Museum Hours:

Saturday 10-6

Sunday 12-5

Please Become a Member of the Museum

Early Electronic Television

G. P. Ward

G. P. Ward started radio station WIAI in May, 1922, in the Heers Department Store, with a license for education and entertainment, a non-commercial operation.  The antenna was a wire strung between the Heers building and an adjacent office building, both 6 story structures.  Ward was also the manager of the department store's radio department, and sold and installed receivers.  After four years, the station was closed down by store management.

Ward purchased the transmitter from the store owner, and in 1927, went on the air as KFUV, but closed down when people complained his signal interfered with broadcasts from stations in Los Angeles and Schenectady, New York.  When the Federal Radio Commission was founded in 1928, he attempted to get his licence back, but Missouri was over its quota for stations.

KGBX was moved from St. Joseph to Springfield in 1932 by Ralph Foster, becoming the first commercial station.  A second station, KWTO, started in 1933.  Ward continued to work in radio sales and repairs.

In 1942 he went on the air with KTTS-AM, at 1400 kcs. He had the backing of a group of businessmen who decided the city needed another news voice beyond a single newspaper and the two existing radio stations (which had ties to the newspaper).  KTTS was a 250 watt independent (later affiliated with the Mutual Broadcasting Corp. and then CBS).

In 1948 he started the first FM station in southwest Missouri.  His FM station carried broadcasts of the St. Louis Cardinals when their games were blacked out from AM transmission over most of the state.

In March, 1953, Ward put KTTS-TV channel 10 on the air, operating out of second floor studios in an old downtown mansion that had been converted to an office building.  The tiny TV studio was in what had been the ballroom of the mansion.  Springfield's second station, KYTV, channel 3, went on the air in October, 1953 (in a real studio).

Ward was well known in broadcast circles, as a long time CBS affiliate.  He was also active in the Springfield Chamber of Commerce, serving as president, and was a recipient of the Chamber's Springfieldian of the Year award.

(Thanks to Bob Chancellor for this story)