DEVELOPMENT OF THE AM BAND 1920-1941
Herewith the story of dial-jumping, the fickleness of the Feds and the Chaos of 1926. Many of the earliest stories below deal with channel assignments in wavelengths rather than frequencies; the conversion tables are included as well as the stories which accompanied the change in lexicon through the 1920's. In fairness, no one could have foreseen the awesome appetite for frequencies and the 'Sheriffs of the Airwaves' had no choice but to keep re-plotting the assignment layouts to try to keep up...much less plan ahead. As a result many of the early stations were clustered together in two or three wavelengths as you'll read. And many of them had to move three or four times before finally settling in.
Much of the dial-assignment confusion and interference resulted from the lack of frequency-control (as tubes warmed up, stations wandered) and from the libertarian desire to move one's station to a "clear spot on the dial" rather than stay on the very few assigned (and over-crowded) wavelengths. The situation affected listeners, created interference and finally resulted in stiff Federal legislation.
A third market force was a short-term solution born of necessity at a time when each city had fewer assigned frequencies than assigned station licenses. That monster was TIME-SHARING. Time-sharing worked for a short while, but as stations grew successful they pushed hard for full-time authority on their own channel, and that added to the congestion. Enjoy the stories!
This material is provided for use by Educators and Researchers. No copyrights or usage rights are implied or granted.
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