Tuesday, February 20, 2007

WMAQ, the innovator

1160 WMAQ-AM is a pioneering station. They are Chicago's oldest station, starting its first broadcast on April 13, 1922. WMAQ Radio signed off permanently on August 1, 2000, with the final playing of the NBC chimes at 6:00 AM. In the interceeding 78 years they had a lot of firsts.
My favorite was The first trans-oceanic news broadcast in history (1928.)

They presented the first music appreciation program on October 12, 1922. It was a series of broadcasts analyzing the opening program of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. That same year they ran one of the first children's programs. It was called Hearing American First and was hosted by Mrs. Oberndorfer.
The success of the program led to a second childrens program with Miss Georgene Faulkner, "the Story Lady" and her "Mother Goose" broadcasts. The next year they began the first educational broadcasts. Not actually classes like on AMRAD, but on November 28, 1922, Prof. Forest Ray Moulton, lectured on astronomy.

In 1925 WMAQ also ran some of the first sports broadcasts. They presented the first daily play-by-play descriptions of major league games ever. The first of these was the Pittsburgh Pirates Vs. the Chicago Cubs. In 1945 WMAQ pioneered the use of the wire recorder for commercial broadcasting and is the only station that ever presented a daily spot news using the recorder exclusively. Most peopel didn't do that because the device was ridiculous. More here.

On March 26, 1925 WMAQ also took part in what is believed to have been the first commercial network broadcast. It was the first of a series of concerts presented by the Victor Phonograph Company over an improvised network of some 20 stations scattered between WNBC in New York amd WMAQ in Chicago. More here: