Broadcast stations have been covering elections back to 1920 with the beginning of the industry. The first documented broadcast of election returns was from KDKA in Pittsburgh, sister station to KYW Radio. The results were produced in cooperation with the Pittsburgh Post.
While that was the first broadcast, no recording of it exists today. There are some recreations but no original recordings. It was the Harding-Cox race for President. Warren Harding won. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the Democratic party's Vice-Presidential candidate.
The above photograph is of WFIL Radio's 1944 election night coverage. Seen on the right was WFIL's Marge Kellmer who supplied us with this picture. This was the fourth presidential election for President Franklin Roosevelt.
At this time, WFIL was owned by WFIL Broadcasting Company with all the shares owned by the Lit Brothers Department Store. The station was affiliate with ABC, the old NBC Blue network. It was also affiliated with the Quaker Regional Radio Network.
In 1935, Strawbridge and Clothier's WFI Radio and Lit Brothers' WLIT (formerly WDAR) Radio merged forming WFIL Radio. Each department store owned 50% of the stock. On June 24, 1940, the FCC authorized the sale of the half owned by Strawbridge and Clothier to Lit Brothers for $126,000.
In September of 1945, The Philadelphia Inquirer, owned by Walter Annenberg agreed to purchase WFIL AM & FM Radio for 1.9 million dollars. Roger Clipp was the station's general manager and continued for decades in that role. Upon purchasing the station, Annenberg applied for a power increase to 5,000 watts. At the time of the sale, the station was grossing about a million dollars a year with $300,000 in profit.
From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
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