[JPL] the origins on the "W" and "K" in station call letters

eric jackson eric-jackson at comcast.net
Mon Dec 6 08:20:52 EST 2004

On Fri, 3 Dec 2004 20:41:11 -0800, Jim Wilke <jwilke123 at comcast.net> wrote:

> That's great info, some of which I'd heard before, some I hadn't -  
> especially the part about ships and land stations calls beginning with  
> different  letters.    I grew up in Iowa and there were a number of  
> stations there who were grandfathered "W" stations despite being West of  
> the Mississippi - WSUI Iowa City (started in 1919 with the call 9YA! ),

Hi Jim,

I have a question for you. I have always heard that KDKA in Pittsburgh was  
the first commercial outlet. They went on the air in 1920. By 1927 there  
were 700 commercial stations operating in the US.

Recently, after the Red Sox won the World Series, I saw an interview with  
an elderly women who attended the Series in 1918, the last time the Sox  
won the series. Athough she went to one game of that series, she also  
mentioned hearing the games on the radio.

My question is was there some other kind of broadcasting going on before  
commercial radio started? Was WSUI founded in 1919 but didn't start  
broadcasting until after KDKA?

If we take 1920 as the starting point, we have 84 years of commercial  
broadcasting. I'm pretty sure, Jim, that you've been on the air about half  
that time. Congratulations! I've been on the air in Boston almost 36 years  
myself and I know you've been on longer than I have.

Eric Jackson
Monday thru Thursday 7 PM to Midnight
WGBH Boston 89.7 FM

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