Radio started in Philadelphia in department stores. What better way to sell radios than to give radio buyers something to listen to. In 1922, Gimbel’s launched WIP, Lit Brothers had WLIT, Strawbridge & Clothier had WFI, and Wanamaker’s broadcast the sounds of its world-famous pipe organ over WOO.
Since then, Philadelphia’s proud history of radio includes civil rights couched in rhythm-and-blues on WDAS, ’60s rock-and-roll with the infamous “Geator with the Heater” Jerry Blavat, and last year’s successful push by Prometheus Radio in West Philly to open up low-power FM signals.
A history of Philadelphia radio has just been released by Arcadia, a publisher specializing in regional history books. They asked Alan Boris, founder of the Philadelphia Radio Archive, to pen the thin volume chock full of photos.
Boris sat down with WHYY’s Arts and Culture reporter, Peter Crimmins, and started his story with the 1950s, when television supplanted radio as America’s most popular broadcast medium.
All photos courtesy of Philadelphia Radio, by Alan Boris.