SPECIAL SECTION PART B-- WDZ, TUSCOLA-- ILLINOIS' FIRST COMMERCIAL RADIO STATION HISTORY
VERY POPULAR PROGRAMMING AT WDZ
A special publicity newsletter called the WDZ-ER for Friday, December 10, 1937, had many headlines which sounded like ones from a big city station. The difference was that the news was from a tiny radio station located at Tuscola, Illinois, some 30 miles south of Champaign/Urbana on old U.S. 45. The headlines read: "As I Hear It"; "Party Line' Offer"; “Tsk, Tsk, Mr. Announcer;” and Next Sunday Will Mark the Eighth Battle of the Bands Broadcast; Effingham "Sweet" Band Leads.
THE "BEST PROGRAMS FOR WDZ-ERs". . . .
included: "Your Christmas Shopper, Ann Sterling"; "The Montana Sweethearts" from the Effingham] studio; "To Our Friends the Farmers-Sponsor the] Sons of the Pioneers"; "Your Singing Neighbor" with Mariana Baldwin from the Danville studio; "The Three Fashionettes" from the Mattoon studio"; "Jim Day" daily from Mattoon; "Man At The Movies" from Effingham; LEE LYNCH "COLES COUNTY MARCHES ON" Sundays at 2 o’clock, sponsored by Charleston Merchants; and of course "Ruthie’s Birthday Party” daily at 2 o'clock.
These were the popular shows on WDZ for the I week of December 10, 1937. On Sunday you] could hear the professional acts. All during the week would have amateur talent from all over the area. WDZ would allow anyone with an act to do it. More about popular acts on WDZ, later in this book.
WDZ PROVIDES ENTERTAINMENT & EXCITEMENT IN DEPRESSION DAYS BAD TIMES
Radio became very popular in the mid-thirties. According to older folks, this was bad times for everyone.
The GREAT DEPRESSION was at its lowest point. It is hard to explain in our modern age of plenty and high-tech entertainment.
My dad's family, the Taylor’s, who lived in nearby Mattoon were hit by the Depression. They had moved to Illinois from Tennessee shortly after my dad's birth (somewhere after 1923). They would return to Tennessee for a while, but returned back to Illinois. My dad had to help raise garden produce and sell it. He would not talk about these days but I heard about it from relatives. His father did odd jobs to keep the family fed. Everyone was poor and hungry. The Lynches were fortunate in that many of them were railroaders. The railroad went on, in fact grew during the Depression. The Clover Leaf Railroad and Big Four provided all the in and out transportation needs for Charleston. The Big Four also had a terminal in Charleston. My uncle Bert Lynch "worked as an usher at the new Will Rogers Theater, so the family could see the latest shows free. Cousin Lee Lynch saw something in the new up and coming entertainment and information media, radio. He acquired a radio show on WDZ, the oldest radio station in Illinois and 3rd oldest in the country. As the old WDZ-ER of Dec. 10, 1937, printed in its small AT YOUR SERVICE column, "the Lee Lynch program is tops as far as concentrated interest is concerned.—Dr. W. E. C., Charleston, II. In the late 1940's, Lee Lynch could advertise his Coles County Reporter program as the oldest running continuous program in Illinois. RADIO was the most popular entertainment for the day. Families could somehow get a radio and have a world of great entertainment. Yes, WDZ would be very country and local during the week, but boy did the professionals do glorious on Sunday. Everything was live. According to Ray Livesay, "The records of the day were so poor in quality that live entertainment was the best. WDZ hired top-notch announcers and entertainment to produce a huge amount of entertainment and programming. The little town of Tuscola was very famous during the 1930's and 1940's.