Commercial Radio Milestone

Pic: Wiki

Radio Station KDKA turns 103 today and is considered by historians as the world’s first commercial station.

Founded by Harry P David, KDKA went to air for the first time on November 2, 1920 with its first program broadcasting the Presidential Election results.

Harry P David (wiki)

The station describes itself as “A Pioneer Broadcasting Station of the World”

Its transmission is powerful. 50,000 watts with a News/talk format on 1020AM which is simulcast now on 100.1FM.

The reach is incredible. During daylight hours, KDKA can be heard throughout central and western Pennsylvania, and on the rim of Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, New York State and the southern Canadian province of Ontario. At night, the reach is even further.

Original studio (Wiki)

The history of the station is vast and too much to include in this story.

Today the station is part of the CBS News Radio Network and owned by Audacy, Inc.

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2 Nov 2023 - 3:04 pm

Where is it based? Pittsburgh?

Christine Lavin
4 Nov 2023 - 6:37 pm

It was interesting to read a recent guest Dales Whyte’s memory of having Dame Edna on for an entire three hour radio program. I am a musician, still a huge DE fan (I live in NYC), and even got Dame Edna to record on one of my albums. He ventured into the jazz club “Birdland,” one night, for Jim Caruso’s weekly open mic “Cast Party.” I say “he ventured in” because it was Barry, in his suit and tie and fedora, and no one recognized him.

I asked if would like to address the crowd, but he said he could ONLY do it if he could sit in a dark corner, turn his back to the audience and speak quietly so they wouldn’t know where his voice was coming from. He explained he could NEVER “do” Dame Edna out of costume — but he was so taken with the show (the pianist accompanying one and all was Billy Stritch, who played for Liza M for 25 years) — so it was a very high level of “open mic.”

So that’s what he did. When Jim Caruso announced Dame Edna was in the crowd, the place burst into applause — like out of a movie scene. Dame Edna was the toast of Broadway (today the ushers at the Booth Theater where she was in residence STILL talk about her).

So Barry’s plan worked — he held a microphone, turned his back, lowered his head, and spoke to the crowd for a good five minutes. No one ever figured out where Dame Edna’s voice was coming from, since it was coming out of all the speakers strategically affixed to the walls and ceiling around the room. It was almost like a miracle — her voice coming from nowhere, but everywhere all at the same time. He was sweet, charming, and so funny. Alan Rickman was in the audience that night and even he looked around trying to find Dame Edna, to no avail.

Dame Edna/Barry Humphries will always be the gold standard when it comes to comedy in the English speaking world. Sigh. I miss him.


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