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Early Hollywood Radio

KNX

Hollywood Radio

The only rival movies had in the in the ways of mass entertainment was radio, which by the 1930s, had come a long way from its crystal set beginnings.  Hollywood acquired its first three radio stations in 1922; KNX, KHJ and KFI, all marked by unreliable equipment and uncertain programming.

KNX

KNX began mainly as a promotion for the Los Angeles Express, when promotion manager, Guy C. Earl gave away 1000 crystal sets in a circulation campaign.  In tow years, KNX was broadcasting of a regular schedule from a Studebaker Sales Building at 6116 Hollywood Blvd. Earl brought the hustler’s promotion expertise to KNX. He provoked feuds with other radio stations and newspapers to gain publicity, sold advertising time to whoever wanted it, no matter how questionable the product, and broadcasted a murder trial, and sole the game to KFI.  

kfi

KHJ Radio

KHJ was founded by Harry Chandler, publisher of the Los Angeles Times.  It specialized in public affairs and children’s programming.  Its station identification theme was provided by singing canaries.   Chandler sold the station to automobile dealer, Don Lee, in 1927.  It became the CBS affiliate until 1936, when it joined the Mutual Network.

 

Packard dealer, Earl C. Anthony, founded KFI as an auto-promotion gimmick.  He pioneered music and educational programming  in an attempt to appeal to the upper middle class audience that was Packard’s main market.  KFI was the first Western station to broadcast a live symphony orchestra and a live complete opera production; it produced the first broadcast from the Hollywood Bowl. It jopined KPO in San Francisco, to form the first West Coast radio network.

cbs

CBS

Columbia Broadcasting System built a $2 million facility – Columbia Square – at the corner of Sunset Blvd. and Gower St., in 1938, making KNX its West Coast flagship station.  NBC built a similar studio on the northeast corner of Sunset Blvd. & Vine St.  Both facilities boasted tremendous broadcast studios that accommodated large orchestras, state of the art control rooms and audiences of 300 or more.

In 1938, Daily Varity reported an expenditure of more than $18 million on salaries for 600 film players.  Although Hollywood still lagged behind New York as a national broadcast center, many network programs originated from here, employing 500 local writers and lyricist.

kfwb

KFWB

The film industry, in fact, found radio as strong a promotional tool as did newspapers and car dealers.  Warner Bros founded station KFWB in 1925, giving it space in its old administration building at Sunset Blvd. & Bronson Ave. Hearst columnist, Louella Parsons, took to radio like an executive to an expense account, and her signatory line – “This is Louella Parsons broadcasting from the Hollywood Hotel” – was heard throughout the nation.

Visit hollywoodphotographs.com to view many photographs of Hollywood radio stations.

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