Happy Friday everyone!
The first fully licensed radio station in the Southeast, WBT began operation as an experimental station known as 4XD in December 1920, in Mr. Fred Laxton’s home across from Charlotte Country Club. The station was sold to local entrepreneur and Buick distributer C. C. Coddington in 1925, and after his death was purchased by the CBS network and moved to the Wilder Building on South Tryon Street. WBT broadcast various types of music, serial programs, and news shows, and Charlotte’s large population of mill workers from rural areas provided an audience for early country music and bluegrass stars drawn to the city by the presence of WBT. This 1940s shot (below) shows the WBT Radio Transmitter Building, constructed in a cotton field on Nations Ford Road near the South Carolina border in 1929.
WBT Radio Transmitter Building (1940).
Bringing radio (and eventually television) to Mecklenburg County and beyond since the 1920s.
Inside the WBT Studios in the Southern Radio Corporation Building on South Tryon Street (early 1930s).
WBT proved to be an important piece of Charlotte’s mid-20th century history; no longer dependent upon neighbors or newspapers, rural Mecklenburg County became better informed and more in torch with Charlotte and its surrounding communities than ever before. In 1944, WBT became the first 24-hour radio station in the Southeast, and the next year CBS sold the station to the Jefferson Standard Life Insurance Company. On July 15, 1949, WBTV signed on as the first television station in the Carolinas (13th in the U.S.), and in 1951 WBT broadcast live local television shows for the first time featuring many of he popular early WBT radio stars. The simple brick transmitter building with its subtle Art Deco influences is still standing on Nations Ford Road (shown below) and transmits a 50,000-watt signal that is now remotely controlled from the WBT Studios on West Morehead Street.
Read more details about the history of WBT, including its sale to Raycom Media in 2007, here.
Until next week!
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Information taken from:
Charlotte, Then and Now; Brandon D. Lunsford, 2013
“We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and the future.” – Frederick Douglass