W1XAL shortwave station in Boston

Dan Strassberg dan.strassberg@att.net
Fri Jul 7 06:21:51 EDT 2006

Aah, 70 Brookline Ave. I'm pretty sure that is--or was--the address of some
office space in the Fenway Park building. If I've got the correct street
number, that's the entrance that led to the WMEX studios and offices on the
second floor. The same staircase led to some additional space (also on the
second floor). If memory serves, the door was to the left of WMEX's doorway.
I don't recall the name of the gentleman whose office and laboratories were
behind that door, but Donna surely knows. He was a pioneer in television,
dating back into the 1930s. He constructed an operational mechanical-scan TV
system. IIRC, the camera used a photocell (probably cadmium-selenide). To do
the scanning, he used a rotating disc with rectangular holes cut into it in
a spiral pattern.

Back in the '60s, I worked at Hewlett-Packard in Waltham and one of the
engineers who also worked there was a fellow named Dick Regan. His father
had built and put on the air WNBP Newburyport (as a daytimer on 1470). Dick,
who was a few years old than me, had memories of going down to the Fenway
Park building, as a kid in grammar school or high school, and visiting with
the TV pioneer whose name I can't recall. If I'm not mistaken, the call sign
W1XAL was on the door into the office/lab space that adjoined the WMEX
offices/studios. I always thought that the W1XAL calls had been used for
experimental over-the-air transmissions of the mechanical-scan TV. I have no
first-hand knowledge that this was actually the case, however. Maybe Donna
can supply some of the missing pieces in the story.

A possible connection is Tufts University and the Amrad company, which ran a
Medfod station with the calls WGI. Donna is the world's leading authority on
WGI and Amrad. Although WGI is credited with being the antecedent of the
station that is now WTTT, there were also some connections to WMEX (now

Dan Strassberg, dan.strassberg@att.net
eFax 707-215-6367

----- Original Message -----
From: "Michael H. Coen" <mhcoen@csail.mit.edu>
To: <boston-radio-interest@rolinin.BostonRadio.org>
Cc: "Michael H. Coen" <mhcoen@csail.mit.edu>; <paulinboston@gmail.com>
Sent: Saturday, July 01, 2006 10:33 PM
Subject: W1XAL shortwave station in Boston

> I've enjoyed the archives of this list for some time, so I'm delighted
> to have a question to pass on.  (Please see the forwarded email below.)
> Has anyone ever heard of this station?  It sounds like it was very cool
> in its day.
> Best,
> Michael Coen (W1MHC)
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> From: J. Forster <jfor@quik.com>
> Date: Jun 30, 2006 7:09 PM
> Subject: [BARC-List] W1XAL  from another list
> To: BARC List <barc-list@mailman.qth.net>
> Subject:         [Boatanchors] W1XAL shortwave station in Boston
>     Date:         Fri, 30 Jun 2006 18:50:47 -0400
>     From:         "paul mcd." <paulinboston@gmail.com>
>       To:         Boatanchors@mailman.qth.net
> I'm looking for anyone who remembers the shortwave station W1XAL in
> I'd like to write an article about it.
> I thought the Boatanchors group would be appropriate since there are a lot
> of older hams on it. No flames please.
> I've found out that W1XAL started transmitting on shortwave from 70
> Brookline Ave in Boston in 1931. It broadcast educational and cultural
> programs by professors from Harvard, Tufts, BU, etc.
> Does anyone have ANY photos/stories/anything about this station back then?
> In 1936, the antenna (antennas?) were moved to Scituate, MA.
> In 1939, the station became WRUL. Later it became WNYW, then WYFR. It left
> Scituate in the 1970's.
> I'd like any info on W1XAL that I can get. All I have is a photocopy of a
> QSL card. I'm just amazed that a shortwave station broadcast from inside
> Boston. (I was born and raised in Boston).
> Any help would be GREATLY appreciated.
> Thanks.
> Paul McDonough
> formerly WA1WYZ
> Natick, MA
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