World’s Smallest Complete Radio Broadcasting Station (Jun, 1931)

The mystery constructor is wearing a mask? Huh?

World’s Smallest Complete Radio Broadcasting Station

THE City of Brotherly Love now boasts of the world’s smallest radio broadcasting station. Not much different in size and appearance from a household refrigerator, this station is accurate in all respects, operates entirely under its own power, and has a sending radius of two hundred feet with its 1/400th of a watt power plant. Its call letters are WEE, and it is owned and operated by the Tiny Broadcasting Company, operating on a frequency of 1,300 kilocycles.

The transmitter was designed and built by the Mystery announcer of WPEN, who recently won the title of the most popular radio announcer in a nation-wide contest.

18 comments
  1. Tom says: January 4, 20101:24 pm

    See http://www3.allaroundph…

    In the July 22, 1933 entry is the following…

    “See and hear the world’s smallest radio station, WEE, at Feinberg’s, Fifth and Edgmont, Chester. The station is in operation for one week only and offers a chance to put “your own voice on the air” while at the store.”

  2. slim says: January 4, 20102:04 pm

    Who was that masked man? I don’t know, but he left this silver vacuum tube.

  3. Tracy B says: January 4, 20103:55 pm

    I wonder what the electronics used for power– batteries? Just to operate the filaments of the vacuum tubes would take quite a few watts! Now you could put that station on one chip!

  4. Hip2b2 says: January 4, 20106:50 pm

    Some 45 years ago, when I was a teenager in Brooklyn NY, a couple of friends and I cobbled up a small AM radio transmitter. Not sure of the output power, but we had a transmission radius of between 1/5 and 1 mile depending on weather and obstructions. We had a format of R&R and 60′s rebellious teenage opinion. It was remarkable how many people bumped into our small station, and dropped by for a chat; including several different groups of girls.

    And no, we never had trouble with the FCC (and what would they have done to us anyway?). It seems in hindsight that the illegal nature of our station made the experience all the better.

    It was, all in all, a great summer adventure.

    hip

  5. mike says: January 4, 20108:18 pm

    Hip,
    I believe it was/is a federal offense, and until about 15 years ago you needed a license to operate radio equipment.

  6. Hip2b2 says: January 4, 20108:27 pm

    Mike,

    My comment stand; never had trouble, and what would they do to a couple of 16 year olds anyway.

    We did talk about it but we doubted then, and I still do, that the repercussions would have been of any magnitude.

    I think that a license would still be required as we were transmitting on the AM band and were picked up on standard radios at the bottom of the spectrum.

    hip

  7. George says: January 4, 20108:43 pm

    Low power AM and FM transmitters are legal. At least in the sixties, the limit for AM was 1/10 watt into an antenna no longer than 10 feet. While your station was probably illegal, it’s unlikely anything would have happened to you beyond a visit from an FCC inspector armed with a pair of wire cutters.

    I suppose these days, you’d be arrested on some sort of terrorism charges.

  8. Firebrand38 says: January 4, 20108:59 pm

    George: Yeah, OK… that’s just what would happen!

  9. Charlene says: January 4, 20109:33 pm

    In the 60s they’d have confiscated your radio equipment and fined you something in the neighbourhood of $10,000 for causing radio interference (whether your station actually caused interference to other broadcasters or not). Old radio magazines from the 60s and 70s are full of stories about amateurs thinking “what would they do about it” and finding themselves on the receiving end of a huge non-negotiable, non-appealable fine.

    You were lucky.

  10. abesimpson says: January 4, 20109:37 pm

    Just a computer magazines are full of stories about people being tapped for digital right infringement, i.e., piracy. And yet people still do it.

  11. Toronto says: January 4, 201011:37 pm

    What about “Mr. Microphone” type tranmitters? I built one in the 70′s so I could listen to records while out in the back yard (our local station was nicknamed “CKCTerrible.”)

  12. Firebrand38 says: January 5, 20101:37 am

    Toronto: Very low powered http://www.retrothing.c…

  13. mike says: January 5, 20108:43 am

    In the picture, is that a person inside the box to the left of the microphone? Makes for one small studio.

    From my post above I should clarify that the license was for on-air personalities or anybody that operated radio equipment, separate from the license required by the station to broadcast.

  14. Tracy B says: January 5, 20102:57 pm

    You could also buy a low powered transmitter that covered either the AM band or the FM band from radio shack in those days. Think “Science Fair” kits. The transmitter was simply a modulated oscillator stage.

    Much more interesting were the 100 mW toy walkie-talkies; you could connect them to the TV antenna and increase your range.

  15. JMyint says: January 6, 20102:16 pm

    Generally in the US any transmitter below 250mw does not require a license. Some frequency bands it is up to 1 watt and the CB band it is up to 5 watts.

  16. George says: January 6, 20105:54 pm

    I guess Charlene and I subscribed to different magazines…

    Mike, I think it was a 3rd or 4th class radio-telephone operator’s license. I think it was on about the level of the original CB license where you signed and notarized an application that you had read and understood the FCC rules appropriate to the radio service you were in.

    I know at the local 500 watt radio station (1960) the DJ’s had licenses for the transmitter readings log they kept.

  17. HobbyBroadcaster.net says: January 11, 201010:29 pm

    There are many people using transmitters with similar low power for personal hobbycasting, campus-limited broadcasting and specialty business applications such as talking signage and information radio. These transmitters operate under FCC Part 15 regulations. There are different rules for AM and FM frequencies as well as different signal limits depending on mode of operation (i.e., free radiating antenna, carrier current or radiating / leaky coaxial cable). My site covers a variety of topics related to low power broadcasting.

    Thanks for sharing this article.

  18. Toronto says: January 11, 201011:33 pm

    Hey, HobbyBroadcaster – neat site. Thanks for linking to it here.

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