It is not clear under what licence the April, 1920 Rotary Club broadcast was conducted. Prior to World War I, Grove City College held a Technical and Training School licence, 8YV, but that was not renewed until late 1921. In the June 30, 1920 annual edition of Amateur Radio Stations of the United States, there is a standard Amateur station licence, 8JB, assigned to Herbert W. Harmon at 418 Poplar Street, but no entries for the college. Grove City College would later receive a standard broadcasting licence, WSAJ, in late 1922, which survived until 2006. (The 1938 review confuses the reissuing of the Technical and Training School assignment for 8YV in November, 1921 with the later Broadcasting station grant, WSAJ, which wasn't granted until November, 1922.)
The claim in the April 28, 1970 article that Dr. Weir Ketler (whose named is misspelled "Kettler") was "the nation's first successful radio orator" actually omits some earlier radio orations, including Harriet Stanton Blatch's February, 1909 talk promoting women's suffrage, and Vice President Thomas Marshall, who on August, 1919 gave a speech supporting the League of Nations.
New Castle (Pennsylvania) News, April 26, 1920, page 6:
Wireless Telephone Demonstration At Meeting of Rotary
A remarkable demonstration of wireless telephony was put on Monday at noon following the close of the regular session of the Rotary Club in the Y. M. C. A. when Rex Patch, wireless expert of this city in conjunction with H. W. Harmon and son and President Ketler, of Grove City College, gave a demonstration of what can be done by wireless telephone.
By means of the apparatus, which is made and been perfected by Mr. Patch and Professor Harmon, who is professor of physics at Grove City College, to which had been attached a loud speaking phonograph horn, the members of the club, heard phonograph music played at Grove City, twenty-two miles away and also listened to addresses made by Prof. Harmon and Prof. Ketler.
A little trouble was experienced at the start owing to climatic and electric influences, which interfered with the sensitive wireless instruments, but at the close of this most interesting session of the club, the voices of the speakers could be heard distinctly as coming from the horn. The club extended a rising vote of thanks to Prof. Harmon and Prof. Ketler at the close of the demonstration.
April 20, 1938, page 8:
Invited To Take Part In Program
Anniversary of First WSAJ Broadcast To New Castle To Be Celebrated
Grove City College Radio Station WSAJ on Tuesday, April 26, between 7:15 p. m. and 8:45 p. m. plans to put on a radio broadcast celebrating the eighteenth anniversary of the first broadcast the station made, according to a letter sent by H. W. Harmon to Rex Patch of this city.
When the first broadcast was made Patch was in charge of the reception here by the Rotary club to whom the broadcast was directed. President W. C. Ketler addressed the Rotarians and Patch picked it up on the Pennsylvania Wireless Company receiver and amplified it for the "loud speaker."
Patch has been requested by Harmon to give a description of his equipment and of the early difficulties to be overcome and the success and reception by the Rotarians.
President Ketler will again on Tuesday deliver an address and the college student radio club is arranging the program.
April 25, 1938, page 16:
Will Observe Anniversary Of Radio Station
Station WSAJ At Grove City Will Commemorate First Broadcast To New Castle
WAS RECEIVED BY ROTARY CLUB
GROVE CITY, Pa. April 25--Paying tribute to Dr. H. W. Harmon, one of the pioneers of radio, station WSAJ, Grove City college, will present a special broadcast at 7:15 p. m. Tuesday, April 26, exactly 18 years after the first radio telephone broadcast which was sent from Grove City college to New Castle, Pa., on April 26, 1920.
The original radio broadcast, an epochal event in the history of radio, demonstrated Dr. Harmon's transmitter which soon won a prize in a nation-wide contest for a successful telephone transmitter. The broadcast was to the Rotary club of New Castle and was picked up and amplified by Rex Patch, manufacturer of the Pennsylvania Regenerative radio receiver line and well known for his amateur activities.
Dr. Ketler, president of Grove City college, and Dr. Harmon himself, who spoke on the original broadcast, and also Mr. Patch will be present for the commemorative broadcast.
The station is one of the few stations in this country that has remained non-commercial and whose programs and operations are largely in the hands of the students.
In 1914 the first license was obtained for the amateur station. The call was 8CO. The source of power for the equipment was one kilowatt Thordarson transformer. The station continued to operate under this call until all stations were ordered from the air at the declaration of war in 1917.
In February 1920 the station was allowed to return to the air under the auspices of the signal corps. Tubes, type VT-2, loaned to the station by the bureau of standards, were built into experimental radio telephone transmitter and was first used in March 1920 to contact the amateur stations in northwestern Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio. The procedure used to make these contacts were thus: First, they were contacted by the ordinary key and international Morse method. Having thus made the contact certain, a switch was thrown and the radio-telephone thrown into use. The remainder of the contact is carried on in this manner.
In November 1921, the college was given one of the new special licenses for broadcasting stations. The call assigned is that being used at the present time--WSAJ. The assigned frequency was so crowded with interference that the government, in order to relieve the congestion, assigned a definite wave length to each station on the air. This included only the broadcasting station and not the amateur. On the assignment, WSAJ was assigned to the 229 meter wave. About a year later, this was shifted to 224 meters and two years later was re-assigned to the wave length of 229 meters or frequency of 1310 kilocycles.
In the years of 1927 and 1928 as a master's degree thesis assignment, William Harmon ground quartz crystals and tested them to the assigned frequency of 1310 kilocycles and developed a suitable crystal oscillator circuit which delivered the program carrier wave to the antenna. WSAJ thus became one of the earliest stations to use the new quartz crystal oscillator system.
In the fall of 1931 with the completion of the new science building on the upper campus, the station was moved from the old physics building on the lower campus to the new location. During the Christmas recess in 1936 the present equipment was installed. This new addition was added to conform to the requirements laid down by the Federal Communications Commission. The construction was done by H. H. Johnson and W. A. Wright. Mr. Johnson was the operator at that time. He designed the complete transmitter. Due to the effects of an attack of typhoid fever and overwork, Mr. Johnson died. The development of the station has by no means ceased. As new and better equipment is developed, it finds its place in the present transmitter and accessories.
April 22, 1970, page 6:
Grove City to recreate 1920 broadcast
GROVE CITY, PA. -- The country's oldest radio station, Grove City College's WSAJ-AM and FM, will mark its 50th Anniversary next Monday by recreating its first broadcast a half-century ago.
The first transmission occurred on April 26, 1920, over six months before KDKA, Pittsburgh, the first commercial radio station. Former President Weir C. Ketler, now retired and still residing in Grove City, addressed the New Castle Rotary Club for the first radio broadcast. KDKA made its first broadcast on November 2 of that year, transmitting the election returns.
To mark this historical event, President J. Stanley Harker will introduce former President Keller on a direct broadcast to the New Castle Rotary Club Monday. It is scheduled from 12:20 to 12:35 p.m.
Following is an account appearing in the April 26, 1920 edition of The News on the first broadcast.
"Wireless Telephone Demonstrated at Rotary Meeting"
"A remarkable demonstration of wireless telephony was put on Monday at noon following the close of the regular session of the Rotary Club in the YMCA when Rex Patch, wireless expert of this city in conjunction with Grove City College Professor H. W. Harmon and son and President Ketler of Grove City College gave a demonstration of what can be done by wireless telephone.
"By means of the apparatus, which is made and been perfected by Mr. Patch and Professor Harmon who is professor of Physics at Grove City College, to which had been attached a loud speaking phonograph horn, the members of the club heard phongraph music played at Grove City, twenty-two miles away and also listened to addresses made by Professor Harmon and President Ketler.
"A little trouble was experienced at the start owing to climatic and electric influences, which interfered with the sensitive wireless instruments, but at the close of this most interesting session of the club the voices of the speakers could be heard distinctly as coming from the horn. The club extended a rising vote of thanks to Professor Harmon and President Ketler at the close of the demonstration."
April 28, 1970, page 2:
Grove City College claims to be first on the air
Rotarians relive 50 years of broadcasting
Some 75 New Castle Rotarians yesterday relived 50 years of broadcasting history when Dr Weir C. Kettler, president emeritus of Grove City College, presented a reenactment of a milestone in modern communications. He addressed them at their weekly luncheon meeting . . . via radio.
WSAJ-AM and FM yesterday marked its 50th anniversary and Dr. Kettler, the nation's first successful radio orator, relived April 16, 1920 when he first addressed the Rotarians.
J. Stanley Harker, present college president, told Rotarians via WSAJ, "For months now we've been hearing that certain commercial stations were the first on the air. Four such stations claim this distinction." He called these claims propaganda.
"Grove City College made the first successful April 26, 1920 transmission . . . some six months before KDKA Pittsburgh, the nation's first commercial station, aired election results November 2, 1920," he said.
Harker introduced Dr. Kettler, who served as the college's president for some 40 years following eight years as an instructor. Dr. Kettler told the Rotarians he would have enjoyed giving his original presentation, but lacked a copy of that broadcast saying, "I did not believe my part important in the development of broadcasting but only an incident in the history of broadcasting"
Explaining the circumstances of his original broadcast, Dr. Kettler told the luncheon group, "credit should go to Rex Patch and Professor H. W. Harmon, the two men who made that milestone possible.
The two, he told listeners, were friends during those two years. Patch, a New Castle resident, operated a wireless parts shop, while Harmon taught Physics at the college.
"Professor Harmon," he said, "was a ham radio operator whose interests were photography, X-rays, and the wireless." A Cornell graduate, Harmon gave demonstrations of the X-ray technique and even took pictures in class.
"In 1912 I heard over Harmon's wireless signals from Great Lakes and ocean signals from as far off as Panama.
"His assistant in those days was George Southworth," said, "who was interested in radar. He later went on to work on wave guide transmission projects."
"Both men," he said, "were called to serve in the Washington, D.C.-based Bureau of Standards during World War I. They returned with an even greater enthusiasm for development of the wireless," he added.
"Harmon," he told listeners, "built a radio broadcasting set which won first place in a national wireless contest."
Patch, a member of the New Castle Rotary, proposed the luncheon broadcast of 1920. He and Harmon worked closely on the project and invited Dr. Kettler to be the speaker.
"Some 50 years have passed," said Dr. Kettler, "and we need not count the developments that have been made. We now have television that can encircle the globe . . . the world we live in is truly an age of miracles."
He praised tne rapid development of the broadcasting industry which, in so short a time, has developed both audio and visual communications . . . in color . . . world-wide and from the moon. "We have come a long way in the field of electronics since 50 years ago."
Vern Alderson, president of the local Rotarians, broadcasting to WSAJ, said, "What a remarkable achievement. It is a pleasure to participate in the 50th anniversary of your radio station. We send our greeting . . ." calling for applause by the assembly.
Some 156 resounding hands told Dr. Kettler his message . . . the second in half a century . . . was a success.