Radio Broadcasting, 1922-Style

by Paula Bosse

wfaa-control-room_belo_smu_1922WFAA “newsreader,” 1922 (click for larger image) Belo Collection, SMU

by Paula Bosse

This fantastic photo shows the interior of a little shack-like building on top of the old Dallas Morning News building at Commerce & Lamar, soon after WFAA radio had begun broadcasting in the summer of 1922. There are so many things I love about this photo. Let’s explore the details. (All pictures are larger when clicked.)


The Magnavox speaker/monitor.



The booster seat and the shoes that need a shine.



The announcer at work. (I’m assuming this telephone was being used as an early microphone?) The newspaper is The Dallas Journal, sister publication of The Dallas Morning News which owned WFAA radio. The headlines appear to be about the nationwide railroad and coalminers’ strikes, both of which had been getting more and more violent throughout July of 1922 (violence surrounding the railroad strike led to Texas Governor Pat Neff declaring martial law in Denison that month).



The control panel (which has its own fan).



And an open window around the corner, in the supervisor’s office. Cross-ventilation and oscillating fans might not have been hugely effective in keeping operators and machinery cool in the summertime.



Here’s another view of the “Operating Room,” as published in the DMN on June 25, 1922, the day before WFAA began broadcasting.

wfaa_operating-room_dmn_062522DMN, June 25, 1922


Photo titled “WFAA Radio Original Control Panel” from the Belo Papers collection, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University; it can be viewed here.

A companion post to this, “WFAA’s ‘Altitudinous Antenna System'” — which contains a background of WFAA’s debut and several photographs — is here.

Other Flashback Dallas posts on Dallas Radio and TV are here.

Click pictures for larger images.


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.