In 1924…A year before the "Grand Ole Opry" hit the airwaves from WSM Radio in Nashville, "The Chicago Barn Dance" debuted on WLS Radio in Chicago. The country music show was later renamed "National Barn Dance" and continued on the air – on WLS, simulcast on the ABC Radio Network, simulcast on the NBC Radio Network, back to WLS only, then Chicago's WGN Radio – until 1968.
According to Edgar Bill, the first WLS station manager: "We had so much highbrow music the first week that we thought it would be a good idea to get on some of the old time music. After we had been going about an hour, we received about 25 telegrams of enthusiastic approval. It was this response that pushed the Barn Dance!" Indeed, Sears-Roebuck management was aghast by this "disgraceful low-brow music" that was being broadcast on their new station. When Bill and Agricultural Director Samuel Guard were confronted by the angry executives, they pointed to the audiences overwhelming approval.
The Barn Dance served two distinct audiences. It targeted the rural farm audiences as well as city listeners that had come from rural communities or those whom had been told about the "good old times."
In November 1925, WLS claimed to be the first to build an audience studio when it moved to larger quarters on the 6th floor of the Sherman Hotel in downtown Chicago. The theatre was designed to hold 100 people as well as technical and control room facilities. (WLS History)
National Barn Dance continued for more than two decades on WLS. WLW Cincinnati became the flagship from 1950-60, and Chicago’s WGN took over as host station from 1960-68.
In 1943...the dramatic anthology Romance began its run on CBS radio. It would pop up all over the schedule for 12 of the next 14 years.
In 1965..WINS 1010 AM in New York City dropped Top 40 to become the first all-news formatted radio station.
Two months earlier, personality Murray The K departed WINS...
|Billboard Article 2/5/1965|
WGBS signed on in 1924, owned by Gimbel’s Department Store. William Randolph Hearst bought it in 1932, changing the call letters to WINS, which referred to Hearst’s “International News Service.”
Crosley bought WINS in 1945, then sold it in 1953 to Gotham Broadcasting Corporation. WINS started playing rock music. Legendary broadcasters like Alan Freed and Murray “the K” Kaufman were some of the early WINS disc jockeys. Here’s a sample of WINS from 1960:
Westinghouse bought WINS in 1962. By that time, WINS was fending off three other stations for New York City’s rock audience. WMCA, WMGM and WABC all were airing Top 40 and rock music.
WMGM bailed on Top 40/rock in 1962 and flipped to a beautiful music format under its former WHN call letters.
By 1963, WMCA became New York’s No. 1 Top 40 station. WINS’ ratings slid below WMCA and WABC.
On April 19, 1965, Westinghouse pulled the plug on the Top 40 format at WINS. The final song was “Out in the Streets” by The Shangri-Las. WINS became the nation’s third all-news radio station.
Many observers predicted WINS would fail as other early all-news stations had. Westinghouse poured resources into the format and succeeded, It flipped two other stations, KYW in Philadelphia and KFWB in Los Angeles, to a similar format.
Soon, CBS decided to complete in the all-news arena. It flipped WINS rival WCBS toward an all-news format in 1967, eventually becoming a full-time all-news station in 1970. CBS expanded the all-news format to other owned stations around the country, including KNX in Los Angeles and WBBM in Chicago. NBC tried an all-news approach in the mid 1970s called “News and Information Service,” but it shut down after two years.
In 1995, Westinghouse purchased CBS, making sister stations out of longtime rivals WINS and WCBS in New York. The two stations continue their all-news formats, but gear them toward different audiences.
WINS has a harder approach, providing more of a headline service. It has stronger ratings in New York City itself. WCBS has a more conversational style, which does well with suburban listeners. Both remain highly-rated stations and are among the nation’s biggest-billing radio stations.
Listening to a WINS broadcast today is not radically different from the station’s early days. The teletype sound effect, the slogans (“All news, all the time,” “The newswatch never stops,” “Listen 2, 3, 4 times a day,” “You give us 22 minutes, we’ll give you the world”) and the basic 20-minute wheel format have remained in place for nearly 50 years. (Faded Signals)