Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Fayetteville, Arkansas gets radio

Arkansas had a long road to radio, but that's only because they started early. As early as 1897 William N. Gladson was conducting experiments with the wireless. By 1900 they had a wireless station. But it took another 14 years for even the navigational beacon 9YM to go up. And then from the darkness college radio came upon Fayettville, The U. or Arkansas went live with 5YM as a technical and training school" station.

Harvey C. Couch Sr., an industrialist and founder of Arkansas Light and Power had visited pioneer radio station KDKA-AM in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1921. He got all giddy abotu the blinky lights as many of those in management are known to do. He wanted one of his very own to play with.

Harvey arranged for a radio demonstration in Pine Bluff in November of 1921 to the local Rotary Club. they were also suitably impressed. Radio was brand new, music from thin air was almost magical. [Not like now, when 10 year olds are annoyed to have to actually make sound with actual instruments.] By February Couch had built himself an antenna and named his new baby WOK-AM This was to stand for "Worker Of Kilowatts" The station was fully supported by the utility company and ran no advertisements. It was to be short lived. At that time radio licenses had to be renewed every 3 months.

So then POOF it was gone. Harvey lost interest. WOK was Licensed 02/16/1922, and deleted 06/--/1924. By 1924 WCBZ in Chicago launched and the deleted calls reappeared there.
In January of 1924 KFMQ, the University's broadcast station went live, so for 6 months they had two local radio outlets. WSV in Little Rock, and KTHS, Hot springs started rolling about the same time. Harvey went on to donate heavily to the political campaigns of Huey Long another radio aficionado...