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COBWEB CORNERS: The first radio stations

By Mel McFarland

        As you turn on that radio, you may not think about how long radios have been listened to by the public. In the early 1920s, radio stations were rare. Many people had private receivers that let them listen to distant stations. Often this was in an attic away from noise, and up high to get a better signal. It was seen by many as a passing fad.       
       In December 1924, Colorado Springs got its first station, KFUM. It broadcast from a tower in downtown Colorado Springs, where Penrose Public Library now stands.
       In the same month, Denver added a fourth station, KOA. The earlier stations were KFEL, KFLE and KFUP. Under what was called the Rocky Mountain Broadcast company, KOA was the third radio station in the country started by General Electric. The first was in Schenectady, New York (WGY). The other was in Oakland, California (KGO).
       These early stations mainly used local talent for their broadcasts. Many had grand studios, but most used some local facility. KFUM used Perkins Hall on the Colorado College campus, as well as the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind. KOA used various churches, as well as its own studio. The stations were usually on the air only three or four hours a day, generally in the evening. Officials from state government were often featured.
       The newspapers carried lists of known radio stations. The signals from KOA were reported to be received as far away as Mexico City and Alaska. Most of the stations were east of the Mississippi. Chicago had several stations that could be picked up along the Front Range. The stations normally heard in Colorado were in Columbus, Ohio; Dallas, Texas; Davenport, Iowa; and Kansas City, Missouri.
       KFUM was owned by W.D. Corley, who was also working on the Corley Mountain Highway, later known as the Gold Camp Road.

(Posted 9/11/14; Opinion: Cobweb Corners)

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