Monday, April 9, 2012

Hot Springs Attractions, 1900-1908- and Mobile, AL Thrown In....

Dear visitor, KAAY engineer Dave M. sent these pictures to me a few months ago...and I am still trying to catch up to him, at times.  My apologies to Dave for not running these sooner!

The first picture is from 1908, just a few years prior to KTHS' broadcast debut.  Dave said the caption read, "Army and Navy General Hospital"...Dave also says, "Closer to the camera on Reserve Avenue we have the Imperial Bath House and some helpful signage."

A few years earlier, circa 1900, he found a picture of Central Avenue in Hot Springs:

Both of these pictures, and many more, can be found on

Some do, some don't know, but KAAY was KTHS in the early days before 1962, when LIN Broadcasting bought KTHS.  For more history, type in "KTHS" in the upper left-hand seach box, click on the magnifying glass and get ready to read!

Dave also provided me with a picture of downtown Mobile, AL circa 1901, which shows some interesting things: at the foot of what is present-day Government Street, there appears to be a radio tower or antenna!  We had some good discussions with this one!

Admiral Raphael Semmes is now, present-day, in almost the same position he was back then, after having been moved a time or two down the street.

Dave had enlarged the picture many times and we had fun picking out the details...he has a sharp eye (and wit to match!).  I'd almost forgotten about this photo, so I'll have to inquire around Mobile to see if anyone can identify what radio service (most likely maritime) utilized this tower.  These are Dave's observations:

"1) I think you are correct that it is a radio tower - probably transmissions for marine use (??) since it is next to the port, a good hint.

2) The tower is grounded at the bottom, there are no insulators that I could see.

3) There appears to be a wire grid work along the upper part of the tower face. Note sure what this is for other than to perhaps present a "solid" electrical face along the side of the tower.

4) There also appears to be what might be a feed wire coming from the left and attaching onto a tower face about 1/3 way up. With the tower grounded and the feed wire connector at about 1/3 the overall height, can we think this is a center loaded antenna? If so, the frequency may be in the range of 5 - 7 MHz judging on the apparent height. Do you know what frequencies were used for early marine Morse transmission?

5) The top of the tower has what appears to be a cantilevered support - maybe a supplemental radiator?

6) The ball on the top is likely for lightning suppression."

Thank you, Dave!

Bud S. (

1 comment:

  1. Hollis W. DuncanApril 9, 2012 at 3:32 PM

    1901 is about 20 years too early for broadcasting. I'm guessing that this was an antenna for a spark transmitter that was shunt-fed at a point that would tend to match the transmitter. Like most spark stations, it would have operated around 833 kHz. This, not coincidentally, was the operating frequency of many of the first broadcast stations.

    The concept of having a transmitter and receiver tuned to the same frequency is a fairly new concept. In the Spark days, everything was broadband and the "operating frequency" was determined by the constants of the transmitter output circuits and the antenna.

    If you want to learn more, read Hugh G. J. Aitken, Syntony and spark: the origins of radio (1976) ISBN 978-0691083773.