PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — In the summer of 1922, the war between two local department stores caused the dawn of a new era.
Two radio stations — 790 AM and 920 AM — were launched as a new and exciting promotional platform. Now 100 years later, both stations are being honored Thursday night by the Rhode Island Radio and Television Hall of Fame.
Their call letters may have changed many times over the years but the mission of radio broadcasting remains the same.
“The Shepard Department Store and The Outlet were both looking for ways not only to get customers to sample the radio stations but to also get people in the doors to buy the products that are there, so really radio has been the same way for over 100 years,” said John Rooke, a local broadcaster and historian.
For more than 30 years, Rooke has been the voice of the Providence College Friars and the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. He also published a radio retrospective highlighting some of the major achievements and talent over the past ten decades.
“I’ve worked with some unbelievable people throughout the years,” Rooke recalled. “The late great Salty Brine, Larry Krueger — so many have come through here that I’ve had the privilege to meet and go with and realize how many trendsetters in the industry that have come through the state of Rhode Island.”
To this day you can hear the distinct voices of radio personalities who made their start during the early days of rock ‘n’ roll.
“We’ve had people from all over the country and great musicians,” said Steve Kass, a longtime Rhode Island radio personality. “It’s just so much fun to be able to communicate with a couple hundred thousand people every day. It’s been a wonderful career.”
The Radio and Television Hall of Fame event begins at 5:30 p.m. Chief Meteorologist Tony Petrarca will be among those inducted.