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.
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.