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Post-Dispatch Owned Market's First Commercial Radio Station

When the St. Louis Post-Dispatch began operating the city’s first commercial radio station - KSD - in 1922, it joined the nationwide bandwagon of companies and individuals putting radio stations on the air.

Other stations had also been licensed in St. Louis. WEW at St. Louis University had been broadcasting since April 1921, but it was non-commercial. WEB was under the auspices of Benson Broadcasting as an amateur station.

Original KSD studio gear, 1922
Original KSD studio gear, 1922

There are printed reports indicating that KSD conducted broadcasts before licensing. The first broadcast, according to at least two sources, occurred on March 9, 1922. At least one source indicates the station actually began broadcasting Feb. 14 of that year but was forced off the air until it got a license (#330). According to the Post report published March 11, 1922, the inaugural broadcast at 7:45 p.m. that day: “will consist of musical numbers by St. Louis talent, late news reports, elocution and brief addresses. Notable among features will be a message from Secretary of Commerce Hoover to radio stations in the Middle West, and an address by Miss Jeanette Rankin of Montana, first woman member of Congress.”

The first “official” broadcast of KSD in reported to have happened on June 26, 1922, featuring entertainment by the orchestra of the Statler Hotel, conducted by Seth Asbergh. Also in June of its inaugural year, KSD broadcast a speech by Warren Harding at the World Court held in St. Louis. The speech was also carried in New York by WEAF.

KSD was moved to its 550 kHz frequency in May of 1923, having begun broadcasting on 833 kHz with 20 watts of power. In 1927 it began a temporary sharing of its frequency with KFUO. KSD became a member of the AT&T Network in December of 1923 and was an original station on the NBC Red Network in 1926.

The station was one of six around the country to carry the first Presidential speech ever broadcast when Calvin Coolidge spoke to a joint session of Congress on Dec. 6. 1923. The audio signal was distributed over AT&T’s long distance phone lines.

(Reprinted with permission of the St. Louis Journalism Review. Originally published 5/97)