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Fred M. Link


Frank A. Gunther


1922 - 1934 -The Club Matures (Page 1)

By this time the number of amateur stations had increased to a tremendous extent, and with broadcasting just about beginning, communication was becoming almost impossible. The Radio Club investigated the situation and found that most of the interference was caused by spark and interrupted continuous wave transmitters. It therefore undertook a vigorous campaign of advice and suggestion, through papers presented before the membership, to educate the amateur in the whys and wherefores of pure continuous-wave transmission and its many advantages over the older forms. The campaign proved successful and is still in progress.

It was at one of these meetings in 1922 that E. H. Armstrong startled the radio fraternity by producing a sufficient volume of music to fill the large lecture hall, using his newly invented super-regenerative circuit, a loop aerial and only one Western Electric J Tube. This performance, of course, had never been equaled, and when it is considered that the signals were coming from station WJZ, at Newark, N. J., and that the receiving set was located in a steel building with a copper roof at Columbia University, it was certainly an epoch-making event.

1922 Radio Show at the Grand Central Palace
Radio Club receiving booth at Radio Show in Grand Central Palace, 1922.

In December 1922, The Radio Exposition Company held a large Radio Show at the Grand Central Palace, New York. As everyone knows, if all the exhibitors at a Radio Show are permitted to receive broadcast programs at the same time, chaos would result due to heterodyning between the receivers themselves. In order to avoid this difficulty, the exposition directors decided to permit only one concern to do all the receiving. This, of course, was an unhappy thought since there was no way of deciding which company this should be, without causing vigorous protest from the other exhibitors. Finally it was decided to choose a noncommercial organization. The lot fell to the Radio Club of America. A special committee was appointed and the work begun. First there was the matter of doing away with extraneous noises so as to deliver pure radio signals to the power amplifiers and secondly a physical problem of placing the loudspeaking horns so that there would be no re-echoes or dead spots. The first was solved after much experimentation by the small antenna, a 600-meter frequency trap, and a super-heterodyne receiver. The acoustic problem, however, offered stubborn resistance. Six loud speaker units with four-foot straight horns were obtained, and the question was how to place them so that the sound would fill the entire Grand Central Palace exhibition hall. Finally, after trying several positions, it was decided to place the horns on the balcony directly in front of the specially constructed booth which housed the receiving and amplifying apparatus.

This system proved very successful and in spite of many skeptical opinions at the outset, sufficient volume was produced to fill the hall amply, and on the last night, the signals from WEAF were reproduced with such intensity that several of the audience on the main floor were seen to hold their hats in humorous indication of their approval.

In 1922, when Secretary Hoover found it necessary to call a meeting of the radio interests before a special committee of his choosing, the Radio Club was represented on the Committee by E. H. Armstrong. Thus the Club again as of old took an active part in the regulation of radio by Congress. This special committee reported direct to Congress on its findings, and did much to help frame the present regulations.

With the advent of Radio Broadcasting a new problem now faced the amateur, namely, that of interfering with broadcast reception. The Radio Club realizing the seriousness of the situation at once started a campaign of education and its policies can best be summed up in the following article written by its president at that time:
"The Radio Club of America was organized to propagate the art of radio telegraphy and telephony in all its branches, and true to this ideal it has always lent its aid to the best of its ability to all phases of the art. It originated as an amateur organization with a scientific purpose. It fought for the continued existence of the amateur and helped to educate him. It lent a helping hand to commercial radio, by research and cooperation wherever it could. It gave all it had to the Government when it was in dire need of radio personnel, and, finally, when the new element in radio cropped up--the broadcast listener--it gave birth much needed assistance. This organization belongs to no one branch of the radio art but to all branches and therefore its duty at present must necessarily be one of education."

Radio Experts at the White House, 1923
Radio experts at the White House in 1923.
Left to right: Howey, Burghard, Hogan, Sheppard, Godley.

But the club did not confine its activities along these lines, entirely to the amateur. In 1923 the Boston American organized a committee of radio experts to present the problem of interference by Naval stations, which were causing great annoyance to broadcast listeners, to President Coolidge. Messrs. Paul Godley, J. V. L. Hogan and George E. Burghard, were asked to serve on this committee and visited the President in Washington on Dec. 10th, 1923. Jack Hogan, acting as spokesman for the committee, so ably stated the case that even the laconic Mr. Coolidge uttered an exclamation when he heard that his own radio speech had been rendered unintelligible in his home town, through the interference of the transmitting station at the Boston Navy Yard. The matter was at once referred to Secretary Hoover.

Transmitter at 2AG, C. R. Runyon, 1927
Transmitter, station "2AG", C. R. Runyon, Jr., Yonkers, N. Y., 1927.
This is a typical layout of a shortwave C.W. tube transmitter.