Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 11, Number 1, Spring, 1999 Page: 25
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was a singular example of resourcefulness that
allowed each station to claim full-time status.
However, it was far from ideal. As early as
I930, a prominent radio engineer observed, "...
this is an economic absurdity. It is as if two or
more railroad companies had franchises to
operate trains on the same track, each taking turns
and having its whole stock and plant absolutely
idle when not using the track." 4 And, yet, the two
stations maintained the time-sharing agreement
long after most other such deals had vanished
because each resolutely clung to the powerful,
clear-channel 820 kHz. frequency.
Like many infant stations, WBAP and
WFAA were extensions of powerful newspapers,5
the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, published by Amon
G. Carter and Carter Publications,6 and The
Dallas Morning News, owned by the A. H. Belo
Corporation under publisher George Bannerman
Dealey.7 Each station had exceedingly humble
beginnings. Star-Telegram circulation manager
Harold Hough convinced a skeptical Carter to
put WBAP on the air. Carter grudgingly
approved the expenditure of $300 to put the
Io-watt station on the air on May 2, 1922. "But
when that $300 is gone, we're out of the radio
business," Carter admonished Hough.8
WFAA went on the air June 26, I922, with a
whopping Ioo watts of power. Walter Dealey,
assistant general manager of the Morning News,
persuaded his father to put a radio station on the
air. "Son, how long do you think this radio fad will
last?" the elder Dealey asked Walter.9 Walter
Dealey's judgment may have been better than
even he knew. By the end of the I920S, the Great
Depression had begun. "It (WFAA) kept the
Dallas News in business. I've been told that by
many people," James M. Moroney, Jr., G. B.
Dealey's grandson and retired chairman and chief
executive officer of the Belo Corporation, says.
"Except for Walter Dealey's foresight, we might
have lost the Dallas News." 10
WBAP received its call letters from Secretary
of Commerce Herbert Hoover. The commerce
department then regulated the fledgling radio
industry. The sensible Hoover said WBAP stands
WFAA announced the new time-share arrangement
with an advertisement in I941.
for "We Bring A Program." 11 WFAA stands for
"Working For All Alike," selected in a listener
contest, but very characteristic of the highminded
The practice of channel sharing was a
holdover from the earliest days of radio, when
shipboard radio operators would take turns
sending point-to-point telegraph messages over
established frequencies. In the beginning, only
two frequencies were available for radio broadcasting,
833.3 kHz. for news and entertainment
programming, and 618.3 kHz. for weather reports.
And so competing stations entered into agreements
to share time on the available channels.13
By 1927, weak federal control of radio broadcasting
had allowed chaos to take command.
Stations blatantly interfered with each other by
"jumping" frequencies and increasing power at
will. The result was the Radio Act of 1927, establishing
the Federal Radio Commission (later the
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Dallas Historical Society. Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 11, Number 1, Spring, 1999, periodical, 1999; (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth35102/m1/27/: accessed November 24, 2020), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Dallas Historical Society.