The Amarillo Pioneer

Amarillo's only free online newspaper. Established in 2016, we work to bring you local news that is unbiased and honest.


Amarillo's Forgotten Radio History

Amarillo has a vibrant history of radio that has become largely forgotten for decades.

In 1919, Mr. J. Laurence Martin was a proprietor of a bicycle shop at 605  E. 4th Street in Amarillo. Besides dealing totally in bicycles, he also spent his time making electrical parts, crystal sets, and capacitors. These parts he would then sell to other Ham operators. His Ham call letters were 5-1F.

On May 29, 1922, a license was granted to Mr. Martin for operation on frequency 1140 k.c. at 1000 watts. At that time, only 80 radio stations were on the air in the U.S.A..

The name of the station was WDAG . It would be known by everyone as 'Where the Dollar Always Grows'. His first broadcast transmission was done in only 10 watts, and was the broadcast of an Amarillo Concert.

Due to Mr. Martins knowledge of the radio, he would soon be made the Superintendent of the ARRL, for all of North America regulation of early day radio.

In 1923, the Gish Family hired Malcolm Clack to set up a radio station at their gas pump business. The FCC granted them a license, and the second Amarillo radio station was born. The Clack-Gish station was KGRS approved for 1000 watts, and at the same time the WDAG frequency and the KGRS frequency were both set at1410. This meant that each station had to split radio time, and therefore the Amarillo Radio War was born.

The Radio War provided interesting competition for quite a few years until June 5, 1935 when both radio stations were closed. At that time a new radio station would emerge, KGNC.

-Tom Warren II

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