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WJBB - A History

WJBB-AM 1450 St. Petersburg – L.W. McClung put WJBB on the air in November 1925, broadcasting with 10 watts on 1450 kc from studios at 1922 W. Central Avenue in St. Petersburg. The inaugural program headlined speeches from Mayor C.M. Blanc and J.E. Coad, executive vice-president of the Chamber of Commerce, and music by Barney’s Dance Orchestra.

Tuesday night on the station was Rio Vista night from 7 to 9 PM, sponsored by the company that owned and developed the St. Petersburg neighborhood of that name. The programs featured the Danks-Rudisill Coliseum Orchestra and 14-year old pianist Clay Coss of Wichita, Kansas, hailed by the WJBB announcers as the "premiere boy pianist of America.”

In June 1926, WJBB was owned by The Financial Journal, and broadcasting on 1180 kc from 126 13th Street North in St. Petersburg. At the end of the following summer, it had moved to 870 kc, increased power to 250 watts, and re-licensed to Tampa.

Jack Dadswell, president of The Financial Journal, relocated WJBB (The Voice of the Semi-Tropics) to Sarasota in late 1927. The station broadcasted on 1260 kc with 250 watts from studios in the Sarasota Terrace Hotel (corner of Ringling Boulevard and North Washington Street) and a transmitter/tower site at nearby Payne Park.

The Sarasota Herald Tribune reported that about 100 people attended the opening night broadcast with local dignitaries, including John Ringling, Ralph Caples, and George D. Lindsay, publisher of the Herald, who spoke into the microphone to "invite the world to Sarasota." Listeners, from as far away as Michigan, Chicago, and Massachusetts, sent telegrams praising the programming.

Although owned by The Financial Journal, the Chamber of Commerce was in charge of providing local talent for programming, and community leaders comprised the announcing staff. Programs included remote broadcasts featuring dance bands from the Mira Mar Hotel, the Whitfield Country Club, and area restaurants, plus organ recitals from the Edwards Theater and children’s bedtime stories from Barnum & Bailey Circus’ Foo Foo the Clown. As an early station promotion, boxes of fresh oranges and grapefruit were sent to listeners who heard WJBB’s broadcasts from the greatest distance.

In 1928, WJBB was sharing time with Tampa’s 250-watt WQBA (Amorc Temple, 302 Memorial Highway). The dual operation had been in effect less than a year when WJBB moved to 1010 kc as part of the nationwide reallocation of frequencies late that year. About that same time, the Sarasota Chamber of Commerce acquired WJBB, and changed its calls to WSIS (Winter is Summer In Sarasota).  

WSIS, which operated from studios in the Peninsular Telephone Building on Pineapple Avenue, near Five Points, had ceased broadcasting by 1930.

(Special thanks to Jeff Miller for his assistance with this station’s history. Please contact us if you have additional information to share about WJBB.)

Station History

1925 - 1929 Other Tampa Bay Area Stations (History)

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