Wednesday, July 09, 2003

WJSV History by Jim Snyder

by James Snyder





(I want to personally thank James Snyder for sending me this. I think this is probably the most accurate history of WTOP's beginnings that you'll ever see. -Lee)



I've done quite a bit of work on the early years of what became WTOP,

and I noted the Peter O'Reilly email about who first owned the

station and the meaning of WJSV. I can shed some light on both.



The Twentieth District Regular Republican Club of Brooklyn, NY put

station WTRC on the air in 1926. While it might seem a simple case

of a Republican committee having a radio station, it is part of a

much larger story. The Republican party in New York City was locked

in a battle for control between the mainstream Republicans and

members of the resurgent Ku Klux Klan, who at the time controlled

political parties in a number of states and was attempting to take

control of Brooklyn and New York City politics, since as went NYC so

went New York State. The Republican party in Brooklyn was organized

into several dozen Districts, each District responsible for putting

forth candidates and bringing in public support in elections. The

Klan was systematically taking control of each District's governing

boards. The Twentieth District was one of the largest, most powerful

and well funded.



WTRC was put on the air by the Klan faction that had taken control of

the Twentieth District Republicans. WTRC stands for "Twentieth

Republican Club". It was funded and run by James S. Vance and his

publication, "The Fellowship Forum". The subheading of "The

Fellowship Forum" is "The Voice of the Ku Klux Klan in America".



During 1927 there was a severe legal and public backlash against the

Klan and its cronies in the Republican Party throughout the nation.

There was quite a bit of heat being put on the Republicans in

Brooklyn who were seen as Klan cronies, so one of the first actions

the Klan faction was to transfer the station out of New York. There

was a second reason I believe encouraged them to move, and that is

the coming of the Federal Radio Commission. In 1927 there was a move

afoot to regulate radio, which would mean the shut down of hundreds

of radio stations that were interfering with each other since they

all operated on two frequencies. I have found no references to

potential regulation being a factor in the move, but many stations

were trying this method to stay alive in the months before the

Federal Radio Commission came into being.



The station was moved to Mount Vernon Hills, VA in 1927, and the call

letters were changed to WTFF, for "The Fellowship Forum". Within a

year, the call letters were changed again to WJSV, named for James S.

Vance, the publisher of "The Fellowship Forum" and a Grand Wizard of

the Ku Klux Klan in Virginia. Given that one of the Klan's primary

arguments was Christian (in other words, Protestant) purity, I

wouldn't be surprised if Mr. Vance put forth the "Jesus Saves

Virginia" slogan so the station didn't seem quite such a personal

exercise in ego.



Mount Vernon Hills was not an ideal spot for a 50 watt radio station,

so Mr. Vance started to invest in a 10,000 watt station on 1460 in

1928. He quickly realized how expensive such an undertaking would be

and that his daily program of religious programming wouldn't pay for

the electricity, so he quickly worked a deal with the new Columbia

Broadcasting System to become the primary station for CBS in

Washington, DC. CBS would take over all programming and engineering

costs for the operation of the station, with an option to renew or

purchase the station after five years.



The FCC file implies that CBS quickly realized they were in bed with

the Klan, and negotiations started in 1931 to purchase the station &

license outright by CBS, which they did.



CBS also quickly realized the value of WJSV as their originating

station in the nation's capital and moved the transmitter to Potomac

Yards in Alexandria in 1930 to boost power and improve the coverage

pattern, then to Wheaton in 1940 due to the construction of National

Airport and the expansion of the RF&P Potomac Yards switching yard.



The station kept the call letters until 1943, when Frank Stanton paid

$60,000 to the Tiffen, Ohio Police for the call letters "WTOP".



I hope this helps. Keep up the good work!



James Snyder





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************************************

* James Snyder

* Radio / TV / HDTV / digital TV / Film

* Engineering, Operations & Production specialist

* Member: AES ; IEEE; SMPTE; SCTE

* snyder@dtvexpress.net - email

* (eMac G4/800)

* Communications is my work; its history my passion.



************************************





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