SPECIAL SECTION PART B-- WDZ, TUSCOLA-- ILLINOIS' FIRST COMMERCIAL RADIO STATION HISTORY
WDZ RADIO ENTERTAINMENT HAS GREAT VARIETY; MANY FIRSTS
THE WDZ "ROVING NEIGHBOR"
In the mid 1930's, the people at WDZ introduced a new concept of "remote broadcasting." A WDZ announcer was taken to a remote place, nearby town or event. He would wear a special short wave transmitter pack on his back. This seems pretty advanced for the time period. The interview or broadcast would take place on a street, in the barnyard, or just gossip over the fence. The portable transmitter could transmit to a range of fifty miles. The excitement would gather around this roving reporter.
FIRST "AIR MAIL" FLIGHT IS COVERED BY REMOTE OVER WDZ
In 1938, three WDZ representatives flew in the plane that was carrying the first air mail out of Decatur to Indianapolis. The men were Carl A. "Pappy" Lewis and his wife, along with the Postmaster, James M. Allen. The newspaper item states that 950 pieces of mail were transported. They announced until out of range.
WDZ OWNER BUSH USES SECRET CODES TO SEND MESSAGES TO GRAIN CUSTOMERS
In the old days, this was allowable. It would be illegal now.
WDZ HEARD IN NEW ZEALAND AND BY SHIPS ON THE ATLANTIC
The FCC required the station to sign on at 3:30 to 3:35 A.M. for a frequency test. Whenever the station would do this, they would get return messages from very far away listeners. The frequency for WDZ in the thirties was 1020 A.M. When WW H started, the government changed the frequency to 1050 A.M. as it is now. The town of Tuscola had a great celebration in honor of the station frequency move.
1934 FIRST: FOOTBALL GAME BROADCAST BY CURTIS MARSH
1935 IMPORTANT BUSINESS YEAR FOR WDZ RADIO
WDZ became incorporated as WDZ Broadcasting Co, Inc., and Edgar Bill from Peoria became the president. Clair Hull was named station manager at this time. Jimmy Ray Livesay was making career connections to the now oldest station in Illinois. In 1935, Gene Autry "discovered" Smiley Burnette. WDZ was still playing its homey, popular country line-up of live music and entertainment.
1936, BUSH SELLS STOCK IN STATION AND A FREQUENCY CHANGE WAS MADE FROM 1070khZ TO 1020 khZ. Studios were opened in Effingham, Danville, Mattoon and Champaign.
1937 HINT OF POSSIBLE MOVE TO DECATUR
An application was made to the FCC for the corporation to move the station to Decatur. Tuscola residents protested, and the plans were dropped temporarily. There were a couple of reasons for desiring to move. One was that a new Decatur station was going to be built (WSOY). The other reason was that to become a big-time national station would require a backing of a big city like Decatur. To insure stability in staying in Tuscola, the station built a new 252 foot tower.
1939 POWER INCREASE
The station's power increased to 1,000 watts and Tuscola felt secure it would never move. WDZ had spent $15,000 to do the work.
RAY NEMEC'S "THIS IS WDZ, TUSCOLA, ILLINOIS" TELLS OF PERSONALITIES
In his article he describes many personalities and jobs that existed at WDZ during itsí golden days.