On this day 128 years ago, was born Earle C. Anthony, a pioneer in some of the arts and sciences that began during his lifetime that are now dead or dying. The Packard distributor for all of California; one in seven Packards was sold by his companies.
ECA was a renaissance man born with a mechanical aptitude in the age of the great engineers who leveraged his abilities and his moment in time to not only profit from the rise of the automobile, but through building one of the first radio stations in the west. From money earned in his dealership he improved his station until it became the most powerful on the west coast.
Through the thirties, forties and fifties, KFI 640 was the powerhouse that brought the NBC Radio Network to most of the Southwest. With his other station, KECA (now KABC), he was a constant source of frustration to NBC. He’d no more sell his station than sell his wife, he told them.
While KFI is still a powerhouse (now a Clear Channel moneymaker in a sad radio environment), Packard preceded him in death (he died in 1961), and each year AM radio becomes less important in a changing media world.
In 1930, Anthony was one of the elite in Los Angeles. He rode horses with the Warner Brothers and the other moguls in the early mornings in Griffith Park, from his lavish estate (now a Catholic Church retreat) to the Breakfast Club he helped found. He put one of the first television stations on the air (now KCBS).
He traveled the country in his private rail car, listening to his station and sending telegrams back. He helped build Los Angeles from a cowtown to a metropolis with arts and culture. Surely his name would be known forever.
Today, the Packard is about to be joined in death by other once-great American carmakers, the private rail car is a museum piece, AM radio is practicing its death rattle, and Earle C. Anthony’s place in history is a disappearing footnote.