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The telegraph provided the fastest means of communication from the time of its invention in 1837 until the beginning of the 20th Century. Elevator operators relied upon it to provide them with current grain market information.

A farmer who brought his corn to the J. H. Hawes Elevator could make a decision to either sell or store his crop based upon grain prices provided by the telegraph, typically located at the railroad station.

Then, beginning in 1895 with Marconi's first successful transmission of a radio signal without the use of wires, a new means of communication impacted both farmers and the folks they traded and visited with in town. Now, rather than having to rely upon the limits of the telegraph, businesses and even individuals could own their own radio. Suddenly, the news of the world and a whole new range of entertainment options were available.

Farmers and townsfolk like those in Atlanta not only eagerly embraced this new medium, they even helped shape the direction it took. In the early 1920s a new radio station known by the call letters WLS began broadcasting from Chicago. It brought agriculture news direct from the Chicago Board of Trade and it provided musical and other entertainment shows. Most of the early music WLS broadcast could be described as "high brow" - a type the station's owners felt was most suitable. Mr. Edgar Bill, the first WLS station manager, decided during the very first week of broadcasting, however, that the station also needed to air some "old time music." The National Barn Dance was born as a result. Upon hearing the "country" music played on the show, however, the station owners were aghast by what they described as "disgraceful low-brow music". Bill and the station's Agricultural Director, however, pointed out that during the very first hour of the first National Barn Dance, WLS received dozens of telegrams from rural areas expressing their enthusiastic approval. A new rural audience had made itself known.

 

 

 

Illinois. Mile After Magnificent Mile.