1922-2012: Celebrating 90 years of WDAY RadioFargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Long before Netflix, iTunes, and a DVR, there was a small, wooden box that entertained thousands every night and day here in the valley. As WDAY Radio celebrates its 90th Anniversary this week, we are reminded just how amazing and inventive those pioneers were.
By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY
Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Long before Netflix, iTunes, and a DVR, there was a small, wooden box that entertained thousands every night and day here in the valley. As WDAY Radio celebrates its 90th Anniversary this week, we are reminded just how amazing and inventive those pioneers were.
As families settled in at night, the farm chores done, the stove stoked, this is how thousands spent their evenings together. It was 1922, the roaring 20's when WDAY went on the air. 90-years ago, the oldest broadcast in the Northwest.
“Here is the latest from the WDAY newsroom.”
“This, ladies and gentlemen, is our regular program: Evening Serenade.”
It was such a gamble. An amazing leap of faith, this thing called radio. Live shows night and day. At one point, we at WDAY radio employed 100 musicians and singers. Talented, beautiful entertainers. Some like Frank Scott and legend Peggy Lee would leave WDAY and go on to Hollywood fame.
Steve Tschida - WDAY Radio: “Peggy Lee eluded to that when she was interviewed by Ken, she said WDAY was like the NBC network.”
WDAY'S Steve Tschida spent hours researching and archiving the old audio reels from decades ago.
Steve: “But actually hear how everything was live on the fly singing.”
The talent on WDAY Radio became instant celebrities, and so when our traveling talent shows went on the road here in the valley.
“Good evening ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the talent review. Tonight we are in Hawley, Minnesota.”
Thousands would pack small town auditoriums and gymnasiums to hear bands like the Co-op Shoppers and the WDAY Jamboree. Dozens of bands and musicians who left their mark on this budding broadcast station, one of the oldest in the Midwest.
WDAY was the top of the heap. Of course there wasn't anything else or form of entertainment.
How popular was WDAY radio? We even had our own newspaper, sent to thousands of families in the valley. The People Magazine of its day, outlining the lives of the on air celebrities.
High school games were first heard live here, as were performances on the streets of Fargo, where people were invited into the downtown studios to watch the parade of stars
From war stamp giveaways during World War Two, two talent show contests.
“What is the modern day name of the ancient city of Constantinople.”
“Join us for the next 30 minutes for the talent parade.”
The radio was what people listened to. Daily life revolved around it.
“Here they are with a swell tune, Fine and Dandy.”
A much simpler time. A great period of broadcast history. 90-years of entertaining, informing and weathering the media and technology storm during these times of change.
“That is all for today, we will see you on Monday.”
One of the longest running partners with WDAY all these decades of being on the air is Wimmer's Diamonds of Fargo. Wimmer's started in 1919 and WDAY went on the air three years later. From the beginning, the two companies teamed up for what became the famous "Man on the Street." An impromptu and live, often hilarious remote ad outside Wimmers in downtown Fargo, not far from WDAY studios. The 4th generation Wimmer's continues to advertise on WDAY-Radio, 90- years later.
Brad Wimmer - Wimmer's Diamonds: “WDAY has been a main main part of the community and we hope we have don that and so teaming up with those ventures has been a help to our success.”
If you want to look at more of the WDAY photos, the downtown Wimmer's store has them on display.