WMBA like many stations of the time started as a portable station in Providence RI. It was owned by LeRoy Joseph Beebe and was listed at the address of 13 Robinson Street, Newport, RI 1. This was in December 1926 2. This is interesting because LeRoy Joseph Beebe is listed as running Amateur station 1BHK, a 250 watt station in 1921, a 100 watt station in 1922 and a 20 watt station in 1923 at the same address in Newport 3.
Then we find Beebe listed as running Broadcast station WMBA at 1500kc, 199.9m at 100 watts in the December 1929 issue of Radio Digest Illustrated 4.
In June, 1931 WMBA secured apparatus anticipating the incorporation of telecision reception 9.
In July 1931, Examiner Walker recommended to the Commission that WMBA's license renewal application not be approved. Walker cited a laundary list of reasons:
The station operated primarily "to the pecuniary interest of the applicant", and the public interest was secondary. There was nothing in the record, he continured, "to indicate that the future operation of the station will differ from that of the past." Walker said that although the station was operated at a net profit of $400 to $500 per month, "no money is expended for talent", the local talent used being volunteered services. The station was also operating in violation of the radio act by an unlicensed person, and the equipment had not been maintained in keeping with the advancment with the radio art. "Applicant had not made full use of the assignment licence to him," the report continued, "either as to the hours of operation of power used; and, and on several occasions, the applicant has intentionally misstated facts to the officials inspecting the station." Although the law required the operator to keep his station in operation a minimum of 13 hours daily on his unlimiated license, WMBA had operated only from four and a half to six hours daily. 5
WMBA was ordered off the air by the Federal Radio Commission in November, 1931, cited as being a staion that flaunted the rules of the federal regulator 6.
The Central Labor Union in Rhode Island protested the closing of WMBA in November, 1931, stating that the station can care for the needs of the community adequately 8.
WMBA took the commission to court but the ruling to pull the licence was upheld by the courts in 1932 7.
1 DOC deleted broadcast license files (1921-1927)
2 A Chronology of AM Radio Broadcasting 1900-1960
3 JUNE 30, 1922 BROADCAST STATION LIST
4 December 1929 issue of Radio Digest Illustrated
5 Newport Mercury, 17 Jul 1931, Friday, Page 2
6 Oakland Tribune, 21 Nov 1931, Saturday, Page 5
7 Newport Mercury, 4 Nov 1932, Friday, Page 5
8 Newport Mercury, 20 Nov 1931, Friday, Page 7
9 Newport Mercury, 12 Jun 1931, Friday, Page 5