Twenty years before Washington State University established its first radio station, the school—then Washington State College—began experimenting with the new technology of wireless telegraphy.

Here’s a short timeline of events leading up to the establishment and first broadcast of the school’s radio station in 1922.

1901—Hubert V. Carpenter introduces wireless telegraphy to the WSC campus. He builds a wireless installation in the basement of the Administration building, now Thompson Hall. Due to a noisy and distracting spark plug, the device is later moved to a wooden shack where the CUB now stands. A student named Ed Keyes (1909 Elec. Eng,) assists with the set up.

1910—The Department of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering offers a formal course in electric wave signaling. It’s taught by Carpenter.

1911—Students form a Wireless Club and finish updating the station. It’s referred to as “one of the largest and best equipped radio outfits in the Northwest” by a Spokane newspaper.

1914—Practical Wireless Telephony, also taught by Carpenter, is added to the course catalogue.

Early April 1917—The noisy spark plug is replaced by a rotary gap, and the wireless station operates under the call letters 7YI.

April 8, 1917—A presidential decree ordered all non-governmental wireless stations to cease operations nationwide. The transmitter falls under the jurisdiction of the Army Signal Corps, but the Navy is given overall control.

1918—The station reopens for the purpose of serving the war effort, offering the Student Army Training Corps practical experience in wireless signaling and wireless electricity.

Early 1922—WSC President Ernest O. Holland decides to turn 7YI into a broadcasting station with help and inspiration from Carpenter, now the dean of the College of Mechanic Arts and Engineering, and Frank Nalder (1901 Econ., History), the new head of WSC’s General Extension Division.


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