Comments on Ernest Chappell in Syracuse
Joined: Mar 14, 2003
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Posted Jan 13, 2005 - 4:20 PM:
[Starting February 10, 1925, Ernest Chappell was the announcer and director for the first radio station in Syracuse, New York. The station, which began broadcasting on November 19, 1924, was WFBL ("FBL" apparently stood for "First Broadcast License"). There are quite a few mentions of "Chap" in the The Syracuse Herald, and in November '25 he was asked to write a daily column for the newspaper's radio page.
The column (entitled "Riding the Waves With Chap," sometimes shortened to "Riding the Waves") was basically propaganda for the broadcasting industry in general and the local station in particular. It covered virtually all aspects of radio, discussing everything from technical and creative topics to the larger issues of the day (one May '26 column is devoted entirely to the Federal Trade Commission's investigation into radio monopoly practices). Many of the items are clearly lifted from wire services or other sources (sometimes the Herald's other regular radio writer -- whose pen name was "Ray Dayo" -- would accidentally use the same item on the same day, word for word) but much was obviously written by Chappell himself.
So, if anybody's interested, here is a bunch of material from the Herald: a February '26 profile of Chappell; a selection of Chappell-related stories from the first week of October '25; a November '25 article announcing the start of his column; and excerpts from the first few weeks of the column itself.]
[Sunday February 7, 1926]
Radio Announcer's Job Not So Soft, Day Spent With Chap, WFBL, Shows
He's Up Early and He's There Late, Answering Questions, Arranging Programs and Broadcasting to Fans.
By RAY DAYO.
The other fellow's job is always the best, and where is the youth who, at one time or another, has not cherished the hope of some day being a radio announcer?
It's a soft job standing there in front of the mike perhaps four or five hours a day, thrilling thousands of admirers -- male and female -- mostly female -- and telling the entertainers just what they are to do next;
So they say. But does Ernest E. (Chap) Chappell think so? Not while he's conscious.
Chap's 20 or 30 hours a week at the microphone are incidental in his role as WFBL's announcer and director. Just to see what he does to earn his daily bread, let's stick with him for a day.
Opens Up at 9.
He opens the studio shortly after 9 o'clock, and before taking off his hat and coat he answers the telephone that probably has been ringing for an hour. Someone wants to know if there is an afternoon program today.
"Yes, sir; at 3 o'clock."
The man who is accused of having moss on the soles of his shoes takes off his coat, but before he can reach for his overshoes the telephone bell rings again. The conversation will run something like this:
"I sang at the fish peddlers' reunion last night, and all my friends say I have a wonderful voice -- that I ought to sing over the radio. Do you think you could find a place on your program for me?"
"Well, let me see. I haven't an open hour this week, but if you come to the studio some afternoon I will be glad to listen to you in a few numbers."
"Thank you. Good-bye."
He Gets Mash Notes.
Chap has no sooner settled at his desk when the door opens, and in comes a boy with a basket full -- sometimes two baskets full -- of mash notes.
And when it comes to mash notes, Rudolph Valentino isn't in it with this boy Chappell. Well, the letters have to be opened, because sometimes they are not all mash notes. One or two happen to contain words of praise for last night's program. These are the ones that warm Chap's heart. His one big wish is that he will get more of them.
Just to satisfy the curiosity of the senders of those love missives, we'll say that Chap reads them -- every last one of them. He has a drawer full now, and if ever he runs short of a program he says he might read a few. It will be a great entertainment.
Chap has a map of the United States on the wall of the studio, and when he gets a letter from a distant listener he sticks a thumb tack in the city. He's mighty proud of this map. It's black with tacks now.
Selecting and arranging programs is Chap's big job. If he makes one, he makes a hundred calls a day, telephone and personal. And as many persons go to the studio to offer their talent. Some are worth engaging, but weeding them out is a task that requires a lot of tact.
And the studio on the eleventh floor of the Onondaga is the most popular information bureau in the city. The question[s] that Chap is asked to answer would provide another day of entertainment. Here are a few samples:
Will you please tell me how much baking powder I should put in a sponge cake? What should I do for a baby that coughs all night? How old was General Grant when he became president? Is it going to be a good night for reception? To settle a bet, how long has the Soldiers and Sailors Monument been in Clinton Square?
And there are hundreds more. Chap would have to carry an encyclopedia or two to answer all of them.
It's a Tough Job.
Going back to program picking, it was five minutes to three one afternoon a week or two ago, and there was no afternoon program in sight. Chap was frantically making telephone calls when two young chaps strolled sheepishly into the studio; and one of them started in the usual way, "We sang--"
"Can you sing?" Chap yelled. "Never mind the pedigree. I'll take your word for it. Stand over there."
Many a program has been arranged at a moment's notice, but they sound no different to the fans.
Sometimes you may have noticed that Chap was late in getting on the air. The fact is he thought he was on the air promptly, but, having forgotten to adjust the switch, the only listeners were the entertainers and Chap himself.
One Sunday afternoon, during the WGY hour, the orchestra played a whole number before Charles F. Phillips, in the operating room, asked Chap when he was going to start.
And so it goes. Chap has mighty few evenings to himself. WFBL is on the air every night in the week and the announcer has to be there on the spot for all programs.
No, boys, directing a broadcasting station isn't all honey and roses.
[Thursday October 1, 1925 article about the Second Annual Herald Radio Exposition at the New York State Armory]
... Tomorrow will be WFBL day, and Ernest "Chap" Chappell and his galaxy of entertaining musicians will be on the air from the Armory at the usual hours.
"Howdie" to Play.
Bob Aldrich's orchestra will be on hand and with it will be Frank "Howdie" Rich, who will be formally introduced to local wireless fans as one of the best banjo players that ever stepped in front of a microphone. He has been broadcasting for nearly five years from stations all over the country. He has just matriculated at Syracuse University and will be a permanent fixture with the Syracuse orchestra. Chap declared this morning that it was the happiest moment of his life when "Howdie" promised to be on hand for WFBL night.
And then there will be Edith Bacon, accomplished violinist; the Dreamy Serenaders; Jackie Shannon, Syracuse's boy wonder pianist and the Liberty Male Quartet.
[Friday October 2, 1925]
CHAP TO BE IN STADIUM FOR GAME TOMORROW
Local Announcer to Broadcast Play by Play Account of Game.
By RAY DAYO.
Tune in on WFBL at 2:30 o'clock tomorrow afternoon if you want to get in on a real gridiron thrill at home. Ernest "Chap" Chappell and his microphone are going to be in the press box at Archbold Stadium to watch the Mountaineers of Vermont try to stop Pete Reynolds' new Orange machine. Assisting Chap will be enough messenger boys and reporters to keep the backs plunging and ripping, and the linesmen tackling and bucking right in your radio den.
Chap has carried a pigskin in his time, and he knows about as much about the game as he does about broadcasting, and that's a lot.
[Monday October 5, 1925]
Arrangements Complete for World Series From WFBL
Herald and Associated Press to Provide "Chap" With Quick Returns.
Arrangements for the broadcasting of the World Series by The Herald and the Associated Press through WFBL were completed today, and Ernest "Chap" Chappell will call off the umpire's "play ball" in the first game at Pittsburg, starting at 2 o'clock Wednesday afternoon. The plan to put the championship series on the air from the local station was made possible through the efforts of the Herald, and a special Associated Press wire has been established between the newspaper office and the Onondaga Hotel.
Chap will be on hand for every game of the series, and he will be assisted by a special corps of reporters and Associated Press operators. Local fans are assured of getting almost instantaneous returns on the games.
Within a few seconds of the last play of each game, baseball extras of The Herald, containing complete radio reports, will be on the street.
[Monday October 5, 1925]
WFBL ARTISTS TO BROADCAST FROM WINDOW
Hunter's Scene of Novel Stunt Tomorrow and Wednesday.
by RAY DAYO
Ernest "Chap" Chappell and his WFBL entertainers will broadcast afternoon programs from the display window of Hunter's department store at East Fayette and South Salina Streets tomorrow and Wednesday.
The opening program of the novel stunt was put on the air at 2 o'clock this afternoon and the two remaining broadcasts will be broadcast at the same hour.
The artists will be in full view of the people in the street, and an amplifying system will enable those on the outside to hear the music.
Howdie Rich, Syracuse University's banjo picker, who made such a hit with local fans at The Herald's radio show, and Jackie Shannon, youthful singer and pianist, will be in the window tomorrow afternoon. The Dreamy Serenaders will do the broadcasting Wednesday.
[Wednesday October 7, 1925]
WFBL Giving Fans Quick A.P. Account of World Series
Radio-baseball fans of Syracuse! Don't fail to get in on WFBL's play-by-play account of the World Series, beginning today and continuing until either Washington or Pittsburg has won four games.
The Herald and Associated Press have established a special wire between the newspaper office and the Onondaga, and Ernest "Chap" Chappell, always ready to accommodate his radio audience, has consented to do the announcing during the entire series. The games begin promptly at 2 o'clock.
[Thursday October 8, 1925]
PROGRAM AT SANATORIUM.
Ernest E. Chappell and his WFBL broadcasters will entertain the patients at Onondaga Sanatorium tonight. The program will include selections by Howdie Rich, Syracuse University banjo player; Jackie Shannon, singer and pianist, and Bob Aldrich, orchestra leader.
[Sunday November 8, 1925]
Ernest E. Chappell to Write Special Radio Articles for The Herald
WFBL Announcer Joins Newspaper Staff and Will Have Daily Column of News and Information No Fan Should Miss.
By RAY DAYO.
Radio fans of Syracuse! Here's the best bit of news you have heard in a long, long time.
Ernest E. "Chap" Chappell, WFBL's youthful and popular announcer, has joined the radio staff of The Herald.
It takes a brick layer to build a brick house, and a carpenter to lay a hardwood floor; and it takes a seasoned radio announcer to tell all that is to be told in the world of broadcasting. Chap will be The Herald's radio columnist and he will have a daily story crammed full of interesting and valuable information that no radio fan should miss. Watch for Chap's first story in tomorrow's Herald.
The Onondaga announcer is a mighty busy man, but when The Herald's radio editor invited him to join the staff Chap jumped at the opportunity to provide his listeners with timely broadcasting news.
Chap's voice is familiar to radio fans all over the State, but few listeners know that the Syracuse announcer can write radio as well as talk it. This will not be his first attempt by any means, so readers of The Herald are assured of expert advice written by an experienced writer.
As we said before, Chappell is a busy man, and he will be busier than ever now. But he is going to like it. He says that nothing will suit him better than to communicate with his hearers through The Herald. We want all you radio fans to let us know what you think of Chap's column.
[Monday November 9, 1925 - Riding the Waves With Chap (RTWWC) - This is the text of the first column in its entirety:]
Riding the Waves With Chap
By ERNEST E. CHAPPEL. [sic]
WFBL Radio Director.
Well, radio fans, I have become a columnist. Yes, I am a radio columnist. I was born just last Friday afternoon, and immediately upon seeing the light of day in the world of journalism, decided that I'd start right out and get acquainted with the inhabitants of said world and then make friends with the world they write about. The first part was easy, but the second is sure a hippo's mouthful.
By nature of my occupation, I am assigned to radio. What could be sweeter than to kill two birds with one stone? Listen--The Herald doesn't know it but I am going to use this space for twin purposes.
FIRST--We are going to give The Herald's radio readers the most up-to-the-minute radio news, not only from a listener's standpoint but also from the broadcaster as well.
SECOND--It is going to give me an opportunity for which I have long waited: the chance to have real contact with the unseen audience of WFBL. To talk with you, get your ideas, your suggestions through the medium of The Herald's radio page, and put them into concrete form for the betterment of local broadcasting. We want every one of our readers to be "program directors" of their own local station.
Just those two words--program director--but what a world of work for the person who bears that title on the staff of any station.
That is the thought which I want to bring out in this, the first of my printed efforts. For just a few moments, will any one of you be a program director? Then just imagine yourself sending from two to five hours of entertainment into every home with a radio, in Syracuse alone. In the course of the day, you will reach probably 15,000 people minimum.
First--You are going to entertain the housewife. She is burdened with home responsibilities and turns to the radio in the hope of finding something that will lighten these.
Then you have the children, all ages, who are really learning by radio, in an entertaining way. But this is the age of adolescence, when the child mind is taking concrete form and his character and ideals are in the making. Are you amusing him for good or evil? Is he receiving wholesome, instructive material over this second most important highway to the mind, his sense of hearing? Or are you helping to develop a race of criminals?
Think this over, and be particular what your child hears on the air. Radio holds firmly in its grasp, one of the very few opportunities to make or break America and the world in the next generation. It can be the greatest working agency for peace or the most terrible agency for world chaos. The child, I believe, comes first in the considerations of a program director.
THEN you will have "the tired business man," the every day working man, the professional, in fact, in every walk of life. All these people seek to be pleased and unfortunately they want to be pleased most of the time. Finding practically everyone with a different taste, therein lies the director's job, with the safety of the future generation lurking in the background. Now that you have been on a station staff for a few moments do you want to keep the job? You can be a great help, anyway.
Let us get together, listeners-in, and on this page of radio, let's talk about everything pertaining to radio. Every one of you fans are theoretically hired to assist in the programs that are on the air. You are going to be "on the inside" through the medium of this column. We will be delighted to have your questions and all your correspondence. With you again tomorrow, good night all.
[Tuesday November 10, 1925 RTWWC]
One of the many interesting things around a broadcasting studio is the Fan Mail. Every station has this applause in good measure, according to the quality of the program and its effect on the listener. At our WFBL studio we average 100 letters a day in the winter. All these have to be carefully checked over, first for verifications that must be acknowledged then for the usual run of fan comment, which makes it possible to determine the popular run of our regular artists, the functioning of our station, our range under different conditions, and our saturation.
This latter is probably the most interesting, because of the mystery surrounding it. Example: In and around Binghamton, it is dead as far as reception of WFBL is concerned, and yet our station is heard clearly and consistently just a few miles south in Pennsylvania. Every station has these dead spots, but the cause, probably, will remain a nature secret for many years. ...
An inquiry as to the hardest program to announce from the local station. Believe us, the hardest program for any announcer is a sport contest. ...
[Wednesday November 11, 1925 RTWWC]
... ARMISTICE DAY all over the continent today. WBZ, WLW, WGY, are all major stations with fine Armistice programs. Many of the old standbys are not scheduling any special programs whatever. Our own local is not on the air Wednesday evenings, and is not celebrating in any way. However, we all realize fully what the day stands for. Think of the real meaning and then go and become a member of the American Legion's Endowment Drive $10 Club.
Figures from the Department of Commerce show just how mad the U.S.A. really is. We have in this country just about twice as many stations as the rest of the world en masse. Exact figures are 277 operating outside the United States as compared with 563 stations operating in this country. ...
[Thursday November 12, 1925 RTWWC]
... Have you noticed that of late when many stations sign off, you do not hear the announcer give his initials or nickname? Many of the larger stations have discontinued the practice, branding it as obsolete. Radio listeners who have favorite announcers are so familiar with their voices as to make initial giving unnecessary and superfluous. ...
[Friday November 13, 1925 RTWWC]
... Today is the big day in the hearts of 54 members of Uncle Dick's Bed Time Smile Club [a fifteen minute long program broadcast five nights a week on WFBL around 7:15]. All these little friends of Uncle Dick's who have had birthdays during the last week will assemble tonight on the Roof Garden of the Onondaga Hotel for their own Smile Club birthday party. Ice cream and cake, a radio story by Uncle Dick, and lots of games will send many a little tot home with a warm spot in his heart for Uncle Dick and Station WFBL. At the present time there are enrolled in this little organization about 1,500 members. The youngest, at present writing, is eight days old; the oldest is 81 years. The closest to the station is a resident of the hotel; the most distant is Shanghai, China. So you see, bed time storys [sic] is a pretty big business, after all. ...
[Saturday November 14, 1925 RTWWC - WFBL was a Class B radio station]
... Many times the question has been asked "What is the difference between Class A and Class B broadcasting?" A Class A station is as a rule one operating within the band of wavelength between 200 and 275 meters. A station of this type can use any power it desires on to 500 watts, but that is the maximum. Class A stations have considerable leeway in their operation and are not required to maintain the rigid standards set for Class B broadcasters. A Class A station can broadcast mechanical music from the phonograph or player piano without any objection on the part of the government. They need not have a regular studio and no intricate installations of apparatus are necessary.
Far different is the case with the Class B station. These set a very high standard of operation and must maintain this standard, in default of which their license will be revoked. The wave length band for Class B stations is 275 to 545 meters. The minimum power that can be used is 500 watts. The Class B station must be equipped with a standardized studio. Class Bs are at all times under rigid supervision from the Government. ...
[Tuesday November 17, 1925 RTWWC]
[A fan letter from H. A. Bateman and family] ... makes a guess that we have our hands full at the local station each Friday night with Uncle Dick's Bed Time Smile Club. You said it, Mr. Bateman. How many ever had the experience of running a birthday party for 54 children between the age of 1 and 15 years? But we have a great time making all of Uncle Dick's little friends happy and feel that we are succeeding. What we want is even bigger parties than we have now. That means a bigger enrollment in the Smi-ha-ha-hile Club. ...
Many of our WFBL fans write in and ask if we permit spectators on our programs. That is an impossibility at the present time, as our studio is not equipped to handle any audience at the broadcasts.
But in the near future we hope to accommodate a goodly crowd at many of our programs. Announcements will be made when this time comes and we hope to see many fans in attendance. ...
[Thursday November 19, 1925]
WFBL PRESENTS FIRST BIRTHDAY PROGRAM TODAY
Washer Band, Ambassadors, Van Alstyne Boys to Broadcast.
... By RAY DAYO.
A full night program, beginning with an Aldrich concert at 6:15 o'clock and ending with the vaudeville Van Alstyne boys, who go on the air at 11:30 o'clock, will mark WFBL's celebration of its first anniversary today.
Chap has booked a program of all-star entertainers that promises to be a fitting celebration of a successful year.
The Syracuse Easy Washer Band [made up of employees of the Syracuse Washing Machine Company] will start the main program at 9:30 o'clock. At 10:30 o'clock the Ambassadors, touted syncopaters of Binghamton, will broadcast, and Mayor Walrath will give an address. Mr. Bruns is unable to be present. The Van Alstyne Boys, who this week are showing at the Empire Theater, will conclude the program.
Since WFBL was opened Nov. 19, 1924, 1,135 programs have been broadcast. Nearly 40 orchestras, seven bands, 40 pianists, 15 violinists, 17 tenors, 24 sopranos, 16 baritones and 45 miscellaneous concerts are included in the long list of the year's broadcasters.
Chap is mighty proud of the record, and he has good reason to be. There have been only eight silent days and only six interruptions in broadcasting. The average length of programs was one hour, one minute and six seconds. The total time on the air was 1,156 hours and 10 minutes. Total time off for repairs was 21 minutes and 30 seconds.
Ernest E. Chappell has been director and announcer since Feb. 1. [Feb. 10?] He has announced 792 programs. Victor Miller, who preceded him, announced 175 programs. J. B. Evans has handled 76 concerts; Paul Ramseyer, 63, and Charles Phillips, 21.
[Thursday November 19, 1925 RTWWC - This is the entire text of the column:]
Just one year ago today, there was sent out on the air from Syracuse, the first program from WFBL, the Onondaga Hotel. Since that time, the station has placed Syracuse first in everything, and has served the community to the best of its ability. The writer did not have the privilege of being connected with the premier broadcasting efforts by Syracuse, but his dreams were very much fulfilled, when the opportunity presented itself in that field.
Probably the greatest service to the people of Syracuse, was the broadcasting on March 4, last, of the Coolidge Inaugural Address direct from the Capitol steps at Washington, D.C. This ceremony was put on the air perfectly and was thoroughly enjoyed by thousands upon thousands of American citizens the country over.
Next in point of service to the people comes the church services. Last season, the Vesper from the First Presbyterian Church, and this season, the evening service from the First Methodist Church. Both of these services are greatly appreciated as a Sunday program by thousands of Syracusans who are unable to attend a church service, say nothing of the countless listeners outside of our city. Then the Lenten services at noontime from Kieth's Theater all through Lent on this year. This was probably the greatest work of uplift that has been done in Syracuse for some time. Beginning the first Sunday in December, the First Presbyterian Church will broadcast their Vesper, giving us two of the best services in town each Sunday.
Next in line, we point to the recent elections. Radio had much to do in the campaign just passed. Many people who would otherwise not hear either candidate, were able to vote intelligently because they had heard both sides of the arguments via radio.
Probably next comes the sports service from WFBL. The 1925 World's Series was greatly enjoyed, play by play, through the courtesy of The Syracuse Herald, who gave us direct lines and an operator in the studio for every game. The football games on the Hill have been put on direct from the press box in the Stadium, to the delight of thousands.
All of these opportunities for service, and many more, have been filled to the letter by the Onondaga station. Syracuse would be much alone without its radio, it is a humble opinion. And yet it is all just started. It is just coming into its own in the place reserved for it in the city life of today; yes, in farm life as well. In the tomorrow, it is bound to play one of the biggest roles.
WFBL's reports for the year disclose some very remarkable records. Permit me to call to your attention the more important ones. The total time on the air, since Nov. 19, 1924, 1,156 hours and 10 minutes; number of programs, 1,135; average length of programs, 1 hour, 1 minute, 6 seconds; programs from remote control, 155; silent days in the year, 1 1/5; total of interruptions in broadcasting, 6; total time off for repairs, 21 minutes, 30 seconds.
These are the most interesting ones. The latter two are the records that we are most proud of. When one considers that out of 1,156 hours of broadcasting, only 21 minutes, 30 seconds were taken out for repairs, one cannot help but marvel just a bit. For that is a fine record in our operating room. The station is indebted to our chief engineer, Mr. Woodworth, and the always vigilant operator, Charles Phillips, the least talked about man on a station staff, but the most important, for without him, the works are gummed.
On our first birthday, we submit our first record, and promise that we will do our best for Syracuse that on our second anniversary, we may be able to present a better one.
[Saturday November 21, 1925 RTWWC]
... Many of our listeners heard Jim Ellenwood last night from WFBL speak on the subject, "The Boys of Syracuse." He is backing the generation of tomorrow to the utmost, as is evidenced by the following:
"I recently attended a dinner and sat beside a college president. In the course of our conversation, this educational head said: 'I believe that the young people of today are going to the deuce.' (Censored.) I answered him, saying that when they arrived they would find many thousands of their elders had beaten them to it."
Words such as these going out on the air cannot help but do good. We are proud to have had the opportunity of presenting Mr. Ellenwood. ...
[Tuesday November 24, 1925 RTWWC]
In yesterday's mail came the question from one of our local radio fans: "Are broadcasting artists paid for their entertainment?" The answer to that in the case of our local station is "No." In very rare cases are artists appearing on WFBL's programs paid for their services. These cases are generally connected with a commercial program and then the advertiser pays the artist, not the station management. Every one of the scheduled programs from the local station in the last year has been put on the air with the fine co-operation of our entertainers.
Then the question comes: "What return do they get?" In reply to that, we generally ask the question: "In what other manner can an artist, at the cost of less than an hour of effort, put his or her name before a minimum audience of 25,000 people?"
Many of our most prominent entertainers owe their success entirely to their work before WFBL's microphone. Radio is the finest medium of publicity that exists today. Of course, there are stations that pay their artists well for their broadcasting work, but these stations are generally owned and operated by some great corporation or combine that must have regular A-1 programs with which to advertise their business at any cost. In such cases, paying the artist merely serves to cut the firm's income tax. ...
[Friday November 27, 1925 RTWWC]
... Nearly every person who wrote in [recently about Uncle Dick's Bedtime Smile Club] wanted to know where Uncle Dick ever gets all the stories that he tells every night for five nights a week, nine months out of the year. That is a secret that he keeps to himself. You can tell that little member of the club that he knows every story by heart. See if he believes you. At any rate, the search for bedtime stories suitable for broadcasting was a long, weary job which ended just a short time ago when the story teller discovered a set of books that contained in boiled down form just what he had been searching for. In the course of a week or ten days a story has to be put on the air that will be acceptable to every type of child-mind between the ages of one year and 15. To choose this blanket of tales takes quite a bit of effort. In the course of a week we select from the following divisions:
Fairy and Wonder Tales, Folk Tales and Myths, Stories of Greece and Rome, Heroes and Heroines, Stories That Never Grow Old, Old Fashioned Tales, Tales of Courage and Heroism, Animal and Nature Stories, Stories of Today and Poems. In these ten divisions we find a class of stories that will please any age that may be listening in for the bedtime period. It has been discovered that many of the older people -- dads and mothers -- often find themselves interested in the nod period. Some, it is found, are inclined to complain because so much time is taken in putting on this bedtime period. We are always open to suggestions, but where a program is doing some good, it will continue. Might I take a moment of time to tell you of a few very interesting incidents that have come up as a result of the story teller?
One in particular is the case of a pretty little girl in Syracuse who was being brought up in the best environment possible and every attention was given to her that she might have every advantage. But this child had one habit and that seemed unconquerable, that of biting her finger nails. Both her mother and her nurse had tried every remedy they could think of and had failed. It happened that the young lady was a member of the Smile Club and that Uncle Dick was a very good friend of her dad. So Uncle Dick knew all the time that she was disobeying her mother and refusing to stop, and spoke to her about it one night at the bedtime period. Not once since then has that little girl bitten her fingernails intentionally. ...
[Saturday November 28, 1925 RTWWC reports on resolutions passed at the Fourth National Radio Conference in Washington, D.C.]
Edited by MS on Feb 07, 2005 - 11:58 PM. Reason: Typo in first line
Joined: Mar 14, 2003
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Posted Feb 07, 2005 - 11:50 PM:
[More Chappell-related material from the Syracuse Herald, in chronological order. Most of it is excerpts from Chappell's column, "Riding the Waves With Chap" (RTWWC). The rest comes from his fellow radio columnist "Ray Dayo" or elsewhere in the newspaper.]
[Monday November 30, 1925 RTWWC]
... The general idea of the listening public is that the radio artist receives most of his applause via the mails. This is, in fact, one of the very light sources. The main volume of fan appreciation comes over the telephone. True that this is mostly local, but a surprising number of long distant communications reach the studio during the course of a program. The telephone calls begin to come as soon as the station takes the air and continue constantly until the signing off period. It keeps one person busy answering these communications and oftentimes two. Every sort of a request is made that can be imagined from "a number written in 1561" to "will you come out to the house to lunch after the program."
As a general rule, the average fan calling in wants some special tune played on that hour. But many very interesting ones are thrown in to make life for the operator "just one darn thing after another."
For example: What is the Irish population of the United States? Can you find my dog? This is so-and-so's garage. We are filled to capacity tonight but tell your audience that there will be plenty of room for storage tomorrow night, (free advertising is the motive here maybe the owner of the garage thinks we are running a bureau for the blind.) Another: Where can I get a marriage license at 7 o'clock at night? What's all that noise in my set? What was the announcement WGY just made about such-and-such? Your wave must be leaking, I can get you on three places on my set. What is the longest field goal on record? Is Graham McNamee married? How old is he? When was Coolidge inaugurated?--and so far into the night the poor operator must stand his ground because it happens in the best of regulated families.
But, seriously, the telephone communications are greatly appreciated. It is life to the artist who stands before a mike and wonders continually, unless he has much experience, just how he is sounding to the folks back home. So use our line as much as possible. That's what it's there for and come one, come all W-1511, Syracuse is WFBL, the Onondaga. ...
[Thursday December 3, 1925 RTWWC]
E. E. Chappell,
The Syracuse Herald
Dear sir:--I was interested in your report in The Herald that telephone calls to W-1511, the WFBL studio, were appreciated. I have phoned on three separate occasions to have messages delivered to artists and told by them that no message was delivered. We have enjoyed many good things through WFBL and wish to thank them through you.
C. ROSS MILLER,
971 Westmoreland Avenue.
The above letter is one received today. Doubtless many more of the Onondaga's radio fans have had the same experience as Mr. Ross tells about. An explanation is just in such a case. We appreciate greatly the trouble that the listener takes to communicate their congratulations to the studio. The number of calls received on a program is always most gratifying.
Perhaps two-thirds of our audience has the idea that the telephone calls come direct to the studio and are accepted there, to be passed on to the artist. That is not the case. All calls are received in the operating room by the station operator who is separated by the station operator who is separated from the studio by two floors. To accept all of these calls in detail and pass them on to the studio is an absolute impossibility. The number of calls that come in and the class of the call received are recorded on his "call chart." The numbers requested are passed on to the studio and if the artist has the selection on hand it is generally played.
But what an expectation, to think that any artist could satisfy the public demand extemporaneously! He receives the detail as to the number of calls received on his program, if that data gets to the studio before he leaves. The only communication that is accepted in detail and passed on is a "long distance." All calls from outside the local area are acknowledged on the program. We do like to answer the phone and encourage its use. W-1511. Your call helps to swell that artist's congratulatory total at the end of the program. ...
[Saturday December 5, 1925 RTWWC]
... Recent surveys show that there are now 16 radio sets in every hundred homes, as compared with 32 automobiles and 36 phonographs. The great activity in the radio industry since its start indicates that it will not be more than seven years before there will be more receivers per capita than phonographs. ...
[Tuesday December 8, 1925 RTWWC]
Every now and then we find ourselves wondering if it isn't about time for us to stop marveling at the mystery and miracle of radio and to consider it from the perfectly cold-blooded view point of a business proposition, bidding for the listeners attention on a business basis. Stripped of its mystery, how does it compare or rank as a contribution to the entertainment and culture of the American home? Is it making for our advancement? Or is it joining forces with other modern influences that are tending to spread our attention over a smattering of everything, with serious concentration upon nothing?
It used to be that one would not criticize a radio program, saying that it was free and to criticize would be base ingratitude. The marvel of it all made adverse criticism seem the worst of bad taste. But today we have become sophisticated. We know now that no broadcasting station is being run as a philanthropy. Recently stations have changed hands, with their wave lengths, at figures that are far greater than the cost of actual station and equipment. Every broadcaster is striving to outdo the other in the number of listeners. So the moment you sit down and tune in a station, you have actually "paid" for your seat and your entertainment. Millions of dollars are being spent to attract your attention and thus further a business man's desire for publicity or an institution's wish to extend its sphere of influence. The secret of your attention to the station is in its programs.
Unquestionably, programs have shown immense improvement in the last two years. They should have. The financial value of the stations has improved far faster than some of the programs. But the question that constantly occurs to me is this: Are the program standards improving in proportion to the tremendously increasing influence of radio on the American public? Does the average station owner realize fully the almost sacred trust that he assumes the moment his operator closes the switch that puts the station on the air?
Two years ago the radio set was a remarkable and fascinating toy. But these two years the whole aspect has changed. In many thousands of cases, the radio set has achieved the reunion of the whole family in the home, where before the young folks and the old folks, too, were beginning to seek their evening's diversion elsewhere.
The radio set is molding lives. About this changing aspect we are building an industry that already grosses the staggering total of $500,000,000. And we have only just begun. Better programs are building this industry. Still better programs will build it still greater. Its foundations are laid in the family life of the nation and the mortar that holds its stones together is the family's satisfaction with what radio brings into the home. The greater this satisfaction, the more firmly will it hold this edifice together and make for its permanence. The listeners-in are the judges, for without you, we cannot live. ...
[Wednesday December 16, 1925 RTWWC]
... Any toys or drums, any blocks or guns, a baseball glove or hat or a wee rag doll or a fuzzy cat [...] but after all have you any serviceable toys as a Christmas gift for poor little girls and boys? This is just by way of another reminder for all the members of Uncle Dick's Smile Club and the big folks too, to dig up toys for the WFBL Strand Toy Show. The date is Thursday morning, Dec 24, 10 A M
[Friday December 18, 1925 RTWWC]
Doesn't it seem as if the days of the old Yuletide singers are drawing to a definite close? In this century of great scientific advancement, nothing seems to come into the life of the public with more impetus and notice than radio. And this Christmas Eve you won't miss the street carol singers for modernity has displaced them. The radio broadcasting stations with their Christmas programs seem to be entering a new era, and an epoch making period. It wasn't so long ago that we had to attend church or some great hall to hear any large assembly giving Christmas carols -- and if the weather was bad or we didn't feel like going out we missed all of that great and spiritual music. Now, however, the radio men either by direct or indirect intent have begun a Renaissance of the Sacred Carols. Hundreds of stations located everywhere reach out to barren places, the waste lands, with their messages of good cheer and service to all mankind. The strength of a station is a foundation built upon the good will of the public for service rendered.
So today we find a great number of stations organizing or cooperating in groups and forming what is known as chain broadcasting.
On the Atlantic seaboard we find the centers of three such large groups, the General Electric chain from WGY, which includes our local station, WFBL; the Westinghouse chain from KDKA, and the American Telephone and Telegraph chain from WEAF. Just glance at the various program notices, or radio magazines and you will be convinced that these great chain stations are actually reviving Christmas Carols, for all plan great Christmas Eve programs. The unison of certain stations has this advantage: A worthy and splendid program can be sent through each station simultaneously and cover a vast territory with one program instead of each station sending out a different program and clogging up air traffic. Reception is made easier and more volume is easily obtained through the co-operation of a higher powered station. So, folks, for this Christmas Eve "Keep the Home Dials Turning" and hear voices from eternity, songs from immortal souls, from choirs invisible chanting Christmas songs.
As proof of the preceding paragraphs on the new chain system, just glance at the Christmas Eve program to be transmitted by WFBL. From 8 P.M. to 9 P.M. a choir from Washington, D.C. will broadcast Christmas carols and several notable musical numbers. The Washington station, WRC, is handling the program, but by means of repeater stations. WJZ, WGY, WFBL and WHAM will broadcast the same program simultaneously. Again from 9 P.M. to 11 P.M. you will hear "The Messiah," the Christmas Oratorio, with special chorus, orchestra and soloists from New York City with station WJZ conducting the program, and the above mentioned stations transmitting the same. Then from 11 P.M. to 12 P.M. [sic] our own local station, WFBL, will broadcast the Adkins Studio ensemble with a Yuletide program which will be relayed simultaneously through station WHAM at Rochester. So here you can have a wonderful trip from Washington, D.C. to Rochester in three hours. ...
[Sunday December 20, 1925 RTWWC]
... At this particular time of the year we are hearing many programs with old negro spirituals. The northern stations can attempt proper rendition of these old numbers but wouldn't it be a good suggestion that strong southern stations such as WSM and WSB use the natural talent in their vicinity and put on regular feature programs of negro spirituals ...
[Monday December 21, 1925 RTWWC]
... Our old friend Santa Claus is as up-to-date as the next fellow and don't you forget it. He now makes his rounds with airplane while his crack reindeer take it easy. His toy factories are equipped with the most modern machinery, and his candy factories are models of sanitary practice. He is also a "ham" of the highest degree, and the modern children have been sending to him down around 40 meters, telling him what they want for Xmas, instead of mailing requests, as was the old-fashioned way.
Santa Claus also loves to listen in and his den is fully equipped with a fine standard outfit on which he and Mrs. Claus listen to programs from all over the world as reception is good at the North Pole. His hobby, however, is building his own, and his shop is filled with circuits of all kinds. Therefore, he has put radio at the top of his list as being the finest kind of a present, and his warehouses are now filled with stacks of the finest standard sets, mounds of loud speakers, thousands of batteries, A, B and C, also B eliminators, millions of tubes of all types and everything you can think of in the way of radio equipment ready for delivery on or before Dec. 25. ...
[Wednesday December 23, 1925]
TOYS FOR POOR CHILDREN PRICE TO STRAND FILM
Syracuse now has only a short time to prove to hundreds of dependent orphans in Onondaga County that there really is a Santa Claus.
At 10 o'clock tomorrow morning the Strand Theater, in conjunction with WFBL, the Syracuse broadcasting station, will run a special holiday feature picture, and the only admission will be a toy that is in good condition.
This plan was worked out by Ernest E. Chappell, WFBL director, and all the toys that are received tomorrow will be distributed among the children in the State and county institutions of Syracuse.
[Wednesday December 23, 1925 RTWWC]
Tonight at 8:00 P.M., the first joint program on the General Electric Chain for WFBL will go on the air from the local station. The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra from Kilbourn Hall, Eastman School of Music, will be presented over WHAM, WFBL and WJZ [also WGY]. The program will last two hours, and will be one of the most pleasing that has ever gone out from the Onondaga [?]. It is a fitting opener for joint broadcasting of WFBL. ...
[Wednesday December 23, 1925]
WFBL HOOKS UP WITH WHAM AND CHAIN TONIGHT
Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra on Air at 8 o'Clock.
... By RAY DAYO.
... Syracuse crystal set owners have been looking forward to the first joint program probably more eagerly than any other class of radio enthusiasts. Tonight's program will mark the first time that music from another city has been broadcast through WFBL.
[Thursday December 24, 1925]
NEW YORK AND WASHINGTON AT WFBL TONIGHT
Syracuse Station's Christmas Program Among the Best
... By RAY DAYO.
This is the first real radio Christmas and no station in the United States will broadcast a program more vibrant with the Yuletide spirit, more replete with proven radio talent than our own local station - WFBL.
Tonight's program is the most pretentious offering ever broadcast from the Onondaga studio. Three cities will contribute their talent to WFBL's Christmas Eve entertainment.
The main program will start at 7:30 o'clock, when the Onondaga Orphans Home choir, directed by Louise Boedtker will present a program of Christmas music. At 8 o'clock Bach's Pastorale and Christmas Oratorio will be put on the air by the choir of St. Johns Church, Washington. WRC, WJZ, WGY, WHAM and WFBL will broadcast the program simultaneously. At 9 o'clock the same stations will offer Handel's "The Messiah," presented by 12 prominent oratorio singers during the Royal Hour of WJZ, New York.
An all-Syracuse program will go on the air from the Onondaga station at 11 o'clock. [Headlining?] the concert will be 17 artists of the Morton Adkins Studios, and a string quartet. ...
Among the numbers that this host of Syracuse musicians will offer are: "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear," "O Little Town of Bethlehem," "Silent Night" and "Joy to the World." At the strike of midnight, the program will close with "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing." There will also be a baritone solo, "The Story of the Christ Child," by H. Morton Adkins. ...
[Thursday December 24, 1925 RTWWC]
To all those who missed the program of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra from Kilbourn Hall, Rochester, last evening, we can [write?] that they heard nothing better anywhere else. At exactly [8:00?] P.M. word was flashed up the chain - and the "air" - and WFBL made its first opening announcement on the General Electric system of stations. And at [8:01?], just as the switch was to be thrown that would put the music on the air, in modern parlance "somebody gummed the works." Wire trouble developed which lasted for about 20 minutes, during which the engineers all up and down the line were doing their best to get circuits opened up. And then as quickly as the disturbance had come, it left, and those who heard the first strains of the orchestra in Kilbourn Hall experienced a most unusual thrill. The event was particularly memorable to crystal set owners, for it marked their first taste of "foreign" music.
The programs to come to Syracuse listeners from the WGY chain must be of a most unusually high standard to exceed or equal the one of last evening. Many of Syracuse's most notable musicians "checked in" with their compliments. Particularly glad was the writer to hear from our own Syracuse composer, Charles Huerter, who conveyed a most pleasing word of praise. Such testimonies as were received only serve to enthuse the staff of the station and assure the listener of programs from the home station that are well worth listening to. Without a doubt, last night's performance was the finest ever from WFBL. WGY's officials say that it was the best ever from the Schenectady station. And that's that somebody missed it. [sic]
All over the radio map, fitting celebrations are under way to make this the best of all Christmases and the scheduled programs from the major stations will be a big contribution to the happiness of many American homes. We are of course at this time confining our interest to "home." WFBL is presenting the ethereal audience this evening the best that can be obtained from any station. In detail: ...
[Chappell goes on to give the Christmas Eve schedule as described in the preceding article. He finishes by asking:]
... Could there be a finer array of talent? Could there be a finer way to spend Christmas Eve than listening to the evening of Yuletide entertainment from the WGY chain and then topping it all off with the program of Christmas hymns and carols furnished by the Morton Adkins Studios? No!
THE HAPPIEST CHRISTMAS EVER.
[Sunday December 27, 1925 RTWWC]
... The complaint against all music programs continues to grow. But not one in every 100 complaints know how hard it is to find non musical material suitable for broadcasting. The best cure for the chronic [picker?] would be to make him responsible [for?] a program or two and let him dig up non-musical talent for it.
[Monday December 28, 1925 RTWWC]
... Just as a review of last week's activities let's see what kind of a rating could be given WFBL for the last seven days. The dinner music from the main dining room has been of exceptional quality thus far in the holiday season. Tuesday evening the band of the Syracuse Washing Machine Corporation gave a fine entertainment. On Wednesday evening a two-hour program was broadcast from Kilbourne Hall, Rochester, with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra.
Christmas Eve from 8 to 9 P.M., a fine program of carols came from Washington, D.C. From 9 to 11 P.M. a splendid rendition of Handel's "Messiah" came from New York and at 11 o'clock a super program of carols was presented by the Morton Atkins Studios from WFBL. On Saturday evening a dance program from Rochester was pleasing from 11 to 11:45 P.M. and for three quarters of an hour after that Norma Chambers Mayer, pianist; A. K. Aiquoni, violinist, and Nathan Heimlich, tenor, presented fine music. Could the week be more superb? WFBL's programs of the future are of just as high standard. ...
[Thursday December 31, 1925 RTWWC]
... Big programs tonight are plentiful, as practically every station in the country is watching the old year out and the new year in. ...
WFBL will be on from 11 to 12 P.M. [sic] with a special New Year's Eve program direct from the Strand Theater.
Tomorrow night, the Onondaga station will hook up with the G.E. chain again for a full evening from 7:30 until about 11 P.M. This will consist of Victor Hour with McCormick [sic] from WJZ and studio entertainment from WGY. [Ray Dayo's accompanying article mentions that this John McCormack/Lucrezia Bori concert "marks the first anniversary of the revolutionary radio program of Jan. 1, 1925 in which McCormack and Bori were the first internationally known artists to be heard in a radio concert."]
[Saturday January 2, 1926 RTWWC]
... J. Bodewalt Lampe, who, perhaps, has studied radio programs and radio music more than any other American impresario says: "The demand for jazzed-up melodies has fallen off; the slap-stick of the old bands, where every man was a law unto himself, is no longer popular. The tendency is to play music so that the good in it will predominate rather than anything that is suggestive." The listener-in will undoubtedly bear Mr. Lampe out in this statement. Even your local station is running more and more toward the higher class of music. This is of course based on demand. The greater volume of mail coming to the WFBL studio is for the better grade of music. ...
[Monday January 4, 1926]
Puts WFBL on the Map--Ernest E. Chappell, WFBL director and announcer, has been flooded with inquiries since the New Year's Eve joint program when he amused Syracuse listeners by "cutting in" with "and WFBL, Syracuse." Chap explains that it is not the policy for the General Electric stations to announce the names of independent stations, and so he had to let the world know that WFBL was in on the chain. He used a stop watch in order to cut in at the right moment.
[Thursday January 7, 1926 RTWWC]
... GOSH, say, wasn't it great to hear our local announcer cut in last night at the close of the program and announce that the Hanson-led Varsity basketeers tripped the jinx placed on our teams by Cornell? Oh! boy wasn't it a gran' and glorious feelin' though - why even the tubes oscillated a few extra electrons or whatever's inside of 'em. ...
[Monday January 11, 1926 RTWWC]
... An enterprising young inventor is working on an instrument which it is claimed will make radio almost as confidential as the present telephone. This is due to the use of a short-wave, and dials with some 10,000 graduations. If this invention is a success, it may in due time revolutionize the telephone system, for we might be able to carry our phone right in our vest pocket, well, if you don't have a vest, then in any pocket, and when you want to call up home just turn your dial for your wave length and talk to friend wife or to your cook, and tell her you are bringing your best friend home for dinner.
[Friday January 22, 1926 RTWWC]
The week-end program of Station WFBL promises to be a regular radio-theatrical affair. This evening simultaneously with WGY our station is broadcasting Shakespeare's "Hamlet" beginning at 8:15 P.M. Saturday evening, 9 P.M. WFBL will broadcast another play, "Suppressed Desires," as presented by the Boar's Head Dramatic Society of Syracuse University.
The studio of Station WFBL will be glad to receive any comment or criticism on the program as broadcast from the auditorium of the John Crouse College of Fine Arts, Syracuse University, last evening. Because of the size of the auditorium and the fact that there was no audience present, the pick-up engineers would like to know the acoustic effects received in the listeners' sets. What is the difference in sound between transmission from Crouse Auditorium and that from the hotel studio? ...
Tonight at 6 P.M., approximately 200 members of Uncle Dick's Bedtime Smile Club will gather on the roof garden at the Onondaga for a birthday party. Special entertainment for the Kiddies is to be provided by the ballet class of Sonya Maren's School of Dancing. Toy balloons, ice cream and cake, and a good time for all is the card for the hour.
[Monday January 25, 1926 RTWWC]
... The reading of the play "Suppressed Desires" as presented by a Boar's Head society trio, was well received by our radio audience. You can see what a psychological mind can do and undo for those who take it seriously. But, it's all right, for they lived happily ever after. ...
[Tuesday January 26, 1926 RTWWC]
This evening from 6:45 P.M. to 7:15 P.M., finds the station broadcasting for the first time a commencement program. The Central High School is presenting for its Senior Class, a special program which will be transmitted direct from the studio of WFBL.
Didn't you get a thrill last night, when in the midst of its program WJZ announced that it was signing off for an "SOS?" We'll wager that many a dial spun up to the 100 or high meter mark in an endeavor to pick up any possible message. There were several distress calls on the air last night -- and as the great audience listened in trying to pick up national or international programs, these ships battled with the elements and radio again offered its ultimate service to mankind by spanning great distances in a flash and brought aid when at any other time all hope would have been lost. ...
[Tuesday February 9, 1926 RTWWC]
PERHAPS it is because radio is in its infancy that no move has been made to censor programs. But already there are a few stations presenting some programs that would bear tuning out. Radio coming into its own, finds itself in a most powerful position. The major development of broadcasting has been along the lines of culture and refinement. Let's make sure that the minority does not gain in popularity. There are too many stations waiting for the excuse to say "we give them what they ask for."
Do you applaud an artist? When you hear an unusual program that pleases you, do you take time to drop a card to the artists and thank them for their efforts? We buy a ticket for a theater. It may cost $5, but we say, "Well, I've got to have some pleasure. I'll never miss it 50 years from now." You applaud that performance, that cost you $5, enthusiastically. You might buy another ticket that cost 50 cents and see a performance of just as much merit, but there is not half the applause. That might be called audience psychology.
The same holds true in radio, perhaps to an even greater extent. One buys a set, it is installed and we hear fine entertainment from all over the country; entertainment that comes free to our living room; entertainment that costs the producers thousands of dollars. But do we ever applaud? No, it is all taken for granted. About one out of every 2,000 express their appreciation. ...
[Wednesday February 10, 1926]
Chappell Year at WFBL.--Ernest E. Chappell today is celebrating his first anniversary as announcer and director of WFBL, the Onondaga Hotel broadcasting station. Flowers and letters of congratulation flooded the studio this morning, and Chappell was kept busy answering telephone calls from his listeners who remembered the occasion. Chappell came to WFBL Feb. 10, 1925. He has complete charge of all programs that are put on the air from the Syracuse station.
[Wednesday February 10, 1926 RTWWC]
... The job of a radio announcer is coming to be more important every day. It is said, now, that the announcer of a powerful station is a dictator of pronunciation. He is recognized as the one person who should know the proper pronunciation of any word. Many of us pronounce some of the simplest words incorrectly by habit. If an announcer makes a mistake on the air, it is picked up by perhaps thousands who are in every day life relying on their eyes and ears for what education they get.
In some places, especially through the Middle West, the English language is being modified in pronunciation since the origination of radio announcers. Not because of incorrect pronunciation so much as the choice of the announcer when two are correct. Definite lines are being drawn where heretofore we have had our choice of two pronunciations. ...
[Thursday February 11, 1926]
WFBL ANNOUNCES [sic] TALKS.
Ernest E. Chappell, announcer and director of WFBL, spoke at a luncheon meeting of the Exchange Club in the Hiawatha room of the Onondaga this noon.
[Thursday February 11, 1926 RTWWC]
... One profession that eventually will arise in connection with broadcasting is "radio producing." The radio producer will write original productions designed as carefully for radio as the movie scenarios are adapted for the films. He must be author, dramatist and musician. He will outline his plot and story, coach his actors in the dialogue, and weave in the backgrounds and interludes of music.
And another line of radio endeavor will be that of the man who will write the announcements, colorful and informative and entertaining, for concerts and musical programs, much as the continuity and title editor work for the moving pictures.
And still another important business in broadcasting will be the musical conductor. When a symphony concert is broadcast and a half dozen microphones are employed all around the studio the conductor will sit at a control desk with earphones adjusted, and balance the volumes of the mikes to secure the perfect combination. The control dials will take the place of the baton.
[Monday February 15, 1926 RTWWC]
... Many inquiries are coming to the local studio asking why WFBL is not on the air Monday and Wednesday evenings. These are the silent nights after 8 o'clock by government regulation. There are eleven stations on the WFBL wave length, 252 meters, and this allotment of time is made to avoid conflicts on the air. WFBL is permitted a certain number of hours per week operation. If any further time is desired, permission must be asked of the federal supervisor of radio. ...
[Thursday February 25, 1926 RTWWC]
The program of entertainment from WFBL tonight is probably the most interesting one thus far this month. For the first time, the great Roosevelt-Estey organ in John Crouse College of Fine Arts will be heard broadcast by WFBL, WGY, WHAM and WCAD. Thousands of Syracuse's old grads will receive an old thrill when the deep notes of Crouse float out. The artist on this mammoth instrument this evening will be Dr. George A. Parker. ...
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Posted Mar 02, 2005 - 9:55 PM:
[Sunday February 28, 1926]
McCormack Chosen WFBL Mike Chief Afternoons
By RAY DAYO.
Listeners of WFBL, allow us to present Ferden John McCormack, the Onondaga station's new announcer.
Mac, as he is known at the studio, is going to handle all afternoon programs, and he probably will be the regular announcer at the nightly dinner concerts. His official title is "assistant managing director."
You have heard quite a few new voices at the Syracuse mike lately, and here is the reason: Ernest E. Chappell, managing director, sent out a call for an assistant, an understudy. No less than 30 young chaps of the city, eager to send their melodious voices across the wide open spaces, answered.
It took some time to pick out the man most suited to the job, but Mac finally got the decision; and he is striving hard to equal in popularity "the voice with the smile." ...
Although McCormack never has had experience in announcing, he is a close follower of all that goes on in the radio world. He recently returned from Florida, and during his sojourn in the Southland, he made a study of reception conditions and broadcasting, visiting a number of stations that have been heard in Syracuse.
Naturally, Mac is wondering just what the people in WFBL's parish are thinking of him and his ability. We also would like to know and letters of comment, pro and con, will be appreciated. This youngster is anxious to make good as an announcer, and the criticism of his listeners will help in no small measure.
[Tuesday March 2, 1926 RTWWC]
... Ample material could be provided to all the cartoonists in America if they ever visited a broadcasting station. Among the many laughs would be the "planted" letters and telephone calls commending a certain entertainer, all written and planned by the said entertainer; the singer who is willing to sing bass, baritone, tenor or falsetto, according to the need of the moment; the hundreds of saxophonists who were with Paul Whiteman's original 10-piece band; the thousands of "perfect radio voices," radio nightingales, meadowlarks, canaries, thrushes, and other chanting fowl; the women who wax sentimental over the dear "shut-ins" and want to amuse them with "Lead, Kindly Light," and last but not least the men who want to dash off a radio program now and then just for the fun of the thing.
Radio programs, just a stone's throw back in years, used to be run in the same fill-time fashion as the early movie programs were. You recall the olden time movie pianist who rambled on, one eye on the audience and one eye on the film, changing tempo for the cowboy chases and twittering the keys through the romantic scenes. Radio stations, only a while back, were like that.
We have been present in radio studios when the pianist-announcer-vocalist would run through two hours, alternating piano or vocal solos with orchestra groups, peering out the window all the while, like Bluebeard's sister-in-law, for some more talent to appear on the horizon and drop in to entertain.
Nowadays the radio stations have programs built weeks in advance, with all features timed to the minute. The orchestra accompaniment is timed and played to "cue sheets" just as the movie orchestras change their melody or tempo with every change of scene. In the better concerts the announcer's introductions are written into a scenario, so that all announcements run off like clockwork. Another musical or dramatic company is rehearsing in another room, ready to come on the air on the stroke of the hour. ...
[Thursday March 4, 1926 RTWWC]
An article appearing in a Syracuse evening newspaper last night, stating that WGY will discontinue its lines that link up WFBL and WHAM was a complete surprise to me. Of course, it is false. WGY has no intentions of cutting the Syracuse station from its system, and the story appearing last night is far from the truth.
The fact is, WFBL eventually will be included in a chain that will reach from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Plans for a coast-to-coast system of pick-up and broadcasting are being developed by officials of the Schenectady station, and it will not be long before Syracuse listeners will be able to hear music from the Pacific Coast through WGY.
To make sure that the statements were incorrect, I got in touch with officials at Schenectady last night, and the news was as much of a surprise to them as it was to me. No, fans, WGY is not going to sever its relations with WFBL. ...
[Friday March 5, 1926 RTWWC]
... Anxious listeners in WFBL's parish continue to ask, "Is it true that WGY is going to drop WFBL from its chain," as a result of a false report in another Syracuse evening newspaper. Again let me say that there is absolutely no truth in the report. The two stations were hooked up last night, and they will be hooked up again next Thursday night. ...
[Sunday March 7, 1926 RTWWC]
Many dozen requests have come to the studio asking information as to the operating room of the station. To properly reply to these requests is out of my line, so I have asked Charles F. Phillips, the chief operator for WFBL, to give us his view of broadcasting as seen from the control room. His description:
"In the 16 months that WFBL has been on the air, a great many visitors have come to the station. Among these quite a few were very much surprised to find the control room and the operator, and apparently considered this an unnecessary burden for the Onondaga to carry. ...
[Monday March 8, 1926 RTWWC]
... Judging by the size of our mail this morning, members of our parish were well pleased with Saturday night's "surprise" program. In addition to the Burr-Fowler hour from 11 to 12 o'clock, WFBL rebroadcast WGY's program. We did not know until a few minutes before the time for broadcasting that we would be let in on it. ...
[Thursday March 11, 1926 RTWWC]
... Great interest is taken by the station staff in the communications that arrive daily. Considering the great numbers in our audience, I suppose that a very small percentage ever get in touch with their local studio. We estimate that just about one out of every two thousand will write or telephone in. But those who do write or telephone in are most appreciative. They cannot help but say something to those who have perhaps given them a very enjoyable evening. Of this number, the most are received from the people who do not get many opportunities to be entertained in any other way. They fully realize the wonder of their radio and will never cease to marvel at its existence.
The shut-in is the most pathetic fan of all. Some of the letters received from the bedridden ones who have heard their first church service in 20 years or have just recalled many happy evenings at the opera or the dance or are once more being made to "see" literature, fine music, and happenings in the world, would be most suitable subjects for any orator. They are heartrending. Those are the communications that make up for the other 1,998 listeners who do not write and are the ones that really make the position on a station staff most worth while. ...
[Friday March 12, 1926 RTWWC]
... Fans in WFBL's parish will have an opportunity to hear a contralto of nation-wide fame at 7:33 o'clock tomorrow night. Ruth Lloyd Kinney, one-time soloist from John Philip Sousa, is the guest of James H. Godard, 138 Fellows Avenue, and she has consented to broadcast a program from the Onondaga station. ...
[Saturday March 13, 1926 RTWWC]
... The outstanding contribution to WFBL's schedule this evening is the program of Ruth Lloyd Kinney, contralto, who sings from the studio at 7:30 o'clock through the courtesy of Godard's Music House. Miss Kinney, a guest of L. A. Godard, was persuaded to entertain the radio audience with some of the numbers that have won her fame from coast to coast as "the singer of songs that people love." Through the greater part of her program, she will be accompanied by the Knabe Ampico. In the rendition of one group, she will be assisted by Robert F. Aldrich. ...
[Monday March 15, 1926 RTWWC - This is the entire text of the column.]
Radio programs today exemplify more clearly than anything else the tastes of the average American. Defined, they seem to be music of a light, but tuneful nature, few and very short talks and a sprinkling of novelty. This is the impression one gains from a period of listening-in to the offerings of the various stations.
That the radio does reflect the public taste is borne out by the fact that nearly everything sent out as a regular feature is the result of a preponderance of requests by listeners. Very few offerings are continued after their trial broadcasts unless [the] public voices its distinct approval of them.
As a matter of fact, very few programs are immune to the ax unless the public continues to evince interest in them. Silence does not necessarily mean consent to the program supervisor. He must have proof that his customers are not losing interest or the former popular head will fall on the block to give way for trials of new features.
One hardly finds a single offering going over the air that is not followed by a request from the announcer that those who have heard it voice their approval.
Where the musical tastes of the audience are judged best is through the groups which play request numbers only during certain hours every week. At such times all classes of selections are heard, but it is noticeable that the majority of the numbers are of a light nature, with two extremes of classic and jazz in the minority.
People seem to like short travel talks and discussions of a nature designed to help people in their daily problems. The number of rambling discussions on historical and artistic subjects seems to have been cut down considerably.
The listener is the real radio supervisor nowadays, and his interest is enough to give life to one feature and deal death to another.
[Saturday March 20, 1926 RTWWC - This is the entire text of the column.]
The problems presented in revamping a legitimate drama for use in the broadcasting studio tax the genius of the radio producer to the nth degree. At present there are but a limited number of plays which are practical for broadcasting purposes. Musical comedies are particularly adaptable because of their light plot and breezy, amusing action.
The factors which enter into the transposing from the visible play are many. A play which contains acts or scenes denoting lapse of years, aging of the players, which depends on visibility for their effectiveness, would be a failure if reproduced by radio.
A small number of characters with distinct variations in their voices is essential to a successful radio drama. Mechanical sounds are very necessary to make some incidents understood. The broadcast sound must reproduce the actual sound, which often times cannot be transmitted. For example, a pistol shot would render a destroying blast on the microphone, so it is reproduced by a blown paper bag. The sound of rain on a tin roof is made by rolling dried peas down a paper tube. The ringing of a bell followed by the opening and closing of a dummy door may denote the entrance of a character.
The arrangement of the characters about the mike is a problem in itself. Voices must be tested beforehand; and the whole play must be rehearsed. With a large number of characters, more than one mike may be necessary; and the women are usually placed closer to the mike than the men.
For some time to come the radio drama can be but a mild contender for a position beside legitimate drama. Meanwhile, we must stand by, and as we listen in darkness let us follow the players through fantastical scenes, and revel in our imagination.
[Monday March 22, 1926 RTWWC]
Many times in the past few weeks people have written asking that I tell them more about the work of announcing. ...
No one can seriously discuss the artistic side of broadcasting without first speaking of that both maligned and loved person the announcer. While some might not be inclined to give the announcer any more consideration than a [train?] caller, his importance must be admitted by any but the superficial and easily-pleased listener. Announcing is in itself an art although it has but few advocates and practitioners. The announcer must take an important part in every program and his entrances are sometimes so frequent that unless he is interesting he robs the program of deserving garnish. If he takes the part of a listless informant he brings a depressing influence to bear upon the entertainment in general.
It is the job of the ideal announcer to lift an otherwise meritless program so that it will command the interest and respect of the most critical listener. In short the announcer is far more than he is thought to be. Unless this fact is recognized broadcasting will never reach the higher levels of artistic presentation. ...
The ideal radio announcer should be characterized by all of the qualities of the successful toastmaster who always has it within his power to pull a lame dinner to its feet and give it the necessary stamina for entertainment. This calls for an unusual kind of genius, a genius as yet unrecognized by the present day studio manage[ment?]. [?] breadth of experience, choice of language and the ability to communicate gently on widely divergent subjects mark the toastmaster who should be the inspiration [to a] radio announcer.
This man is not obtrusive nor is he objectionably arrogant. Above all he does not make the mistake of attempting to view everything through the humorous eye. It must be said that the job of radio announcer is much more [severe?] than that of toastmaster. Night after night he must approach the microphone to herald the coming to the air of certain events. It may be a lecture on the care of the teeth or the first movement of Schubert's Unfinished Symphony.
[Tuesday March 23, 1926]
WFBL TO ERECT 175-FOOT TOWER FOR ANTENNAE
Pole Will Increase Onondaga's Power 100 Per Cent
... By RAY DAYO
Another steel tower [that rises?] 175 feet from the roof of the Onondaga Hotel is to be added to the transmitting system of WFBL.
The giant pole, built on a lower roof level than the other, will be [?] feet longer than the [?] one and will top [?] feet.
Construction of the new antennae system is expected to get under way within a month and it will be ready for operation June 1, Ernest E. Chappell announced today. The new tower will go upon the south east corner of the building.
Although the proposed improvements will make little difference to Syracuse listeners, they will boost WFBL's DX results 100 per cent.
WFBL's two big towers will present one of the most impressive sights in Central New York. It is planned to equip them with lights so that they may be seen for miles. ...
[Tuesday March 23, 1926 RTWWC]
... Towering 175 feet above the roof of the Jefferson Warren corner of the Onondaga, the new mast with its mate will be seen from all over the country for miles around. This addition will give our local station the finest antenna system of any station in the country. Just another item for every citizen of Syracuse to be proud.
[Wednesday March 24, 1926 RTWWC]
... Many fans of the Syracuse station ask over and over again if visitors are welcome at the station. You most assuredly are welcome. The studio is on the eleventh floor of the Onondaga and has its entrance at room 1152. Any time of day it is open for your inspection. During a broadcast period as many as can be accommodated in the reception room are admitted. The studio is open to the artists on the program only. We would suggest that you come at some hour when the station is silent. ...
More and more listeners in are using the telephone to get their requests to the local station studio. And more and more are asking that "The Prisoner's Song" be played. One man called just a few days ago and said, "will you play that Jail Bird song?" And in the same breath with him Mac said, "It was played earlier in the program." We have had cards printed with this song title on them and when the request is made the card is hung up in the studio. It has been on the wall now for two months. ...
[Thursday March 25, 1926]
HILL SCHOOL OF SPEECH ON WFBL AT 7:45 TONIGHT
One-Act Play, Readings and Story Telling to Be Features.
... By RAY DAYO.
Syracuse University's School of Speech will provide the weekly Hill program from WFBL at 7:45 o'clock tonight.
"America Passes By," a one-act play, will be presented by Wilma Wright, Mabel Hearon, Charles Stepanek and Lawrence Club, all students in the school.
Prof. H. J. Heltman, instructor in the school, will be heard in a selected group of readings and Angela Reynolds, a student, will tell a few stories. The program will be broadcast also by WGY, WHAM and WCAD. ...
[Saturday March 27, 1926 RTWWC]
... One wonders whether program directors in general realize fully how surfeited the radio audience may become through hearing almost incessant repetition of certain numbers. Probably it may be concluded that the better the music the longer it can be heard without boredom but even the finest of classics grow monotonous when heard too frequently.
Many program directors are fully aware of the regrettable situation and they are doing what they can to prevent too frequent repetition of favorite selections whether they be classics or jazz. At WFBL advance studio programs are scanned for duplications and artists are asked to substitute other numbers for those too frequently heard.
Supervision over dance programs is somewhat less rigid but reasonable variety usually is required. [Relays offer?] complications for it is easily possible to find certain numbers listed on local and metropolitan programs presented through the same station on the same night.
[Sunday March 28, 1926]
SYMPHONY ON AIR / AGAIN AT 3 TODAY / SERVICES TONIGHT
Interesting Program of Music Scheduled in WFBL Announcement.
By RAY DAYO.
The Onondaga Little Symphony Orchestra will be heard for the second time from WFBL and WGY at 3 o'clock this afternoon.
The program will last an hour and a half and comprise seven groups, including Elgar's "Pomp and Circumstance;" Straus' [sic] "The Blue Danube;" Tschaikowsky's second movement from "Fifth Symphony," and Benjamin Godard's "Scenes Tectiques."
Services of the First Presbyterian Church at 5 o'clock and the First Methodist Episcopal Church at 7:30 o'clock, and a dinner program at 6:15 o'clock will make up the rest of the day's schedule at WFBL.
Tuesday night, always a busy one at the Onondaga station, will find Larry Harrington's Orange Peelers at the mike again, and there will be programs by the Dyer-Klumbach Quartet and a pair of black-face comedians.
A new feature will be on the air tomorrow night in the broadcasting of a Tower health talk at 7:35 o'clock. Roger W. Babson will give a statistical report at 7:30 o'clock Tuesday night.
The Strand Theater orchestra and organ will provide the entertainment at 3 o'clock tomorrow afternoon, and the last of the Lenten services will be broadcast this week.
[Monday March 29, 1926 RTWWC]
Countless inquiries as to the source of financial support of the station together with comments of an all but friendly nature on an occasional not-so-good program and denunciation of plausible commercial offerings, warrants a more lengthy discussion than the few sidelights which can be exploited here.
Radio, for a decade known only to the experimental fraternity of science, was literally in one mysterious gesture dropped all of a sudden into the lap of an unsuspecting populace. The scene might well be compared to a child with its first rubber ball. "What to do with it?" "Who is going to pay?" came with the first gasp of the awed onlookers and today, after five years of actual existence, experiment and investigation, who deigns to answer these questions as old as the industry itself?
A natural conclusion for logical minds at the beginning seemed to indicate the taxation of the owners of receiving sets who, obviously, were the ones most indebted to the broadcasters. However, it was evident that such a plan, if instituted, would diminish the sale of sets and indirectly stunt the growth of a new industrial power. Several pioneer stations devised ingenious schemes which, while they were indirect in their manner of approach, were direct appeals for funds to carry on their work. Such methods immediately stamped a promising industry as a beggar and had to be discontinued. Since then, this subtle, predominating factor has received less than due consideration and is as a result an ominous scepter [specter?] hanging by a thread over the head of the wary broadcaster.
You pay when you enter a theater. The obligations of management are thereby met. The principal is economically sound. You pay nothing to tune in to a broadcast entertainment. Is this reasonable? Can such a condition last?
When you purchase a talking machine, other sources of revenue are opened to the manufacturer in supplying you with records. When you buy a camera the demand is soon felt for films and supplies, and thus a sound business is established. Verily, if enough records and films were purchased, the manufacturers could well afford to judiciously distribute their victrolas, cameras or whatever the case might be, free of charge, since the resulting sale of their other products would more than offset the layout in machines.
But wherein lies the elusive neclous [nucleus?] for the collosal [sic] radio industry? A man buys a radio. He takes for granted the unlimited entertainment which he feels is part of the obligation of the manufacturer to provide him with. Is this sound reasoning? Does this same man expect the manufacturer of his automobile to keep him supplied with tires and gasoline? Does he expect the makers of his home electrical appliances to provide him with free electricity? He most certainly does not. By what right then comes he to expect the infant 'industry' of radio to squander unlimited resources in such an unprofitable enterprise as free amusement?
The present situation and lack of support may not produce a crisis, but that the art is evidently making little or no progress under the present method of operation is apparent to all who have given it but passing consideration.
Should listeners be taxed? While this is possible in a practical sense, it is improbable. Commercial programs justified by the results of very indirect advertising, is saving the situation for the time being, by presenting most of the worthwhile offerings. Other talent is enlisted from the ranks of artists lured to the microphone by a certain degree of publicity. ...
It takes $100,000 to meet the obligations of the average properly maintained station. The results of this expenditure is in ether waves. In what other manner can money be more literally cast to the winds? How long can the parasite live that consumes all the resources invested in it, and returns no profit? Where is the profit promising incentive created to justify the existence of this new day art? Will radio always remain independent of public support? Here we conclude. We could start over again with a list of interrogations. Let the prophets be heard.
[Tuesday March 30, 1926 RTWWC]
... The audience has probably noticed two new educational features that have been added the past week. One is the Tower Health Talk on Monday evenings and the other a Roger W. Babson Statistical Report on Tuesdays. The first readings of both of these items brought such a great response that they have been made a permanent addition. ...
[Friday April 2, 1926 RTWWC]
... I wonder how many realize just what broadcasting from remote control means? Those in our technical division will tell you that it means just about a day's work for them every time a program is run out of Crouse College. Dozens of pieces of equipment must be moved and set up and tested on the scene of entertainment before that 75 minutes of entertainment can be presented to the audience. Some time in the near future, we have high hopes of having some generous giver make us a present of a truck. But the pleasure that is received from these Varsity periods more than offsets the work of presenting them.
[Saturday April 3, 1926 RTWWC]
... Based on a complete list of all the sets on the market, the price of the average 1926 radio set is $80. The weight of the average set is 13 pounds, and contains five tubes, two stages of radio frequency. The number of tuning controls in most instances has been reduced to two. ...
[Sunday April 4, 1926]
ANNUAL CHEST DRIVE FOR FUNDS OPENS TUESDAY
... As a means of explaining and familiarizing the public with the actual work of the agencies of the [Community] Chest, the campaign directors have arranged with WFBL broadcasting station for a series of radio programs exemplifying the services of the organization. The series opened Friday afternoon with addresses by Giles H. Stilwell and Walter W. Nicholson, directors of the Chest.
Piano selections played by Miss Helen Crener, 12, a member of the Syracuse Workers Association for the Blind and solos by Gertrude Kasell, 9, will show the creative work done by the association. This program will be broadcast Tuesday afternoon from 3 to 4 o'clock. Albert Hawkins, a member of the school for the blind, will explain the projects of the society. ...
Programs given by agencies of the Chest will be continued twice a week through the campaign.
[Sunday April 4, 1926]
EASTER SPIRIT REFLECTED IN WFBL PROGRAM
... The spirit of Easter will be reflected in all of WFBL's programs today.
In the joint program with WGY, starting at 3 o'clock, a double mixed quartet will present Charles Mauney's cantata, "The Resurrection." At 4 o'clock, the Onondaga station will pick up the afternoon service of St. Peters Episcopal Church at Albany. The First Presbyterian Church and the First Methodist Episcopal Church here also will have special music. ...
Beginning tomorrow WFBL will be broadcasting afternoon programs every day except Saturday. The Strand will be on the air at 3 o'clock tomorrow. A Community Chest program will be broadcast at the same hour Tuesday and Central High School's instrumental trio will do the entertaining Wednesday. ...
[Monday April 5, 1926 RTWWC]
There is a deeply human side to broadcasting which induces sentiment. Radio is a subtle agent which seeks out the rich and the poor, the invalid and the athlete, the blind and even the deaf. Many persons who have been deaf for years have been known to hear perfectly on the radio. Ether waves no know barrier; they enter the log cabin of the snow-bound trapper and the mansion of the millionaire. The great versatile work of radio is depicted daily in the assortment of fan mail received in a studio.
The two samples quoted here need no explanatory introduction. A mental picture of the writers and their surroundings is easily formed by reading their contents:
"We live on a barge, and have two children. Well the little girl's name is Margie and some time ago you said hello Margie well my daughter said hello, she says mama he said hello. We enjoy your programs every Sunday night. And we wish you luck on your trip and all have a nice time."
"I want to express to you the pleasure and satisfaction I experienced last Sunday evening while aboard my yacht at Newport Harbor, listening to the excellent concert you broadcast."
"Dere Unkl Dick: I am a little girl six and one-half yeres old. My grandmother always says 'Hello' and 'Good-night' to you when you say it on the radio. I always listen to yur bed stories and I liked the one about the little half chick. I think I have seen that chicken somewheres."
The above, besides, being a study in contrasts, illustrates the universal appeal of radio. ...
[Wednesday April 7, 1926 RTWWC]
... Reception conditions in New York vary decidedly. In such a locality where electric transportation facilities and the like are so abundant, steel structures have their effect, pockets are numerous, and the small space in which a great number of aerials must be erected, are some causes contributing to the varied reception conditions. A number of traveling men whose homes are in New York, often drop in to inspect our studio. Usually they volunteer information or raise questions, and a variety of "info" it is. "Why is it I can never get Syracuse?" comes from one, while, "Why don't the New York papers carry your schedule? I get your programs every night and would like your schedule," comes the next.
The fact of the matter is that WFBL's waves reach New York in fine shape as the following typical verification indicates: "On last Tuesday night I tuned in your station on my 3-tube set with loud speaker. You came in very loud and clear with all local stations on the air at about 10:30." Art Gillham, the whispering pianist, was on at that time. ...
Monday afternoon the Strand program was delayed from its usual time 3 o'clock to 4 o'clock when it started. Due to the nature of the music which was played between 3 and 4 o'clock, it was deemed more advisable to wait till 4 o'clock to start. Announcement to this effect was made at 3 o'clock. Five minutes later the phone began to hum. "Why weren't we on the air?" or "Were we on the air?" We stopped counting them after the five hundred had called...
[Friday April 9, 1926 RTWWC - Most of today's column is devoted to discussing the possible role of the aurora borealis (or "northern lights") in radio interference. No mention of singing caterpillars, however.]
THERE came to our ears recently a rumor that lists of fans who send in applause cards are being kept by the stations and that the persons on these lists will be taxed as radio receptionists. It hardly seems necessary to raise this point as we are of the opinion that the rumor found few believers. There is not now and never has been the slightest indication that a receptionist will be taxed. Many people offer donations to the support of their favorite station and several interested fans have suggested a canvas of listeners. ...
[Saturday April 10, 1926 RTWWC]
... As we sat in the doctor's office the other night listening to the radio placed there for the amusement of his patients who were waiting, we wondered how many others have adopted this new piece of waiting-room equipment. This note should be of interest to all progressive doctors. However, all the ills are not physical, as we realized when an uninvited howl or screech emerged from the horn, and also when the speaker lost its voice entirely. Comparing the "radio cold" with the one we had I think I'd prefer the former. Where is the radio doc who is going to relieve us of these radio ills.
[Other items in today's column include a report of two businessmen holding the first business conference by radio phone 2,000 miles apart on the Atlantic Ocean and a paragraph devoted to the "Silver Masked Tenor" about whose secret identity Chappell says: "As he never speaks over the radio, but only sings, he is not as liable to be identified in the world outside the studio as is an announcer, whose voice betrays him wherever he goes."]
Joined: Mar 14, 2003
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Posted Mar 20, 2005 - 10:15 AM:
[Monday April 12, 1926]
CONVICTS ASK RADIO NEWS ON FIGHT TONIGHT
Even the prisoners behind the gray walls of Auburn Prison are clamoring for ringside seats at the Shade-Moody battle in the Arena tonight.
Ernest E. Chappell, announcer at WFBL, this morning received a letter from the Mutual Welfare League of the prison, containing a plea to put the fight on the air for the benefit of them and and all other fight fans who will be unable to attend.
But Chap is not a fight fan and tonight's bouts, at least, will not be broadcast.
[Tuesday April 13, 1926 RTWWC]
... Many will recall that when WHK moved to its new home in Carnegie Hall some weeks ago announcement was made that all jazz would be banned from its musical programs. ... It now appears according to the station management that its non-jazz policy may not be tenable because of the belief of many potential air advertisers that the general public will not listen to a station operating on such a basis.
It is understood that some of those approached regarding radio publicity [on?] WHK have not themselves wished to present syncopated programs but have feared that they would not reach a large audience unless at other times the station popularized itself by playing jazz numbers. ...
[Wednesday April 14, 1926 RTWWC]
... Each day, more and more fans of WFBL are led to the studio out of curiosity, that they may get a first hand impression of just what a broadcasting station looks like. Many have the idea that only the artists are admitted to the inner chambers of the station, but this is all wrong. Only when a program is on the air, is the studio closed to the public, and then only the studio and not the reception room. Every one is most welcome to come at any time of day, and see just where and what "delivers the goods." Just recently, the studios have been redecorated and refurnished by the E. M. Allewelt Studios, and done in such an attractive manner that every one will enjoy a visit there.
Coming soon is the Second Annual Radio Ball, given by Station WFBL, in the ballroom of the Onondaga Hotel. Bigger and finer than last year by far are the plans for this year's festivities. All those who attended the dance of last April 19, will remember what a fine time was had by all. Just as good an orchestra and just as good a time are assured for this year. When the tickets are released, support the station and get yours early, as only 450 are available. ...
[Thursday April 15, 1926 RTWWC]
... Randall Clothes, sponsors of the popular weekly Randall Dance Hour, on their program last Tuesday night announced a list of prizes for lucky listeners-in who sent in letters commenting on the program and telling how it was received. All letters received on this subject at the studio or Randall Clothes will be placed in a barrel, and next Tuesday night at 9:30, the beginning of the Randall Hour, the drawing will be held and the three winners announced over the radio. The three prizes offered are of real value to every receptionist; they are: first, 90 volts of B battery; second, four tubes to fit any radio set; and third, a set of head phones. ...
[Friday April 16, 1926 RTWWC]
... Our studio staff is planning some excellent programs for the afternoon during May. Many new artists will make their debuts on these programs and it is a splendid opportunity for aspirants to microphone fame. Auditions are held every Monday and Wednesday evenings at 7:30 P.M. in the studio. Radio offers an exceptional opportunity for the talented who are striving for recognition.
[Sunday April 18, 1926 - Photo (of Chappell and vehicle) with this headline and caption:]
Station E-S-S-E-X, Chap Announcing
Ernest E. Chappel, [sic] Uncle Dick to the kiddies and Chap to the grown-ups, chief announcer and studio manager of WFBL broadcasting station at the Onondaga Hotel, last week went on the air -- balloon air tires -- by means of a shining new Essex coach delivered to him by Revoir Motors, Inc., distributors, of 617 West Genesee Street.
[Thursday April 22, 1926]
BOARS HEAD IN SIXTEENTH HILL RADIO PROGRAM
Two One-Act Plays Will Be Broadcast From WFBL.
.... By RAY DAYO.
Boars Head Dramatic Society of Syracuse University will present the 16th radio program by Hill talent from WFBL at 7:45 o'clock tonight.
Two one-act plays will be broadcast. The cast of the first, "Bound East for Cardiff," will include Henri Di Anni as Cocky; Leonard Bershad, Davis; Thomas McGrath, Scotty; Carl Graboske, Oleson; Oscar Ames, Smitty; William J. Burns, captain; Theodore Proper, second mate; Donald Whitney, Driscoll, and Charles Stepanek, the Yank. The scene is a seaman's forecastle on a British tramp ship.
In the second play, "The Flattering Word," will be Belden Trinkhaus as the Rev. Rigley; Ruth Haun, Mary, his wife; Theodore Proper, Eugene Tesh, a dramatic star; Dorothy Turner, Mrs. Zooker, and Laura Seiler. The scene is a room in the parsonage, and the time is an afternoon in February.
There will be a program by Goodlow's Good Clothes at 10 o'clock, and an organ recital from WGY at 11:30 o'clock. ...
[Thursday April 22, 1926 RTWWC]
TONIGHT, at 7:45, Syracuse University will present a program of dramatics, which, judging by the rehearsal that we heard last evening, should be one of the best periods that has ever been put over the wires via radio might seem very simple. All that would seem necessary would be the players and their lines. But such is not the case by far. When you attend the theater, the scenery and physical appearance of the players assists you in your mental picture of the story. But when you hear a play via radio, you have nothing other than just what is coming through the loud speaker. That is the voice of the artist and nothing else. As a result, your imagination must be drawn upon much more, and the director of the radio play must create sounds and lines that will assist and sometimes force that imagination. Every sound from the slam of a door to the rustle of a woman's skirts across the floor must be reproduced perfectly, that the audience may grasp the action and follow the play. Your attention will be well worth while on the program at 7:45. ...
[Friday April 23, 1926 RTWWC - Entire column is devoted to the mechanics of the microphone.]
[Saturday April 24, 1926 RTWWC]
DRAMATICS by radio confines its activities to about one-fifth of the stations over the country. Through the work of the Boar's Head at Syracuse University, WFBL has been placed well up in the list of those who broadcast successful drama. Of this, we are mighty proud. But who wouldn't be proud of an organization like Boar's Head? Last Thursday evening's work was by far the best that his been done by this society in the way of radio. "Bound East for Cardiff" brought a splendid response from the listeners. Whitney and Stepanek carried the characters of Driscoll and Yank over with a bang. The work of Driscoll caused particular comment.
Immediately following this, a short comedy was given which brought in some women's voices. A new reader was "found" for WFBL when Ruth Haune stepped before the microphone in the part of Mrs. Rigly. Her voice is by far the best adapted to radio work of any we have had in some time. The listeners-in will hear more from Miss Haune at a later date. She will give a group of readings in the near future which will be well worth hearing. ...
[Tuesday April 27, 1926 RTWWC]
If ever a banner night was put on by a station for the lovers of popular music, tonight is that night at WFBL. The festivities start at 8 o'clock with the weekly hour of laughs as handed out by the F. P. Collins Painters. Bobby and Slats will be a few minutes late tonight, as their train doesn't get in from Buffalo until 8:10, but they will be on the air at 8:15 sharp and be prepared to stay with us.
When they have completed their working hour, we find a 15-minute wait on the schedule from 9:15 to 9:30. This is called "a period with Bob and Chap." Tune in and find out for yourself.
9:30 brings to the "mike" the Randall Hour. Larry Harrington and his Orange Peelers will present the weekly hour of dance music, and will be ably assisted in putting it across by "Radio George Dion," who sings popular songs in a style all his own. Be sure and hear him tonight. The weekly barrel contest will take place about 10 o'clock. The dives will be made by Jules Levey, and the awards will be made by his drawings. About 2,000 letters have been received and placed in the barrel for this week's drawing. Many hundred more are expected as the contest gets under way. ...
[Wednesday April 28, 1926 RTWWC]
ERECTION of WFBL's new antennae system will get underway within a week or 10 days. When it is completed Syracuse will have one of the most imposing broadcasting outfits anywhere in the country. The present tower rises 125 feet above the roof of the Onondaga hotel, and the tower to be added will be 10 feet higher.
Original plans have been changed somewhat. First specifications called for a tower that would top the present pole by 25 feet. The new system will be in use within 30 days after beginning construction. Listeners in Syracuse will recognize little difference in the broadcasting, but the improved facilities will virtually double WFBL's range.
Bobby and Slats made their final appearance in the present series of broadcasts last night. These funmaking "painters" have been among WFBL's most popular entertainers during the last few weeks and they are going to be missed. ...
The radio burglar has been discovered in Chicago. His stunt was to listen to all the stations that read telegrams and "dedications" and then jot down the names and addresses announced. Using these addresses as fairly well-to-do prospects, he cleaned up $500,000 in 125 robberies in a year.
The radio stations are now accessories of crime, just like the telephone books and the published income tax returns. ...
[Friday April 30, 1926 RTWWC]
The Syracuse University program, presented from the local studio last evening, was the initial program of Syracuse to go through the transmitter at WMAK, Lockport. This station is located at Lockport, but its main studios are laid out in the Lafayette Hotel, Buffalo. WMAK is equipped to deliver to the G.E. chain, anything that happens in Buffalo. The addition of this outfit adds an audience of perhaps 100,000 people and gives the list of stations now connected by land wire with WGY as five. Many fine things are due to the Syracuse listener come over the wires to WFBL. Here's to the success of the chain system. ...
WFBL had a real reception report yesterday; the first of its kind for this time of the year. Venice, California, verified a Dreamy Serenader reception of two weeks ago. Doesn't it make the shivers run up and down your spine when you stop to think of the intervening space between our studio and this man's receiving set?
Have you noticed the increase in interest that broadcasting stations are taking in cooking, all over the country? Yes, yes, quite so. Many more are arranging cooking school programs this year. But of course you know folks, that is only because more of the studio directors are married this year than last. A series of programs for the housewife are being planned for the audience of WFBL next fall. ...
[Saturday May 1, 1926 RTWWC]
... Many listeners-in will be disappointed at the announcement that "Bobby and Slats" have given their last program. These two "painters" grew very popular in their seven programs from the local station and their weekly hour of fun will be greatly missed. But perhaps something else will come along to fill their place with honor. Here's hopin'. ...
[Sunday May 2, 1926 - But see also the May 23 entry below.]
WFBL DROPS FROM JOINT PROGRAMS UNTIL NEXT FALL
... By RAY DAYO.
WFBL today will broadcast its last Sunday afternoon joint program with WGY until next fall. With the opening of next week's programs the Onondaga station will go on its summer schedule.
This afternoon's broadcast, from 3 to 4:30 o'clock, will be made up of compositions by Rudolf Friml. Robert F. Aldrich and a group of WFBL artists will present the program. ...
[Tuesday May 4, 1926 RTWWC]
The first news for radio fans of Syracuse, I believe, is naturally that of their local station. And there is plenty of that today. Tonight we present a schedule that will equal practically that of any in the country for entertainment. At 6:30 o'clock, Aldrich and his band of musicians will put across their regular dinner offering. These periods are growing more and more popular every day, and the general comment coming to the studio is that they are getting better and better.
At 7:30 P.M. the program will shift to the studio and Everybody's Book Shop will present a Mother's Day Program. If there has been a beautiful period in the past, this will certainly exceed it. A mixed quartet consisting of Eunice Harding Bryant, soprano; Genevieve Hoffman Gormel, contralto; Harry LaVier, tenor, and John Gehm, bass, will render numbers that are particularly celebrations for Mother's Day. The individual solo voice will be heard several times in addition to a string trio, which will accompany and produce several selections along the Mother's Day strain. No one can afford to miss the [this?] part of our evening's entertainment.
At 8:00, Uncle Dick will have a story for the bed time kiddies, baseball reports, news items, weather reports and announcements.
At 8:15 a group of readings will be heard from the studio by Ruth Haun. Miss Haun is a student in the School of Oratory, Syracuse University, and is possessed of a truly remarkable voice, which cannot fail but please. To many, this 15 minutes of dramatics will undoubtedly be the outstanding part of the evening.
And at 8:30 the scene of broadcast will shift to the Onondaga Hotel Ball Room, where the complete program of the Automobile Club Smoker will go on the air from 8:30 to 9:30. George Wainwright and his banjo quartet will be on hand and many other features worthy of your attention.
Then at 9:30--back to the studio. Randall Clothes and Larry Harrington's Orange Peelers present their weekly hour of dance music. Many hundred letters are each week received at the station, commenting on the entertaining value of of this program. Jules Levey will make his weekly dives into the Randall Barrell and produce the three winning letters, his fall being eased by some 3,000 odd letters received that past week on last week's program. The prizes to be awarded tonight will be, First--A Battery Charger; Second and Third--Loose leaf leather bound radio logs and memo books with every available information concerning all of the world's radio stations. The winners names will be stamped on the covers. These are awards that every listener should have.
All we've done is talk about WFBL today, folks. But we honestly believe its worth it. Tune in tonight and see for yourself.
[Wednesday May 5, 1926 RTWWC]
WE really feel, listeners in, that we were quite justified in "cracking up" in advance our program of last evening in yesterday's paper. The entire schedule went off without a hitch, and according to the response received instantly, was very well received.
The special Mother's Day program put over by Everybody's Book Shop was probably one of the most beautiful to come from WFBL in a long time. A real bit of "mother" entertainment.
At 8:15 o'clock, the radio audience heard for the first time in an individual group, Ruth Haun, a School of Oratory student at Syracuse University. Miss Haun chose wisely her first readings on the air. Without a doubt, to thousands, the clipping from "Marco Polo" by Don Byrne was one of the finest bits of work that could have been done. Possessing a remarkable voice and a wonderful personality, the two necessities for radio work, Ruth Haun is bound to win her way to the hearts of her listeners in a very short time. ...
[Friday May 7, 1926 RTWWC - Chappell reveals his exact height.]
... This afternoon we will hear or rather we heard Lew Ferris, "the Eiffel Tower of Radio." Lew gets his title from the very simple fact that he stands five and a half inches taller than yours truly, and I'm 6 feet 3 1/4, so figure it out for yourself. When Lew sits down to eat, he rolls himself all up under the table to get within fork shot of his plate. If he happens to be eating at one of these "you knows" where he has to stand up, he has to call down to himself to see how the rest of him likes the food. "Six feet eight and three-quarter inches of song," and he sure puts them over. He'll be with us again tomorrow night at 10 o'clock. Hear him then. ...
[Monday May 10, 1926 RTWWC]
... In just a few days, construction of another new mast atop the Onondaga will begin. This tower of steel will be put on the Jefferson-Warren corner of the building, and will be completed in about five days. The new antennae will be in operation by June 1, it was said yesterday by Mr. Woolworth, WFBL's Chief Engineer.
[Tuesday May 11, 1926 RTWWC]
... An interesting example of the trend in broadcasting is WHT's decision that announcements concerning [musical] numbers must be limited in length. The name of the performer, his selection, and the call letters of the station are to precede each number. Following the selection will be the name of the performer, his selection, and the call of the station and its location. Still plenty of announcing it might seem, though how to cut it down much more is a problem. ...
[Wednesday May 12, 1926 RTWWC - The movie "Kiki" starring Norma Talmadge (with Ronald Colman) played at Syracuse's Strand Theater this week.]
SO we've come to this! Yesterday we witnessed Norma Talmadge in "Kiki." In a flight of fury at a stage door watchman little Kiki yells, "And may all your children be radio announcers!" And a group of uncouth radio entertainers who were present roared with laughter. O, well! ...
[Sunday May 16, 1926 - The big news here is buried in the final paragraph.]
ONONDAGA ROOF RE-ENFORCED FOR NEW RADIO TOWER
WFBL's Range Will Be Increased by Improved System.
By RAY DAYO.
Re-enforcement of the Onondaga Hotel roof to withstand the weight of the proposed new antennae system of WFBL within the next few days, as soon as the architect's plans are completed. [sic]
The new additional tower, to be erected at a cost of $3,000, is completed and ready to be hauled to the top of the roof, but, according to the revised plans, the new transmitting system will not be [in] operation before July 1.
An inspection of the roof showed that considerable re-enforcement will be necessary before the three-ton steel pole can be put in place on a concrete base at the southeast corner of the building.
It will rise 156 feet from the roof, approximately 30 feet higher than the present tower.
Listeners in Syracuse will not benefit by the improved system, but WFBL's range will be increased considerably, Samuel Woodworth, chief engineer, stated in outlining the plans yesterday.
Today's schedule at WFBL includes a descriptive piano recital by pupils of Prof. Arthur Van W. Eltinge at 4:15, Onondaga dinner music at 6:30, and news bulletins, baseball scores and weather reports at 7:30 o'clock.
... Fans will hear only "the voice with the smile" doing the announcing for a week or two. Ferden J. McCormack has departed for other fields, and an assistant announcer will not be engaged immediately. All of which makes Chap a mighty busy one. He has been a captain in the Community Chest drive, and when he wasn't in the studio he was calling on restaurant proprietors.
This isn't a society column, and we might be letting out a secret: but Chap is to be married the 26th of next month. From then on he plans to cut down his rounds of golf at Burnet Park.
[Thursday May 20, 1926 RTWWC]
... Wednesday afternoon's period held surprises for all in the studio as well as the audience. The feature of the afternoon was the dramatic work by Mabel Hearon, Pringle Mackie and Karl Graboske. Those three are from Boar's Head, Syracuse University, and have all been heard on programs from WFBL before. Each voice is well fitted for radio and their choice of work is the best. We will hear much from them in the future. ...
[Saturday May 22, 1926 RTWWC - This sounds like a good setting for a "Quiet, Please!" episode:]
... Probably many residents of Syracuse had plenty of evidence of a wind, howling around their homes last evening. The wind was there all right, but to have the real proof, one should be in the operating room of the local station during a high wind and storm, and hear old mother nature play her tune on the antenna. A blast of wind, a creak, a whistle that can be heard a city block, a groan, and for a second, quiet. Then repetition. After every wind storm, one of the first jobs of the building engineers at the Onondaga is to tighten the base of the stations on [own?] antenna tower. The mast is anchored on the steel frame work of the building, and through a block of concrete some two and one-half feet thick. And yet, Mr. Wind, with his unmeasurable power, can work it loose. An operation [operator?] on duty alone, on the roof of the Onondaga at night during a storm feels very much "at sea." ...
[Sunday May 23, 1926]
WFBL INCREASES BROADCAST TIME DURING SUMMER
Four Hours a Week Will Be Picked Up From WGY Schedule.
By RAY DAYO.
WFBL will increase its time on the air this summer instead of cutting it down as the majority of stations are doing.
From now on four hours a week will be picked up from WGY's schedule, to be broadcast in addition to present local features and new ones that are being planned by Ernest E. Chappell, announcer and managing director.
The schedule that Chap has mapped out calls for three and a half hours of local entertainment every Tuesday night; five hours every Thursday night, two hours of which will come from Schenectady; four hours every Friday, half of which will be from Schenectady. There will be programs every Saturday night, with WGY providing the entertainment every other week. The Onondaga station will be silent Monday and Wednesday nights after the announcements.
Chap already has his eye on some brand new features for the summer months, when a lot of the broadcasters within range of Syracuse sets will be on short time. ...
[Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, May 24, 25, 26, 1926 RTWWC]
... Tomorrow marks the day that some 500 odd letters on Randall Dance programs go into the barrel for the prize drawing. And it will be a full barrel, too. The letters that have come to the studio the past three weeks have accumulated, and now outnumber by far any previous drawing. That means that Jules Levey will be perfectly safe in going off the piano into the tub after the winners. The first ten will be drawn as usual. And there will be six prizes. Jules will make all drawings but one, and in that connection we have a surprise for the audience.
The first prize, that fine floor lamp, will be drawn from the barrel by none other than Hugh O'Connell, the popular member of the Frank Wilcox Stock Co. [A theatrical troupe, not a brokerage.] Hugh has consented to make connections with our drawing; that would enable him to be in the studio for about 5 minutes. He will award the lamp, and then, if time permits, will say a few words to the listeners. Don't fail to hear what Hughie has to say tomorrow night. We have it on good authority that he is even a better broadcaster than he is a stock man. ...
[In the next day's column, Chappell adds:] ... Mr. O'Connell will be in the studio in person, and at the time he makes the drawing, will have a few words for the Stock Company fans in the radio audience. ...
[And the next day:] ... Hugh O'Connell came over from the Wieting [Theater] in just time enough to draw the lucky letter from the barrel and award the bridge lamp. We couldn't let him go with just that, so he consented and spoke a few words to his Great Mystery Audience. His short reading, entitled "Rosa," went across in great shape. We were surely mighty glad to have Hugh with us last evening. ...
[Thursday May 27, 1926 RTWWC - Entire column devoted to announcing, inspired by news of WTAM's "school for announcers." "A college education, fluency in foreign languages, a knowledge of music, both technical and historical, a pleasing voice, excellent enunciation and constant alertness, with the gift of a romantic touch, are advantages worth considering," says Chap, although "not all are requisites" for the job.]
[Saturday May 29, 1926 RTWWC]
... Gee, but it's great business, this just being a "voice." Last night I took myself to the Wieting, and saw the Wilcox Players in "The Music Master." I'm sure you have all been to the theater when you were highly entertained from the row behind as well as the stage in front? That was the case last evening.
I sat in Row G - Seat 1, and was just enjoying the act to the fullest extent when I heard my name mentioned in the seat behind me. "Well, he's all right, but it's a pity he can't give us more and better programs. Say, did you hear Hugh O'Connell the other night? He wasn't a bit like he is on the stage. He was a lot funnier. And they said he had his make up on. I wonder if he was made up in his spaghetti uniform? Don't mind if I do, thank you. That's good candy. Clara: where did you get it? What? Isn't he married yet? I heard he was married and not getting along very well. Well, how can people in the radio business live a happy married life? They are up all hours, and they'd never be home. Believe me, he'd be home if he was my husband! Say, isn't Hal Thompson funny this week?" And so it went, dear readers, far into the night. That's the life of a "voice." ...
[Sunday May 30, 1926]
WFBL PROGRAM PICKED UP BY MANY STATES
Chappell Receives 10,000 Communications From Outside of State.
By RAY DAYO.
Out of a stack of letters and cards that has been piling up for six months in the studio of WFBL, Ernest E. Chappell has dug some interesting facts and figures that throw light on the Onondaga station's success in reaching beyond the borders of New York State.
Chap has received no less than 10,000 communications, representing reports of reception from every State in the Union except three, Idaho, Louisiana, and Utah.
Letters from fans in Canada, Nova Scotia, and the Panama Canal Zone are included in the collection, and two reports that are not included are ones from Commander Eugene F. McDonald while on his Arctic expedition and a Navy battleship 300 [800?] miles off the coast of Oregon.
Considering that WFBL has only a 100-watts transmitter, these are remarkable results indeed, and no wonder Chap is proud of them. "WFBL, Syracuse, New York," has been flashed from Maine to the Pacific Ocean and from Newfoundland to Panama.
Letters and cards have been received from 2,250 families in Syracuse and vicinity during the last six months. Approximately 1,500 Syracuse fans have written to the station.
[Tuesday June 1, 1926 RTWWC]
Speaking again of sounds that cannot be transmitted faithfully by radio, it has been found that a kiss in the studio fails to register -- that is, on the microphone. So the inevitable embrace and fade-out of the movies cannot be made an equally effective climax in the "radario." And with the hero and heroine thus hampered, some sympathy may be spared for the villain, also. For the crack of his trusty six-shooter has a marked tendency to sound like something else, or nothing at all, over the air. By whanging a chair seat with a paddle gives a fairly good imitation of a gunshot, so what is needed now is a synthetic kiss -- for broadcasting purposes only. ...
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Posted Jun 13, 2005 - 11:44 AM:
[Thursday June 3, 1926 RTWWC]
... Tonight ... marks the opening of a new commercial series from WFBL. Revoir Motors is presenting an hour and a half of program that is to be known as the "Hudson-Essex Hour." On this leg of the evening's entertainment you will hear the Hudson-Essex Serenaders. ...
The new voice that you are hearing occasionally on the dinner hour is that of Carl Burkhardt, a senior of the College of Business Administration on the Hill. Mr. Burkhardt, it is expected, will be with us through the summer, and will be heard more frequently as time goes on. ...
[Monday June 7, 1926 RTWWC - The entire text of the column:]
SYRACUSE people should know that their local station, despite the very bad reception that has been experiemced this past year, has been heard consistently at a distance of 300 miles. This average is gained by watching the run of the station's fan mail for the season. The bulk of WFBL's communications come from the New England States region. This territory seems to be particularly well situated for reception of The Onandaga station's wave. Massachusetts is a daily listener. People in that state depend, they say, on Syracuse's dinner program, even when other stations, much stronger, fail. Only last week on the Hudson-Essex Hour, 17 letters, all complimentary, from the listeners in the State of Massachusetts alone, were received. This is very unusual when one considers the average daily mail of other stations.
The next best reception area for WFBL is New Jersey, and the New York State Hudson River country. People in these sections claim WFBL as dependable as the New York transmitters, only a few miles away.
You are probably asking the question as to how we are heard along the central line of our own state. That is very inconsistent. In some sections, our daylight reception is much better than the evening. Conditions generally unknown to engineers at the present time are responsible for these "dead spots" and bad territories. Every station, regardless of its power, has them. It is hoped that in the near future, the radio scientist will uncover some means of eliminating some of the natural causes of bad reception, and that Government control of radio will soon settle the question of jumbled waves. Just now radio has everything to gain, and nothing to lose.
The Easy [Washer] Band of the Syracuse Washington [sic] Machine Corp., gave a very fine program last Saturday evening. This organization of 35 men, all employees of "Washer," has much improved since last they played for an unseen audience. They are getting to be one of the best band combinations in Central New York.
Oh, yes, the circus was in town. We received a letter from an enthusiastic listener asking us to please arrange and broadcast from the circus.
Are you all set for a vacation with radio?
[Monday June 7, 1926]
... An example of how a little slip on the part of an announcer can spoil a program turned up in WFBL's broadcast Saturday night during the recital by the Easy Washer Band. It was being put on the air from the Onandaga ballroom, and two microphones, one at each side of the room, were used. To make his announcements between numbers Chap threw out the switch of one of the mikes and spoke through the other. And because he inadvertanatly cut out the wrong switch once, listeners missed the explanation that preceded that wonderful number, "The Death of Custer." An explanation was necessary to the complete understanding of the piece because it included Indian war whoops, tom-toms, battle cries, rifle shots, the clatter of horses hoofs and many other realistic features. Chap looked twice after that slip before he pulled any switches. ...
[Tuesday June 8, 1926 RTWWC]
... WFBL has some real dyed in the wool radio fans, who are weekly in their reports. It is such people that keep us "as it." As far back as it is possible to remember, Mrs. E. Greene of Neutral Court hasn't missed a week. And the same holds true of Morton H. Kaiser of Syracuse and Genevieve Potter of Spring Street. ...
[Friday June 11, 1926 RTWWC]
... In the past three months, some 4,000 communications have been received from the radio listeners in Syracuse and immediate vicinity. Certainly that goes to prove that WFBL is a part of Syracuse. Surely that is the proof that the station would be greatly missed if it were to drop out of sight over night. We are pleased, too, with our telephone response. If, by some unfortunate happening the station is delayed going on the air, we are faced with a deluge of telephone calls. ...
[Monday June 14, 1926]
... Fans who are readers of The Herald's radio columns have finished "Riding the Waves With Chap" until next fall. Chappell, as you all probably know, is going away next week for a month or two. He expects to be back on the job sometime in August.
[Thursday June 24, 1926]
CHAPPELL SAYS 'GOOD NIGHT' TO BACHELOR CLUB
Leader of Serenaders Seeking Jazz Orchestration of "O Promise Me."
... By RAY DAYO.
When Ernest E. Chappell warbles his usual "good night" from WFBL tonight it will be to the Bachelors Club as well as to his radio audience.
For it is tonight, during the program by the Hudson-Essex Serenaders, that Chap will do his last announcing as a single man, hopping off for Buffalo tomorrow for his wedding Saturday afternoon.
The ring leader of the serenaders has been spending the day looking for a fox trot orchestration of "O Promise Me." ...
[Sunday July 25, 1926]
WFBL'S TOWER WILL BE PLACED WITHIN 2 WEEKS
Onondaga Station Will Carry Heavier Schedule With Completion.
By RAY DAYO.
WFBL's long-planned new steel tower will be hoisted to the roof of the Onondaga Hotel within the next two weeks, Samuel Woodworth, the station's chief engineer, promised yesterday.
Since the plan of improvement first was announced several months ago, city, State and hotel engineers have been busy looking over the construction of the roof, and at last have pronounced it capable of holding the two-ton mast, which is nearing completion in a Syracuse shop.
WFBL is not going to increase its power yet, probably until Congress has made up its mind to establish some kind of regulations for the administration of the air. But this new tower, Mr. Woodworth believes, will increase the station's range 20 to 35 per cent. It will be erected at the southeast corner of the hotel, so the antennae system will run southeast to northwest. The new mast will be 155 feet high, towering 25 feet above the present one on the northwest corner of the building. Cost of improvements will total nearly $4,000.
Chap is arranging a heavier schedule for the rest of the summer, as will be noticed in next Tuesday night's program. The WGY orchestra will do the entertaining from 7:45 to 8:30 o'clock. They will be followed by the Dreamy Serenaders, broadcasting from the Onondaga Studio, the Randall hour of dance music at 9:30, and the Beaver hour from WMAK, Buffalo, at 10:30. ...
[Sunday August 1, 1926]
... Preliminary arrangements for the new tower are about complete. It will be put up within a week or 10 days, Chap announced yesterday. Installation will take a few days but fans will not miss many of the programs.
[Sunday August 1, 1926 article on the SYRACUSE WOMEN'S CLUB AND SOCIETY page]
Mrs. Kimber Is Bridge Hostess
MRS. EDWARD A. KIMBER gave a bridge party on Wednesday afternoon, asking some of her friends to meet Mrs. Ernest Chappell who is a recent bride. The guests were Mrs. Chappell, Mrs. Vernon Dwelle of Stamford, Conn., Mrs. C. F. Reidel, Mrs. Emma Chappell, Mrs. Robert Roney, Mrs. Arthur Langdon, Mrs. Harry King, Mrs. Lester Kaller, Miss Marion Gieselman, Mrs. Ruth Van de Vogen, and the Misses Flynn of Buffalo.
[Thursday August 5, 1926 "TOWN TALK" column item]
... Climbs Antennae Tower to Cool Off.--"Just to see how it felt," Ernest E. Chappell climbed to the top of the 110-foot steel antennae tower on the roof of the Onondaga Hotel yesterday afternoon. Chap said it was pretty stuffy in the studio, and he thought the ladderless tower would be a cool place to roost for a few minutes. After resting on one of the cross-bars for a few minutes he clambered down again and went to work. ...
[Tuesday August 10, 1926]
STATION WFBL NOW ON AIR SIX NIGHTS A WEEK
Monday and Wednesday Added to Program, Leaving Out Only Sunday.
... By RAY DAYO.
With the addition of Monday and Wednesday programs to its weekly schedule, WFBL now is on the air every night except Sunday.
The second Monday program was put on the air last night, and tomorrow night, usually silent after the announcements at 8 o'clock, WFBL will stay on until 10 o'clock. Thursday and Friday also will find the Onondaga studio busy.
Tonight the Easy Washer Band will be heard in another concert, starting at 8:30 o'clock. These players started a flood of applause cards in their last appearance a few months ago. At 9:30 o'clock there will be the weekly Randall hour of popular dance music. ...
[Thursday August 12, 1926]
WFBL SIX HOURS ON AIR TONIGHT; HOME FOLK LEAD
Syracuse Talent to Fill Time Until Late--Organ Recital From WGY.
... By RAY DAYO.
WFBL will be on the air continuously from 6:30 to 12:30 o'clock tonight, starting with Jack Denny's Babcock Lake Orchestra and winding up with Stephen E. Boisclair's weekly organ recital, both from WGY.
The dinner program by Bob Aldrich and his orchestra will be cut down half an hour. Following a financial talk by Charles D. Jarvis, news items and other announcements at 7:30 o'clock, there will be a musical program from the Schenectady studio.
Home talent will occupy the stage again at 8:30 when Myra Scott, Syracuse reader, who, by the way, has to stand on her tip-toes to talk directly into the mike, will do the entertaining, assisted by Frank Mulherin, baritone, and Tom Conway, pianist.
Then will come in order the Hudson-Essex Serenaders, the Radio Four in a program of old popular melodies, and the organ recital. To take in the whole evening's performance you will have to stand by until 12:30. That last expression, incidentally, is now passe in the announcing business. ...
[Thursday August 26, 1926]
... Senator Wadsworth will be heard through WFBL some time Saturday night when he speaks at a banquet in Utica. These banquets are hard things to broadcast, Chap says, because nobody knows just when the speaker is going to be ready. The approximate time is 8:30. ...
[Sunday August 29, 1926]
... Danny Dwyer is the little red-headed fellow who has been announcing occasionally lately. Danny does not stutter or stammer much through the mike, but he admits he is girl-shy and when he got a mash note the other day he blushed from ear to ear. Not so with Chap -- that is, not until he got married. Until then, mash notes were part of the business, and it took a private secretary to handle all of them. ...
[Monday August 30, 1926]
... Monday night used to be a dead one at the Onondaga station, but the coming of Pep Barnard and his Castle orchestra it is very much alive. Pep's is the kind of an orchestra that keeps the studio telephone ringing.
If you couldn't get the dinner program Saturday night, it wasn't your fault nor your set's. WFBL's transmitter broke down, and all of Chap's tools and all of Chap's men couldn't get it together again until time for the program from Utica, which went on the air an hour later than it was scheduled. ...
[Thursday September 2, 1926]
WFBL AND WGY WINTER HOOK-UP PLANS LAID HERE
Kolin Hagar and Chap Talk Over Programs to Be Exchanged.
... By RAY DAYO.
... Kolin Hagar, announcer director of WGY, was in Syracuse yesterday afternoon to talk over the winter's plans with Chap at WFBL. Schenectady and Syracuse are going to be hooked together quite a lot this winter, and some good programs are going to travel in both directions. ...
[Sunday September 5, 1926]
WFBL AIR TIME WILL BE DOUBLE IN FEW WEEKS
Arrangements Progress for Broadcasting Tunney-Dempsey Fight.
By RAY DAYO.
Ernest E. Chappell has so much up his sleeve for this winter's programs at WFBL that yesterday he couldn't help letting it slip out that the station's time on the air is going to be doubled with the next few weeks.
Chap doesn't like to raise false hopes; that's why he never announces anything until he is sure it is going to take place. He made an exception yesterday, however, when he let it be known that he is working hard to arrange for the broadcasting of the Dempsey-Tunney fight this month in Philadelphia. It will come through the WGY chain.
That's only one of the big events that are in store for WFBL's listeners this season. Another will be the Democratic convention in the Arena the last week of this month. ...
It is rumored that Chap has sold his golf sticks. Anyway we do know that he has changed his pastime. Instead of going out to the links now and then of an afternoon he takes a morning dip in the Y. M. pool. ...
[Tuesday September 7, 1926]
... WFBL had some more trouble with its transmitter last night, and the Castle hour was lost. Chap and his staff have been busy today trying to get it in shape again, and it is hoped that tonight's program, including the Randall hour, will be broadcast. ...
[Sunday September 12, 1926]
... Ernest E. Chappell, director-announcer of WFBL, leaves tonight for New York to represent the station at the annual radio trades meeting and dinner. The meeting will last three days, and Chap will be back at the Onondaga mike Thursday. ...
[Thursday September 16, 1926]
CHAPPELL BACK FROM N. Y. MEETING
Ernest E. Chappell, announcer-director of WFBL, returned this morning from New York, where he attended the third annual radio trades meeting and banquet at Hotel Astor.
He was present at the banquet last night when the six-hour program was broadcast through a chain of nearly 50 stations, including WFBL.
[Tuesday September 21, 1926 "Town Talk" column item]
... Chappell to Climb Tower--Ernest E. Chappell, announcer-director of WFBL, stood on the roof of the Onondaga Hotel today and watched the men at work on the new antenna tower that will rise [155?] feet above the building. "I'm going to be the first one to climb that when it's finished," he declared. When Chap's time hangs heavy he scrambles to the tip of the tower that is standing now "just for fun." ...
[Tuesday September 21, 1926]
... Kolin Hager, announcer director of WGY, was in Syracuse yesterday afternoon to talk over the winter's plans with Chap at WFBL. Schenectady and Syracuse are going to be hooked together quite a lot this winter, and some good programs are going to travel in both directions. ...
[Friday September 24, 1926]
... Chap is planning to broadcast every football game on the Orange schedule this year, including those on rival gridirons. Chap is going to do the announcing tomorrow, and if he does as good a job as he did last year the fans are due for a merry afternoon. Wires link the stadium to the Onondaga studio, and Chap will be on the sidelines giving every move of both teams and all the details that go to make the college football game the thrill that it is. ...
[Sunday September 26, 1926]
WFBL'S NEW TOWER NEARS COMPLETION
WFBL soon will be using its new antennae system. The new tower, going up on the Jefferson-Warren corner of the Onondaga, will be completed within a day or two, and then it will be hooked up with the present tower on the corner diagonally opposite.
In the accompanying picture of the new steel pole, it is less than half completed. It will rise 130 feet above the hotel roof. With the completion of the new antennae, WFBL will have one of the best and most imposing transmitting systems in the country. Syracuse fans will notice no improvement. In fact many fans will probably have to change the direction of their antennae in order to get full benefit when the shift is made. At present the station's antennae runs nearly east and west. The new wires will run southeast and northwest.
[Sunday September 26, 1926]
PROGRAMS TO BE EXCHANGED BY WFBL AND WJZ
Details of Two Political Meetings Will Be Sent Simultaneously
... Radio will carry the news of the Democratic and Republican conventions across the State tomorrow and Tuesday.
The Democrats meet in Syracuse, the Republicans in New York. WFBL and WJZ will exchange programs so that both political meetings may be put on the air simultaneously.
Three hundred miles will separate the Arena in South Salina Street from Madison Square Garden in New York, but radio fans will hear the rival parties name their candidates for Governor without even moving their dials.
Programs Start Early.
The broadcasting of the political meetings will begin at 6:30 o'clock tomorrow night when WJZ picks up the keynote address of Ogden Mills, opening the Republican caucus in New York, and passes it on to WGY and WFBL.
At 9 o'clock the same night, WFBL, with Ernest E. Chappell announcing, will pick up the keynote address of Franklin D. Roosevelt at the Democratic convention in the Arena. WGY and WJZ will also broadcast the speech. ...
[Monday September 27, 1926]
KEYNOTE TALKS AT CONVENTIONS TO BE BROADCAST
... As a result of the WFBL-WJZ-WGY hook-up, the Democratic and Republican State conventions will echo along the Atlantic Coast and half way across the continent to-day and tomorrow. Ernest E. Chappell will sit in the Arena and tell the story of Alfred E. Smith's fifth nomination for Governor. ...
[Sunday October 10, 1926]
... Robert F. Aldrich has arranged a program that will be of particular interest to the older members of the audience. It will be made up of old-time dances, minuets, quadrills, lancers and two-steps. Clarence Lloyd will be heard in a group of old familiar tunes. Ernest E. Chappell, WFBL director-announcer, plans to broadcast similar old-time programs every two or three weeks. From the letters he receives, it is evident that the fans like them. ...
[Friday October 22, 1926]
Queen Marie [of Rumania] To Be Heard Over Radio
... A chain of stations ... all of which can be picked up in Syracuse, will broadcast Marie's first radio message to America. ...
It was hoped this morning that WFBL would be included in the chain tonight, in as much as the local station was scheduled to broadcast a program by the Remington Typewriter Band from Schenectady at 8 o'clcock. Ernest E. Chappell made a valiant attempt to have WFBL included, but he announced that nothing but a last-minute change of plans at WGY tonight will bring the broadcast to the Onondaga studio. ...
Three of the most important football games on tomorrow's schedule will be available for Syracuse listeners. And most important of these to local fans, of course, will be the Syracuse-Penn State game at State College, which will be put on the air, play-by-play by Ernest E. Chappell at WFBL, starting at 2:30 o'clock. ...
[Sunday November 14, 1926]
Onondaga Hotel Station Celebrates Second Anniversary
WFBL Will Flood Ether With Music ...
By RAY DAYO.
Today's programs at WFBL mark the opening of Anniversary Week in celebration of the Onondaga's second birthday. Its first program went on the air Nov. 19, 1924.
Reaching a climax Friday, the anniversary day, the week's schedule is replete with outstanding attractions. Henrietta Schumann, who at 17, is equally noted as a pianist in the United States and Europe, will be the soloist on this afternoon's National Radio Hour program starting at 3 o'clock. With her will be the Zimmer Harp Trio of New York.
For its celebration Friday, WFBL will go on the air at 3 o'clock in the afternoon and will continue for 13 hours, signing off at 4 o'clock Saturday morning after three hours of dance music. This will be a distance test for which valuable prizes are to be offered.
From 3 to 4 o'clock Friday afternoon there will be entertainment sponsored by the Community Chest. From 4 to 6:30 Ernest E. Chappell, announcer and managing director, and Robert F. Aldrich will lead in [telling?] the story of WFBL's history in words and music. Many of the station's feature artists of the [past?] will take part. ...
[Sunday November 14, 1926]
WFBL On Air Every Night During Year
1,084 Programs Broadcast; Staff Grown Since Inception
Finishing its second year as a source of radio entertainment, WFBL finds itself among the leaders of broadcasting in the East.
The quality of its entertainment and transmission during the last year has been equalled by few stations outside of New York City. It has not had a silent night in the 365 days of its second year.
When Ernest E. Chappell assumed his duties as announcer-director of WFBL, whose slogan by the way is "When Feeling Blue Listen," there were only two other members of the staff, Charles E. Phillips, operator, and Samuel Woodworth, engineer. Today, Phillips is chief operator, Woodworth is chief engineer and other staff members are Robert Allen, operator, Charles McDonald, second operator, J. D. Evans, remote control engineer, Daniel E. Dwyer, assistant announcer, Harold [Harnet?], advertising manager, Robert F. Aldrich, music director, and Miss Victoria Piazza, secretary.
From WFBL's spacious and beautifully furnished studio on the 11th floor of the Onondaga have been broadcast 1,084 programs since Nov. 19, 1925. During the previous year there were 1,135. Time on the first year was 1156 hours and ten minutes, in the second year it was 1,271 hours and 30 minutes. The average length of programs this year was 1 hour and 1 minute. Remote control programs this year totaled 351, last year there were 155. There were eight silent nights last year, none this year.
The Onondaga station has had five regular announcers since "Chap" took the reins. Chap has announced 607 programs. His assistant, Danny Dwyer, has announced 123. Others who have been with the station are F. J. McCormack, 116 programs; Carl Burkhart, 25; Al Smith, 43. Announcements from chain stations total 170.
With the installation of its new tower WFBL now has one of the best transmitting systems in the country. Although using only 250 watts at present, the station engineers are considering the possibility of a big step-up in the near future.
[Sunday November 14, 1926]
Adkins' First Song Over WFBL to Be Repeated Thursday
Morton Adkins, baritone, was the first artist to broadcast from WFBL.
That was on the night of Nov. 19, 1924. Since then more than 2,200 programs have been put on the air.
Mr. Adkins' first selection was "The Pilgrim's Song" by Tchaikowsky. This number will be repeated in one of the second anniversary programs Thursday night. There will be 12 artists in the concert, all but two of whom will be singers.
[Sunday November 14, 1926]
Entertains for Delta Kappa
MRS. ERNEST E. CHAPPELL was hostess at a supper party followed by Bridge at her home in Broad Street Thursday, entertaining the Rho Sigma alumnae chapter of Delta Kappa sorority. Enjoying Mrs. Chappell's hospitality were ... [long list of names omitted] ... and the senior members of Delta Kappa, including ... [another long list of names omitted].
[Friday November 19, 1926 photo caption]
Chap's Voice Radio Ideal
Since Ernest E. "Chap" Chappell brought the voice with a smile into WFBL's studio a year ago last February the Onondaga station has climbed to a place among the leaders in broadcasting.
[Friday November 19, 1926]
WFBL Radio Station Two Years Old Today
Thousands Send in Greetings to Onondaga Management
WFBL is two years old today.
As the Onondaga station closes the second year of its history, and prepares to embark on another that gives promise of even greater advances, thousands of listeners in the station's parish join in extending hearty congratulations to the station's staff, many of whom have been with it since the start.
Since Dr. William S. Knickerbocker of the State College of Forestry, Syracuse University, announced the first program the night of Nov. 19, 1924, WFBL, has progressed so steadily that today it ranks with the leading broadcasters of the East.
As far as transmitting equipment is concerned, it is unsurpassed except by a small handful of the world's largest stations. Its new antennae system, with the two giant poles, represents the last word in radio broadcasting.
As for the quality of the station's entertainment, the fans are the best judges; and Ernest E. Chappell, announcer and director, has been flooded with congratulations, praise and well-wishes ever since the anniversary celebration opened.
The opening of WFBL two years ago was the culmination of many months ot work upon the part of the Radio Dealers Association, the Onondaga Hotel and a group of enthusiastic individuals. The association saw the great opportunity to serve the people of Central New York, and immediately enlisted the co-operation of the Onondaga to carry through the plans.
[Friday November 19, 1926 photo caption]
He First Put City On Air
Samuel Woodworth is the father of WFBL. It was three years ago when "Sam" first hit upon the idea that Syracuse ought to have a first class broadcasting station, and he at once enlisted the aid or members of the Radio Dealers Association here in developing his plans.
[Friday November 19, 1926]
Lights for WFBL Roof
Giant Steel Poles Will Be Visible for Miles
A battery of powerful searchlights that will light up the roof of the Onondaga Hotel and the [two?] giant steel poles so that they [will?] be seen for miles around [is?] WFBL's biggest birthday present.
Ernest E. Chappell made [the?] announcement of the plan today on the eve of the station's second birthday celebration.
An experiment several nights ago showed that a system of illumination on the hotel roof [will?] be practical. The light was placed at the bottom and on the inside of one of the towers, and pointed skyward. It made a beautiful silhouette against the black sky.
In the plan mapped out by Chap today, however, the lights will be arranged at corners and sides of the hotel roof, and directed against the sides of the antennae poles. In this way the whole area surrounding the big girders will be illuminated and made visible many miles beyond the city's limits.
The towers are to be painted to make them the more attractive in the daytime.
This feature is only one of several that will be announced from WFBL's studio within the next few weeks. Many improvements for a better station and better programs are on the way.
[Sunday November 28, 1926]
A play, "The Pot Boilers" will be one of the features of the weekly Syracuse University program Thursday night. The cast will include Marjorie Anderson as Miss Ivory, Mary Flood as Mrs. Pencil, Chauncey Rosenweig as Mr. Inkwell, Albert Orenstein as Mr. Ruler, John Dent as Mr. Sud, Richard Foster as Mr. Wouldby, and Carl Graboske as Mr. Ivory. The students in the cast are members of Boar's Head Dramatic Society. Other artists on the program will be Miss Alice McNaught, organist; Sidney Pollac, violinist; Alma Cholet Whareham, contralto, and Miss Ruth Wheeler, cellist.
[Wednesday December 1, 1926]
WFBL ANNOUNCER AWAY
Ernest E. Chappell, announcer and managing director of WFBL, is in New York on business. He plans to return Thursday.
[Friday December 10, 1926]
... Gives Inside of Broadcasting-- Ernest E. Chappell, announcer at Station WFBL, returned to North High School today his alma mater, and gave the students there a description of the operation of the local station at the Onondaga Hotel. ...
[Sunday December 12, 1926]
... Ernest E. "Chap" Chappell will sing in a brand new feature Tuesday night. ... The program in which Chap's deep bass voice is to be heard again is the weekly Randall hour. He will be one of a male quartet that is going to hop around the city every Tuesday night in some noisy contraption like the speed buggies of WBBM and WLS.
The quartet comprises Clarence Lloyd, Charles J. Holcomb, tenors; John Gehm, baritone, and Chappell, bass. Their weekly programs will be made up of requests. The quartet will visit some of the neighbors of Burnett Park Tuesday night. ...
Thursday's Syracuse University program will be the last this year. The program will include Dickens' "Christmas Carols" [sic] to be presented by Boar's Head Dramatic Society; ...
Joined: Dec 21, 2001
Location: Northern California
Total Topics: 32
Total Comments: 254
Posted Jun 13, 2005 - 7:22 PM:
Thanks for posting these. Interesting reading. A glimpse into the pioneer days when the airwaves were first settled.
Joined: Aug 26, 2005
Total Topics: 1
Total Comments: 4
Posted Aug 26, 2005 - 9:41 PM:
Where did you find these stories? I have been searching the internet far and wide for information on Chap, with little success. So far, this is the most information I have found on Chap other than the thousands of web entries that simply credit him as being the featured voice on QP.
Thanks for your help!
Joined: Mar 14, 2003
Total Topics: 74
Total Comments: 257
Posted Aug 28, 2005 - 12:08 PM:
There's a computerized database of old newspapers at newspaperarchive.com. Usually, you have to pay a fee to access it but one of the local public libraries I belong to allows free access to this and another database called ProQuest Historical Newspapers. The Syracuse Herald and a lot of other papers are available from newspaperarchive. ProQuest has the more "elite" papers, like the New York Times, Washington Post, etc. The search engines for these databases are not very reliable but with creative searching you can find all sorts of stuff.
Paul thanks me for posting these things but, really, I'm the one who should be thanking him for maintaining this site. It's been a big influence in rekindling my interest in radio drama and early radio history these last few years.
Joined: Mar 14, 2003
Total Topics: 74
Total Comments: 257
Posted Apr 14, 2007 - 8:32 AM:
Here is the last batch of 1925-27 Syracuse Herald clippings I have. Chappell's radio column never returned. I didn't look at every 1927 issue of the paper but I found a few stories mentioning Chappell after he left town in April.
[Sunday December 12, 1926]
Here is an opportunity for radio listeners to take part in the selection of radio programs that are to be broadcast by Syracuse's two stations, WSYR and WFBL. Are you satisfied with their programs? If not, why not? Is there room for improvement? How do you like to be entertained? Fill out this questionnaire and it will be of valuable assistance to the staffs of our radio stations in arranging their programs. Send it to the radio editor of The Herald.
What form of radio entertainment do you prefer? (First and second choice.)
What is your favorite station?
Can you get WEAF regularly?
Do you approve of Sunday night dance or popular programs?
Do you prefer classical, semi-classical or popular music?
Have you witnessed any interference on WSYR's wave-length?
On what night do you listen most?
Do you listen to radio plays? ....... Talks? .........
What suggestions have you to offer for the improvement of the programs of WSYR or WFBL (separate sheet of paper may be used for answer to this question)?
[Tuesday December 14, 1926]
The Town Tour Boys are Clarence Lloyd, Charles J. Holcomb, tenors: John Gehm, baritone, and Ernest E. "Chap" Chappell, bass. They will be heard in request numbers during the Randall hour at 9:30, and they are going to travel around the city in some kind of noisy go-cart that hasn't been given a name yet. Send in your requests tonight and if the boys have time they will buzz up to your door for a serenade.
[Thursday December 16, 1926]
WFBL Presents Collegians in Dickens' Christmas Carol
Tonight's university program from WFBL at 7:45 o'clock will be the last this year. One of the features will be a presentation of Dickens' "Christmas Carol," by members of Boars [sic] Head Dramatic Society; ...
[Sunday December 19, 1926]
WJZ Favorite Station With Radio Listeners
Saturday Voted Most Popular Night for Air Entertainment
By RAY DAYO.
More than 500 answers to the listeners' questionnaire, published in The Herald last Sunday, show--
That WJZ easily is the most popular station within range of Syracuse receivers.
Strictly classical music is not in favor. At least 90 per cent of the fans who answered the questionnaire are in favor of semi-classical and popular music.
Of the two Syracuse stations, WSYR is getting out with better results and with less interference.
A large number of the answers reported interference on WFBL's wavelength.
Comparatively few people listen to plays and talks. Much depends on the subject of the talks, but they got more votes than plays.
Saturday is the most popular night for listening in. Sunday and Tuesday come next.
Most of the fans stay up late. The questionnaires contained a range in hours, but evidently the majority of fans do not turn off their sets until after 11 o'clock. Many reported 1 and 2 o'clock in the morning.
Sunday night popular music is scarce and in demand. A big majority of the questionnaires contained requests for more of these programs from the local stations.
A very small per cent of listeners in this vicinity are able to pick up WEAF consistently with good results.
WSYR's announcing is not satisfactory. A large number of the fans recommended an announcer with "more pep;" "more personality in his voice;" "more enthusiasm."
WFBL's programs often are minutes behind schedule, and there is too much time wasted between the conclusion of a musical number and the announcement.
The reason for WJZ's outstanding popularity, according to the answers, is its wide variety of programs, the high standard of all its entertainment, and its announcers. Many were of the opinion that WFBL's programs are getting monotonous. There is not enough variety.
Other popular stations are WLS, WBBM, Chicago; WPG, Atlantic City; KDKA, Pittsburg; WEAF and stations that broadcast its programs. Of the more than 500 who answered the questionnaires, only four named WFBL as their favorite station.
[Wednesday December 29, 1926]
WFBL Will Revise Air Schedule
New Features Will Be Added to Weekly Broadcasts
... By RAY DAYO.
Ernest E. Chappell, announcer-director of WFBL, came out with the announcement today that the Onondaga station's schedule is to be revised completely next month. Hours are to be switched around, and a lot of new features are promised.
In making this announcement, "Chap" asked that his listeners excuse last-minute changes that probably will be made from time to time. The hours of broadcast during the first week of January will differ in places from the schedule being presented now. Chap expects to have his new schedule straightened out before February. ...
[Wednesday December 29, 1926]
OPTIMIST CLUB HAS PARTY FOR KIDDIES
Members of the Optimist Club entertained their children today at their annual Christmas party at Hotel Syracuse. More than 250 children were present.
Entertainment was furnished by the Conduit Brothers and Ernest Chappell of WFBL. Santa Claus was also included on the entertainment program.
[Tuesday January 11, 1927]
Programs by the Remington Band of Ilion, the Randall Town Tour Boys, WGY's Harmony Twins will be included in four hours of broadcasting from WFBL tonight.
The band concert, coming from WGY, will follow a WGY studio program, and will be followed by a WFBL studio program. The Randall tourists will buzz around the city for another of their weekly serenades at 9:30 o'clock.
[January 16, 1927 Syracuse Herald]
... WFBL's only afternoon program, presented, by the Mohawk Electric Ensemble at 3 o'clock every Wednesday, is proving to be one of the most popular of the station's regular features. This daytime program always attracts a lot of listeners, judging from the number of applause cards that Ernest E. Chappell receives. ...
[Saturday January 22, 1927]
Bob Aldrich's new Onondaga Hotel Orchestra will take to the air for the first time in the dinner concert from WFBL at 6:30 o'clock tonight.
From now on, this nightly program is to be made up entirely of dance and popular music. The orchestra has been augmented to 11 pieces and Ernest E. "Chap" Chappell promises that it will be on a par with such outfits as George Olson's and Ben Bernie's.
[February 13, 1927 Syracuse Herald]
WFBL To Be Silent Week Of Feb. 21
Important Improvements Will Be Made in Onondaga's Equipment
On Air Next Sunday
Henrietta Schumann to Be Pianist on Program Today
WFBL is to be closed the week of Feb. 21.
First announcement of important changes and improvements to be made in the Onondaga station's broadcasting equipment was made yesterday by Ernest E. Chappell, managing director. Just what the changes are probably will be made public within a week, "Chap" said. It is known, however, that decided improvement will result from the changes.
The last program before the repairs will be broadcast next Sunday, and activities will be resumed Monday, Feb. 28.
Henrietta Schumann, who at 18, has won distinction as one of the leading women pianists in the East, will be among the artists in this afternoon's weekly National Radio Hour at 3 o'clock. Miss Schumann is a Syracuse girl, and recently won a scholarship at the Eastman School in Rochester. With her on today's program will be Dora Trumble Van Wagner, soprano; Adaline Wilcox, contralto, and a string orchestra.
A feature of this week's schedule at WFBL will be the addition of a weekly commercial program by the Kelley Bread Ensemble. There will be nine pieces in the group, conducted by Claude Bortel, violinist, and a member of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra. This program is to be broadcast from 6:30 to 7:30 every Thursday night in place of the dinner concert. Hits from old and new musical comedies and light operas will feature these broadcasts. Works of Victor Herbert will be presented this week.
Robert F. Aldrich and his new Onondaga Hotel Orchestra soon are to be heard only three nights a week during the dinner hour. Friday's dinner music will come from the Lafayette Hotel in Buffalo.
Two of WFBL's popular attractions, the Strand Theater Monday nights and Larry Harrington's Orange Peelers on Thursdays, have been made regular weekly programs.
One of the new bits of entertainment coming from WGY that has turned out to be mighty popular is the "News from 'Time'" that is broadcast every Thursday night. It is an instructive chat on something of current interest with a musical background. "Chap" has received a number of letters on this feature.
The Manlius School Band, heard on several Friday nights in the last month or two, will be heard through the WFBL-WGY-WMAK-WHAM chain Sunday afternoon, Feb. 20.
Something new in travelogs will be on the air at 8:15 o'clock Tuesday night. "See America First" is the title of it, and it promises to be real interesting.
During the week that WFBL is closed the features that have been going down to WGY will be broadcast from the Schenectady station as usual. These programs include the weekly Syracuse University concert.
[February 27, 1927]
Transmitter One Of Best In Country
Designed and Installed by Onondaga Engineers
Big Opening Monday
Prominent Artists in Six Hour Program Starting at 3 o'Clock
A new WFBL, using more than twice the power of the old station, will take to the air at 3 o'clock tomorrow afternoon.
An entirely new outfit, representing the last word in radio transmitting equipment, has been installed. The Onondaga Hotel now boasts one of the finest stations in the country.
The new transmitter, designed and installed by the engineering staff of WFBL, operates with 1250 watts, 750 more than the old one. Only three stations in New York, WJZ, WEAF, and WLWL are listed at more than 1,000 watts. Of more than 40 stations in Chicago, only nine have higher power than WFBL.
Installation of 50 pairs of private telephone lines has put the station's remote control system on a par with many of the leading stations. The station has its own power plant, the 3,500 volt batteries being charged in the hotel.
Work Day and Night.
The engineering staff of the station has been working day and night to get the transmitter in shape for the first broadcast tomorrow. The bulk of the work has been done by Samuel Woodworth, chief, engineer; Charles Phillips, Jr., operating engineer, and Howard Aller, remote control operator.
The quality and strength of WFBL's transmission will be increased many times as a result of the improvements, Ernest E. Chappell, managing director, said today. With the old outfit, WFBL was not reaching many comparatively near points.
To celebrate the reopening, the Onondaga station will be on the air six and a half hours tomorrow, starting at 3 o'clock with an hour of instrumental music by the Mohawk Electric Ensemble. Following in order will be a program from Hunters, Inc.; an hour of music by Leiter Brothers; John McDermott, old-time fiddler; Onondaga dinner music; a program by Helen Riddell, Mary Griscom, Margaret Johnson, Jean Hershfield, vocalists, and Margaret Ebbert and Alice McNaught, pianists, and a program by the choir and organ of All Saints Episcopal Church.
Cadman on Air Wednesday.
One of the most famous speakers in radio will be heard from the local station Wednesday when Dr. S. Parkes Cadman of New York will open the series of Lenten services at Keith's Theater. He will be heard again Thursday and Chancellor Flint will speak Friday. All of these services, to be conducted every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday during Lent, will be broadcast by WFBL at 12 o'clock noon. Rabbi Stephen S. Wise will be heard on March 22.
WFBL will be on the air with long programs every night this week. Most of Tuesday's entertainment will come from WGY. Larry and Barney, the Harmony Brothers, will be heard at 9 o'clock. Ernie Mills will give an organ recital from the Strand Theater at 11 o'clock.
Wednesday's features will include Montgomery and Lee, the Hawaiian serenaders; Remington Typewriter Band; Larry Harrington's Orange Pealers, and the Harmony Twins. The Kelley Bread Ensemble, which made a big hit in its first appearance, will be on the air again Thursday night. The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra will be on the air Thursday afternoon.
[Wednesday March 2, 1927]
WFBL's New High-Powered Radio Station Heard at Distant Points
Telegrams Pour Into Onondaga From Canada, Oregon and Texas
Heard at points scattered all over the United States and Canada, WFBL, with its new 1,200-watt transmitter, has received hundreds of letters and telegrams since it went back on the air Monday afternoon after a week of silence.
Among the telegrams from fans commenting on the improvement in the station's transmission are two from near Winnipeg, Can., one from Nova Scotia, several from New England, one each from California, Washington, Texas and Oregon. Many other states in the Middle West and South are represented.
Syracuse listeners find WFBL's wave sharper, and consequently more free from interference. Programs put on the air with the new transmitter are clearer and stronger, according to the letters received by Ernest E. Chappell, managing director and announcer.
WFBL is now broadcasting with more than twice the power of the old transmitter, and Chappell believes the range will be increased accordingly. With the installation of the new equipment, the Onondaga has one of the most up-to-date outfits in the country. A new antennae system was built several months ago.
[Sunday March 13, 1927 - Prominent article at the top of the page with an eight-column headline, four sub-headlines and a large photo of Chappell in the station titled "Signing Off" and captioned: ERNEST E. "CHAP" CHAPPELL]
Chappell Quits Onondaga Hotel to Join WHAM at Rochester
To Take Over Management Next Month
"Chap" Given Part in Development of Super-Power Station
His Voice Is Famous
Songs and Announcements Heard by Thousands in Chain
[text of article:]
"The Voice With a Smile" is passing from Syracuse.
Ernest E. Chappell, director and announcer of WFBL for more than two years, will become manager of WHAM at Rochester April 4.
Although "Chap's" voice may never again be heard from the Onondaga station after April 1, hundreds of his friends in Syracuse and admirers in WFBL's parish will find consolation in the fact that he is staying in the WGY chain. WHAM recently was bought by the Stromberg-Carlson Company, which has plans for the development of a super-power station. "Chap" is to play a leading part in the development.
Chappell is a native of Syracuse, and received his education in the schools here. When he accepted the position as director of WFBL he had no radio experience. Through careful study and close attention to his work, his radio voice became nationally known.
Gets Several Offers.
Chap's work at the Onondaga station resulted in his being offered several opportunities for changes. The first was in 1925 when owners of WTAM asked him to go to Cleveland. And in 1926 he was invited to join WMAK at Buffalo.
When the Syracuse Chamber of Commerce broadcasting committee was organized, Chappell was named a member. He was placed in charge of the Syracuse National Radio Hour series, sponsored by the Sustaining Listeners' Club. The series attracted widespread attention, adding thousands of listeners to WFBL's list.
Chap will have complete responsibility for the operation of WHAM, now transmitting on low power. The Stromberg-Carlson Company hopes to have a new super-power station on the air before September.
Has Wealth of Talent.
WHAM will feature under the new management concerts by the Rochester Symphony Orchestra, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, and programs from the Eastman School of Music. These three organizations furnish a wealth of talent that will permit productions of the most outstanding nature.
Chap's decision to change was reached after a conference with W. R. McCann, president of the Stromberg-Carlson Company.
Mention of Chappell as a director and announcer cannot be made without some attention to his voice as a singer. He was one of the Randall Tour Boys, and often has been heard in solos and groups. His vocal training was received in the studio of the late Morton Adkins. Chap plans to continue his studies in Rochester, and probably will be heard in songs from WHAM.
[Friday March 25, 1927]
In collaboration with the Strand Theater, which is to show "McFadden's Flats" for a week starting tomorrow, WFBL is offering cash prizes and theater tickets daily for the best Scotch or Irish jokes. Every one is eligible to send in a joke or jokes and compete for a first prize of $5 and four awards of two Strand tickets. The jokes and submitters' names will be broadcast daily.
[Monday March 28, 1927]
... It will not be long now before "Chap" Chappell of WFBL is announcing programs like this [concert] from WHAM. He is moving to Rochester April 4. ...
[Monday April 4, 1927]
WFBL Ends Its Silence On Monday ...
Monday night is silent night no longer at WFBL, and the Onondaga station will broadcast a merry whirl of entertainment tonight. ...
The "voice with a smile" will not be a part of this evening's entertainment. Ernest E. Chappell has gone to Rochester and will be announcing from WHAM tonight. The Flower City station, broadcasting on 277.6 meters, will be on the air from 6:55 to 9:00 o'clock. A lot of fans will be anxious to hear how "Chap" says: "Good evening, radio friends; you are listening to station WHAM, located at the Eastman School of Music, Rochester."
[Tuesday April 5, 1927]
Ernest E. Chappell's voice will be heard Saturday night when he announces a program from WHAM, on the "WGY" chain. It will feature Sandor Vas, pianist, and Gustave Tinlot, violinist.
[Sunday July 17, 1927]
WHAM To Get 5,000-Watt Transmitter
New Broadcasting Outfit Will Be Erected on Hill
WHAM at Rochester, managed by Ernest E. Chappell, formerly the voice of WFBL, is to become a super-power station.
A new 5,000-watt transmitter has been authorized by the Federal Radio Commission and it will be installed on Phillips Hill, 14 miles from Rochester, far removed from the interference of steel-frame buildings and other obstacles that blot up the power of well-bound broadcasters.
The new station will take to the air in August. Never a consistent station in this vicinity, WHAM should reach Syracuse easily with its new outfit and location.
The chosen site is a hill covering about 14 acres with an elevation of [625?] feet above sea level. Two 225-foot antenna towers 400 feet apart are being erected now. Directly between these towers has been built a fire-proof building to house the transmitter and to provide living quarters for the two men who must be with the transmitter while it is operating.
Four toll line circuits will connect the transmitter with the Rochester studios where the programs will originate. At present all of WHAM's programs come from either the Eastman School of Music or Eastman Theater. In the latter, eight microphones will be used to properly handle the [80?]-piece orchestra. Kilbourn Hall and WHAM's organ studio also will be pick-up points. Two additional studios are being set up on the second floor of the Sagamore Hotel.
[Monday August 8, 1927]
WHAM Put On Radio Map By Chappell
Former WFBL Manager Has Spent $100,000 in Rochester
... By RAY DAYO.
Ernest E. Chappell, who resigned as announcer and manager of WFBL, has certainly put WHAM at Rochester on the radio map.
In a few months' time Chap has supervised the expenditure of around $100,000 on new studios and a new transmitting outfit. Since Chap moved to Rochester, WHAM has been granted a substantial power increase, and it now is a link in the National Broadcasting Company's blue network. A section of the Sagamore Hotel has virtually been rebuilt to make room for WHAM's beautiful studios. The new transmitter and antennae are located on a high hill, outside the city and free from interference.
The former Syracusan is largely responsible for these many improvements. Chap has his heart in radio, and with plenty of money and talent to help him, he is certainly getting along at his new post.
The vacancy left by Chappell at WFBL has not been filled, although Charles F. Phillips, the station's engineer, has been handling affairs. Danny Dwyer, Howard Allen and he have been doing the announcing and it is expected that there will be at least one addition to the staff before the Onondaga station opens up on the new Columbia chain Sept. 4. ...
[Friday August 26, 1927]
'Chap' Named Manager At Rochester
Syracusan Is Preparing WHAM for New Broadcast
... By RAY DAYO.
Ernest E. "Chap" Chappell, who started his radio career in Syracuse, has been named manager of the new WHAM at Rochester, a station now licensed to broadcast on 5,000 watts.
"Chap" has been connected with the Rochester station since he left last year [sic], and now he has been given complete management. He will continue to announce, however, and, with the station's more powerful transmitter, "the voice with a smile" should be heard often in Syracuse.
In his new position, "Chap" is completing the work preparatory to placing the station on the air in the near future. The new transmitter already is installed in a building on Phillips Hill, about 14 miles outside of Rochester.
Commenting on his new work, "Chap" says "Everyone in Rochester is co-operating splendidly to give to the radio audience of the United States and Canada the musical facilities for which the city is noted and justly proud."
Chappell did a lot for WFBL, and his efforts for WHAM have been just as enthusiastic and fruitful. ...
[August 31, 1927 New York Times]
... The Stromberg-Carlson Telephone Manufacturing Company's new 5,000-watt station at Rochester will be formally opened tomorrow night at 6 o'clock with a three hour program. "The Story of Rochester," with a musical setting, will depict the growth of Rochester from a trading post in early Colonial days to a large industrial centre of the twentieth century. The call letters are WHAM and the wave length 278 meters. ...
[September 18, 1927 New York Times - Various stations report on their activities:]
WHAM, Rochester, N. Y., inaugurated its new 5,000-watt transmitter and is making extensive plans to give added service during the year. Concerts by the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and the Rochester Little Symphony will be of special interest. The Eastman Theatre Orchestra of sixty pieces, with Victor Wagner conducting, and the Eastman Theatre Company will be included.
The Rochester American Opera Company will in all probability be heard, as will recitals from Kilbourn Hall, featuring recitals from the Kilbourn String Quartet. In a lighter vein will be heard, in conjunction with other popular features, Rose Quigley and Dorothy Drakeley, known as the "Pop Twins."--E. E. Chappell.
[Friday October 7, 1927]
Pop Twins To Stage Act At Radio Exhibit
WHAM Harmony Singers to Appear at Armory, Oct. 17-22
Prove Most Popular
Girls Found by Chappell at Rochester Now Big Favorites
Direct from almost unprecedented successes as radio entertainers at WHAM, Rochester, the Pop Twins will appear at the Syracuse Radio and Electric Exposition in the Jefferson Street Armory during the week of Oct. 17 to 22.
Syracuse listeners-in have enjoyed the act of the Pop Twins many times but this will be the first time they have appeared here in person.
When Ernest E. ("Chap") Chappell went from the microphone of WFBL to the Stromberg-Carlson studios at the Sagamore Hotel, Rochester, one of the first discoveries he made was that the radio world was missing a bet in failing to sign up Rose Quigley and Dorothy Drakeley, modern song harmony singers who were then appearing on the stage of the Eastman Theater. He recognized their radio possibilities.
Chap lost no time in bringing the "twins" to the attention of Eastern radio listeners, and their first sketch assured their popularity.
Literally barrels of mail poured into WHAM from radio owners all over the East. A lot of it came from Syracuse. The fans liked the Pop Twins, they wanted to hear them again. So Chappell signed them on as regular WHAM entertainers and their popularity has climbed sky-high since then.
Chappell, as manager of WHAM, has two good eyes as well as ears and he says "the Pop Twins sure are pleasing to gaze upon."
Rose Quigley is the soprano for the team and often plays the piano accompaniment for the songs. Dorothy Drakeley has a pleasing contralto voice and sings many of the solo parts, making their program diversified as well as interest arresting.
The twins will vie with many other well known broadcasting artists as features of the big upstate radio and electric production. Final contracts for appearances of famous stars here throughout the week are now being closed, it was announced today by Fred J. Brown, entertainment committee chairman.
[Sunday October 9, 1927 - There may have been previous examples but this is the earliest mention I've seen of Chappell being nicknamed "Chappie" (instead of "Chap") in print.]
... Fred J. Brown, chairman of the entertainment committee of the Syracuse Electric League. Inc., producers of the stupendous show [the Syracuse Radio and Electric Exposition], was scouting around for something new in the line of radio artists when Ernest E. Chappell, former announcer at WFBL and now with WHAM in Rochester, tipped him off that he had them -- the Pop Twins.
Brown immediately got in touch with "Chappie" and Rose and Dorothy were booked. It will be their debut in person in Syracuse. ...
[Wednesday October 26, 1927]
RADIO OFFICIALS PLAN PROGRAMS
Leading engineers of the General Electric Company and officials of the respective stations in the WGY-WFBL-WHAM-WMAK radio broadcasting chain met in the studio of WFBL on the 11th floor of the Onondaga today to make plans for the winter schedule of broadcasting.
Ernest E. Chappell, managing director of WHAM, Rochester, and former director and announcer of WFBL was among the visitors. Others were William Purcell, chief engineer of WGY; Joseph Hoffman, chief operator of WGY; William Fay, program director of WMAK, Buffalo. The Syracuse station was represented by Charles F. Phillips, assistant director, and Howard Allen, chief operator.
[Thursday October 27, 1927]
... Ernest E. "Chap" Chappell was in Syracuse yesterday, attending a meeting of representative officials of the WGY-WFBL-WHAM-WMAK chain in WFBL's studio. "The Voice With a Smile," as he was known when he was announcing for WFBL, now is running things at WHAM, Rochester, and has a wonderful suite of studios and reception rooms. He brought down a flock of pictures to emphasize his claim that he has one of the best looking stations in the country. ...