Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, June 17, 2001, pg. 13
If youíre having a class reunion this year as yours truly is, let your classmates know about our www.albionmich.com internet site when you send out your invitations. Thereís a guestbook where people can post messages for everyone to read. Over 150 of these Historical Notebook articles and photographs from past years are placed on the Albion History Directory. Pick up a leaflet at the Albion Chamber of Commerce and reproduce them for distribution to your classmates, friends, and relatives across the country.
With the construction continuing on N. Eaton St., some people are using Austin or Michigan Avenues as a detour to enter or exit our town. Thatís that way it used to be when U.S.-12 passed through town before I-94 opened on July 1, 1960. One familiar establishment drivers used to see when entering our town on the west was the original WALM radio station. Itís been several years now since Albionís only AM station closed in 1995, and people miss the local sports broadcasts and other programs this station one offered. The call letters stood for W-Albion-Marshall.
WALM signed on the air on Sunday, November 2, 1952 from its studios on the southwest corner of U.S.-12 and 27 Mile Road, (on the old Elliott farm) just east of where Culligan Water now sits. The original frequency was 1540 on the AM dial, with a power of 250 daytime watts. There was a 220 foot transmitter tower next to the building. The first manager of the station was Lewis Shroyer of Anderson, Indiana, with Mel Wirth of Owosso as general manager.
WALM was originally owned by the Calhoun Broadcasting Company, formed in 1951. Officials were: Jack C. Bedient of Albion, president; J. M. Morse of Marshall, vice-president; M. H. Wirth of Owosso as secretary-treasurer, and directors George T. and George W. Campbell, both of Owosso. The Owosso owners were bought out with more local investors in 1956, making the station all locally owned.
In July 1954, the station changed its frequency to 1260, and increased its power to 500 watts. This was increased to 1,000 watts in August, 1956. In October 1954, L. Park Watson, who formerly worked at Service Caster, became manager of the station. Watson is a 1930 graduate of Albion High School and at age 89 is still active in the broadcasting business and lives in Jacksonville Texas, today. (UPDATE: L. Park Watson passed away on November 24, 2002)
In addition to the main studio, a business office was rented above Hawes Drug Store in the Parker-Kessler block on the northwest corner of Cass and Superior Sts. In 1956 one of the rooms was fitted for broadcasting, and newscasts were broadcast from here at different times. The station also broadcast from the Vandenburg Music Store in Marshall during certain hours.
Several noted broadcasting personalities "got their start" at WALM during its infancy in the 1950s. One was Dave White, a 1956 graduate of Albion High School who began broadcasting while still in school. Dave of course later announced for many years on powerhouse WJR in Detroit. Following on his heels was another AHS Ď1956er, Dave Eddy, noted "morning mayor" broadcaster on WBCK in Battle Creek since 1960. Eddy started at WALM just a few days after graduating from Washington Gardner High School. He became quite a celebrity during his broadcasts of "The Pop Shop" from the Western Auto Store in Marshall, which was swarming with teens each afternoon between 4 and 5 to listen to requests. Dave writes, "the famous Bill Bonds of Detroit TV fame took over for me in Marshall. He had come to WALM out of college and it was his first broadcasting job."
The station was sold to Triad Corporation in December, 1958, and C. Wayne Wright became the general manager. The station later moved to 25Ĺ Mile Road (Irwin Avenue). The original "little red WALM" building remained for many years, until it was demolished after the industrial park was developed. From our Historical Notebook we present a photograph of the original WALM radio station on Austin Avenue, courtesy of Dave Eddy. How many of our readers remember this station?
Albion Radio Station WALM on Austin Avenue in 1956
All text copyright, 2014 © all rights reserved Frank Passic