Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Sunny Station

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Sunny Station

Article excerpt

In 1927, Sarasota went from boom to bust to broadcast

By 1927, Sarasota's fortunes had taken a decided plunge; the slowdown in newcomers and construction projects were glaringly obvious in a county that had felt the real estate balloon would never burst, but burst it did. That left the always active Chamber of Commerce scurrying to find new ways to attract attention to this Gulf Coast paradise.

Their motto that year: "Sarasota, Where Summer Stays and the Nation Plays."

For the Chamber, spreading the gospel about Sarasota's inviting virtues was "job one," and when it learned a radio station was available for purchase it quickly decided to act.

The station, WJBB, "The Voice of the Semi-Tropics," was owned by Jack Dadswell, editor and president of Florida magazine, the Financial Journal. The station broadcast from St. Petersburg. Although Dadswell said that the station was easily worth $20,000, he would accept $10,000 with $5,000 in cash down and the remainder due later. He offered his technical services for $50 a week.

The Chamber of Commerce would be responsible for all programming, local leaders formed the announcing staff and members of the community would provide the entertainment. A deal was struck with the local musicians union, which agreed to furnish whatever talent was needed.

The Edwards Theatre offered the services of its organ player, "Happy" Jack Haines. Other entertainers included Claire Louise Binz, whistler; Mrs. J.W. Johnson, pianist and entertainer; Mrs. Randolph Dickens, soprano; Dr. J.W. Johnson, entertainer; the popular Merle Evans Municipal Band, and the Czecho-Slovakian National Band.

Radio technology was relatively new, but through judicious turning of the dial on your Atwater Kent, "The Radio With The Golden Voice," the proper atmospheric conditions and a little luck, the crackling sounds of the rest of the world could be brought into your living room.

And what would you hear? WLW out of Cincinnati offered "The Crosley Cossacks"; WASP (Fort Worth) "The Clicquot Club Eskimos"; WOW (Omaha) "The Maxwell Hour"; WGN (Chicago) "The Ipana Troubadors. …

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