Small Cities With Class A Signal

Sid Schweiger
Mon Jul 25 09:21:50 EDT 2011

"A friend and I were talking the other day about how the "clear channels" were distributed around the country in the 1920s. Some very small cities ended up with Class A stations. For example, Schenectady NY has a population of 66 k (metro population < 1000 k) and has WGY; Waterloo, IA has a population of 68 k (metro population < 200 k) and they have KXEL (Class A, but directional at night). Schenectady obviously owes its good fortune to the fact that General Electric was located there, but how did small cities such as Waterloo IA, Hartford, Des Moines IA, Shreveport LA, Wheeling WV, etc. end up with the Class A's? Was it just because they were first? Or was there a plan to distribute the frequencies so as to cover the country?"

The original plan of radio's first regulator, the Department of Commerce, was that approximately 25 AM stations would be all that were needed to cover the country, so they were placed so as to essentially complement each other's coverage.  However, every city and town started demanding its own station, and with the FCC being a creature of Congress and politics they had very little choice but to find a way to accommodate them.

Sid Schweiger
IT Manager, Entercom New England
20 Guest St / 3d Floor
Brighton MA  02135-2040

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