The History of Radio Broadcasting Made at Franklin Field in 1922 | News, Sports, Jobs


TR PHOTO BY MIKE DONAHEY In 1922, Franklin Field hosted two Marshalltown High School football games broadcast live by the licensed Marshalltown amateur radio station, which became KFJB in 1923. Ticket booth, lamp posts and infrastructure improvements events were made possible through donations. guaranteed by the 13th Street District Committee and Major Investments from the City of Marshalltown.

Franklin Field was quiet Monday afternoon, with the sounds of children playing at recess missing.

That was not the case 97 years ago, on September 23. The field was buzzing with spectators who were in attendance to watch two Marshalltown High School football games.

Unbeknownst to many, they would be witnesses to history.

Three blocks away in the 1600 block of West Main Street, staff at the Marshalltown amateur radio station had placed a microphone cable through a studio window and along a West Main Street ditch. up to the field.

Both matches were broadcast live.

In May 1923, the cable was again extended to Franklin Field to broadcast a live track and field event with Merle Easter providing airside coverage, according to KFJB and Times-Republican records.

These remote live sports broadcasts were considered the first in the United States.

The 1949 Times-Republican records that reported the founding events did not say whether technical difficulties had been encountered with the long three-block cable, nor did they identify MHS opponents or match scores.

Today, sports broadcasting on radio and television is a multi-billion dollar industry per year.

In addition, KFJB-KIX-101 FM and KDAO radio and television stations broadcast a significant number of high school football matches in the region every year.

Franklin Field played host to MHS games and other school sporting events for years until Leonard Cole Field was built today as Marshalltown High School.

On June 2, 1923, the US Department of Commerce granted a commercial broadcast license to the station owners and issued KFJB call letters.

In 1923, KFJB began offering regular programming that included singers, sermons, speeches, comedians and news.

KFJB was purchased by the Times-Republican Printing Company in 1947. Its owners, the Norris family, retained control of KFJB AM and FM until December 29, 1986, when it was purchased by Marshalltown Broadcasting, Inc.

KFJB FM, which became KMTG in September 1986, became KXIA in June 1987. KFJB-FM began broadcasting in 1968, with a power of 27,000 watts. It is now classified as a C1 station, which allows a maximum power of 100,000 watts and a maximum antenna height of 1,000 feet.

KFJB is one of the few radio stations in the United States to have the same call letters throughout its history.

This year, the station celebrated its 96th anniversary.

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Contact Mike Donahey at

641-753-6611 or

[email protected]

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