From the Collections

Vol. XXIV No. 1 - SPRING 2013

By: LeRoy Blommaert

It looks like a stamp, and it is a stamp, but it is not a postage stamp. Rather it is a very special stamp, and one linked both to the Edgewater Beach Hotel and to the early days of radio broadcasting.

Radio broadcasting came to the fore in the early 1920s. In the beginning, the station signals were not consistently strong, as they are today. Individuals in rural Minnesota, for example, might pick up a signal from a Chicago radio station on their wireless; they could listen for a while, and then the signal would fade. It became a hobby for people to see how many distant radio signals they could pick up. The EKKO company of Chicago had an idea on how to capitalize on this new hobby. They would print up stamps and sell them to the radio stations which, in turn, would offer to send them to listeners who could document in writing when they heard the signal of the station. Thus was born a new and related hobby – the collecting of these verified reception stamps.

Station WEBH was one of the early Chicago AM broadcasting stations. Its call letters stood for Edgewater Beach Hotel; it was owned by the Edgewater Beach Hotel, and it broadcast from the Edgewater Beach Hotel. However, it was short-lived, just four years, broadcasting under these call letters from June 30, 1924 to June 30, 1928.

Later, in the early 1960s, the call letters were resurrected by Buddy Black, but this time as an FM station. It too broadcast from the Edgewater Beach Hotel and did so until the hotel closed. This station had no relation to the earlier station, except for the call letters.