|WLW Radio Tower|
At 50 kilowatts, WLW was heard easily over a wide area, from New York to Florida. But Crosley still wasn't satisfied. In 1933 he obtained a construction permit from the Federal Radio Commission for a 500 kilowatt superstation, and he spent some $500,000 (at least $17 million in 2010 dollars using a CPI conversion factor of 0.13 building the transmitter and antenna.
It was the first large amplifier used in the United States for public domestic radio broadcasting and was in operation between 1934 and 1939. It was an experimental amplifier and was driven by the radio station's regular 50 kW transmitter. It operated in class C with high-level plate modulation. The amplifier required a dedicated 33 kV electrical substation and a large pond complete with fountains for cooling. It operated with a power input of about 750 kW (plus another 400 kW of audio for the modulator) and its output was 500 kW.
In January 1934 WLW began broadcasting at the 500 kilowatt level late at night under the experimental callsign W8XO. In April 1934 the station was authorized to operate at 500 kilowatts during regular hours under the WLW call letters. On May 2, 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt pressed a ceremonial button that officially launched WLW's 500-kilowatt signal. As the first station in the world to broadcast at this strength, WLW received repeated complaints from around the United States and Canada that it was overpowering other stations as far away as Toronto. In December 1934 WLW cut back to 50 kilowatts at night to mitigate the interference, and began construction of three 50 ft. tower antennas to be used to reduce signal strength towards Canada. With these three antennas in place, full-time broadcasting at 500 kilowatts resumed in early 1935. However, WLW was continuing to operate under special temporary authority that had to be renewed every six months, and each renewal brought complaints about interference and undue domination of the market by such a high-power station. The FCC was having second thoughts about permitting extremely wide-area broadcasting versus more locally oriented stations, and in 1938, the US Senate adopted the "Wheeler" resolution, expressing it to be the sense of that body that more stations with power in excess of 50 kilowatts are against the public interest. As a result, in 1939 the 500-kilowatt broadcast authorization was not renewed, bringing an end to the era of the AM radio superstation.Because of the impending war and the possible need for national broadcasting in an emergency, the W8XO experimental license for 500 kilowatts remained in effect until December 29, 1942. In 1962 the Crosley Broadcasting Corporation again applied for a permit to operate at 750 kilowatts, but the FCC denied the application.
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