Here's a magazine article that appeared in the July 1924 issue of Radio Age. This publication has no connection to the magazine of the same name that RCA Victor put out in the 40s and 50s. Radio Age, The Magazine of the Hour, was established in March of 1922 and published for several years. With this July 1924 issue, Radio Age announced that it had just taken over the Radio Topics magazine and have combined the two into one great publication. Here's an article from that issue about WIP Radio located here in Philadelphia.
By R.H. Hopkins
What is it that makes a radio broadcasting station popular in the eyes of the thousands of fans that listen in?
Can it be programs alone or the strength of the station? The contests it holds or merely the personality of the announcer?
If such a question could be answered, the country would know less broadcasting failures. Men venturing into the broadcasting field would be able to know beforehand just how to get that “indescribable” something that makes or breaks radio stations.
Station WIP, located in the Gimbel Brothers Building in Philadelphia, perhaps has come closer to solving the question of “What Makes a Successful Broadcaster?” than any other in the field.
No given recipe was followed. No stern rules were mapped out and followed to the letter. Success came naturally because only a few principles were outlined at the beginning.
After all is said and done, the vital reason for WIP’s success seems to be “Happiness” or a Sound Mixture of Radio Knowledge with a Liberal Dose of Human Nature.” That’s the prescription.
The managers of WIP looked over the long list of failures and near-failures and came to the conclusion that you can’t please all the people all the time, but you can give each class of people their turn at being pleased.
This decided, WIP proceeded to pick the men to guide its ethereal destiny. They looked for radio experts where expert knowledge of broadcasting apparatus was needed. They got these men and put them where they belonged, in the technical departments of the station.
Then they looked around for some young men who didn’t know so much about radio as a science, but who did know something of human nature. Men who knew just when to turn off the flow of jazz music and insert a dash of Beethoven instead. They wanted men whose voices sounded as if they hadn’t a care in the world, and who could be happy all evening with nothing more than a homely microphone staring them in the face.
These men were found: technical experts as well. The former were given full charge of making WIP heard for thousands of miles. The latter were told to make the station a symbol of happiness and care free good cheer that would turn homes into rendezvous of laughter.
The technical men succeeded, but their work would have been in vain had it not been for the irresistible personalities of the men in the studio, coupled with their almost uncanny ability to tell what sixty percent of the radio listeners want to hear.
”This is Station WIP, Gimbel Brothers, in Philadelphia.” You have no doubt heard this announcement. It’s been heard all over the United States, in England, France, Germany, South America, Hawaii and other places in the far corners of the earth. And perhaps you’ve wondered just what was going on behind the scenes at WIP and how it was operated.
WIP has two large antenna towers 200 feet above the street. The station consists of the operating room, the main studio, which is used for solos, speeches, quartets and the studio auditorium for large choruses, orchestras and bands. There are nine remote control rooms located in various parts of the city to facilitate broadcasting from other buildings.
In both the main studio and the studio auditorium, the walls are padded and draped in such a way that there is little reverberation of sound, just a full round tone without echo. The main studio is comfortably furnished with wicker chairs, tables, settees; all the comforts of home in fact. Fine tapestries hang from the walls. A grand piano occupies one corner and two microphones on mahogany stands are ready to catch the slightest sound.
A small black box on the studio wall controls the microphones. A large red light in the center of the box warns the artists, when the microphones are connected to the transmitter, to keep absolute silence. The transmitting apparatus feeds 500 watts of radio frequency energy to the antenna system.
The microphones, of the duralium type, are extremely sensitive and pick up the slightest sound. The two in the studio are connected to the “mixing panel” which blends the sounds. In this way, the bass notes of an orchestra are picked up by one microphone; the high notes by another and the two are blended in the “mixing panel” into perfect orchestration. It is the “speech input amplifier” that the operator controls the sound intensity and regulates the amount of energy fed into the “main transmitter.” Now the greatly amplified sound, now electrical energy that originated in the studio is carried through wires to the “main transmitter” where it is received by a 50-watt vacuum tube that again amplifies it.
Next, it is passed to the “modulator,” the two 250-watt vacuum tubes that balance and modulate the energy. The next and last step, after the energy has been amplified and modulated, is feeding it to the “oscillator,” which of two 250-watt vacuum tubes incorporated in a circuit tuned to 500 meters or 500 kilocycles. The oscillator sends the sound that originated in the studio, out through the antenna system in the form of radio frequency energy to be received everywhere.
The operating staff of WIP needs no introduction. They are known wherever the station is heard, and they are known for their bubbling enthusiasm and perpetual desire to please their listeners and spread good cheer as far as WIP’s power can be picked up.
But the staff is known only by their operating initials, so here they are properly. H.G. is Charles Goudy, better known as Hank, the chief engineer of WIP. C.W. is Charles Weir, operator. S.K. is Samuel Kale, operator. E.D. is none other than Ed Davies, director. H.P.I. is Helen Pulaski Innes, manager of programs who sorts out the orchestra selections, vocal numbers and other features with surprising tactfulness. U.W. is Uncle Wip, the kiddies’ idol and the case of frequent epidemics of heart trouble in Eastern flapper colonies. In private life, “Uncle Wip” is Chris W. Graham.
WIP’s main studio and operating room are enclosed in glass, thus giving a picturesque effect.
From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
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