Submitted by Pete Foster, Class of 1957

Looking back on my youth and growing up literally next to potato farms in Hicksville, on Elm Street, in the 1940s & 1950s was uncomplicated and a sheer pleasure.

Sometime in the early 50’s, my father came home with a new marvel called a television. It was huge; it required an antenna to be installed strapped to the chimney, and the black-and-white picture screen was smaller than some GPS screens currently installed in cars. My two brothers and I were so happy. I believe we were only the second family in the neighborhood with a television. At the time, it was great to be in Hicksville, where the TV broadcasts were being received from the country’s TV centers in New York City, transmitted from antennas atop skyscrapers like the Empire State Building. We could view CBS, NBC, ABC, WPIX, & WABD and select them on a channel switch that went from channels 2 through 13.  

 As a teenager, I wondered why the TV channel selector started at number 2. Why doesn’t the channel selector start at channel 1? The other mystery I had was not knowing why, when you watched channel 2, these diagonal “wavy lines” ran through the TV’s picture. These wavy lines affected TVs in the Hicksville, Carle Place, Westbury, Plainview, Jericho, and Syosset areas.


As an adult, I learned the answer to my two TV mysteries since my vocation turned out to be in aviation electronics. Very early TV’s did have a channel 1. However, the lower end of the frequency band that the FCC allocated to broadcast TV was very susceptible to any interference. The interference was so bad that the over-the-air broadcasts on channel 1 were unviewable and were excluded from the TV channel selector. Channel 2 was still near the lower end of the frequency band so it was susceptible to strong or very local transmissions. The wavy lines were being caused by a company called Press Wireless.

Press Wireless was located on Cantiague Park Road's east side and West John Street's north side. It was set up in 1920 by newspaper publishers because of the cost and time to get information to and from Europe. The existing trans-Atlantic telephone cable was extremely limiting in getting news back and forth efficiently and on time. No individual publisher in the group could own more than 20% of Press Wireless stock. In 1928, the FCC allocated a section of long-wave transmission frequencies to Press Wireless. In 1930, the transmitting station was set up in Hicksville, and the receiving station was set up in Little Neck. If you were watching channel 2, every time the Hicksville station transmitted, the wavy lines would superimpose on the live (no cable, no recorded shows) over-the-air TV transmission. Press Wireless moved from its Hicksville site to Centereach in 1957 and ceased operations in 1960. The property became part of the Nassau County Park System, and the Cantiague Park and Golf Course opened in 1961.

 A more detailed history of Press Wireless can be found on the below links: 

Ancient Hixstory: November 2021: On the Home Front 1942-1945 - Press Wireless

Press Wireless History (tmchistory.org)




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