Wednesday, January 11, 2012

DJ Hubert Humphrey

Hubert Horatio Humphrey worked at a variety jobs, including teaching at Macalester College, he was a pharmacist, and he served as a news commentator for radio station 1280 WTCN-AM, and managing an apartment building. It was only in 1939 that he got a BA, and then continued to a political science in 1940! He was 30 years old. He went off and worked for the WPA after that and then ran (unsuccessfully) for Mayor of Minneapolis in 1943. In 1945, he was elected Mayor of Minneapolis and served until 1948, when he made a successful run for the U.S. Senate and he became Vice President under Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964. Rewind a bit, see that gap between 1943 and 1945?  He was in radio. He broadcast the news nightly over 1280 WTCN-AM.

Actually According to the book Hubert H. Humphrey: The Politics Of Joy by Charles Garrettson, Humphrey  had been on several other stations in his first run for office in 1943. He could buy a 15-minute spot on a small-time AM station for only $26. But there is little record of this time on air. So between runs for mayor, Humphrey became a news commentator, and ran an apartment building on the side. Maybe it wasn't glamorous, but he was biding his time, he was making a second go at it in 1945.

The station had come a long way before1945. It began as WRHM-AM in 1925 and was purchased in 1934 by Twin Cities Newspapers. They promptly changed the call sign to WTCN-AM. They were an NBC Blue affiliate until 1945 when NBC Blue became ABC,. they also carried some programming from Mutual.  Under NARBA in 1941, WTCN was shifted from 1250 AM to 1280 AM. The station was using an experimental FM transmitter to simulcast while Humphrey  was at the station. W9XTC operated on 26.05 MHz, but in his era it was run only intermittently.  They tried again in 1947 with  97.1 WTCN but Humphrey was in office by then. He continued to do interviews on air in Minneapolis, but usually with the much larger station 830 WCCO-AM.

He did have one other broadcasting highlight.. In February of 1953, he and Senator Edward J. Thye were a part of a ceremonial powering up for WCCO-TV.  They pressed the key in Washington, D.C.which "signaled" the power increase to 100,000 watts. WCCO-TV then became the fourth TV station in the USA to operate at the maximum allowable power. He left office in 1969, unseated by the evil empire of Richard Nixon. Humphrey returned to the senate, and not to radio. He died in office on January 13th, 1978 of cancer.