This collection, comprised of the scrapbooks of John T. Schilling, documents the publicity efforts of radio station WHB in Kansas City, Missouri from the 1920s to the 1950s. Mr. Schilling was one of broadcasting's early pioneers and his interest in and involvement with the world of radio began long before his involvement with WHB radio. In 1912 he built his first "ham" set and from 1914 to 1916 he was an amateur radio operator or "ham". Mr. Schilling graduated from Kansas City’s Manual Training High School in 1915 with plans for a career as a draftsman. With the outbreak of World War I in 1917, however, those career plans changed and he enlisted in the U.S. Navy as an apprentice seaman and later transferred to the Radio Division. Towards the end of his career with the Navy, Mr. Schilling functioned as the chief radio electrician and an instructor of wireless telegraphy in New London, Connecticut.
Upon completion of service in the Navy, he gained employment as an engineer for DeForrest Radio in High Bridge, New York. In 1920 he worked as a radio operator on board the S.S. Durango (K.D.B.T.). In 1921, Mr. Schilling was co-supervisor for the installation of a 1,000 watt transmitter for the Continental Mexican Petroleum Company in Tampico, Mexico.
Returning to Kansas City, Schilling worked at station WOQ, a struggling radio station. In 1922, Mr. Schilling, along with Sam Adair, founded WHB radio with financing from the Sweeney Automobile School. WHB began broadcasting on April 14, 1922 from the tenth floor of the building that housed the Sweeney Automotive and Electrical School. On May 10, 1922, WHB was granted its formal license and assigned its call letters - the oldest call letters in Kansas City. While at WHB, Mr. Schilling functioned in many capacities ranging from operator, announcer, director and, finally, as general manager.
During the early days of WHB, the station raised funds by selling seats to the "invisible theater". Listeners purchased "seats" and received actual tickets in return. These seats, however, did not exist in the radio studio but were in fact the listener's own chair next to his personal radio set. The plan proved successful and was a source of revenue used by the station to pay for programs.
Sweeney, which was facing foreclosure, sold the radio station on April 4, 1930 to the Cook Paint & Varnish Company. WHB, by this time, had developed an extensive daytime schedule and began an effort to obtain authorization for nighttime broadcast. Although it took 12 years to gain this authorization, WHB made the transition from daytime only broadcasts to full time broadcast on May 30, 1948. During this struggle, on December 29, 1936, WHB began an affiliation with the Mutual Broadcasting System. In 1943 WHB and Cook Paint & Varnish launched Swing magazine. This magazine was an advertising tool for WHB and each cover featured a photo of a "Swing girl".
On February 9, 1948, WHB applied for a FCC license to construct a television station in Kansas City. There was at that time, however, a freeze on TV construction. By August of 1953, WHB began joint operation with KMBC-TV. WHB and KMBC shared time equally on Channel 9 and brought to the area's television viewers the programs of CBS and the radio station's most popular personalities.
1954 was a year of changes for both WHB and John Schilling. In April of that year, Cook Paint & Varnish Co. bought KMBC-AM and KMBC-TV. The FCC approved the sale on June 9, 1954. After Cook’s purchase of KMBC, John T. Schilling left WHB for KMBC to function as that station’s general manager and vice president.
In June 1954, Cook Paint & Varnish sold WHB to Mid-Continent Broadcasting Company in Omaha, Nebraska. Midcontinent ended WHB’s affiliation with Mutual and instituted a Top-40 format. In April of 1985, Midcontinent sold WHB to Shamrock Broadcasting who instituted an oldies format. WHB was once again sold in August of 1993, this time to Kanza, Inc. out of Carrollton, Missouri.
John T. Schilling retired from KMBC on his 65th birthday in 1961. WHB radio remains on the air to this day as a sports station.