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General Order 40 was an order issued on August 30, 1928 by the new Federal Radio Commission under the Radio Act of 1927 which provided for a reallocation of the commercial broadcast radio spectrum.

As a result of implementaion of General Order 40, most U.S. radio stations were forced to change their broadcast frequencies. The frequency changes went into effect at 3:00 a.m. Eastern time on November 11, 1928.

The goals of the FRC in reallocating the frequencies were to reduce interference and "clutter" on the air, to provide better access to the airwaves to smaller cities, and "underserved" areas, and to rid the air of "temporary" and "portable" stations. This was achieved by designating each frequency as either a frequency for one (or more) clear channel stations broadcasting with maximum power, a frequency to be shared by regional stations with less power, or a frequency to be shared by many local stations with limited power. Each clear channel frequency was reserved for one principal station in one of five U.S. zones or in Canada. Some of these clear frequencies were shared with one or more lower power stations in locations remote from the principal station. The U.S. was divided into the five zones used by the Radio Act of 1927, as shown on the map at the original article.

The allocation scheme introduced by General Order 40 stayed in place for over twelve years, until the implementation of the North American Radio Broadcasting Agreement in March 1941.

The table below presents a general outline of the frequency allocations under the order. For "Clear" frequencies, the zone allocated to the principal station on that frequency is given, along with the principal station that actually occupied the frequency, the previous frequency of the actual principal station, and other stations that shared the frequency. Station call signs shown in parentheses are stations owned by the same licensee of the principal station on that frequency.

Freq.
(kHz)
Used for Max.
Power
(watts)
Zone Principal station(s) Other stations sharing
frequency (zone)
Calls, City Prev.
freq.
550  Regional 1000   7 U.S. stations
560  Regional 1000   10 U.S. stations
570  Regional 1000   11 U.S. stations
580  Regional 1000   6 U.S. stations
8 Canadian stations
590  Regional 1000   5 U.S. stations
600  Regional 1000   7 U.S. stations
3 Canadian stations
610  Regional 1000   5 U.S. stations
620  Regional 1000   6 U.S. stations
630  Regional 1000   4 U.S stations
3 Canadian stations
640  Clear TBD 5 KFI, Los Angeles 640  WOI, Ames, IA (4)
WAIU, Columbus, OH (2)
650  Clear TBD 3 WSM, Nashville 890  KPCB, Seattle (5)
660  Clear TBD 1 WEAF, New York 610  WAAW, Omaha (4)
670  Clear TBD 4 WMAQ, Chicago 670  none
680  Clear TBD 5 KPO, San Francisco 710  KFEQ, St. Joseph, MO (4)
WPTF, Raleigh (3)
690  Clear Canada CFRB, Toronto CJCJ, Calgary
700  Clear TBD 2 WLW, Cincinnati 700  none
710  Clear TBD 1 WOR, New York 710  KMPC, Los Angeles (5)
720  Clear TBD 4 WGN/(WLIB), Chicago 720  none
730  Clear Canada CKAC, Montreal CKWX, Vancouver
740  Clear TBD 3 WSB, Atlanta 630  KMMJ, Clay Center, NE (4)
750  Clear TBD 2 WJR, Detroit 680  none
760  Regional 1000   WJZ, New York 660  WEW, St. Louis
KVI, Tacoma
770  Clear TBD 4 WBBM/(WJBT), Chicago 770  none
KFAB, Lincoln, NB 940 
780  Regional 1000   6 U.S. stations
3 Canadian stations
790  Clear TBD 5 WGY, Schenectady (1) 790  KGO, San Francisco (Oakland) (5)
800  Clear TBD 3 WFAA, Dallas 550  none
WBAP, Ft. Worth 600 
810  Clear TBD 4 WCCO, Wikipedia:Minneapolis-St. Paul 740  WPCH, New York (1)
820  Clear TBD 2 WHAS, Louisville 930  none
830  Clear TBD 5 KOA, Denver 920  WRUF, Gainesville, FL (3)
WHDH, Boston (1)
840  Clear Canada CFCA/CNRT, Toronto
850  Clear TBD 3 WWL, New Orleans 1220  none
KWKH, Shreveport 760 
860  Clear TBD 1 WABC/(WBOQ), New York 970  WHB, Kansas City (4)
KMO, Tacoma (5)
870  Clear TBD 4 WLS, Chicago 870  none
WENR/(WBCN), Chicago 1040 
880  Regional 1000   7 U.S. stations
7 Canadian stations
890  Regional 1000   9 U.S. stations
900  Regional 1000   7 U.S. stations
910  Clear Canada CFCF/CHYC, Montreal CKY, Winnipeg
CJAT, Trail, BC
920  Regional 1000   6 U.S. stations
930  Regional 1000   8 U.S. stations
5 Canadian stations
940  Regional 1000   6 U.S. stations
950  Regional 1000   4 U.S. stations
960  Clear Canada CFRB, Toronto CFRN, Edmonton
970  Clear TBD 5 KJR, Seattle 970  WCFL, Chicago (4)
980  Clear TBD 2 KDKA, Pittsburgh 960  none
990  Clear TBD 1 WBZ, Springfield, MA / WBZA, Boston 910  none
1000  Clear TBD 4 WHO, Des Moines 560  KFVD, Los Angeles (5)
WOC, Davenport 800 
1010  Regional 1000   7 U.S. stations
2 Canadian stations
1020  Clear TBD 2 KYW/(KFKX), Chicago (4) 570  WRAX, Philadelphia (2)
1030  Clear Canada CFCF, Montreal CNRV, Vancouver
1040  Clear TBD 3 KRLD, Dallas 650  KTHS, Hot Springs, AR (3)
WKAR, East Lansing, MI (2)
WMAK, Buffalo (1)
1050  Clear TBD 5 KNX, Los Angeles 890  KFKB, Milford, KS (4)
1060  Clear TBD 1 WBAL, Baltimore 1050  WJAG, Norfolk, NB (3)
KWJJ, Portland, OR (5)
WTIC, Hartford 560 
1070  Clear TBD 2 WTAM/(WEAR), Cleveland 750  KJBS, San Francisco (5)
WCAZ, Carthage, IL/
WDZ, Tuscola, IL (4)
1080  Clear TBD 3 WBT, Charlotte 1160  WMBI / WCBD, Chicago (4)
1090  Clear TBD 4 KMOX, St. Louis 1000  none
1100  Clear TBD 1 WLWL, New York 810  KGDM, Stockton, CA (5)
WPG, Atlantic City, NJ 1100 
1110  Clear TBD 2 WRVA, Richmond 1180  KSOO, Sioux Falls, SD (4)
1120  Regional 1000   10 U.S. stations
4 Canadian stations
1130  Clear TBD 5 KSL, Salt Lake City 990  WJJD, Chicago (4)
WOV, New York (1)
1140  Clear TBD 3 WAPI, Birmingham 880  none
KVOO, Tulsa 860 
1150  Clear TBD 1 WHAM, Rochester 1070  none
1160  Clear TBD 4 WOWO, Ft. Wayne 1310  none
WWVA, Wheeling, WV (2) 580 
1170  Clear TBD 2 WCAU, Philadelphia 1150  KTNT, Muscatine, IA (4)
1180  Clear TBD 5 KEX, Portland, OR 1080  WDGY/WHDI, Minneapolis
KOB, Albuquerque 760 
1190  Clear TBD 3 WOAI, San Antonio 1070  WICC, Bridgeport, CT (1)
1200  Local 100   48 U.S. stations
1210  Local 100   44 U.S. stations
5 Canadian stations
1220  Regional 1000   6 U.S. stations
1230  Regional 1000   8 U.S. stations
1240  Regional 1000   3 U.S. stations
1250  Regional 1000   12 U.S. stations
1260  Regional 1000   6 U.S. stations
1270  Regional 1000   10 U.S. stations
1280  Regional 1000   6 U.S. stations
1290  Regional 1000   7 U.S. stations
1300  Regional 1000   12 U.S. stations
1310  Local 100   53 U.S. stations
1320  Regional 1000   6 U.S. stations
1330  Regional 1000   5 U.S. stations
1340  Regional 1000   4 U.S. stations
1350  Regional 1000   5 U.S. stations
1360  Regional 1000   8 U.S. stations
1370  Local 100   42 U.S. stations
1380  Regional 1000   4 U.S. stations
1390  Regional 1000   4 U.S. stations
1400  Regional 1000   9 U.S. stations
1410  Regional 1000   11 U.S. stations
1420  Local 100   38 U.S. stations
1430  Regional 1000   7 U.S. stations
1440  Regional 1000   9 U.S. stations
1450  Regional 1000   9 U.S. stations
1460  Super
Regional
5000   2 WJSV, Washington, DC 1480 none
4 KSTP, St. Paul 1360
1470  Super
Regional
5000   3 WLAC/WTNT, Nashville 1330 none
5 KGA, Spokane 1150
1480  Super
Regional
5000   1 WKBW, Buffalo 1380 none
3 KFJF, Oklahoma City 1100
1490  Super
Regional
5000   1 WFBL, Syracuse, NY 1160 none
2 WCKY, Cincinnati (Covington, KY) none
4 WHT/WORD/WJAZ, Chicago var.
1500  Local 100   31 U.S. stations

General Order resulted in several instances in which two stations were forced to share the same frequency:

  • WFAA in Dallas and WBAP in Fort Worth were forced to share a clear channel frequency at 800 kHz. Eventually, both stations also obtained a regional frequency which they also shared. As a result, these two stations operated alternately on two different frequencies for many years.
  • WLS and WENR, both Chicago, also had to share a frequency at 870 kHz. This continued until 1959 when ABC purchased both stations.
  • WHO in Des Moines and WOC in Davenport were forced to share the single clear channel frequency at 1000 kHz which was allocated for the state of Iowa. Both stations fought the shared allocation and lost. Eventually WHO bought out WOC and consolidated operations in Des Moines.
  • KFAB in Lincoln, Nebraska shared the 770 frequency with WBBM in Chicago. To avoid interference KFAB was forced to carry the same network programming as WBBM at night and to synchronize its transmissions.
  • WBAL in Baltimore and WTIC in Hartford shared the 1070 frequency.
  • WOWO in Fort Wayne and WWVA in Wheeling shared the frequency at 1160 kHz.
  • At 850 kHz KWKH in Shreveport and WWL in New Orleans shared the single frequency allocated to Louisiana.

The 790 kHz clear channel frequency was allocated to zone 5, and General Electric's KGO in Oakland received the assignment for this frequency, but GE was also able to use the frequency for its stronger station WGY in Schenectady. The 1020 kHz frequency was assigned to zone 2, but the strongest station licensed on the frequency was KYW in Chicago, not WRAX in Philadelphia; this was resolved when KYW moved to Philadelphia in 1934, forcing WRAX to move to the regional frquency of 920 kHz, sharing time with WPEN which was already there.

See also

External links

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