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As X–suffixes were new to the amateur radio service in 1977, I opted to research W2XQ's call history. The results are interesting. The history begins at Union College in Schenectady, New York. 1
"Union College in Schenectady was a premier place for the study of electrical engineering in the 20th century. Student radio began there in 1910. The first 'wireless telegraph' was set up there by Howard Olwin Thorne and Gustave Huthsteiner. They created a 180 ft. high antenna pole. It had an antenna 225 ft. long and 15 feet wide." 2
"In 1916 a radio shack was built on the side of the Electrical Engineering Building… Wendell King was the chief engineer." 3
The 2XQ call first appears on June 15, 1919 in the Department of Commerce (DOC) (predecessor to the FCC) records as a new "Special Land Station," later published in the DOC's monthly "Radio Service Bulletin" number 33 dated January 2, 1920. 4
(Tap or click on the images to view them full-size.)
The 2XQ call appeared in the DOC callbook of June 30, 1920.
On October 14, Union College aired the first radio broadcast "for public entertainment" in the United States of America.
A photo and story of the station was published in the July 1921 issue of Wireless Age; see page 31 ff.
"In the summer of 1921, an article featuring the station noted that not only were the Thursday night concerts continuing, but the station had added Sunday night sermons prepared by Union College President C. A. Richmond. The same article also reported that the station, 'equipped with the most modern of apparatus,' had been heard as far away as 1,200 miles (1,900 kilometers)."
The Radio Club designed a portable radio for receiving 2XQ transmissions, and as a publicity stunt, mounted it on a baby carriage that was wheeled around town on May 6, 1921, to show off its capabilities. The invention was promoted as "a great pacifier for a younger generation", and received extensive national publicity.
The 2XQ call appeared as a "Special Land Station," in the "Radio Service Bulletin" number 86 dated April 1, 1922.
2XQ ran trans-Atlantic tests in December 1922.
2XQ was listed as deleted as of June 30, 1923 in the "Radio Service Bulletin" number 87 dated July 1, 1924. 5
2XQ was listed as licensed as of June 30, 1924 in the "Radio Service Bulletin" number 91 dated November 1, 1924. 5
The licensee was changed to "Union College Radio Club" per the June 30, 1924 listing, published in the "Radio Service Bulletin" number 94 dated February 2, 1925. 5
9ASW reports hearing 2XQ in 1924, reported in the June 1924 issue of The Radio Wireless ; see page 92.
Here are two verification (QSL) cards: a December 1924 QSL and a March 1925 QSL.
The Department of Commerce lists 2XQ (the "Union College Radio Club") in its 1927 listing.
All "X" (Experimental) and "Y" (Technical and Training School) calls appeared in a separate section at the end of the DOC's June 30, 1928 "Amateur Radio Stations of the United States" callbook.5
2XQ 6 was listed as deleted as of June 30, 1928 in the "Radio Service Bulletin" number 136 dated July 31, 1928. 5
As of June 30, 1928, W2XBN 7 was listed as the new call of the Union College Radio Club, replacing W2XQ. The addition was published in the "Radio Service Bulletin" number 128 dated September 29, 1928.
In October, 1928 all "Special Land" stations were given "W" and "K" prefixes in order to "internationalize" them, and in preparation the June 1928 station lists went ahead and started using the full call signs. A good reference for documenting the switchover information appeared in the "Radio Service Bulletin" number 135 dated June 30, 1928. 5
W2XQ's license was reassigned, as of June 30, 1928, to the New York City office of the new Universal Wireless Communication Company. The grant was listed in the "Radio Service Bulletin" number 137 dated August 31, 1928. 5 Among its construction projects, Universal Wireless built a station in Monmouth County, New Jersey. 8
The Union College Radio Club call W2XBN was listed as an "experimental station" in the DOC's "Amateur Radio Stations of the United States" edition dated June 30, 1929.
W2XQ, licensed to 5,885 kc, was listed in the DOC's "Commercial and Government Radio Stations of the United States" dated June 30, 1930. See page 194 and two other pages.
Following the company's 1930 bankruptcy and termination of operations, Universal Wireless' license was listed as deleted as of June 30, 1931 in the "Radio Service Bulletin" number 172 dated July 31, 1931. 5
Thomas White writes "The earliest reference to W2XQ in Elizabeth (NJ) I know of is in the May 21, 1935 issue of the FCC's 'Report No. 45 (Telegraph Division),' 9 which lists four-month license renewals, starting June 1, 1935, for W2XQ plus 10 "Portable-Mobile" units.
"These were issued with the provision that 'The Telegraph Division extended General Experimental 10 station licenses in the Experimental service for the following licensees for a period of 4 months from 3 AM, E.S.T., June 1, 1935 to 3 AM, E.S.T., October 1, 1935 in exact conformity with existing licenses subject to compliance with Rules 311, 312 and 313 pending action on applications for renewal. The extended licenses shall contain the following clause: Authority is also granted to communicate as a Municipal Police station in the Emergency service on an experimental basis only under the provisions of Rule 320 subject to the condition that this authority is upon a temporary basis only and may be cancelled without notice or hearing. Nothing contained herein shall be construed as a finding by the Commission that the operation of this station is or will be in the public interest beyond the express terms hereof.'"
W2XQ, the call sign assigned to the Elizabeth (NJ) Police Department radio, appeared in a 1936 radio amateur callbook.
A September 1938 application for a CP (construction permit), replacing W2XQ's 100 watt transmitter on 39.1 Mc, included the note "descriptive sheets requesting 10 mobile units returned." 5
Thomas White writes "… the March 28, 1939 report has an CP application for the City of Elizabeth police department station WRAD 'and 10 mobile units,' so I suspect W2XQ had been relicensed as WRAD." 5
There was a one-year program allowing Amateur Extra class licensees to chose a 1x2 call. In March the experimental calls were released to the amateur radio service. In March I sent a self-addressed stamped envelope to Gettysburg for the printed list. An applicant could list up to 5 choices. W2XA was my first choice (to put me atop the callbook listings); W2XQ was my second choice.
The Gettysburg staff took months to process the requests. The call W2XQ was issued to me on August 12, 1977.
I thank Thomas White for his significent contribution to expanding the history of my license. His extensive research into early radio broadcasting history further frames what I found. Do take the time to read and explore his "United States Early Radio History" website.
— I am always interested in additional information, photographs and scans of applicable documents. Can you help? Thank you.
1 See Wikipedia.
2 "Early Radio Stations at Union College" within Section 1.a.2.
3 In February 1959 Rowan Wakefield wrote an interesting "Radio Broadcasting at Union College" history piece that expands on the material found elsewhere. I opted to update the old HTML code here to HTML5 and fix some formatting, or you can read the original here.
4 Some of the DOC listings are sorted by location. Look for Schenectady, NY.
5 Information supplied by Thomas H. White.
6 Today Union College's radio club operates with the call W2UC. The club has repeaters on 2m and 70cm.
7 Rowan Wakefield wrote, in his 1959 history, that, in 1932, W2XBN's call was changed to W2GSB. The original W2UC call returned to Union College in March 1998, this time as a vanity call.
8 "In 1928, a high powered Marconi wireless station was established by the Universal Wireless Communications Company on the Hance Farm [in Scobeyville] 500 yards south of Route 537. It was used mostly to broadcast stock orders for Wall Street and other exchanges. A 73-by-53-foot (22 by 16 m) concrete block building was created with an antenna at a cost of $100,000. It was operational in March 1929."
9 Thomas White writes "In the early 1930s, to save money the government started issuing notices printed—sometimes with very low quality—by mimeograph, which causes difficulty in OCR scans. Some of these pages were also scanned upsided down and you need to rotate them to view them properly."
10 Thomas White writes "The experimental classification (sometimes called just 'experiment') of stations dates to the original regulations issued by the Department of Commerce once it began licensing stations. The initial, September 28, 1912 edition, of 'Regulations Governing Radio Communication' specified eight classes of licences, including '3. Experiment stations.—The Secretary of Commerce and Labor is authorized by section 4 of the act to grant special temporary licenses 'to stations actually engaged in conducting experiments for the development of the science of radio communication, or the apparatus pertaining thereto, to carry on special tests, using any amount of power or any wave lengths, at such hours and under such conditions as will insure the least interference with the sending or receipt of commercial or Government radiograms, of distress signals and radiograms, or with the work of other stations.' Applicants for such licenses should state any technical result they have already produced, their technical attainments, etc.'"