3. WSM Tower Tuned Country into Nashville Music
Without the WSM Radio Tower on Concord Road, Nashville might never have become “the Music City.”
Built in the 1920s to serve as the transmitter for early Nashville radio stations, at the time of its construction the tower was the second tallest in the world behind the Eiffel.
State of the art at the time, it began transmitting to Nashville and across the south on October 5, 1925 WSM Radio. It broadcast with 50,000 watts band music such as Frances Craig from the Hermitage Hotel and Beasley Smiths orchestra from Andrea Jackson Hotel. Eventually, to appeal to the more country and rural segments that the long-range waves reaches, barn-dance type programs began airing, which had had success in strong stations in Chicago and Memphis.
Broadcast on Saturday nights, the WSM Barn Dance, in time, became the Grand Old Opry. The more refined programming, for the more metropolitan tastes of urban Nashville listeners, came in the form of an hour-long program of “grand old opera” (as the host George D. Hay would say) broadcast on Saturday evenings. This was followed by an hour of the grand old opry, as it became known from his introductions. It aired first on November 28, 1925, and it was transmitted to the huge rural surrounding area– the tower still covers the widest area of any in the country.