WJBB/WSIS St. Petersburg/Sarasota
In June 1925 WJBB St. Petersburg, 1922 Central Ave., was first authorized to L. W. McClung. The frequency was 1450 kc and the power was 10 watts.
The station was licensed on Nov. 16, 1925.
On Nov. 18, 1925, the St. Petersburg Times reported that the station opened Monday night.
The June 30, 1926, list of radio stations shows WJBB St. Petersburg, 1180, 10 watts, Financial Journal.
The Dec. 31, 1926, list of radio stations shows WJBB St. Petersburg, 126 13th St. N., 1180, 10 watts, Financial Journal.
The June 30, 1927, list of radio stations shows WJBB St. Petersburg, 870, 250 watts, Financial Journal.
A 1927 White’s Radio Log shows 870 WJBB Tampa 250 watts.
On Aug. 2, 1927, the Tampa Morning Tribune reported, “Tampa’s new radio station, WJBB, operated by the Amorc college and the Financial Journal, at the college on Memorial highway, made its debut on the air last night with a series of short talks by prominent Tampans. ... The station has a wave length of 344.6 ... ”
The Aug. 31, 1927, Radio Service Bulletin reported that WJBB St. Petersburg is changed to Tampa, 302 Memorial Highway (Amorc College). [Note: The April 1928 White’s Radio Log shows WQBA-1260 at Amorc College.]
The Dec. 31, 1927, Radio Service Bulletin reported that WJBB Tampa is changed to Sarasota, Grier Park, 1260 kc.
The June 30, 1928, list of radio stations shows WJBB Sarasota on 1260, 250 watts, owned by the Financial Journal.
On Nov. 11, 1928, WJBB changed to 1010 kc as part of the nationwide reallocation of frequencies.
The Nov. 30, 1928, Radio Service Bulletin shows WJBB Sarasota is changed to WSIS, owner: Sarasota County Chamber of Commerce, 1010 kc.
The first broadcast from the Sarasota Terrace Hotel took place on Dec. 11, 1927. The Sarasota Herald Tribune reported that about 100 people watched the opening night broadcast with local dignitaries, including John Ringling, Ralph Caples, and George D. Lindsay, publisher of the Herald, speaking into the microphone to "invite the world to Sarasota." Listeners from Michigan, Chicago, and Massachusetts sent telegrams praising the programming.
The station apparently ceased broadcasting by 1930.
WJBB Station Gives Program
Tuesday Night Was Rio Vista Night Broadcasting Plant
This article appeared in the St. Petersburg Times on Nov. 18, 1925.
Tuesday night was Rio Vista night at radio station WJBB, broadcasting from the Financial Journal studio.
The entire program was put on for two hours from 7 to 9 o'clock by Danks-Rudisill coliseum orchestra under the auspices of the St. Petersburg company, developers and owners of Rio Vista.
One of the outstanding features of Tuesday night's local radio show was the appearance on the air of Clay Coss, fourteen-year-old boy pianist of Wichita, Kan., who was hailed by the WJBB announcer as the premiere boy pianist of America.
The Financial Journal opened its broadcasting station Monday night of this week with Mayor C. M. Blanc and J. E. Coad, executive vice president of the chamber of commerce, as the headline speakers. They were followed by an hour's musical program by Barney's dance orchestra, which brought telegraphic communications from North Carolina and Georgia as well as many from local fans, who were tuned in on the following night.
Tuesday night's event was replete with features, with Fred Rudisill singing his own composition, "Rio Vista Rose," and his brother accompanying him at the piano. [...]
Loud speakers have been placed at various places on Central Avenue for green bench listeners to hear the programs.
Early Radio Station Invited the World to Visit Sarasota
This article appeared in the Sarasota Herald Tribune on April 9, 1996.
When WJBB first broadcast from the Sarasota Terrace Hotel on December 11, 1927, the 1920s building boom had passed, but the rest of the country was still invited to visit Sarasota. The Sarasota Herald reported that about 100 people watched the opening night broadcast with local dignitaries, including John Ringling, Ralph Caples and George D. Lindsay, publisher of the Herald, speaking into the microphone to "invite the world to Sarasota." Listeners from Michigan, Chicago and Massachusetts sent telegrams praising the programming.
This pattern of promotion and response was highlighted in frequent press reports for the following two months. The Chamber offered boxes of oranges to listeners who responded from the farthest location. Headlines announced telegrams from greater and greater distances - Wisconsin, Maine, San Francisco. Later, correspondents from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan and Hawaii were quoted. Before the winter season was over, the Chamber reported having received correspondence from more than 1400 listeners in 42 states and 9 localities outside the United States.
WJBB broadcast during the evenings. As a noncommercial station for which the Chamber of Commerce provided the programming, WJBB focused on local talent and activities, the broadcasting of which would help introduce Sarasota to the world. In December 1927 the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus had just made Sarasota the new site of its winter quarters. WJBB featured Foo Foo the clown in a half hour program for children, to tell bedtime stories about the people and animals at the circus.
The main studio for WJBB was in the Sarasota Terrace Hotel, with the transmission towers next door in Payne Park. A promotional booklet for the station included the above photo of the "transmitter installation." Remote broadcast equipment was installed so that WJBB could carry the daily concerts offered at the bayfront park by the Merle Evans Band and at the Lido Beach pavilion by the Czecho-Slovakian Band. Oganists from the Edwards Theatre, dance bands from local restaurants, and individual musicians contributed many broadcast hours.
Almost as soon as the Chamber of Commerce decided to acquire WJBB from its Financial Journal owner, the Chamber had a hard time paying its expenses. Minutes from a November 1928 meeting of the Chamber's Board of Directors include the suggestion that John Ringling might want to buy the station as good publicity for the circus.
Renamed WSIS ("Winter is Summer in Sarasota" was the slogan), the station broadcast its second season from the second floor of the Peninsular Telephone Building on Pineapple Avenue, near Five Points. The first broadcast of the season was postponed from December 12 to the 28th. An announcer who was paid $75 a week was let go. The Chamber could pay only $25. Gordon Higel (known by many residents as Sarasota's postmaster from 1950-1983) remembers his audition for the announcing position. Selected in early January over the only other applicant, after having announced for a Merle Evans concert, Higel broadcast for WSIS until it closed a few weeks later. The initial enthusiasm for Sarasota's first radio station was not sufficient to keep it going in a time of financial hardship.
Ann A. Shank