American Shortwave Stations on the Air in 1926

During the year 1926, a total of five American shortwave broadcasting stations were on the air, though generally with relay programming from the mediumwave parent station, as was the case back then.  These transmitters were located at Forest Hills Pennsylvania (Westinghouse 8XK with 30 kW),  Schenectady New York (General Electric 2XAD & 2XAF with 25 kW and 40 kW), Harrison Ohio (Crosley 8XAL with 100 watts) and Bound Brook New Jersey (RCA WJZ with 25 kW).

Ronald “Dutch” Reagan at WOC in the 1930s. Photo: SpinalColumnRadio blog

In addition to the relay of regular programming from KDKA, shortwave 8XK made a series of shortwave broadcasts to Australia during the month of October.  These broadcasts were arranged by the Melbourne based radio magazine Listener In and they were rebroadcast live by amateur station 3SW on 250 m (1200 kHz mediumwave).

During the year 1926, General Electric was operating 9 transmitters, 8 shortwave at South Schenectady and 1 mediumwave near the downtown studios of WGY.  There were occasions when all shortwave transmitters were on the air simultaneously.  In January, a special shortwave broadcast on 7160 kHz carried a relay of programming from mediumwave WOC in Davenport. Iowa.  That was even before young Ronald Reagan (subsequently President of the United States) was an announcer on station WOC.

Other successful relays of WGY shortwave programming were carried by the BBC network of mediumwave stations in England.

As a radio magazine stated in 1926:

At the present time the following stations may be heard on the air with broadcast programs from the studio of WGY: 2XAG 379.5 meters (290 kHz); 2XK 109 meters (2752 kHz); 2XAF 41.55 meters (7220 kHz).

Telegraph or continuous wave signals are put out from 2XAZ 214 meters (1400 kHz); 2XAC 80 meters (3750 kHz); 2XAD 21 meters (14285 kHz); 2XAW 15 meters (20000 kHz).

2XAH operating on 1560 meters (192 kHz) was undergoing changes in design but has been on the air.

Around that same time in October 1926 when Westinghouse was on the air with special programming for Australia, the two General Electric main transmitters in Schenectady also broadcast a similar series of shortwave programming to Australia.  The GE programming from WGY and 2XAD & 2XAF was rebroadcast live by the first commercial mediumwave station in South Australia, 5DN in Adelaide.  In addition, the mediumwave experimental station 6WF 1500 miles distant in Perth Western Australia, also picked up the same programming live off air.

Tuckerton Wireless Station in Little Egg Harbor Township, Oct. 7, 1919. The tower stood 820 feet tall and was supported by cables anchored in three 1,100-ton concrete blocks reinforced with steel. Photo: Courtesy Tuckerton Historical Society on nj.com

The Crosley transmitter station at Harrison Ohio carried the usual regular programming from the Cincinnati mediumwave studios of WLW.  During the year 1926, Powell Crosley announced the purchase of mediumwave station WARC in Medford Hills near Boston in Massachusetts with the intended plan to program the distant station with a shortwave feed from WLW-8XAL. However, that projected shortwave relay was never implemented.

Towards the end of World War 1, RCA took over the usage of the German constructed communication station WGG at Tuckerton in New Jersey.  During the year 1923, RCA co-installed a 20 kW Morse Code transmitter at Tuckerton for use in experimental transmissions on shortwave under the callsign WGH.  The Tuckerton experimental transmissions were on the air for nearly three years.

However in 1925, RCA commissioned a new transmitter site at Bound Brook, also in New Jersey.  Initially two duplicate transmitters were installed, apparently rated at 25 kW each, though they could also be operated at a lower power level.  In addition, the second of these two transmitters was modified so that it could also operate on shortwave, though apparently also at a lower power level.

The RCA shortwave transmissions were not intended for general listener reception, but rather as a program relay to England and elsewhere for local mediumwave relay.  The shortwave relay from WJZ mediumwave began officially on January 1, 1926.

Because that program relay was made from the modified second mediumwave transmitter at Bound Brook, RCA did not register an additional callsign for the shortwave transmissions; that transmitter was already licensed under the callsign WJZ.  For eighteen months, in 1926 and into 1927, the WJZ callsign only was in use for all of the RCA broadcasts on shortwave.

This feature was written by Adrian Peterson and originally aired on Adventist World Radio’s “Wavescan” DX program of January 8, 2023

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