Early Play-By-Play Radio Broadcast of a College Football Game

Early Play-By-Play Radio Broadcast of a College Football Game (HM290A)

Location: College Station, TX 77840 Brazos County
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Country: United States of America
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N 30° 36.666', W 96° 20.394'

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In 1920, David J. Finn and other Texas A&M electrical engineering students attempted to broadcast the football game at Oklahoma A&M via ham radio. When the plan failed they used a telephone backup, relaying game updates to fans gathered in the Texas A&M stock judging pavilion.
The following year, students at campus wireless station 5XB planned to transmit live play-by-play accounts of the conference championship against the University of Texas. William A. Tolson and other students overcame technical difficulties to make the broadcast possible. They ran lines from the Kyle Field press box to a transmitter at Bolton Hall and borrowed equipment from the Corps of Cadets Signal Corps. They installed three redundant systems: two connected to the power plant and a battery backup. Harry M. Saunders and the coaching staff devised abbreviations to describe the action and improve transmission speed. "TB A 45Y," for example, signified "Texas ball on the Aggie 45 yard line."
On game day, November 24, 1921, the broadcast was flawless with Saunders at the telegraph key. At station 5XU in Austin, Franklin K. Matejka relayed messages to Longhorn fans seconds after each play. Amateur radio operators across Texas also followed the action. The game ended in a scoreless tie, but A&M became conference champion. The following year, 5XB became

WTAW, and several of the students went on to distinguished careers in engineering, broadcast technology and related fields. By days, the experiment missed being the first such achievement in the U.S., but it is believed to be the first in Texas. Ingenuity and innovation resulted in a pioneering broadcasting accomplishment.
HM NumberHM290A
Year Placed2005
Placed ByTexas Historical Commission
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Tuesday, July 3rd, 2018 at 7:02pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)14R E 755018 N 3389519
Decimal Degrees30.61110000, -96.33990000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 30° 36.666', W 96° 20.394'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds30° 36' 39.96" N, 96° 20' 23.64" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)979
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling South
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 1083 Houston St, College Station TX 77840, US
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