On December 31, 1921, local engineer Francis F. Hamilton‘s radio station, 9ZJ, signed on with an address from Mayor Samuel (Lew) Shank. It was the first radio broadcast in Indianapolis. From a studio in Hamilton’s garage at 2011 North Alabama Street, Shank made the city’s first radio blooper: “Hamilton, do you mean to tell me that people can actually hear me over that damn’ dingus?” 

In 1922, Hamilton joined forces with the Indianapolis News and moved his broadcasting equipment to the 10th floor of the News building. The first program after the merger featured zither solos by J. Fremont Frey.

When in 1922 the U.S. Department of Commerce assigned all stations east of the Mississippi River call letters beginning with “W,” Hamilton’s 9ZJ became WLK. After a second radio station (Woh) set up shop in Indianapolis, WLK broadcast on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday evenings. In turn, WOH transmitted on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday evenings. The stations shared airtime to decrease expenses and the difficulty of finding local entertainers and topics—the staple of their programming.

In April 1922, L. S. Ayres & Company joined Hamilton and the News as one of the station’s co-owners. Financial difficulties forced WLK off the air in March 1923.

Revised June 2021

Help improve this entry

Contribute information, offer corrections, suggest images.

You can also recommend new entries related to this topic.