10 Oldest Radio Stations Of All Time

Radio is old. Over 100 years old in fact. So take a trip back in time with the 10 oldest radio stations that are still going strong today.

Lucy Rowe

by Lucy Rowe in Culture

Last updated 15.06.2022

10 oldest radio stations v2

When it comes to radio, only a select few can claim they were there right from the start. With a history as long as the Great Wall of China and a solid reputation that would make the LEGO group envious, we’ve handpicked the best 10 oldest radio stations of all time.

10) BBC

Year: 1922
Location: London, UK
Started as: British Broadcasting Company

In 1922, there was the first BBC broadcast coming from the Marconi House on The Strand in London. Previously, groups of radio enthusiasts known as 'radio hams' had been tinkering with radio signals - experimenting with how far they could send and receive signals.

It was these 'radio hams' that protested when the radio licensing body at the time, The General Post Office, withdrew the license from The Marconi Company in 1920. The General Post Office was unhappy with The Marconi Company moving on from morse code and in to the more interesting territory of music and speech.

The Marconi Company was founded in 1897 by the Italian inventor, Guglielmo Marconi. Marconi himself is largely considered the father of radio, as he created the early technologies that made it possible.

Following the protest on the Marconi company's ban, Marconi and a group of engineers were licensed once again by the The General Post Office in 1922. This time they were given a monopoly on broadcasting in the UK, and they formed the BBC - which then was British Broadcasting Company.

It was only when the British Broadcasting Company was nationalised a few years later that it became how we know it today, the British Broadcasting Corporation. Nowadays there are many different stations under BBC Radio. But listeners can know what they're listening to is a continuation of oldest station in the UK.

9) WBZ

Year: 1921
Location: Massachusetts, USA
Started as: WBZ


On September 15 1921, WBZ was one of the first American stations to get a commercial radio station license. WBZ broadcast 3 days later from East Springfield, Massachusetts. The signal couldn’t reach Boston though, so a Boston studio was set up a few years later and led to a new station, WBZA, being formed.

By 1927, when the Federal Radio Commission was tasked with organizing radio stations, WBZA and WBZ actually swapped call letters as the Boston station was considered more important.

If we overlook this exchange, WBZ is one of the few stations that has kept the same call letters throughout its broadcasting history.

8) KTCK

Year: 1921
Location: Texas, USA
Started As: WRR

KTCK broadcasts these days as a commercial sports station. But you could say it has more of a community heritage. Its origins lie in Dallas, Texas after the 1st World War. A group of radio enthusiasts, spearheaded by Henry "Dad" Garrett, saw an opportunity in developing radio technology to communicate with the police and fire departments.

In 1921, a limited commercial license was granted, with randomly assigned call letters WRR - for communication with Police and Fire units as well as other amateur stations. Early programming was quite varied, ranging from sports, “lectures” and police bulletins. But in the 70s, KTCK changed to an all-news format. When the station was bought in the 90s, it switched to the all sports station “The Ticket" which it broadcasts as today.

7) WEW

Year: 1921
Location: Missouri, USA
Started as: 9YK

Like many radio stations on this list, WEW’s roots lie in radio experimentation in the early 20th century. For WEW, it was a university employee who was the father of this station. Saint Louis University meteorologist Brother George Rueppel was exploring radio as early as 1912 to share data with other researchers and the U.S weather bureau. Rueppel formed the station 9YK as the hub of these experiments.

ALT: A black and white archival photo of the WEW radio transmitter, circa 1922
The WEW radio transmitter, circa 1922. Image courtesy of Saint Louis University Libraries Special Collections

In time, 9YK grew to WEW with Rueppel remaining at the technical helm of the station for over 40 years. WEW is still licensed to Saint Louis University, Missouri.

6) KDKA

Year: 1920
Location: Pennsylvania
Started as: KDKA


Pittsburgh’s, KDKA, was the first American station to receive a commercial license. Its formation can be attributed to the staff at the Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company. Vice-president ​​Harry P. Davis, recognised the potential of radio and engineer, Frank Conrad has already had success in broadcasting music, sports and talking scores on ham radio.

The company capitalized on Conrad’s enthusiasm and Davis’s interest and built a small-shack on top of their building, to broadcast. The first broadcast was Leo Rosenberg reporting the Harding-Cox presidential election returns on On November 2, 1920. Fittingly, KDKA still broadcasts today as a news station.

5) WWJ

Year: 1920
Location: Detroit Michigan
Started as: 8MK

WWJ is similar to KDKA in that it’s now a commercial, news-based radio station owned by Audacy, Inc. It started out as 8MK, a radio station for news broadcasts by the Detroit News, from the newspapers Headquarters. Like many formative radio stations, WWJ was created as a result of some amateur interest in radio transmissions - and some forward-thinking individuals having the foresight to see the potential. In this case, the newspaper's vice-president and managing director, William E. Scripps' interest in news broadcasts was piqued by his son’s radio hobby.

Scripps campaigned the board of the directors for the equipment to build a radio station, and on 31st August 1920 8MK advertised a broadcast in the newspaper with details for radio operators. This was thanks to some successful trial broadcasts prior. Initially it was assigned the call letters WBL. But when listeners struggled to hear WBL properly, its call letters were change to WWJ.

Nowadays, WWJ broadcasts as Detroit and Michigan's sole news-only radio station.

4) KNX

Year: 1920
Location: California, USA
Started As: 6ADZ

Back in 1920, Fred Christian was selling radio parts to amateurs. Fred was a radio operator by trade but became a sales rep for an electric company. Fred wanted to demonstrate how things like phonographs would sound to customers. So he started a small station in his back bedroom. 2 years later, and Fred's station had the call letters KNX issued to it. But with limited options to make the station sustainable, Fred was forced to sell the station.

A black and white image of the KNX Transmitter, circa 1926. A man with his back to the camera is adjusting a setting on the transmitter.
The KNX Transmitter, circa 1926. Image credit unknown.

The buyer was the published of the Los Angeles Evening Express, Guy Earle. Earle expanded the station and experimented with different types of radio. In particular, using actors and court transcripts to recreate courtroom scenes. Later in the century, the turbulence of the 60s saw KNX switch to an all-news format.

In 2021, KNX rebranded under the Audacy Inc banner. But it continues to broadcast news to LA and Southern California.

3) Rádio Clube

Year: 1919
Location: Recife, Brazil
Started as: Rádio Clube de Pernambuco

Online resources suggest that Brazil's station Rádio Clube was also broadcasting as early as the 1910s/1920s. That makes Rádio Clube one of the very oldest radio stations of all time. The Recife station's roots once again lie in a group of radio enthusiasts experimenting with the burgeoning technology, which became Rádio Clube de Pernambuco.

The station broadcasts today as a commercial station covering entertainment, news and sports.

2) KGFX

Year: 1912
Location: South Dakota
Started as: 9ZP

In 1912, Dana McNeil was issued a special amateur licence for a radio station, in Pierre South Dakota. For the following 9 years, Dana would apply for new licenses as radio technology improved. And importantly, during this time, Dana's wife Ida, became involved in the operation.

By 1927 the McNeils were issued a commercial license and the call letters KGFX. It was Ida though who was responsible for the success of the station.

Ida was a well-known member of the Pierre community, and she used the station to relay community news. Ida informed listeners with patient updates from the local hospital and weather reports. And she quickly established herself as a revered broadcaster in Pierre. After Dana's death in 1936, she almost single-handedly ran the station. Dana took the station from strength to strength right through to her retirement in the early 60s. After which she sold the station. KGFX still broadcasts from Pierre today as a classic country station.

1) KCBS (AM)

Year: 1909
Location: California, USA
Started As: KQW

Engineer, Charles Herrod, started broadcasting as early as 1909. But it is what Charles was broadcasting that earns title of oldest radio station in the world. Many radio enthusiasts were broadcasting morse code around this time. From his own engineering college, Charles was regularly broadcasting news snippets and records.

Charles' wife Sybil, built up the KQW audience. She borrowed current records for the largely young audience. She ran competitions that encouraged listeners to submit where they were listening from.

Charles received a limited commercial license in 1921, and the station’s call letters were changed to KQW. KQW was bought by CBS in the 1940s. Its call letters changed again, this time to KCBS, under which it still broadcasts today. In 1968, KCBS discontinued all music programmes in favour of an all-news-format. And to this day it's still an all-news station broadcasting to the Bay area in California.

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