No WSM, No Nashville

Tuning in to AM radio today may sound ridiculously outdated, and that’s not necessarily untrue. When you consider the mind-boggling production-pace of devices, applications and (of course) Twitter updates, you may even find yourself asking, “what is AM radio?” or at least “does AM radio still exist?” I get it.

It does still exist, and it’s the band on that radio thing opposite FM; it stands for amplitude modulation.

AM radio’s existence as an available-technology on October 5, 1925, the day 650 WSM-AM began broadcasting, put Nashville, Tennessee on the map in a whole new way. Just a few weeks later, on November 28, the show that eventually became known as the Grand Ole Opry was first broadcast. The Grand Ole Opry has been broadcast for over 80 years now and is the longest running radio program in the U.S.

From Craig Havighurst’s book about WSM, Air Castle of the South:

The Nashville Times editorialized: “Now we in Nashville realize that instead of being marked as a capital of hillbillydom, we have become instead a city that knew how to develop and present one significant phase of real American music which would have been untouched, had it not been for our activity in bringing it to the rest of the nation.”

So of course Nashville already existed before this point in history, but let’s be honest – no one would care if it weren’t for the music. And by no one, I mean the rest of the world

According to a May 13, 2009 Billboard Magazine article, “A 2006 study commissioned by Belmont University and the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce showed the music industry has a $6.38 billion impact on Nashville’s economy.”

No WSM, no Nashville.

And by the way, Reinstate Hank


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