at least. They might have an operating TT that could be used. Also here are some rado websites some of which you probably already have:

OldRadio
RadioGuide
RadioWorld

As for the NTT commercials and sponsorship it is most likely that all those were done live, particularly since NTT stopped running in the early 1930's. I understand that most locally originated programming and commercial insertions were never recorded and in fact there was a lot of opposition from the announcing staff to recording anything for later and multiple replay because they felt that it was a threat to their jobs. Besides that the early lathes for cutting transcriptions were huge, delicate and cumbersome to use and getting audio levels right was a real problem.

I think distribution of commercials from ad agencies and programming from syndicators that was recorded on disk did not really start happening until the late 1940's.

It would be neat to get a set of commercial NT scripts however. I wonder if Texas Electric ever did radio advertising?

Pete Charlton

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Website: Antique Maps of Texas
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#6 AndyN

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Posted 14 May 2004 - 11:32 PM

Interestingly enough, the transcription purports to be Pearl Beer radio ads from the 1930s and has Tracy Locke (?) on the label, which I believe is a local ad agency.

The NTT radio information is from their 1927 application for the Charles A. Coffin Medal, provided by the General Electric Company for the electric railroad who had done the most to popularize electric railway services. They went into great detail on what they had done to appeal to riders to increase traffic on the city and interurban car lines. The radio program was a significant part of their appeal, so there is a lot of data about it, including photos of the announcers and some of the newspaper advertising (program schedules). Unfortunately, they also made an application in 1926, so in some cases, they inserted blank pages with a reference to the 1926 application. I think you and Dismuke would get a kick out of viewing the application (as previously mentioned, in the historical archives of the Fort Worth Public Library). As of yet, I have not found a copy of the 1926 application.
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#7 johnlp

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Posted 07 February 2006 - 03:42 PM

QUOTE(Bill Sievers @ May 10 2004, 07:33 AM) View Post


Another station in FTW that is now legendary in the broadcast world, was KXOL. They really have an interesting history, and the URL below will take you to a very interesting Website which explains all about its operations. Too bad it's no longer with us.

http://66.140.41.204/index.htm


Thanks for your interesting post!

Bill Sievers
W5IQJ


The site is now located at www.KXOL1360.com smile.gif




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