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Radio Ward: 1924

Radio Ward: 1924

Washington, D.C., 1924. GI tunes: "Walter Reed Hospital. Scene in ward where the bed of every soldier is equipped with a set of radio earphones. This is the first hospital in the country to be completely equipped." View full size.


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Washington Post, July 27, 1924.

Walter Reed Radio New ‘Medicine’
For Disabled Veterans

Seven-Hour Programs Daily Provided,
With Phones at Every Sick Bed.

Radio is now one of the important “treatments” for sick and convalescent former service men in the Walter Reed General hospital. Golden voices from Broadway stages, instrumental and band music, the jests of humorists and the best of orators not to mention the broadcast features of one kind and another — all of these are now literally within arm's reach of each of the more than 1,000 patients in the hospital.

Electricians at the hospital several days ago completed installation of the last of 1,365 individual radio headphones, enough for all the patients and many to spare. There are a pair of receivers to each bed. At will they can be connected to wall plugs, of which there is also one for each bed, from which wires lead directly to high-powered receiving sets in a basement radio-control room. …

Most of the time the control room tunes in on the Washington stations, WCAP and WRC, but the same clear results have also been achieved with WGY, at Schenectady, and KDKA, at Pittsburgh, and they are frequently on the Walter Reed Program. Sunday nights, Roxie's Capitol theater troupe is heard from WEAF, New York, through WCAP.

There is a radio program for the patients every evening, and also every other afternoon. On the alternate afternoons the radio apparatus is hooked up with a microphone on the bandstand at the hospital, and bedridden patients can hear the concert as well as their more fortunate comrades who can go outdoors. Thursday afternoons the microphone is installed in the Red Cross hall, where vaudeville actors from Keith's theater give a program for the disabled soldiers. Those who can't go to see the actors lie back in their beds and enjoy their jokes and songs just the same.

Technically, the radio apparatus at the hospital is of a high order. Three distinct aerials are used, large, medium and small, and each of this is attached to a separate neutrodyne receiving set in the control room. With the receiving sets, two amplifiers are used. One clears the tones sent from the receiving set to the 1,365 headphones in the various wards. The small amplifier does the same for five loud speakers with which the receiving apparatus is connected at the same time. Two of these loud speakers are in the Red Cross barracks and the others in the quartermaster and detachment barracks. Sometimes the loud speakers are hooked on to a separate receiving set, so that the loud speaker audience may be listening to Pittsburgh, while the bed audience is enjoying WCAP. …

So many beautiful details!

There are so many neat details in this photo:

- Each bed has an accompanying mahogany dresser with bevelled glass mirror.
- Beautiful old sash windows.
- Beautiful Victorian light fixtures.
- Antique fans on wooden shelves plugged into wall sconces.
- Record player / Radio equipment.
- Old painted metal beds on wheels / privacy screens.
- Wall clock.

Guy Tunes

I once had a crystal radio with such headphones.
Their comfort level was best described as punitive.

Still broadcasting

Walter Reed was the first to install hospital radio in 1919. This practice, begun in 1925 the UK, continues in British hospitals; staffing is by volunteers.

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