Kotton, Port, Rail Center: A History of Early Radio in Houston.
By Christopher Varela.
(Houston: Fez Publishing, P.O. Box 12810, Houston, TX 77217-2810, 2004) 238 pages, softback, photographs, index, bibliography, ISBN 978-0-9748060-1-3 $21.00 email@example.com
Radio may be the centennial cradle of the wireless internet umbrella now being installed by the City of Houston.
Varela’s delightful volume covers more than just KRPC that took its call letters from its slogan “Kotton, Port, Rail Center.” He explores the territory from the 1900s through the 1920s. Local sound took flight. Don’t be shocked but conmen cast the first plan for a Texas-wide radio network back around 1906. Others made receivers were made from trash can lids, and kites were used to search for signals. It was also a time of amateur radio operators and inquiring adolescents. Howard Hughes, Sr. encouraged Jr. into radio. Live song and music was as common then as some of the leg-slapping things you find on the internet today. Church choirs and musical clubs were in demand. Physics lectures were common.
During World War I, private use was banned at the threat of treason, but some discrete listening continued. Some applied their skills in the military, aboard ships but most on land. After the war, Houston radio men and women roared with the rest. Regular businesses took to the air waves to tout their wares and entertain. Today’s KPRC and KTRH mark their birth in this time. The interest of Jesse Jones, Bill Hobby, Joseph Cullinan, and Ross Sterling signaled radio was serious business. Classical, jazz, beer garden umpas, and organ recitals streamed into homes.
Varela gives you a very readable text for this exciting era.
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