North Texas Turns on the Radio
By 1924, radio set ownership in America had soared to 3 million from just 5000 at the beginning of the decade, and Texas consumers were buying them in droves. WFAA-AM had the distinction of being one of the first radio stations in the country to be owned and operated by a newspaper. The station’s original on-air personalities and news reporters were made up of columnists and editors from the newspaper. For Texans, WFAA became the model for the hundreds of radio and television stations that would soon follow.
On October 1, 1925, the station relocated to the 17th floor of one of the area's finest inns, the Baker Hotel. 'Those mornings you cannot be with us in person, let us perch on your radio dial' read an advertisement for the most popular program of the day, The Early Birds, a musical variety show that premiered on March 31, 1930. WFAA constructed new facilities atop the Santa Fe Building and by 1941 was broadcasting The Early Birds, and other local programming from its fabled 'penthouse studio.' Favorite Early Bird 'canaries' included Lynn Hoyt, Katy Prince, Frances Beasley, Terry Lea and Louise Mackey. There was also a pretty young Uvalde native, Dale Evans, featured on the show. She went on to perform in Hollywood as a duo with her husband, Roy Rogers.
Working for All Alike
Broadcasting ‘live’ at all times with bulky studio cameras and primitive sound and lighting equipment, WFAA immediately captured North Texans’ attention. Television broadcasts covered everything from New Year’s Day Cotton Bowl college football, to local news and a variety of entertainment programming. Two of WFAA’s most popular local programs during the late 1950’s included The Julie Bennell Show, a newspaper food editor, and Dallas Bandstand, hosted by Jerry Haynes.
Technology and More
WFAA acquired the first videotape recorder in Dallas in 1958. With the advent of this new technology, more and more programming was pre-recorded; live programs concentrated on news, sports and special events.
In early 1961, WFAA relocated from the original facility near downtown Dallas on Harry Hines Boulevard to what was then called ‘Communications Center,’ a brand new studio complex located at Young and Record streets. This state-of-the-art facility was the site of 3 television studios, 2 radio stations and a complete sound recording studio. This new, downtown studio complex soon became home to such long-running local shows as Let Me Speak to the Manager, and The Adventures of Mr. Peppermint.
Television News Center Stage
Into the Future
On December 23, 2013, Gannett Company, Inc acquired WFAA, Dallas-Fort Worth’s ABC affiliate. And in 2015, Gannett spun its publishing properties from its broadcast and digital properties, making WFAA part of TEGNA Media, one of the largest most geographically diverse broadcasters in the country. The station’s legacy of dedication to viewers through investigative journalism, daily news coverage through broadcast and digital platforms and a commitment to local programming continues as the primary hallmark of WFAA. To learn more about TEGNA and its subsidiary brands, visit www.tegna.com.
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