It's been nearly four years since the radio industry began feeding on itself, but it really didn't hit home until just this month.
As a child, it seemed that WMAQ Radio (AM 670) was always on in my mother's kitchen. The station had been around almost since radio broadcasting was born. WMAQ took to the air in Chicago in April of 1922. With 50,000 watts of power, WMAQ easily boomed through to southern Wisconsin, where I grew up.
WMAQ is probably best known for its firsts - it was the first station to broadcast a live transatlantic conversation; the first to do play-by-play of professional baseball games; it hosted the first educational radio program (FM radio broadcasting was still more than two decades away from reality).
It was also NBC Radio's flagship station in Chicago, giving it additional prestige as a jewel in the preeminent radio network during the Golden Days of Radio.
Accordingly, WMAQ was the home for many of the biggest shows and personalities of that era - people and shows like like Amos 'n Andy, Fibber McGee and Molly, the Great Gildersleeve, and the Ameche Brothers all broadcast their from the WMAQ studios and entertained early radio listeners nationwide. Ask your grandparents; they'll remember.
It was no surprise, then, that when I was in college and made the decision to become a radio journalist, I listened to WMAQ quite often. They had developed offbeat, irreverent, storytelling way of doing radio news - a complete departure from the "traditional"-sounding all-news station in Chicago - WBBM (AM 780).
It fit with what I hoped to do, one day, in my own career. You could even say my dream job would have been to work there.
Sure, WBBM may have had the all-news format longer than WMAQ, and did better in the ratings, but WMAQ was the first on the air. To a broadcasting nut like me, that means a lot. There's almost the entire history of radio wrapped up in one station.
That is, there was, until the Ides of August: WMAQ Radio ceased to exist this month, at the age of 78. You can thank the bottom line for killing the oldest station in Chicago.