Route 66 and radio history timeline by Glen Davis,


Radio news is bearable. This is due to the fact that while the news is being broadcast the disc jockey is not allowed to talk.Fran Lebowitz; American journalist4

Please note: This is a working research project. I am getting information, putting it together, verifying them and making corrections. Some dates and events may be in error. If you have suggested additions or corrections, please email:


Long before "the Mother Road" twisted across eight states connecting Los Angeles to Chicago, Guglielmo Marconi proved that states could be connected through the air.


After much refinement, Marconi broadcasts the first international radio broadcast across the Atlantic. The transoceanic transmission even attracted the attention of Albert Einstein who went to New Brunswick Station for a demo of the radio.5


During his 46-year career with G.E., Swedish-born Alexanderson became the company's most prolific inventor, receiving a total of 322 patents. He produced inventions in such fields as railway electrification, motors and power transmissions, telephone relays, and electric ship propulsion, in addition to his pioneer work in radio and television. 3

In 1904, Alexanderson was assigned to build a high-frequency machine that would operate at high speeds and produce a continuous-wave transmission. Before the invention of his alternator, radio was an affair only of dots and dashes transmitted by inefficient t crashing spark machines. After two years of experimentation, Alexanderson finally constructed a two-kilowatt, 100,000-cycle machine. It was installed in the Fessenden station at Brant Rock, Massachusetts, on Christmas Eve, 1906. It enabled that station to transmit a radio broadcast which included a voice and a violin solo.

Alexanderson's name also will be recorded in history for his pioneer efforts in television and the transmission of pictures. On June 5, 1924, he transmitted the first facsimile message across the Atlantic. In 1927 he staged the first home reception of television at his own home in Schenectady, New York, using high-frequency neon lamps and a perforated scanning disc. He gave the first public demonstration of television on January 13, 1928.


After two years of experimentation, Alexanderson constructed a two-kilowatt, 100,000-cycle alternator that was installed in the Fessenden station at Brant Rock, Massachusetts. On Christmas Eve, 1906, it enabled the station to transmit voice and a violin solo.

Lee Deforest invented a device that made radio circuits commercially feasible. Prior to this, only diode tubes existed. The diode tube maintained electromagnetic current between an anode (positive) and a cathode (negative). The diode could rectify signals converting them from AC to DC, thus making power supplies possible, but it could not amplify the signal. Deforest came up with a simple, ingenious solution. Adding a third electrode between the other two, he created the "triode" or "audion." With this new device, he discovered that he could control the signal input. He could both rectified and amplified a signal. Patent # 879,532

Because of these inventions, radio started moving into the commercial era.

De Forest, Lee, 1873–1961, American inventor; b. Council Bluffs, Iowa. A pioneer in the development of wireless telegraphy, sound pictures, and television, he invented the triode (1906), which made transcontinental telephony practicable and led to the foundation of the radio industry.4


Edwin Howard Armstrong (1890-1954) invents the regenerative circuit.4


The American Association of State Highway Officials, composed of executives and engineers from each of the states, is organized to bring uniformity to highway construction.1


President Woodrow Wilson signs the Federal Aid Road Act providing $75 million to states in matching road project funds.1 Legislation was first approved for public highways.


Edwin Howard Armstrong credited with inventing the super heterodyne circuit, the basic circuit of nearly all modern radio receivers.4


First regular licensed radio broadcasting begun Aug. 20.4

  1. An example of a kit radio; model unknown


November 9, 1921 Congress passed the Federal Hiway Act.


From The Standard Radio Guide.
        In 1922, the Modern Publishing Company printed The Standard Radio Guide for Popular Science Monthly. Radios were getting so popular that periodicals were coming into the market. Of course, Popular Science was a well-known magazine of the era. The Guide ran tips on operating your vacuum tube radio and some of the operating principles behind them. In that guide, they published the map above and a listing, "Some of the leading broadcasting stations shown on the map...."
        Apparent by the map is the fact that route 66 was well covered by radio with the exception of a few areas in Arizona and New Mexico.
        The Standard Radio Guide indicated that a crystal detector, costing from $10 to $25, should receive up to 10 miles. With a vacuum tube set running from $60 to $80, one could expect to receive stations up to 50 miles away. For $130 to $175, you might be able to receive stations 200 miles away with a two-stage set. For $250 and over—although it says $200 or more in a later paragraph—you could receive stations up to 500 miles distance. That, of course, depended a lot on the antenna placement.
KDKA Westinghouse Elec. & Mfg. Co., E. Pittsburg, Pa.
WJZ Westinghouse Elec. & Mfg. Co., Newark, N. J.
WBZ Westinghouse Elec. & Mfg. Co., Springfield, Mass.
WWZ John Wanamaker's Store, New York, N. Y.
WVP Signal Corps, Fort Wood. Bedloe's Island, N. Y.
WGY General Electric Company, Schenectady, N. Y.
WGI American Radio& Research Corp., Medford Hillsides, Mass
NOF Government Station, Anacostia, D. C.
KYW Westinghouse Elec. & Mfg. Co., Chicago, Ill.
WHA University Wisconsin, Madison, Wis.
9YA University of Iowa, Iowa City. Ia.
WOQ Western Radio Co., Kansas City, Mo.
9YY University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebr.
WRR City of Dallas Station, Dallas, Texas.
5ZU State University Austin, Texas.
WRW Tarrytown, N. Y.
WWJ Detroit News, Detroit, Mich.
WLB University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minn.
KZY A-P Radio Supplies Co., Rockridge, Oakland, Cal.


Oklahoma resident Cyrus Avery is elected president of the Associate Highways Association of America.1


During an American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO) meeting in San Francisco, Avery selected by Secretary of Agriculture Howard M. Gore to head a joint board to design and number a new system of federal highways.1


The number 66 is proposed by Avery and Missouri's B. H. Piepmeier for the Chicago-Los Angeles road after a meeting in Springfield, Missouri in hopes of settling a controversy over which road should receive the more prestigious number 60. Route 66 dedicated as a U. S. Highway at AASHO ceremony in Pinehurst, North Carolina.1 In the summer of 1926, the hiway route connecting the country from Los Angeles to Chicago was officially designated route 66.



  1. Brunswick 7-tube, TRF radio c. 1928


Black Friday. October '29, the stock market crash.

Great Depression, the severe U.S. economic crisis of the 1930s, supposedly precipitated by the 1929 stock market crash. Certain causative factors are generally accepted: overproduction of goods; a tariff and war-debt policy that curtailed foreign markets for American goods; and easy money policies that led to overexpansion of credit and fantastic speculation on the stock market. At the depth (1933) of the Depression, 16 million people—one third of the labor force—were unemployed. The effects were felt in Europe, and contributed to Adolph Hitler's rise in Germany. The policies of the NEW DEAL relieved the situation, but complete recovery came only with the heavy defense spending of the 1940s.4

Wall Street Lays an Egg.—Sime Silverman (1873-1933); Headline announcing stock market crash [October 1929]

The road and the radio meet for the first time when a young entrepreneur by the name of William Lear invents the car radio. Having no money to produce it, he sells the idea to American Paul Galvin, the head of Galvin Manufacturing Corporation. The first car radios were not available from car makers, they had to purchased by the consumer. Paul Galvin coins the name "Motorola" for the company's new products, combining the idea of motion and radio.2 One might have the temptation to feel pity for the young man who invented a product and had to watch another take his idea. Until one realizes the young man went on to make another product that still bears his name. Corporations around the world still fly in their status symbol called the Lear jet.

In 1929, Allied Radio Corporation located at 711 W. Lake Street in Chicago is one of the popular wholesalers with its Knight brand-name radios. ARC's 1929 wholesalers catalog advertises various radios and phonographs, radio tables, new-fangled cone speakers and other radio components. You could even get a Knight radio franchise.
Other brand names in the catalog include:
bulletCrosley Jewel Box
bulletCrosley Band Box
bulletAtwater-Kent models 37
bulletAtwater-Kent models 38
bulletSteinite 990
bulletStewart-Warner 801
bulletBremer Tully 6-40

  1. RCA Victor broadcast and 78 rpm phonograph/recorder
  2. Majestic Famous model 91
  3. Majestic Famous model 92



Federal Communications Commission (FCC), independent U.S. agency created (1934) to regulate interstate and foreign communications, including various kinds of radio, television, wire, and cable transmissions. The FCC is empowered to grant, revoke, renew, and modify broadcasting licenses and to assign broadcast frequencies.4

May 10 & 11, 1934, dust storms damaged Oklahoma and Kansas.

  1. RCA Model 84


  1. Zenith model 9S-54


  1. Philco Model 60


In 1937, Philco began to precede their model numbers with two digits indicating the year of manufacturer. They began to come out with many improvements. And while they remained number 1, they still dropped in sales that year.
  1. Philco 37-11X


Unemployed worked as road gangs to pave route 66. In 1938, route 66 is reported as continuously paved.


Advertisements for radios were tricky. For example, check this ad. It shows the 13-Tube Western Auto Air Patrol declaring a reduction on all 1938 models! As low as $11.95. Of course, reading the fine, fine print, we find that is for the 5-tube table top models.

Though route 66 was reported as continuously paved, The Coconino Sun in Arizona complained, "Neglected U. S. highway 66 between Flagstaff and Williams, almost daily adding its toll to traffic accidents, miraculously none of them recently so far resulting in death, added another of the latter class Wednesday night."

  1. 1938 RCA Victor 94BT1
  2. 1938 Western Auto Air Patrol on Sale
  3. 8-tube Western Auto Air Patrol
  4. 13-tube Western Auto Air Patrol


  1. Greyhound advertising a radio show


John Steinbeck publishes Grapes of Wrath.
Commander Eugene F. McDonald, one of the founders of Zenith, received patent #2,164,251 for the Wavemagnet external loop antenna. The Wavemagnet allowed reception of signals in areas previously impossible such as inside metal buildings. He later added this new device to a series of shortwave receivers called Transoceanics.
  1. GE Model 35
  2. RCA T-62 Table-top
  3. GE Model 35


We shall defend every village, every town and every city. The vast mass of London itself, fought street by street, could easily devour an entire hostile army; and we would rather see London laid in ruins and ashes than that it should be tamely and abjectly enslaved.—Sir Winston Spencer Churchill, Radio broadcast [July 14, 1940]4

  1. Western Auto model 76 "Air Patrol"
  2. Delco 1140
  3. Philco Model 40-150


In October 1941, the United States tuned into reports of an invasion force. Worse than the Japanese or the Germans, this force had weapons that melted metal and instantly burned the flesh off of human beings. This inhuman invasion force came out of the skies from Mars. When the smoke of battle cleared, however, we learned that the invasion actually came out of the minds of men. The whole invasion was a Halloween performance of "The War of the Worlds" by Orson Wells and the Mercury Theater on the Air. While Orson Wells had been on the air for years, this performance secured his place in broadcast history. Its "news" format caused people to take to the streets to evacuate major cities and no doubt tied up traffic along route 66 across the country for hours.

(1941) Orson Wells radio dramatization of War of the Worlds caused nationwide scare Oct. 30.1

In a just two short months, on December 7, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii causing over 2000 casualties. The next day, Franklin Delano Roosevelt speaking before Congress called it a, " which will live in infamy." Congress declared war on December 8. Nazi Germany was forced to declare war on the United States a few days later.

Route 66 helped to facilitate the single greatest wartime mobilization in history.

  1. Philco 41-265 Broadcast/2-SW
  2. RCA VHR-202 Recording Model


Goodnight, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are.—Jimmy [James Francis] Durante 1893-1980; Radio series sign-off [1942]4

Voice of America (VOA), broadcasting service of the International Communications Agency, an independent U.S. government body. Founded in 1942, the VOA produces and broadcasts English- and foreign-language radio programs in many parts of the world to promote a favorable impression of the U.S. It features news reports and entertainment.4


  1. .Westinghouse H-126 'Little Jewel' portable AM


The first recording of the theme of route 66 written by Robert William ("Bobby") Troup, Jr. is released sung by Nat King Cole.

  1. Farnsworth ET 067
  2. Westinghouse H-122


  1. Admiral 7P33 "Suitcase" broadcast (AM)
  2. Silvertone Model 7080 Broadcast/78 RPM


In July of 1948 came a startling announcement. People listening to their Crosley 9-118W in New Mexico learned of the crash of an alien craft, described as a metal disc. Some might have heard on the Monarch B623120—the "Mighty Monarch of the Air"—the next day that highly trained Air Force officers could not distinguish between a highly advanced space craft and a balloon. The incident caused a stir and was the first incident that caused Americans not to trust their government. Various suppositions concerning the nature of their visit were raised; from invasion to research and observation to bringing a message of peace from Galacticon. However, new and intriguing evidence has surfaced that they were simply alien teen-agers cruising route 66 that got lost and ran out of gas. How many times has that happened to you?

  1. Crosley 9-118W1949 Crosley 9-118W
  2. Monarch B623120


  1. Hallicrafters Model S-38D
  2. Zenith 8G005Y-TZ1 Transoceanic


Radio Free Europe, broadcasting complex headquartered in Munich, Germany, that provides daily programs to the peoples of Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria in their own languages. Founded in 1950, it is privately operated, although mainly financed by the U.S. government. Its broadcasts include news and political commentaries, music, sports, and other entertainment.4

  1. RCA Victor 1080
  2. RCA Victor 9X-561


  1. Crosley D-25MN
  2. RCA Victor B-411
  3. GE Model 511
  4. Zenith G500 Transoceanic


  1. Crosley E-30 TN


  1. Philco Model 53-960
  2. Coronado 11305
  3. Zenith K731
  4. GE Model 546
  5. Zenith H500 Transoceanic


[Zenith G730W]


Interstate Highway System
Persons traveling through the United States today may find it difficult to imagine our country without the Eisenhower Interstate Highway System. It was not until June 29, 1956, when President Eisenhower signed the Federal Aid Highway Act, that interstate highways began to meet the challenge of the growing number of automobiles on the nation’s highways. While in Europe during World War II, then-General Eisenhower viewed the ease of travel on the German autobahns. That, coupled with the experiences of a young Lt. Col. Eisenhower in the 1919 Transcontinental Convoy, convinced the President of the overwhelming need for safer and speedier highways. The President also felt that the newer, multi-lane highways were essential to a strong national defense. Copies of documents and a listing of relevant collections on this topic are available at the Eisenhower Library


[Packard Bell SR-1]


In order to progress, radio need only go backward, to the time when singing commercials were not allowed on news reports, when there was no middle commercial on a news report, when radio was rather proud, alert and fast.—Edward Roscoe] Murrow 1908-1965; Speech at the Radio and Television News Directors Convention, Chicago [October 15, 1958]4


My mind's not right.
A car radio bleats,
"Love, O careless Love.…" I hear
my ill-spirit sob in each blood cell,
as if my hand were at its throat.…
I myself am hell;
nobody's here.
Robert [Trail Spence] Lowell 1917-1977, Skunk Hour [1959]4

1961 to 1964

While the television show, route 66 staring Martin Milner and George Maharis, solidified route 66 attractions in the minds of Americans and caused an increased interest in the Mother Road, the Federal Highway Act of 1956 signaled the demise of route 66.


Lee Deforest, "the Father of Radio," dies.4

[1961 Admiral Y3027A
1962 GE model C520B



Philo Tayler Farnsworth (b. 1906), an American radio and television pioneer, dies.4


October 1984

Interstate 40 replaced the final stretch of route 66 at Williams, Arizona.


The American Association of State Highway Officials' special committee on U. S. Highway numbering approve decommission of Route 66.1


KRTE FM 89.5 begins broadcasting on August 2000 in Williams proving radio is still there to entertain route 66 traffic.

1SOURCE: Route 66 Magazine; Fall 1996; U. S. Highway 66 Mile Markers by Jim Ross
3SOURCE: Ernst F. W. Alexander son
4SOURCE: History Channel
5Eintein and

b. William Lear
a. William Lear
c. William Lear


chassis : The framework to which the functioning parts of a radio, television, phonograph, or other electronic equipment are attached.

super heterodyne : Indicating or pertaining to a form of radio reception in which the frequency of an incoming radio signal is converted to an intermediate frequency, by mixing with a locally generated signal, to facilitate amplification and the rejection of unwanted signals.