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WDAY prepares for 85th anniversary

It was 85 years ago Tuesday that the area's first radio station - WDAY AM 970 - began broadcasting. To kick-off an ongoing celebration of the anniversary, the station's local shows will feature on Tuesday interviews with former WDAY personalities...

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It was 85 years ago Tuesday that the area's first radio station - WDAY AM 970 - began broadcasting.

To kick-off an ongoing celebration of the anniversary, the station's local shows will feature on Tuesday interviews with former WDAY personalities, said General Manager Scott Hennen.

Former on-air talents such as Marv Bossart, Bob Aronson, Don Dresser and Earl Williams are among those scheduled to reminisce about radio.

Later this year, the station - which, like The Forum, is owned by Forum Communications - will throw a public celebration to commemorate the anniversary.

The station's connection to the past is strong, especially for listeners, Hennen says. "It's amazing how many people will come up to me and say, 'I remember when...'," he says. "There's a real sense of nostalgia."

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Highlights of WDAY's 85 years on the air waves

May 22, 1922

WDAY goes on-air with a 50-watt transmitter located on the tower of the Cass County Courthouse.

May 22, 1936

On the date of its seventh anniversary, WDAY broadcasts a telephone conversation from an airplane, a local first.

1937

A singer named Norma Egstrom begins her career at the radio station, where Program Director Ken Kennedy suggests the name that stuck with her as she became famous: Peggy Lee.

Late 1930s and early 1940s

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WDAY's staff of 38 musicians and entertainers conduct both live radio broadcasts and two traveling talent showcases, which ended with the advent of television.

1950s

More than 60 local high-school bands take part in an annual Band Festival Parade which is broadcast statewide.

1960

The Forum purchases a majority interest in WDAY, including the TV station that began broadcasting in 1953.

February 1965

WDAY's FM counterpart goes on-air. Playing easy-listening music, the station was the area's first FM.

1966

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WDAY's last live music program, "Co-op Shopper," is canceled, marking the end of the station's live-music era. That same year it begins the first talk-show in the region: "Viewpoints."

October 1974

The AM station begins broadcasting 24 hours a day.

1981

The news operations of the TV and radio stations split into independent newsrooms.

1996

WDAY-FM, 93.7, is sold to James Ingstad. WDAY-AM remains a property of Forum Communications.

1997

The station expands to the Internet with the formation of In-forum.com.

Readers can reach reporter Dave Roepke at (701) 241-5535

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