Opinion: History of WOWO


I’ve spent a lot of time on the Weird Wide Interweb Thingie lately, because there’s this website I just can’t seem to stay away from. And no, it is not one of THOSE sites. Shame on you. Get your mind out of the gutter.

The website of which I speak is www. historyofwowo.com, dedicated — as you might surmise — to the history of Fort Wayne’s WOWO, the radio station of my youth. It’s full of pictures and airchecks (broadcast recordings, for those of you who don’t speak radio) and I tell you, visiting has been one big whomping Nostalgia Fest for me.

Just now I was listening to a recording of Bob Sievers and Jay Gould doing the world-famous Little Red Barn early-morning farm program, and found myself singing along with a theme song I haven’t heard in decades: “On a little red barn on a farm down in Indiana, let me lay my back on a stack of new-mown hay…” I almost got a little weepy. Almost. I’m not THAT far gone.

WOWO was huge. A Westinghouse (Group W) station, 50,000 watts with a clear channel at 1190 on the AM dial, you could hear it all over the U.S. and Canada and other parts of the world. But that’s not what made it big to me.

Up home, everyone I knew listened to WOWO, pronounced wowo. It was the default radio station for my entire kid world. Our kitchen radio was permanently tuned to 1190 AM, and so were the radios of my aunts and uncles and grandparents and every family we knew. It was the station we listened to over the bus radio on the way to school. It was where we went for school closings, where our parents went for news, where we heard the Top Forty. I think all the presets on the car radio were set to 1190 at one point.

It unified us in ways that only radio could, back when radio could do such things. Let’s just say things aren’t quite the same nowadays, with people tethered to smart phones, in their own little worlds, and the AM band crowded with programs that consist pretty much of people yelling and advancing conspiracy theories.

But back to the website. As I said, I’ve been pretty much camped out there for the past few days, soaking in radio memories. And it has planted a most tenacious earworm, one that I cannot get out of my head no matter how hard I try.

I speak of the famed DeHaven Chevrolet jingle, which will be familiar to anyone from the WOWO listening era. It was a masterpiece. Sing along if you can remember the melody:

DeHaven Chevrolet, DeHaven Chevrolet, DeHaven Chevrolet

2315 South Calhoun.

DeHaven Chevrolet, DeHaven Chevrolet, DeHaven Chevrolet

2315 South Calhoun.

Ahhh, ahhh. Ahhh, ahhh.

DeHaven Chevrolet.

Boy, they don’t write ‘em like that anymore.

Of course, it’s all changed now. There is no DeHaven Chevrolet anymore and WOWO, like a lot of AM stations, is a talk-radio shadow of its former self. But the website reminds us that once upon a time, it was possible to drive all day and all night from LaGrange County, Indiana to Florida, and listen to Top Forty WOWO the entire way. I know because I did it.

It was not, however, in a DeHaven Chevrolet. I hated that jingle.


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