On March 29, 1924, the Chicago Tribune, under the leadership of Col. Robert R. McCormick, and having obtained the call letters WGN from Great Lakes skipper Carl D. Bradley, assumed control of Zenith Edgewater Beach Hotel’s radio station WJAZ. For the first time, the familiar call sign representing the “World’s Greatest Newspaper” was heard by Chicago listeners. A little more than two months later, McCormick and the Tribune would end their association with the Zenith Edgewater Beach Hotel station and instead partner with WDAP, the station that was founded May 19, 1922 by Thorne Donnelley and Elliott Jenkins. On June 1, 1924, WDAP became WGN and the rest is history. But for the night of March 29, 1924, it was an opportunity to celebrate the debut of name WGN.
Many years later, McHenry listener Bill Weber uncovered an interesting bit of history when reading the diary of his mother, Dorothy Knox Weber. In her entry dated March 29th, 1924, she wrote “A new station on the radio tonight – WGN (world’s greatest newspaper, Tribune) gave a wonderful program. Edith Mason, Grand Opera star, sang. Mayor Dever spoke, and lots of celebrities, some of the actors of the Chicago plays put on a program from 1:00 till 3:00. It certainly was fine, I listened until 2:00 but thought I’d better get to bed. Taylor Holmes made most of the announcements. We saw him in the “Nervous Wreck” at the Harris Theater.”
Turns out that Dorothy was tuned into Chicago Tribune/WGN’s broadcast that evening. Dorothy Knox Weber was the youngest of eight children born to one of McHenry’s pioneer families, Edmund and Johanna Knox, whose farm is now Knox Park in McHenry.
Finally, from a mid-1940’s FCC filing, here’s a diagram showing the early history of the station and how, starting with WDAP in 1922, elements of several stations were combined into the 50,000 watt WGN Radio 720 we know today.