It’s Our Birthday: WJON Flipped the Switch 65 Years Ago Today
ST. CLOUD - On Sunday, September 10, 1950 at 8:00 a.m., WJON signed on the air for the first time. The first scheduled program was a newscast. A formal dedication program was broadcast from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. that afternoon.
WJON was affiliated with the American Broadcasting Company. The Golden Age of Radio was coming to an end in 1950, but ABC provided familiar programs that first week. The first day WJON listeners could listen to Sammy Kaye’s Sunday Serenade, the Hormel Girls and Mr. President, a historical drama. Popular Sunday evening news commentators Drew Pearson and Walter Winchell, and radio’s biggest quiz show of 1949-50, Stop the Music. The Jackie Robinson Show discussed sports at 9:30 p.m., the opening night.
ABC broadcast a lot of game shows including the comic Can You Top This?, the long running Dr. I.Q. and Quick as a Flash. Primetime programs included Inner Sanctum Mysteries with its famous screeching door welcoming listeners to 30 minutes of horror every Monday night. The Lone Ranger was heard Monday – Wednesday – Friday at 6:30 p.m. until 1955. Jack Armstrong, the All American Boy alternated the 6:30 timeslot with the Lone Ranger. Lawrence Welk’s Champagne Music was also a regular feature.
During the Week, Martin Agronski’s ABC Newscast was heard at 7:00 a.m. each morning and in the evening, Albert Warner & the News was on at 6:15 p.m. ABC’s long running Breakfast Club with Don Macneil was heard from 8 to 9 each weekday morning on WJON.
Unfortunately, it is difficult to discern the content of local programs 65 years ago. High School football was heard on Friday evenings and St. John’s Football on Saturday afternoons. Farm News and Markets were sprinkled throughout the daily schedule. The nightly 10 O’clock News was listed as Sokgorski News. The Foley Polka Band had a weekly show on WJON.
On October 1, 1950, WJON “St Cloud’s Dynamic New Station” began a new type of programming. WJON announced that a 90 minute program hosted by a “disk jockey” was beginning, to be broadcast from 10:30 p.m. to Midnight, Monday through Saturday Night. The first DJ in St Cloud was Dudley Dane and the whole program was sponsored by the Press Bar. WJON promised that sports updates would be part of the late-night show.
This article was written by Todd Kosovich of Morrison County.