Magazine article St. Louis Journalism Review

Multiple Frequency

Magazine article St. Louis Journalism Review

Multiple Frequency

Article excerpt

Anyone who remembers the Dogpatch characters created by the late cartoonist Al Capp will probably remember Joe Btfsplk. He was the poor soul who walked around with a black cloud hanging over his head. For him there was never much chance of basking in the sunshine of good fortune. So, it seems, was the fate of radio station KFQA in St. Louis.

Owned and operated by The Principia, KFQA hit the airwaves May 9, 1924. In those days The Principia was not at Elsah, Ill. as it is now. It was located in St. Louis' West End at 5539 Page. A bill of sale from Western Electric Company shows the entire equipment package cost less than $5,000, installed. In fact, the school paid to bring in a special radio engineer from Chicago to handle the installation, and he charged them $1.90 to cover expenses for two meals. All these costs were paid by a benefactor, Clarence Howard, chairman of the board of General Steel Castings in Granite City.

Two 62-feet masts were constructed atop Howard Gymnasium 85 feet apart and the aerial was strung between them. The studio was built in a 12 foot by 12 foot room, and the first transmitter had a power of 50 watts. There were unconfirmed reports of reception of KFQA along the Eastern seaboard.

It is clear from all documents in The Principia archives that the primary raison d'etre for the station was to broadcast local Christian Science church services and lectures.

In radio's early days two or three stations were often required to share the same frequency, and when KMOX signed on in December of 1924, it was given the same frequency as KFQA. …

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