Wednesday, September 20, 2006

W-A-C-O broadcasting from Waco Texas

WACO is the only radio station in the world with call letters identical to the name of the town in which it broadcasts.

When you think about it, only a handful of American towns could even support this call-to-town connection. The town would need to have a name beginning with a K or a W and consist of only four (or fewer) letters. They also must be on the correct side of the Missisippi in order to get the corresponding K or W assignment or else have been grandfathers decades ago. The list is short. The following is a list of all possibilities:

Way OH, Wawa PA, Keel MS, Kola MS, Kegg CA, Kewa WA, Kaka AZ, Keys OK, Kusa OK, and Keo AR. What kills me is that some of these are actually still available calls! Of course this only makes Waco and WACO more unique.

The first radio station in Waco was WJAD, it was founded by radio pinoeer Frank P. Jackson in 1922. He applied for and got a permit to broadcast with a power of 15 watts. He only broadcast three hours a day.

In January, 1923, he got permission to incrase his power to 150 watts on 850 AM. In the fall of 1924, he was granted permission to increase power to 500 watts power. Jackson offered prizes for the listeners reporting reception of the broadcast at the farthest distance from Waco . The farthest response was Wyoming . Telegrams poured in from every State in the nation. WJAD was reaching out there with 500 watts.

The archives at radio station WACO, successor to WJAD, are full of yellowed fan mail from North Dakota, Michigan, Mexico, the South Sea Islands, Illinois, New York, Indiana, Arkansas, Nebraska, Denver, California, Florida, and virtually everywhere else. The cards and letters came from radio listeners who picked up WJAD out of Waco .

In 1928, Jackson again upped his power from 500 to 1,000 watts, and he moved his studio to the Amicable Life Building. He was beginning to sell radio time, but it still was largely a one-man station. that ended in 1929 when Orville Bullington and J. M. Gilliam became partners with Jackson . In December they changed the call letters to WACO , buying out Jackson 's interest. Still the station did not become a full-time station with 17 hours of daily programs until November, 1934.

Today the WJAD calls live on in Leesburg, Georgia on a rock outlet. WACO is still in Waco and still a country station though it hasn't been on the AM dial in some time.