Birth of a Station, WOWO, Pt 2!
In order to keep the continuity of events, we will have to go back to 1910 when Fred Zieg of Marion, Ohio set out to explore the world by going
to New York. At that time he had a dream about Wireless becoming a means of mass communication.
This was about the time of the Leyden Jars, the Auto Coherer, tile Peroxide of Lead Detector and the Loose Coupler.
During his stay in New York, he worked with Collins Wireless Telephone Co., Western Electric Co. and was an ardent admirer of Lee DeForest, Gernsbach, Fleming and other greats in the wireless radio field.
Subsequently, Mr. Zieg settled in Fort Wayne and he and Mr. Clyde Durbin started The Main Auto Supply Company.
As for myself I had been interested in Electricity as far back as I can remember and when the boys in the neighborhood started making coils out of oatmeal boxes and getting time signals from Arlington, my interest grew. In 1920 Mrs. Ross and I were married and as my Father in Law had purchased a tract of land in Essex, County, Canada, we decided to move there to help develop the land, most of which was virgin territory. The winters were long and there was very little to do, and for days the only soul we would see was the mail man.
Our newspaper carried accounts of advancement in wireless until finally radio was born which opened up a whole new horizon of education and entertainment. We then decided that we were losing out by not having a radio and decided to build a crystal set. I went to Detroit and bought a pair of head phones, a gelena crystal, a condenser, some wire and a cat whisker. After many attempts and rearranging of parts, we were able to receive WJR and KOP which were in Detroit. We spent many enjoyable hours listening to an ever expanding source of information and entertainment.
In the spring of 1924, having decided that farming at that time held no future, sold everything we owned except a model T Ford and two children and returned to Indiana. That same summer I attended the Sweeney Auto School at Kansas City, Mo. and studied auto repairing. As a bonus, the school gave me a choice of a radio course which I gladly accepted. I spent a whole month learning the why's and wherefores of then modern radio. The school had a broadcasting station WHB, and I had an opportunity to learn something about a broadcasting station. I then
returned to Fort Wayne in the early fall and started looking for a job. I had noticed in the newspaper that the Main Auto Supply was selling radio parts, so decided to try my luck there. I met Mr. Zieg and after explaining that I wanted a job and that I had been to school all summer learning about Auto Repairing and Radio, he guessed that if I was that interested in learning a business that he would at least give me a trial. Started to work September 9, 1924 at, to me at least, was quite a good salary of $25.00 per week.
Everyone was busy selling auto parts and accessories with radio parts a side line. Most all sets were built from various manufactured parts. Manufactured sets were scarce and high priced. There were varicouplers, variometers, sockets, tubes, tuners, bakelite panels, cabinets, batteries, antenna wire, speakers and other parts necessary to assemble a radio and surprising enough most of the sets worked.
Detroit, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Chicago stations were the source of reception and static ruined a lot of these programs.
Later that fall the Dayton Fan & Motor Company brought out the OEM 7 Dayfan. A battery set with three dials and separate loud speaker. The set sold for $85.00 less speaker, tubes and batteries. I was fortunate in making the first sale and it wasn't long until we were selling these sets at a great clip. We had taken on the distribution of Day Fan for N.E. Indiana. This was developed by O.E. Marvel and Chas. Kettering. The Company later became a part of General Motors and was the Delco Division.
It might be of interest to know who made up The Main Auto Supply Company in 1925.
First of course was Mr. Fred Zieg who was the big boss of the outfit. He was the one who said yes or no to all new ideas.
Clyde Durbin, Vice President and store manager.Easy going, full of ideas and was liked by everyone.
Al Becker, Secretary. He was the contact man. The Arbitrator.
Jimmy Case, the expert on cars and parts,.His versatility was amazing. He could do many things well.
Glenn Brouwer. Ford parts was his specialty. What he didn't know about a Model T Ford hadn't been discovered yet.
Russell Rodebaugh. He did the buying for the store and caught the heck if it wasn't in stock or we were overstocked.
Aubrey (Doc) Hire, Always calm, never ruffled and his cash drawer always came out to the penny.
Chas, (Bud) Rodebaugh. A good man on parts and store organization.
'Bob' Miller. The youngest of the lot and turned out to be a fine Radio salesman.
Ward Bailey. The Top Day Fan salesman.
Carl Schwleters. Smart, affluant and capable. He developed into our best announcer.
Then there was the office force that kept track of things. There was Mildred Shockey, Leone Kortokrax, Norman Wahrenburg, Nell Kortokrax and Ann Spangle. Each contributed something of importance to the building of Radio Station WOWO.
Radio set sales increased during the fall of 1924 and by the first of 1925 we had quite an organization of Day Fan dealers throughout N. E. Indiana.
About every two weeks Mr. Zieg called a meeting of all the store employees and praised those who had made good sales and pointed out the errors of those whose work had been negligent. He emphasized the need for something about the store that would attract attention. Something unusual that everyone would be talking about that would identify The Main Auto Supply.
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