WBT History

1930's
The History of WBT

9/17/2009

1930

Approximately 400 radios in Mecklenburg County. Grady Cole joined staff full-time in April 1930.


1931

One out of every seven families in North Carolina has a radio. In South Carolina, one out of every nine families had a radio.


1933

Power increased to 50,000 watts. Charles H. Crutchfield, from Hope, Arkansas, joined staff. "The Crazy Water Crystals Show" was popular. WBT also produced the "Dixie Mammoth Minstrels Show", with Clair Shadwell as script writer and interlocutor. Show was fed to the Dixie Network. Lansing Hatfield, from Hickory, made debut over WBT. He later became a Metropolitan Opera Star. "The Lone Ranger Show" and "The Romance of Helen Trent" were popular programs. And New York columnist, Walter Winchell, began his radio program on the network.


1934

Mr. Crutchfield organized "The Briarhoppers".


1935

Mr. Crutchfield interviews Mr. Alexander and seven other Civil War veterans, (70 years after the war ended). And broadcast the "Rebel Yell" over WBT. The first ever radio broadcast of the yell the Rebels used to chase the Yankees in the Civil War.



1936

Mr. Crutchfield broadcast the wedding of two former slaves. The man was 97 and the woman was 92. Lee Kirby, the Rangers Quartet, and Sandy Becker-who later became Young Dr. Malone for CBS, was hired. During a Charleston tornado, WBT had the only lines of communication out of the city of Charleston and broadcast news on the safety of school and college students to worried parents. Mr. Crutchfield ad-libs for 55 minutes (while feeding CBS), as President Rosevelt's arrival in Charlotte for the "Green Pastures" speech was delayed. Mr. Crutchfield announced the country's first broadcast of a Junior American Legion baseball game. He also received permission to be first to broadcast Southern Conference Football on radio...from Wallce Wade.


1937

Grady Cole received a plaque from F.D.R. for raising $44,000 for Louisville, Kentucky flood victims. The Golden Gate Quartet started on WBT.


1939

Dr. J.S. Nathaniel Tross went on air each Sunday morning at 9:15 a.m. to promote better racial understanding. Dr. Tross was later given much credit for Charlotte's transition to integration. Russ Hodges hired for WBT Sports. He left in two years to become personal baseball announcer to the New York Giants, moving to California when the Giants moved. Jack Knell joined WBT. He became famous for covering the Squalous Submarine disaster off Boston. He later went to CBS News.


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