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Bart Walker shares WGNS History including Smyrna’s Sewart Air Force Base radio show

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WGNS radio aired live from Sewart Air Force Base in Smyrna

The Rutherford County Historical Society hosted its monthly meeting last Monday evening (5/20/2019). WGNS’ Bart Walker shared the history of Murfreesboro’s first radio station.

Walker noted, “WGNS rang-in the New Year of 1947, a time when there were no TV stations in Middle Tennessee and just a few radio stations in Nashville.”

WGNS Radio Station owner Bart Walker speaks to the Rutherford County Historical Society

He noted that Murfreesboro’s population was between 9,000 and 10,000 persons; the first electric clothes dryer went on the market that year; the average cost of a new house was $5,600; a gallon of gas was 15-cents; the average annual income was $2,500; the cost of a new car was $2,500; Murfreesboro’s first planing commission was formed with Jennings A. Jones as chairman; Jim McCord was Tennessee’s governor, and President Harry Truman proclaimed the end of World War II.

WGNS radio aired live from Sewart Air Force Base in Smyrna

“As a fan of history, I’ve always appreciated both Bart Walker and Rutherford County Historian Greg Tucker sharing local stories. I was thrilled to hear an audio clip of a radio show aired live from Sewart Air Force Base where my late father was stationed. I and many others were born at the old base hospital,” said Rep. Mike Sparks.

The evening was like a local time machine with the actual voices of the late Mayor Joe B. Jackson, coverage of tornadoes and hearing comments from victims, conversations with John Hood, Jennings Jones, Ray Duffey, Dennis Rainier, Judge Don Ash, Mike Liles, Hollis Harris, Bill Barry and many others from past WGNS radio broadcasts.

WGNS Bart Walker doing Swap n Shop Show

Swap N’ Shop offers items from Lawm mowers, tool, chickens, AC units, hay and even a few guns. The program is

The Early Years of WGNS Radio (1940’s – 1960’s)

 

A Good Neighbor Is Born

(Credit to Rutherfordcountyhistory.org) As the New Year of 1947 approached, rural Rutherford County had a dramatically different feel than that of today. Approximately 8,000 persons populated the entire county. It was a big thing for the county to get its first radio station! Word is that on the night of December 31, 1946, throughout the county people were tuning their radio dials. At 10:00 o’clock the static suddenly vanished and a strong new signal appeared. WGNS rang in the New Year of 1947. A popular song of the late 40’s included the music goes round and round and comes out here.

Glenn Snoddy, one of WGNS’s first engineers, c1947, tweaks the controls of equipment along the walls and makes everything come out clearly!

In the early days of radio there were no miniature transistors or solid-state circuits. Large tubes that generated much heat caused all of the equipment to be large and complex. With the innovation of transistors and miniaturization, equipment in today’s radio studios is much smaller, more dependable and reproduces sound with perfect life-like fidelity.


WGNS Facts

WGNS continues to broadcast on AM 1450, but in 1995 expanded to include the Good Neighbor programs on TV channel 11.  WETV’s antenna is on top of the WGNS’ tower in the Murfree Spring Wetlands.  This Class A television station broadcast the same sounds you hear on the radio, but you can see the host talking with various community leaders.  In March, 2007 WGNS put its hometown focused broadcasts on FM 100.5 and FM 101.9. When you add to that this internet site, there are five places to connect with Murfreesboro through your Good Neighbor Station…that’s what the G N S in our callsign stands for.

Sports is a vital part of WGNS…both yesterday and today!

Just like today, local sports was extremely popular on WGNS.  This 1947 basketball broadcast is from the gym at Central High School.

L-R: Ray Duffey, Hollis Harris (Hollis started ‘Movies Under the Stars) and Hollis’.

The evening also included a presentation of a State Congressional Resolution honoring Rutherford County Historian Greg Tucker. State Representative Mike Sparks and Smyrna business leader Marty Luffman gave the award to Tucker who then said . . .

Tucker talks local history every Monday morning on WGNS’ Truman Show with former Sheriff Truman Jones. That broadcast is 9:00 to 10:00AM.

Rutherford County Historian Greg Tucker speaks at Smyrna History Event
“Greg Tucker is one of a kind. His stories of local history I hear on WGNS Truma Show with former Sheriff Truman Jones is something I look forward to each week,” said Smyrna Historian marty Luffman.

Local Historians speak at Smyrna History Event

A history event was recently held in Smyrna with local historians and history enthusiast from Greg Bowers, Ginny Williams, Marty Luffman, Admiral Jimmy Taylor, Francis Crick Oldham and Mitch Tinney. The topics ranged from Sewart Air Force Base, history of Smyrna, civil war history, General Nathan Bedford Forrest, the first Tennessee African-American Sampson Keeble, Old Jefferson community and more.

“In addition to the monthly meetings at the Rutherford County Archives Building locted at 435 Rice Street, we encourage the public to join us every Saturday morning from 9:00AM until noon at the old one-room Ransom Schoolhouse for coffee and fellowship,” said Frank Caperton, owner of FrankWorks and local historian.

Visit them at 717 N. Academy Street It is free, and they even have a pot of coffee on for those in attendance.

For more information about the Rutherford County Historical Society, visit their website: www.rutherfordtnhistory.org/.

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