On March 26, 1913, 15-year-old Herbert V. Akerberg used his home radio transmitter to tap out in Morse Code “SOS Hilltop Business Men’s Association wants to send boats. Supplies will last until about tomorrow. Men are hanging on trees. Send Supplies. Water is receding. Try and get us water and gas. People are suffering. Send this to Major Karb at once. SOS”
This was the first message that Amateur Radio had entered into Disaster Service. Almost continuously for seventy-two hours, Akerberg sent messages to the Major and kept the public informed about the devastating conditions on the West Side of what became to be known as ‘The Great Flood of 1913.” This slow moving storm dumped eleven inches of rain over much of Ohio, causing the Scioto River to overflow, thus dumping flood waters, about seventeen feet deep, in to the Hilltop area.
Herbert graduated from West in June 1917. Her served honorable with the Army Signal Corps in World War I. In 1923 he directed the building of Avery & Loeb Electric Company’s WPAL Radio Station in Columbus. In 1929 he joined Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) and helped build many of their radio and television stations.
Herbert died on November 6, 1964 in Scottsdale, Arizona.
(A local ameteur radio sleuth is the one who notified us of Mr. Akerberg’s very early achievements. The information was in their archives! We thank them for their excellent record-keeping.)
(The following is from the 1927 West Occident yearbook in a section titled “Alumni.” It included several articles on what alumni were currently doing. This was written about Herbert Akerberg. “Herbert Akerberg, ’17, is chief engineer of the WAIU broadcasting station. To him goes the honor of designing and installing this new 5000-watt station. He was a pioneer in the radio field. His amateur station was the second to be established in Columbus, and with it be rendered incalcuable service during the great flood of 1913. He was assistant instructor in the aviation department during the World War. Station WBAV, which was the forbear of WAIU, was licensed by the government in 1922, as the third station to take the air with a telephone radio aerial transmission. Mr. Akerberg’s radio station now ranks as twentieth in the United States to enter the super-station group.”)