Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Where Philly and Milwaukee Meet

While listening to the mighty WMSE this morning I began thinking about radio's oddly retail beginings in this decidedly cheese-obsessed metro. With a little research I find that It's beginnigns are also tied to those of Philadelphia; a city that has nothing to do with cheese whatsoever. http://www.wmse.org/

In 1922, the United States Commerce Department granted the Gimbels Department Store broadcasting licenses for WIP-AM in Philadelphia and 830 WAAK-AM in Milwaukee store. Interestingly enough WAAK-AM is also one of the very first 4-letter call signs. http://www.610wip.com/

In Milwaukee they built a 100-watt transmitter atop a 40-foot tower on the roof of the downtown store. The studio was on the third floor. On the retail floor Gimbels installed "listening posts" throughout the store, where consumers could listen to the programs on individual earphones.

WIP did not have the dial to itself, but still it perservered and eventually became the uncontested king of legacy stations in Philadelphia. WAAK wasn't so lucky, less than a year later in 1923, new federal regulations mandated the installation of wave-metering equipment at all radio stations. Rather than upgrade, Gimbels decided to pull the plug on WAAK. Their license was deleted.

WIP went on to be owned by Spectator (the same company that owned the Philadelphia Flyers and the Spectrum arena.) And became one of the first sports talk stations in America. Today INfinity rpoudly continues in that format.

a little philly radio history here: http://tangentsunset.com/radiophi.htm