Vintage Chicago Tribune: 100 years of WLS — the ‘World’s Largest Store’ — radio

Story by Kori Rumore, Marianne Mather,
Chicago Tribune
April 15, 2024
Curtis D. Peck, radio operator at WES station, which would changed its name to WLS after several days of transmission, in 1924. WES, which stood for World’s Economy Store, would broadcast first on April 9, 1924, from a studio in Chicago on the 11th floor of the Sears-Roebuck tower. It moved to the Sherman House Hotel for its inaugural broadcast on April 12, 1924, and… © Chicago Tribune/TNS
The year 1924 was a memorable one in Chicago. Construction of Soldier Field was completed. Two wealthy University of Chicago students committed what they called “the perfect murder.” And a company that initially just sold watches branched out — to the ire of its competitor the Tribune-owned WGN (“World’s Greatest Newspaper”) — to find a new audience.

Sears became a broadcasting pioneer when it launched radio station WLS 100 years ago. The call letters stood for “World’s Largest Store,” a moniker Sears earned from its massive headquarters and mail-order plant in Chicago’s Homan Square neighborhood, where the radio studios were initially located.

Sears timeline: Rise, fall and restructuring of a Chicago icon over 130 years

Catering to the rural customer base of the Sears catalog, early program offerings included “National Barn Dance,” which became a long-running staple on the station and an influential force in country music. Sears sold WLS to Prairie Farmer magazine in 1928, but the legacy call letters have endured through multiple owners and formats.

Here’s a look back at major milestones for the station, which is currently owned by Atlanta-based Cumulus Media, as it begins its second century in operation.

Read More HERE


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here