Shortwave Broadcast from a Ship in Florida [WLW 1930]

Some months back, the Herald Tribune in southwest Florida reported on an important radio event that occurred more than seventy years ago. This is the story.

The well-known radio promoter Powell Crosley had a palatial home built for himself at Venice in Florida. He loved fishing and he was the president of the Sarasota Angler’s Club.

In order to promote their annual fishing tournament, Powell planned an elaborate publicity event. He had a 30 foot fishing boat constructed to serve as a floating radio station, and he named his new boat “Little WLW” in honor of his huge mediumwave station, WLW in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The electronic equipment on this boat included a shortwave transmitter with a 30 foot high antenna. The date for this remote broadcast was set for June 10, 1930, at 8:30 pm. This was the time of the full moon and the change of the tide.

More than thirty fishing boats were entered into the fishing contest to see who could land the largest tarpon fish. Just five minutes before the beginning of the live broadcast, a fisherman in a nearby boat caught a very large tarpon, weighing 85 pounds. This fortunate fisherman was taken on board the radio boat “Little WLW” and he was interviewed in the live broadcast that was heard throughout the nation.

The radio relay was broadcast live over the shortwave transmitter on board the “Little WLW”, and it was picked up by a receiver at the bathing pavilion in Venice. The antenna was attached to the flag pole.

From Venice, the live program was carried by telephone lines for more than 1,300 miles to Cincinnati, where it was re-broadcast by the big station, WLW. Other stations throughout the nation also broadcast this program on relay from WLW. At the time, this was by far the longest landline usage ever used for a remote broadcast.

From: Wavescan 442, June 22, 2003

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“Wavescan” is a weekly program for long distance radio hobbyists produced by Dr. Adrian M. Peterson, Coordinator of International Relations for Adventist World Radio. AWR carries the program over many of its stations (including shortwave).