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Jacksonville Broadcasters Association

Preserving the rich history of Northeast Florida's radio and television industries



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OUR NEXT MEETING
Program:  Ethics: A Matter of Character
Moderated by Melissa Ross, WJCT
Carla Miller, COJ Ethics Officer  |  David Deeley, Ph.D., Mass Communication, UNF
James Baltzelle, First Amendment Foundation
Wednesday, November 13, 2019  | Noon | Mudville Grille | 3105 Beach Boulevard

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RADIO

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1925. It was the year of The Great Gatsby...Sears opening its first store, Chrysler introducing its first automobile, Nashville's WSM radio signing on the Grand Ole Opry and Jacksonville residents tuning in to the NBC radio network on its first station, WJAX on AM 930.

Two years later WMBR joined the airwaves with CBS programming on 1460. But, it took another 13 years before a local newspaper — The Metropolis —  signed on WJHP, 1320, with its local programming augmented by the Mutual Radio Network.

WPDQ, 600, introduced the Florida-American Radoio Network to northeast Florida in 1942.

In 1958, WAPE, called The Big Ape, set fire to the coastline from Florida to the Carolinas with a 50-thousand watt signal and a music format called Top 40. Every station break was punctuated with the scream of a Tarzan-like ape.

Radio built its reputation and success upon the personalities of the men and women behind the mike. Their names became legend...Tommy Tucker,  Ted ChapeauEd Bell, Marshall Rowland, Ken Knight, Virginia Atter, Greaseman , Willie Martin, Johnny Shaw, the Devil's Son-in-Law, and the  live bands led Toby Dowdy, Jimmy Strickland...Johnny Jelinick.

Today there are scores of AM and FM stations in our coverage area, from one end of the dials to the other,  broadcasting music, commentary, religion, auctions, as well as traditional news, weather, traffic reports and sports.

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TELEVISION: Early Days In those early days of local television, when school was over and children lucky enough to come home to a black and white TV, Bozo the Clown was ready to tell them silly jokes and to lead equally silly songs.

On WFGA-TV 12, Skipper Ed McCullers and his pals played studio games and shouted out in unison to roll that Popeye cartoon.

Over at WMBR-TV 4, Ranger Hal Baranek, a fictional U.S. Forest Service Ranger, stepped down from his forest fire tower to introduce his young audiences to the wildlife as well as life in the forest.

On set every weekday morning was Miss Penny (Hull) and her Romper Room Do Bees. She served milk and cookies, and things to learn to her TV-12 kindergarten class each morning while their mothers looked on in nervousness and pride from a viewers' room.
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RADIO: Remembered Sunday morning on WJAX, the city's first radio station, a strange Donald Duck-sounding character read the morning newspaper's comics along with Tommy Tucker from their studio in the Signal Bureau building.

These were the halcyon days of radio bringing us the news from the battle fields of war and pre-television entertainment of radio drama...Lone Ranger, The Shadow...Stella Dallas.

Local radio introduced us to deejays spinning their music at 78 rpm. And, personalities such as Johnny Shaw, the Devil's Son-in-Law and riding the Night Train of Ken Knight...forerunners of Top 40 and the raucous airwaves of The Greaseman.
       At other stops on the dial was Marshall Rowland's country music and Ed Bell's calming editorials.

Radio was in search of its place in broadcasting.
 

 

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