(MURFREESBORO) Former State Representative John Hood was a student at Central High when WGNS signed on the air at 10:00PM, December 31, 1946. It didn’t take long until he was fully involved in broadcasting. He did a variety of on air jobs at WGNS Radio, including announcing on regional network broadcasts from Sewart Air Force Base in Smyrna to emceeing spelling bees.
Here’s What Happened
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.
This is a news intro from 1949...
A broadcast from the old Sewart Air Base in Smyrna from 1949.John Hood was the emcee..
One of WGNS’ first engineers was Glenn Snoddy (left photo). Here Glenn tweaks the controls that are in racks of equipment along the walls and makes everything come out clearly here! 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.
BOOTS, BOOTS, BOOTS a popular commercial from the early 50s on WGNS. Jerry "Pee Wee" Brown created this favorite for the Hub Store on the west side of the M'Boro square.
An article in the December 31, 1947 Daily News Journal shows:
Murfreesboro’s new radio station WGNS, operating at 1450 on the dial goes into operation tonight with a special local program and a New Year’s program via the Mutual Broadcasting System, it was announced today by Cecil Elrod, Jr. general manager and Bill Pepper, station manager.
At 10 o’clock a special review of popular music will be presented in a thirty minute program at 10:00 o’clock an introductory program entitled “This is WGNS” will be heard at which time information will be given concerning the radio station, the personnel and a brief outline of the programs which will be offered for the pleasure of the listening public.
New Years Greetings from Times Square will be heard from some of the nations outstanding personalities, Mr. Pepper said. At 11 o’clock and continuing until 3 a.m. the “Good Neighbor Station” as WGNS is designated, will present a dancing party with music furnished by the nations leading dance bands.
A feature of the New Year’s Day program, Mr. Pepper continued, will be the broadcast of the Cotton Bowl game at Dallas, which will begin at 1 o’clock to the followed by the Shriners’ benefit East – West game at 3:45 p.m.
The broadcast this evening will mark the befinning of a 30-day test period as authorized by the Federal Communications Commission, it was understood, at the end of which time, a formal opening of WGNS will be held.
To give you a better feel of what Murfreesboro was like in 1947, check these items:
- “Tide”, the first detergent designed for automatic clothes washing machines, introduced
- The population in Murfreesboro between 1940 and 1947 was at about 13,000. 1920 Census information shows the population in 1940 was 9,495 and 13,052 in 1950.
- First electric clothes dryers goes on the market for the public
- Suntan lotions, developed for troops during World War II, marketed to consumers for the first time.
- Average cost of a new house was $5,600
- One gallon of gas was .15 cents
- Annual salary (or income) was $2, 500
- The first Murfreesboro Planning Commission was formed, Jennings A. Jones asked to serve as chair
- Gov. of Tennessee in 1946: Jim McCord
- Cost of a new car was $1,250
- Dec 31st – Pres. Harry Truman officially proclaims end of WW II
On New Year’s Eve (12/31/2019), John and WGNS’ Bart Walker reminisced about the early day of the Good Neighbor Station.