Local Radio Tower History

Our club has an active email reflector (SARC-All) which discusses all things related to radio as well as club business. From time to time we post excerpts from some of the general radio discussions.

Kirk K9MSG started the discussion

Recently I’ve been near the southeast corner of Bloomingdale [Illinois – Ed.]. I’ve often looked up and across Army Trail Rd with curiosity at the pair of huge antennas sitting just inside Glendale Heights (between Bloomingdale and Glen Ellyn roads).  The 20+ acre lot has an impressive old brick building at the entrance that I imagined might be full of stories.  [Map – Ed.]

I finally got around to researching the site and it is certainly full of history that few may know!  Among the many stories…

  1. It was home to Chicago’s pioneering radio station over 100 years ago; KYW (fun to find that my great aunt performed in the 1920’s on that station
  2. It was the long-time home of WMAQ 670 at 50,000 watts
  3. On the site still stands a large, self-supporting, historic antenna which was first used in Cleveland before going on display at the NY World’s Fair in 1939 and then ending up here to become WMAQ’s emergency antenna when their original antenna collapsed in 1949.

If this is interesting to you, you might like to read this brief article which is one of the better ones that I found.

Cliff K9QD then brought the transmitter’s history into the club’s activities

Thanks for the history!

Interestingly WMAQ’s Continental 317C3 was sold for scrap and it was fortunate to find a fellow ham displaying its final tank coil at a Sandwich Hamfest.

  • Just had to have it….so it’s now employed as part of a crystal radio’s greatly-oversized tank circuit.

WMAQ’s EF Johnson final tank coil is still doing its thing on the broadcast band thanks to a long wire out to the trees.

[Cliff discusses the radio in the following video – Ed.]

Video credits: 

  1. Dave K9KBM and Rob N9MVO in charge of video production.
  2. Kent W9KAO winding one of our orange Construction Project extension cords in the background.
  3. Charles (SK) N5HSR finishes his own set’s tank winding.
  4. Mel W9FRT (SK) supplied the giant variable cap (B-17 antenna tuner).

Fun stuff.