KDKA Radio 75th Anniversary Paperweight (1996)


This paperweight marks the 75th anniversary of KDKA Radio in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Cast in a lucite block is a section of the old KDKA tower, the first commercial radio tower in the United States.

KDKA, as you may know, was granted the very first US broadcasting license and began broadcasting in November, 1920. The station's history included many radio firsts, such as broadcasting Herbert Hoover's first radio address on January 25, 1921. Erected in 1936, the KDKA tower was the tallest US structure of its time, rising 1,900 feet above sea level, and it remained in service until its replacement in 1994.

These mementos were available by contributing to KDKA's fund drive for Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. Along with the paperweight, you got an informative brochure recounting the station's history and its long affiliation with Children's Hospital.

Regulars at this website would recognize several of the radio images in the brochure. When Amanda Cohen of KDKA contacted me for permission to use some images, I gladly agreed, and she generously sent me a copy of the brochure and one of these paperweights.

This is one of the most unusual radio-related items that I own, down to the weathered layers of orange and white paint (and genuine corrosion!) visible around the edges of the tower section. It's a kick to have a little slice of American broadcasting history. I keep this item front and center in my display cabinet.

The March, 1996 issue of Antique Radio Classified has a feature article on this topic, with more historical information and ordering information for the paperweights. (2009 note: since this fundraiser was conducted more than a dozen years ago, I don't know whether they are still available.)

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