Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The First Federal Radio Frequency Monitoring Station - and the Packard Radio Test Car

This is from a display in the lobby of the FCC.

Grand Island, Nebraska Monitoring Station
The First Frequency Monitoring Station
"Under the Radios Act of 1910 and 1912, the Department of Commerce received the authority to monitor and inspect shipboard radio equipment, license radio operators for that equipment and prevent interference between stations. Prior to 1930, there were few radio services. The primary users of the available frequencies were ships, coastal stations, point-to-point telegraph, AM broadcasting, and radio amateurs with the radio amateurs far outnumbering the other radio operations. The budding AM broadcasting segment of radio operations began to grow phenomenally after he start of KDKA in a basement in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1921. Licensed and unlicensed broadcast stations were in service, causing a need for a frequency monitoring facility.
Grand Island, Nebraska Monitoring Station v2"The Radio Division in the Department of Commerce in Chicago, Illinois used Packard radio-test cars and other equipment to determine the best location for a Cemtra; Frequency Monitoring Station. After an extensive search, the flat prairie region of central Nebraska, specifically, an area six miles west of Grand Island, Nebraska was selected because of its superb reception conditions, central geographic location, and freedom from nearby transmitting stations.
"The original track of land for the monitoring station was comprised of 50 acres, which was purchased in April 1929 for the sum of $1, from the estate of Fred Matthiesen, Jr. The 47th Legislature of Nebraska passed a bill in 1931 that allowed school land to be purchased by the Department of Commerce for the development of a radio monitoring station.
"The Packard radio test car replica in this exhibit or one like it would have been used to determine the location of the First Central Frequency Monitoring Station.
Packard Radio Test Car
Historical Note

Packard Radio Test Car v2
"At the Sesquicentennial Exposition honoring 150 years of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which was held in Philadelphia in July of 1926, displays on the growth and greatness of our country were emphasized. The Radio Division, Department of Commerce had a varied exhibit of radio equipment which included a model of the latest Packard Radio Test Car. The task of building the model was quite an undertaking in both time and money. The finished model cost more than one of the original Packards. Every single part, both inside and out was hand made. The model Packard Radio Test Car was housed in the museum portion of the Grand Island Monitoring Station until 1994 when it was sent to FCC headquarters to be warehoused."


NB: This is (assumed to be) federal content and is in the public domain. The photographs are mine and are available under a creative commons license.
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