The Transylvania Times -

By Marcy Thompson
Picturing The Past 

WPNF Was First Commercial Radio Station

 

December 5, 2016

For about 40 years WPNF was located on the Asheville Highway, near the current Ingles.

Radio broadcast experiments began in the early 1900s and became practical by 1920. Amateur radio enthusiasts all across the country could obtain experimental licenses to broadcast at very limited ranges.

The first commercial broadcasting station in the U.S. was KDKA in East Pittsburgh, Pa. The first licensed broadcast was the results of the 1920 presidential election between Warren Harding and James Cox.

In North Carolina three men trained in electronics and who worked for General Electric, Westinghouse, and Southern Bell created a partnership and started the state's first commercial station, WBT, from downtown Charlotte in April 1922.

Brevard had plenty of early licensed radio operators. In the 1930s the first Radio Club, The Transylvania Brass Pounders, was established. George Bromfield was the president. Members included Clarence Bowen, Frank Bridges, Lewis Hamlin, Alfred Hampton, Byron Olney, C.K. Osborn, Bill Perkins, John Sledge and Howard Wilkerson.

It was not until 1950 that Transylvania County had its first commercial radio station though. WPNF, Wonderful Pisgah National Forest, "the friendly voice of Brevard and Transylvania County," began broadcasting on 1240 AM on July 6, 1950. The station was owned by Pisgah Broadcasting and initially had six employees. Ed Anderson was the company's president, John Eversman vice president, and John Anderson secretary. The company was affiliated with the Mutual Broadcasting system which provided network programming. It was on the air between 6 a.m. (7 a.m. on Sundays) and midnight.

Local programming featured farm leaders, local ministers and civic leaders. Every Saturday morning librarian Elizabeth Kapp reviewed new books, presented the bookmobile schedule and discussed library activities.

WPNF, which could also be heard in neighboring counties and upstate South Carolina, was the voice of Brevard and Transylvania County until 1993 when it became WRAQ. In 1997 Allen and Leah Reese purchased the station and began operating it as WSQL, White Squirrel radio. In 2007 a group of local investors bought the station and moved it to its present West Main Street location.

(Photographs and information for this column are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina Room, Transylvania County Library. Visit the NC Room during regular library hours (Monday-Friday) to learn more about our history and see additional photographs. For more information, comments or suggestions contact Marcy at marcy.thompson@transylvaniacounty.org or (828) 884-3151 ext. 242.)

 
 

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