American Shortwave Stations: On the Air in 1925

During the year 1925, there were just 5 shortwave stations on the air in the United States with a regular broadcasting schedule.  These pioneer stations were operated by 4 different radio companies.

The Westinghouse Company, with its shortwave transmitter 8XK in the new transmitter building at Greensburg Pike in Forest Hills, was on the air regularly with programming from mediumwave KDKA.  Their new shortwave transmitter was rated at 30 kW, the shortwave antenna was a hollow copper tube, and the radiating channel was frequently 63 meters.

Hill Station QSL Card, Image: KDKA Centennial website

During the year 1925, Westinghouse broadcast a series of special programs beamed to other countries, including England, France, Germany and several countries in South America.  Birthday wishes were transmitted to the Prince of Wales in England on June 22 (1925).  During July, they entertained the American Naval Fleet of 56 ships with musical programming and news while they were cruising in Australian waters.

The two major shortwave transmitters operated by General Electric at Schenectady in New York State had been installed in a new building at their large 54 acre site in South Schenectady that was constructed specifically to house these two units.  Station 2XAD with 25 kW was constructed for use in program broadcasting in the region of 14 MHz, and 2XAF with 40 kW was constructed for program broadcasting in the region of 10 MHz. 

However, as monitoring results back then indicated, the shortwave frequencies for both 2XAD and 2XAF (and all of their experimental transmitters) were somewhat flexible, and power levels could also be adjusted.  The program production and on air studios were installed on the  4th Floor of Building 36 at the GE factory site in South Schenectady.

Usually their programming was a twin relay from mediumwave WGY, though on some occasions the shortwave programming was a separate production.  With both shortwave transmitters on air simultaneously, their programming was often heard at a good level in Europe, South America, South Africa and the South Pacific.  There were many occasions when a local mediumwave station in a distant country would share the American shortwave programming on relay to their own local listeners. 

During the year 1925, General Electric at Schenectady was operating, surprisingly, a total of 9 different radio transmitters, with as many as 7 on the air at the same time.  The output from each transmitter was fed into a separate antenna.

That cluster of experimental radio transmitters was in use for program broadcasting, for Morse Code communication, and for experimental radio and TV transmissions.  Here is the list of the 9 radio transmitters that General Electric operated in Schenectady during the year 1925 :-

Radio Transmitters operated by General Electric at Schenectady in 1925

No. Callsign	kW	   M	    kHz	 Usage	                                      
1.	WGY	 2  	379.5	    790	 Program broadcasting
2.	2XAG	50	379.5	    790	 Program broadcasting WGY at experimental superpower 
3.	2XK	10	  109	   2753	 Morse Code and program relay WGY, experimental TV	
4.	2XAF	40	41.88	   7165	 Morse Code and program relay WGY	
5.	2XAZ	.1	  214	   1400	 Morse Code communication, mobile transmitter remote broadcasts	
6.	2XAC	10	   80	   3750	 Morse Code amateur communication		
7.	2XAD	25	   21	  15000	 Morse Code and program relay WGY		
8.	2XAW	.6	   15	  20000	 Morse Code, experimental high frequency transmissions	
9.	2XAH    LP	 1560	    192	 Morse Code, experimental longwave transmissions		

The Crosley shortwave station 8XAL at Harrison in Ohio, near the state line with Indiana, was on the air during the year 1925, with 100 watts on 5690 kHz.  At that stage, programming from 8XAL was always and only, a tandem relay with the new 5 kW mediumwave WLW, which had been installed simultaneously in the same farm house building.  The studios for WLW-8XAL were located in the downtown Crosley radio factory. 

The new Crosley factory building at 1321 Arlington Street, showing the WLW towers, after 1928. Photo: The Radio Historian website.

Towards the end of that same year, 1925, RCA inaugurated its first shortwave broadcast transmitter 3XAL at its new transmitter facility on 54 acres of land near Bound Brook in New Jersey.  Programming for this new shortwave service was also a tandem relay from mediumwave WJZ in New York City.  The 25 kW 3XAL was noted in its international service to Europe and South America initially on 5000 kHz.

This feature was written by Adrian Peterson and originally aired on Adventist World Radio’s “Wavescan” DX program of December 26, 2021

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