On Sunday, David Allen Lambert tweeted the question, “Did your family own a radio in 1930?” as part of the #ancestorchallenge2018. Even though I have obtained the 1930 census records for most people in my tree, I have to admit that I have not paid attention to that little detail.

When I checked the 1930 census for my grandparents, Leon and Winnie Crawford, I discovered that they did NOT own a radio. Myrtle Gaskill, Winnie’s sister, was listed just above Leon Crawford in the census and she also did NOT own a radio.


I then checked (re-checked) the census records for my grandparents, E. O. and Pauline Briles and for my great-grandparents, Judson and Josie Crawford, Edward G. and Artie Briles and Charles and Nettie Mentzer. None of the census records indicated ownership of a radio.

Since my knowledge of ‘radio history’ is very weak, I turned to the Internet for some background information. According to the Wikipedia article about radios, “commercial radio broadcasting began in the 1920s.”

I then wondered whether the communities where my ancestors lived had a radio station. Thanks to the website, U.S. Radio Stations as of June 30, 1930 by John Bowker, I discovered that Dodge City did have a radio station, KGNO. According to KGNO’s web site, they did not begin broadcasting until June of 1930. Since the Dodge City census record for Leon Crawford is dated 19 April 1930, the census data was collected prior to the existence of a local radio station in Dodge City. I did not find any radio station listed for Emporia, Kansas or any communities in Woodson or Coffey Counties, Kansas in 1930.

Even if they had had access, could they afford to purchase a radio? The web page, 1930’s appliances including prices, provides some pricing information. Towards the top of the page it lists a “Philco Auto Radio” for $24.95. At the bottom of the page is a “Philco Radio” which cost $188.00. Based on that pricing and the lack of a local radio station, I can understand why my relatives did not own a radio in 1930 — they couldn’t afford one.

2 thoughts on “Radio

  1. Love the post! I’ve completely overlooked that question in the 1930 census, as well–I’ll have to go back and check. My guess is that my ancestors couldn’t have afforded one either, but fingers crossed!

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