Wireless Willie is a very early radio strip, appearing less than two years after the first commercial radio broadcast in the U.S. (KDKA of Pittsburgh in November 1920). This was in the days when radio bugs built and tuned their own sets and would spend hours fiddling around to hear a faint signal from one of the very few commercial broadcasters.
Radio was immensely popular, though, and many newspapers began running weekly, or even daily, radio pages. In these early days those pages were filled with wiring schematics and technical jargon, so a comic strip was just the thing to lighten up the dense and dreary page. There were many of them, and we’ve featured several on the blog (Bugs, Radiobituaries, Today’s Hook-Up).
Unlike those previously featured, Wireless Willie seems to have been a locally produced strip that ran only in the Washington Post. It ran there just four times, on April 25th and 28th and May 11th and 19th 1922. The cartoonist, C.F. Cagney, despite his crude but pleasant style and obvious comfort with the form, is otherwise unknown to me.
Thanks to Cole Johnson who supplied not only the scan for today’s post but also all the data about this feature.