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WDZ Radio
"The Little Station from Tuscola"


Radio Station 9JR

(later renamed WDZ), Tuscola, Illinois


           With its new equipment and generator.  This photo was taken about 1922.  The new equipment and generator on the left were for the 50 watt phase of WDZ.  Next to it is the original 15 watt G.E. transmitter (with tubes).  The next two panels are amplifiers and dial tuners on a Westinghouse R-6 receiver that could pick up stations 1,999 miles away (cost $216).  On the right hand end is a Magnavox speaker (cost $45) and under the table, the various wet and dry cell batteries.

    (Picture from the Decatur (Illinois) Tribune, Nov. 15, 1989, p. 6)
        WDZ radio started in the office of James Bush's grain elevator office in Tuscola.  Call letters for the beginning years were 9JR.  The intentions of the radio station were to broadcast the grain reports.  Besides being one of the first commercial radio stations in the U.S., it was the first to broadcast grain reports. This historical event occurred March 17, 1921.  The antenna in 1921 was a simple strung wire between buildings in Tuscola.  At the time there were only two receivers in the area to hear the signal.  This first broadcast only lasted five minutes. Two other radio stations, KDKA in Pittsburgh and WGY, Schenectady, N.J. were also broadcasting signals.  These three were they only ones as of this date.  For some time 9JR would intermingle music with the grain reports.
Smiley Burnette
Began his career at Tuscola's WDZ
WDZ from Tuscola was very popular in the 1930's and 1940's.

They had their own band, and would travel around Central Illinois to entertain their fans.  Local talent would travel to Tuscola to present their own entertainment to listeners.

Many families in Central Illinois could say that they had members who performed at WDZ.