"Wavescan" is a weekly program for long distance radio hobbyists produced by Dr. Adrian M. Peterson, Coordinator of International Relations for Adventist World Radio. AWR carries the program over many of its stations (including shortwave). Adrian Peterson is a highly regarded DXer and radio historian, and often includes features on radio history in his program. We are reproducing those features below, with Dr. Peterson's permission and assistance.
Wavescan, July 14, 2013
Tribute to Family Radio Shortwave-2: The Early Years in New Jersey
The original callsign 2XAL was first allocated to Hugo Gernsback and the Experimenter Publishing Co. as a Special Land Station in New York City on June 1, 1925. Then, on September 30 of the following year (1926), this call was specifically allocated to Associated Broadcasters at the McAlpin Hotel in New York City as a portable station, apparently in association with the new mediumwave station WMCA and therefore for the relay of remote program broadcasts.
Then one year later again, on May 25 (1927) the Experimenter Publishing Co., under the same Hugo Gernsback, was granted a Construction Permit to install a shortwave transmitter at Coytesville in neighboring New Jersey. It was soon revealed that this new shortwave station, with studios in the Hotel Roosevelt, would operate at .5 kW on 9700 kHz under this same shortwave callsign 2XAL.
The Gernsback mediumwave station WRNY operated from studios in this Roosevelt Hotel, and the transmitter, originally on top of the hotel, had been re-installed just across the river at a new location on Hudson Terrace, Coytesville in November 1926. This additional shortwave transmitter would be installed at Coytesville and co-sited with the mediumwave unit WRNY. The actual license for the new shortwave unit was dated October 15, 1927, and programming was always in tandem with the mediumwave unit.
Due to the fact that amateur shortwave stations in the United States were often propagating into other parts of the world, legislation was enacted requiring that the prefix W should be inserted into all callsigns as the first letter. This American legislation, in conformity with new international radio regulations, became effective on October 1, 1928, and thus the call 2XAL became W2XAL.
Gernsback frequently promoted his shortwave station in the pages of his most popular "Radio News" magazine, and it is true, that even at just 500 watts, the station was heard at times throughout North America, and down into Australia & New Zealand, as well as over in Europe.
During this era, shortwave 2XAL was also in use at times for the transmission of experimental TV programs in the mechanical mode. The daily newspaper in Adelaide, Australia, the "Advertiser", stated that the Experimenter shortwave station had been granted a Construction Permit on March 27, 1929 for an increase in power for their experimental TV transmissions on shortwave, up to 100 kW.
However, creditors got after Gernsback for delinquency in payments and he was forced into bankruptcy. The two radio stations, WRNY mediumwave & 2XAL shortwave, were separated from the magazine publications and sold off, and the buyer for the radio stations was the Aviation Radio company, with Walter Lemmon as General Manager. The license transfer from Experimenter Publishing to Aviation Radio was granted on May 8, 1929.
Five years later again, the mediumwave station WRNY was bought by another mediumwave station WHN and the new owners closed WRNY on January 10, 1934. However, Aviation Radio still held ownership of the shortwave station, but it became obvious that this unit would need to be moved to another location. At the same time, plans were announced for the re-engineering of the shortwave unit up to 15 kW.
At this stage, Walter Lemmon formed his own radio company and he bought the shortwave station W2XAL with money that he gained through the sale to RCA of an invention he made. His invention was the 3 gang tuning condenser. The transfer of the shortwave station to Lemmon's company was granted on June 26, 1931.
At this stage, station W2XAL was licensed for service on any of four different shortwave channels, though 6040 kHz was now their main frequency. The intended increase in power to 15 kW was postponed while negotiations were underway with the Federal Radio Commission for a transfer from Coytesville, New Jersey up to Boston on coastal Massachusetts.
The Singapore "Straits Times" reported the impending transfer to Boston, and the American "Radio World" gave the actual date of closure at Coytesville as July 18, 1931. The re-engineered transmitter, now rated at 5 kW, was installed at 70 Brookline Avenue, Boston and inaugurated with a similar new callsign, W1XAL, on October 26. Thus the single .5 kW shortwave transmitter was on the air at Coytesville under the callsign 2XAL/W2XAL for a little less than four years.
When we take up the story of shortwave station WYFR again with all of its interesting backgrounds, we plan to look at the early years in Boston.