Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts HistorySauer, Anne
WGI began broadcasting as experimental radio station 1XE in 1914, and staked out a place in history as one of the first radio stations to go on the air in the United States.
Tufts graduate Harold Power, A1914, held a lifelong interest in radio, and after his graduation formed the American Radio and Research Corporation, which soon became known as AMRAD. Power bought land on the Tufts hillside, and built a 304-foot radio tower and studio. The government assigned Power's new station the call letters 1XE, as radio broadcasting was still considered experimental. When it went on the air, 1XE became one of the first two broadcasting stations in the United States.
By 1916, Power had begun broadcasting recorded music over 1XE. At that point, ham radio operators were the station's main listeners, as radio had not yet caught on. By the spring of 1921, however, radio was becoming more popular, and 1XE was the first station in the country to broadcast on a daily schedule. 1XE's programming included music, nightly police reports, and even bedtime stories.
In January, 1922, Power finally applied for and received a commercial license, and the station's call letters became WGI. By March, WGI was broadcasting the first radio newscasts in Boston, and was becoming quite a popular station. During the next couple of years, WGI expanded its programming to include local celebrities and politicians, and began airing the "Big Brother Club," a children's show that would have a forty-five year run on radio and, later, television.
Unfortunately, AMRAD, WGI's backing company, was relatively unprofitable. Although known for its technological innovations, AMRAD was seen as unreliable, and began to flounder by 1924. WGI, at that point trying to compete with upstart radio stations with corporate backing, could not afford the new equipment needed to remain a premier station. By 1924 it was lagging behind competitors and losing talent to other Boston stations.
In the spring of 1925, Power declared bankruptcy, and WGI went off the air in May. Although Power searched for new backers, WGI never went back on the air. Power eventually sold the AMRAD land back to Tufts. The radio tower, however, did receive further use, broadcasting the programming of WBET, the Boston Evening Transcript's station, in 1927, after the station realized that the tower's high elevation would help its low wattage signal reach larger areas.
Source: TW, WA1
The encyclopedia seeks to capture more than 150 years of Tufts' achievements, societal contributions and outstanding alumni and faculty in concise entries. As a source of accurate factual information, the Encyclopedia can be used by anyone interested in the history of Tufts and of the people who have made it the unique institution it is.