American Shortwave Broadcasting, 1941


Seventy-five years ago, American shortwave broadcasters were clearly gearing up for war, as shown by an article in the January 1946 issue of Popular Science.

The article reports that in 1930, there were only three short-wave stations in Europe, but by 1941, there were at least 40, with more being built all of the time. In particular, the German radio, financed by the government, was pumping out Hitler’s speeches on as many as six transmitters at a time. They were targeting South America in particular, and the Americans wanted to keep up. Two million dollars was being spent on new transmitters, and according to the article, the investment was paying off. America had previously had only two transmitters running 50,000 watts or more, WLWO of Crosely Corporation in Mason, Ohio, and WGEO, owned by GE in Schenectady, N.Y.

New stations coming online included WNBI and WRCA, owned by NBC in Bound Brook, N.J., WCBX in Wayne, N.J., owned by CBS, WCAB and WCAU in Newtown Square, Pa., Westinghouse stations WBOS in Millis, Mass. and WPIT in Saxonburg, Pa., WRUL and WRUW in Scituate, Mass., and GE stations KGEI San Francisco and WGEA South Schenectady, NY.

There were 2.1 million shortwave receivers in South America, and they were a major target for the U.S. signals. NBC reported that in 1936, it reeceived fewer than fifty letters a month from South America, but was then receiving 2500 a month. Most of them were reportedly full of praise and reported their disgust with the propaganda fed by European stations.

For more information on the shortwave broadcast bands during World War II, see some of my previous posts:

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