WOAI signed on the air on September 25, 1922. Broadcasting over frequency 1190 AM using a 500-watt transmitter, the station was touted as one of the “first super powered stations in Texas” and was the brainchild of founder G.A.C. Halff. A popular story tells that Halff wished to carry out a promotional gimmick of giving away hundreds of small radios in connection with his business, and therefore he had to put a radio station on the air so that his customers would have something to listen to. Initial programming included a variety of information and also featured daily violin and piano selections.
WOAI increased its transmitter to 1,000 watts in July 1925. That year the station aired its first commercially-sponsored program that presented an orchestra performing Mexican songs. In 1926 the station increased to 2,000 watts and participated in the first successful chain broadcast with other stations across the United States. It joined the world’s first network, the National Broadcasting Company, on February 6, 1928. WOAI continued to increase its broadcasting power with a 5,000-watt transmitter in 1927 and the legal limit of 50,000 watts in 1930, making it the only 50,000-watt station in South Texas.