Michael Bushnell

This postcard published by Max Bernstein of Kansas City, Mo., shows the mid-1920’s Kansas City skyline. The printed description on the back of the card reads, “This shows the view of the city’s skyline as it looks today. Some of the largest skyscrapers shown are the Kansas City Club, the Kansas City Athletic Club, the Federal Reserve Bank and the Telephone Building.”

Prominent in the foreground are the twin radio towers of WDAF radio, then owned by William Rockhill Nelson’s “The Kansas City Star.” WDAF began broadcasting in 1922 from the offices of The Star at 1729 Grand Avenue. The official starting date is open to dispute, because The Star’s broadcasting activities predated WDAF.

On February 16, 1922, The Star used the call letters WOQ, the station of the Western Radio Company, to broadcast what the newspaper described as a “wireless telephone concert.” The Star advertised the program on the front page of that evening’s edition with great excitement, encouraging those with amateur receivers to “tune in at 375 meters.”

The Star proclaimed, “for an hour musical selections will be sent out as an experiment to amateur receivers – all within 100 miles should hear.”  The program schedule, all local by the way, read as follows:

8:00 o’clock – The Deep River Jazz Orchestra.

8:10 – Solo, Mrs. Raymond Havens.

8:20 – The House of David Band of twenty pieces appearing at Pantages (Theater) this week.

8:30 – Yellen and Olman, popular song composers, at the Royal Theater this week.

8:40 – Duet, Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Havens.

8:50 – Lyons and Yosco, musicians at the Mainstreet Theater this week.

9:00 – House of David Band.

A short decade later, over 600 radio stations existed in the United States, broadcasting to over 20 million homes throughout the country.