Created in 1924, the two 140 foot towers were used in some of the first distance radio stations. After 1929, the towers rendered useless besides transferring microwaves to a nearby tower. A memorial to Grover C. Cobb, a pioneer Kansas broadcaster, is at the base of the north tower.
The two KSAC radio towers are
located to the west of Nichols Gymnasium on the Kansas State University campus.
They are about 140 feet high and stand about 300 feet apart. The towers
themselves have not been visibly altered since their construction in 1924.
There is no longer any antenna hung between the two towers. The KSAC radio
towers were constructed in 1924 by the Wind Engine and Pump Company of Batavia,
Illinois, a company that made and sold wind mill towers. The towers supported a
flat top antenna, a design copied from a ship radio. It consisted of a number
of parallel wires stretched horizontally between the towers with the
transmitter line from the studio fanning out to join these wires midway between
the towers. The towers themselves were four sided open-frame metal structures. The
appearance of the towers was changed slightly toward the end of 1929- when a
new antenna was installed. The flat top antenna was replaced by a more advanced
T-cage antenna. The T-cage consisted of a number of parallel copper wires
stretched between metal rings, one mounted on each of the two KSAC towers. This
gave the appearance of a cage or tube of wires stretched between
the two KSAC towers with the studio link adjoining the cage at the
mid-point between the towers. Currently there is no antenna connecting the
towers. The north tower is being used to microwave the KSAC studio signal from
the campus to the KSAC transmitter on Denison Avenue. At the base of this tower
is a memorial to Grover C. Cobb, a pioneer Kansas broadcaster.
The KSAC radio towers on the
Kansas State University campus are an excellent example of early radio' towers
built in the United States. At the time of their construction in 1924 they
represented the finest available radio technology. The original towers remain
intact, virtually as they were when. constructed. They are now the only
remaining towers of their type in Kansas, and are among a very few left in the
United States. They are appropriate symbols of broadcasting history and of
KSAC's place in that history.
The history of broadcasting at
Kansas State Agricultural College (as it was known until 1959) began 12
years before the KSAC radio station was constructed. In 1912 the physics department
of Kansas State licensed or one kilowatt transmitter and began daily weather broadcasts
in morse code. Radio technology was not advanced to the point that voice transmissions
were possible. Many farmers and farm boys had crystal detectors and learned code
well enough to receive these Weather reports. These broadcasts were reported to
have been received more than 150 miles away in Winfield. They are now believed
to be the first fixed radio broadcasts of weather reports in the United States.
Professor Hamilton of Kansas State brought these broadcasts to the attention oi
the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and a similar service was soon inaugurated by
the Army and Navy.
In 1922 Professor
Eric Lyon established a new 100 watt radio telephone station (WTG) capable of
broadcasting the human voice and music. The occasional broadcasts from WTG were
heard by Kansas listeners with crystal receiving sets within a radius of 150
Ten years after the first
morse code transmissions the first commercial broadcasting stations began
operations, notably the Kansas City Star station WDAF in Kansas City, Missouri and
KFKB, owned and operated by Doctor John R. Brinkley at Milford, Kansas.
Remote broadcasts from Kansas
State Agricultural College began on February 11, 1924 on Dr. Brinkley's KFKB station.
Three far sighted K-State faculty each contributed $50 of their own money to
lease telephone wires to link the university's remote studio with that of KFKB.
Programing for so much radio time had become by this time a severe burden to
the physics department so it was decided that the extension division would
assume control of programming duties.
Construction of a new 500 watt
radio station with call letters KSAC began on August 20,1924. The towers that
were put up then are those that stand today. By special permission of the
Acting Secretary of Commerce, station KSAC' began broadcasting with a five hour
nation-wide Aggie program. The operation of this station has been
continuously the responsibility at the extension division.
In 1926 KSAC made
radio connection. with commercial radio station KFAB, then in Lincoln, Nebraska,
when full time broadcasting of quality programing became too great a burden on
KSAC staff. It was felt that each station could share the same frequency, each
broadcasting at separate fixed times in the day. Considerable difficulty in
time sharing resulted from this union. Trouble originated over KFAB's refusal
to allow KSAC to broadcast the Kansas basketball games in their entirety. In
addition, KSAC officials received numerous complaints from their listeners
concerning the weakness of the station's signal. KSAC engineers also wished to
change to a lower frequency to provide a better signal. For these reasons KSAC
ended its affiliation with KFAB on Oct. 30, 1928.
After the break from KFAB,
KSAC changed its frequency to 580 and began a time sharing with WSUl, a sister
educational station at the University of Iowa at Iowa City, Iowa. KSAC was
licensed to operate at 100 watts daytime and 500 watts at night. The time
sharing with WSUI was quite satisfactory. However, the Federal Radio Commission
preferred time sharing stations to be located close to one another. As a result
of the F.R.C. policies KSAC switched from time sharing with WSUI to time
sharing with WIBW, a commercial station located in Topeka, Kansas on November
The radio signal
generated by KSAC was modernized in 1947 when the station built a new 424 foot
1/4 wave vertical antenna on Denison Avenue just north of the main campus. The
connection between the campus studios and the transmitter was by phone lines. From
1947 both towers were non-functioning. In August, 1974 the north tower of the two
original KSAC Radio towers was pressed into service once again. Since that time
it has been used as a tower to microwave the studio signal on campus to the
transmitter on Denison Avenue.