Radio Station KDKA

By | Nov 2, 2010

On November 2nd 1920 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania the Radio Station KDKA began broadcasting. It was the first commercial radio station.

KDKA is an AM station broadcasting on 1020 kHz at 50kilowatt. The station is currently owned by CBS Radio.

Announcer Leo Rosenberg along with engineer William Thomas, telephone line operator John Frazier and standby R.S. McClelland, made their way to a makeshift studio began reporting election returns in the Harding vs. Cox Presidential race.

The call letters “KDKA” were assigned from a roster maintained to provide identification for ships and marine shore stations. At the time these were the only regular radio services then in operation licensed by the Federal Government. When the license was issued, “KDKA” was the next set of call letters on the list.

In January of 1921 Harold W. Arlin, an electrical engineer working for Westinghouse was hired as the world’s first full-time radio announcer. He originally came to inspect the operation and upon learning that the station was looking for an announcer, applied for the job.

For the first six months of operation the station worked not from a studio but from a shack from the Westinghouse plant or from remote locations such as churches, theaters and hotels. In May of 1921 an experimental tent was placed next to the transmitter. This tent was used until the first true studio was finished later in the summer.


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