KHQ Radio's Life Before Spokane
Licensed in February 1922
Louis Wasmer, owner of the Excelsior Motorcycle and Bicycle Company at 301 East Pine Avenue in Seattle received a license to broadcast on 28 February 1922, and brought KHQ radio to life, not in Spokane, but in Seattle sometime in March 1922.
KHQ was licensed to transmit at 419 13th Avenue North (Now 419 13th Avenue East) from the beginning to August 1923. Later KHQ transmitted from 2020 13th Avenue West from September 1923 to 30 September 1925. The former is an apartment building, which is still standing, and the latter is a single-family home, which is also still standing.
KHQ shared the wavelength of 360 meters (or 833 Khz) with other Seattle stations KZC, KDZE, KFC, and KJR. KHQ was also assigned to 300 meters (or 1000 kHz). The station's initial schedule called for broadcasting concerts from 12 Noon to 1 PM and 7 PM to 8:30 PM every day, and was later changed to unlimited hours.
Wasmer Moves KHQ to Spokane in 1925
There are at least two accounts of Mr. Wasmer moving from Seattle to Spokane. According to David Richardson's Puget Sounds, Mr. Wasmer "tired of Seattle, packed the apparatus of KHQ into the sidecar of his motorcycle, and moved to Spokane." Another account, written by John Fahey in an article titled "Louis Wasmer's Aerial Act," states that "Wasmer packed KHQ in a Model T Ford, runs the legend, to haul it from Seattle to Spokane." Apparently, "quite a few businessmen didn't think Spokane needed a station." Whichever version is correct, KHQ was re-born in Spokane on 30 October 1925 amidst a lot of celebration and fanfare.
Wasmer's Other Radio Stations in Seattle
According to Richardson, Mr. Wasmer is also credited for building radio station KDZE, for the Rhodes Department Store at Second and Union Streets and radio station KZC at the Economy Market near First and Pike. Richardson also notes that "KZC was a low-powered station and had a very short life. When KZC went on the air, and like KHQ, its equipment was compact. When the station was off the air for good, its transmitter was pushed aside and forgotten. At some point, workmen built a wall around it. But forty years later the wall was torn down, and there was this old transmitter with its strange hand wound coils and unfamiliar tubes." The transmitter is now on display at Seattle Historical Society's Museum of History and Industry.
KHQ, The Oldest Callsign in Use in Washington State
Of interest, the callsign KHQ is the oldest callsign in Washington state still in use regardless of service and is currently being used by KHQ-TV channel 6 in Spokane. KJR's callsign is oldest callsign in Washington state still in use at the same station, based on city of license and service.
Early 1920's, the Wild Wild West of Broadcasting
These were the days of the Wild Wild West of radio with little government regulation. People, with a second or first class radio license, could receive a station license, just by proving that they could put a signal on the air. Many radio stations broadcasting operated out of people's homes, garages, shops, and other locations. It was easy for owners to pull up stakes in one town and move to another. All they had to do is notify the Department of Commerce. In its infancy, KHQ exemplified all of this.
KHQ's First License Records for Seattle
KHQ's first license was issued in February 1922. As was the norm at the time, KHQ's license was in three parts as follows.
LICENSE FOR LAND RADIO STATION
The license itself. It is undated and does not include the callsign KHQ. It is a limited commercial class license and states that Louis Wasmer is the applicant. The second page has no blanks that to be filled in. (National Archives)
APPLICANT'S DESCRIPTION OF APPARATUS
This is a copy of the two-page application that Louis Wasmer submitted for his station. The address of 419 - 13th N. was given. It also provides the technical specifications of the station as well as the hours of operation. The transmitter of record was a 100-watt Westinghouse make. (National Archives)
SCHEDULE OF STATION AND APPARATUS
This two-page document lists the conditions under which KHQ may be operated. KHQ's assigned wavelengths were 300 and 360 meters, which converts into 1000 kHz and 833 kHz respectively. It was this document that allowed KHQ to broadcast on 28 February 1922. Wasmer chose to wait until March. (National Archives)
Compiled and edited by Bill Harms - updated 8 September 2008
- "Ceremonies Will Mark Opening of New Radio Plant." Spokane Chronicle, Spokane, Washington, 30 October 1925.
- Fahey, John. "Louis Wasmer's Aerial Act." Publishing information not known.
- "KHQ Goes On Air Here." Spokesman-Review, Spokane, Washington, 30 October 1925.
- KHQ License Record, Description of Apparatus, and Schedule of Station and Apparatus. 28 February 1922. Commission of Navigation, Department of Commerce, Washington, DC. Copied from the National Archives, RG Number 173.
- "List of stations broadcasting market or weather reports (485 meters) and music, concerts, lectures, etc. (360 meters) 10 March 1922." Radio Service Bulletin, number 59, pages 23-25. Department of Commerce, Washington, DC. 1 March 1922. Photocopies of the original are available at the Federal Communications Commission web site - www.fcc.gov
- Richardson, David. Puget Sounds - A Nostalgic Review of Radio and TV in the Great Northwest. 1981. Superior Publishers, Seattle, Washington.