The year was 1928. Calvin Coolidge was president. Prohibition was the law of the land. The stock market was riding high. Radio was a new phenomenon that was sweeping the country. Talking pictures were about to revolutionize the movie industry. And Herbert “Mac” McClelland founded McClelland Sound Inc. The company was a pioneer in its field when it opened in 1928 and has remained in its leadership position in the Midwest through the 20th and into the 21st century.
Herbert “Mac” McClelland developed an interest in electronics – particularly radio – as a young man. In 1918 while attending Kansas State University, he and his brother, Harold, built the first radio transmitter at KSU. They ran an antenna from the physics building to a water tower. The brothers also teamed up to present the first ‘voice radio’ demonstration in Manhattan. Harold had returned from the First World War with several fine pieces of equipment obtained in France, including a voice transmitter. Harold and Mac put the transmitter at the college and the receiver in the Methodist church downtown. They demonstrated radio to a church packed with people who had never before heard voices transmitted over the air. Incidentally, Harold went on to become a Major General is considered the father of Air Force communications.
After graduating in 1921 with a major in physics and a minor in music, Mac attended the Chicago Conservatory of Music. He put himself through school by building, selling and installing radios. Following his training at the conservatory, he traveled with a light opera company both performing in and managing the productions. In 1927 while in St. Louis with the company, he saw Al Jolson in “The Jazz Singer,” the first feature-length “talkie.” What he heard in that theater convinced him that sound was the future. He quit the company and opened a radio shop in Winfield, Kansas. From there, he moved to Wichita where he started McClelland Sound.
In the early years, Mac built his own sound systems. He traveled the Midwest operating his systems for fairs, horse races, senatorial campaigns and every type of event that required sound amplification. Over the years, the company has provided sound reinforcement for a wide variety of events and people, including Billy Sunday, Elvis Presley, Ernie Pyle, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, Boris Yeltsin, Al Gore, Dick Vitale and Steve Fossett.
McClelland Sound is the largest and most experienced sound engineering and contracting firm in the state of Kansas. The company has installed sound and video systems in thousands of churches, schools, hospitals, businesses, restaurants, retail stores, factories and municipal buildings. Our projects include systems in small meeting rooms and churches, as well as in Century II, the Kansas Coliseum, the Topeka Expo Center, the Salina Bicentennial Center, Allen Field House at Kansas University, Newman University in Wichita, Eck Stadium and Koch Arena at Wichita State University; voice warning systems at McConnell AFB; paging systems at Coleman, Boeing, Learjet and many other area businesses; rental systems for the POPS Concerts at the River Festival and other city wide celebrations; and Muzak music and messaging systems to many hundreds of Kansas businesses.
Our dedicated McClelland Sound team, led by president Janice McClelland, Mac’s granddaughter, represents over 150 years of experience in the industry.