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Early Television Stations

W5XA Shreveport, LA

In September of 1930, W9XX was licensed to Rev. Lannie W. Stewart, in Cartersville, MO., and began broadcasting on 1604 kHz with 100 watts power as a radio station. In October of 1931 the station was apparently sold to Paul Carriger, and moved to Shreveport. The next month the frequency was changed to 1594 kHz, and a number of shortwave frequencies were authorized. The call sign was changed to W5XA.  The station officially went on the air on January 11, 1932 with both audio and video transmissions. The audio was transmitted on 1594 kHz and the video on the 160 meter amateur radio band.

Newspaper accounts, and the recollection of W. E. Antony, a radio pioneer who was involved in the station, say that TV broadcasting started in 1929. The equipment shown below dates from 1932, so another camera must have been used, probably a home made one. Here is a 1932 ad from Western for their camera and transmitter.

Joey Kent recently sent us some letters from Paul Carriger to Jenkins and Shortwave & Television Corp. (Hollis Baird's company.

In the newspaper article below, W9XX is given as the call sign used by the TV station. It is likely that the confusion came from the photo below that shows a microphone, purchased as part of the station in Cartersville, with W9XX on it. Probably the call sign for both the audio and video was W5XA.

Information courtesy of KWKH Archives - J. Kent

The camera, made by Western Television

Recently we were contacted by Ronnie Wright, who lives outside of Shreveport. Louisiana. He acquired the camera and transmitter from this station.

On the nameplate below the lens is Scanner, Type-JR Serial No-109 Western Television Corporation Chicago ILL. USA.

Here is what he has to say about how he got it.

Just a little back  ground on how I came to own this scanner. Approximately 10 years ago I started picking up old TV's. I finally ended up with about 65 televisions at my peak. Most were late 40's, nothing spectacular, just nice looking old wooden sets. Also had quite a few Predicta TVs. One day I was talking to a fellow collector about my TVs and was trying to explain to him about the mechanical televisions and that someday I wanted to find one for my collection. About 2 weeks later he called me and said he had been to a flea market in Shreveport La. and he thought he had seen what I was talking about at one of the booths at this place.. Of course I didn't believe this could be true so I didn't think much about it at the time. In fact I let a whole week go by before I decided to go and check it out... just to be on the safe side. I went to the location but this particular booth was closed with a wire gate, so you could see in but not enter. And would you believe it, in a box back in the corner was this camera all apart.  I got the man's name, gave him a call, went to his house to try and negotiate a deal. First off he asked me if I knew what this thing was. And yes it was for sale. Before I could say anything he said, "I'm sure you'll never get this thing back together, young man." And in the same breath, "I'll tell you what it is." He said it is a device that the railroad uses to check the railroad signal arm that comes down to block the traffic at the crossings. I was clearly looking at the ships wheel that said Western Television Corp. as he was telling me this story. SO I just flipped the wheel over and said to him, "I think I can use this railroad arm checker." As I was loading it up he said, "by the way there are some other items and parts that goes with this." He came out with the photo electric cells and a box of miscellaneous parts and also told me there was a cabinet in his garage that he had stripped all the equipment out of and had removed all the gauges and it made a nice paint storage shelving unit in his garage.  I said I sure wanted that if it went with it.. He said that he would have to talk to his wife about that piece because it was her favorite shelf. So he called me later and I did go and pick it up.

The transmitter, which was 100 watts. Most of the circuitry has been removed, and the light switches at the bottom are recent additions.

The photocells

An invoice from Western, listing the transmitter (which is what the scanning assembly was called), other items, and a 8 inch disk screen receiver, which must have been a Model 41, which was just being developed. A Visionette was substituted for it.

A newspaper article about Paul L. Carriger and the station.

Recently we heard from is Joey Kent, owner of the Louisiana Hayride and KWKH Archives:

I am an historian of the Hayride and early Shreveport radio and television.  I am very well acquainted with Paul Carriger and his television and radio operations in Shreveport.  I was thrilled to see your story about Ronnie and his television find.

Paul "The Radio Man" Carriger came to Shreveport from El Dorado, Arkansas in the later half of the twenties (maybe where the midwestern W9 originated from?) where he found employment with WK Henderson, the notorious "shock jock" owner of powerhouse KWKH.  Henderson hired Carriger as program director of sister station KWEA, a 500 watt local station dedicated to local interests.  Carriger ran KWEA which, under the engineering skills of William Erwin Antony (the station's namesake and longtime KWKH employee) and the defiant Henderson, reached audiences as
far away as Hawaii with their illegally boosted signal.  Carriger often used the studios of KWEA and its equipment in his programming for W9XX and W5XA which was located a few miles away on the Old Minden Rd. in an eccentric fortress known as Giddens Castle.  Talent pooled from his KWEA "Fun Club" such as pre-Shirley Temple sensation Thelma Brewer and handsome Merlin McKinnon and piano playing receptionist Beatrice Fretwell were happy to make the trek out to Giddens Castle often at 3 or 4 in the morning for Carriger's experimental broadcasts.  In 1929, he made a successful transmission and reception of images from Chicago.  The 1961 Shreveport Times article you show in part on your website is an excellent account of Carriger's memories.  He gave up on TV in 1934 as money and interest had become scarce during the Depression.  I have a huge collection of KWKH and early Shreveport radio memorabilia including one of Carriger's microphones and some photos from the TV station, copies of which are attached. 

 

W5XA and W9XX

 

Beatrice Fretwell

Paul Carriger

Merlin McKinnon

Thelma Brewer

 Photos courtesy KWKH Archives - J. Kent