WDBO-AM  580

Original Call Letters: WDBO

Originally Licensed: May 24, 1924  

Original City of License: Winter Park (Rollins College)  

Original Frequency: 1250, moved to 1040 in 1927, moved to 620 in 1928, moved to 1120 in 1929 then to 580 in 1932

Origin of Call Letters: Slogan; Way Down By Orlando 

Original Power:  50 Watts

Translator(s): W297BB 107.3 Orlando

Original Location: Rollins College, Winter Park

Original Format: Concert programming and college lectures

Network Affiliation(s):


NBC Talknet
NBC News Radio


1924-Rollins College
1926-Orlando Broadcasting Company, Inc.
1929-Central Florida Broadcasting Station, Inc. (563 N. Orange Ave., Orlando)   
1957-Cherry Broadcasting Station of Providence, Rhode Island
1963-The Outlet Company ($6 million for WDBO-AM, FM and WDBO-TV)
1982-Katz Broadcasting (Purchased WDBO-AM 580/WDBO-FM 92.3 for $9.5 million)
1986-New City Communications (New City would purchase Katz in 1986)
1997-Cox Broadcasting (Cox acquires New city in 1997)

History Of Call Letters and Formats:

WDBO-1924-Variety  "Way Down By Orlando"
WDBO-WOCB-Variety  "The Voice of Central Florida"
WDBO-1985-News/talk  ''News & Weather Leader''

WDBO History

It began as a physics class project. In May  E.F.  Wineberg, a Rollins College math, physics and engineering professor, launched  a 50-watt radio station in a small wooden building on the Winter Park campus. The first night's programming - less than an hour - included talks by college officials, a violin solo and a performance by the men's glee club, according to the Rollins newspaper that week. It was the first radio station in Orange County and only the third in  Florida. WDBO operated at 1250 on the dial with 50 watts of power for thirty hours a week. There are some conflicting stories surrounding the call letters. Some research says the call letters were issued in alphabetical sequence as was the policy of the time.  There was WDBN Bangor, Maine, and WDBP, in Superior, Wisconsin. That would make the next set of call letters WDBO. Other research shows a request for the call letters WDBO to stand for "Way Down By Orlando." If the first story is true it sure was a great coincidence for Rollins College. The original studios were alongside the tennis courts on the campus of Rollins College During the initial broadcast, announcer Dean Sprague said "...anybody who can hear this..." would receive a box of oranges from the Gentile Brothers Packing House, if they would send a postcard to verify the signal was being heard. Cards came from Orlando, Apopka and Sanford. On that first broadcast day some of the programming included the Rollins Men's Glee Club singing, "Rollins Goes Rolling Along." And "Taps" was played on a bugle at sign-off. On-air programming started at 8:45pm and signed off 1 hour 5 minutes later. Because school was about to close for the summer, the station shut down  after just a few days until that October. In the fall of 1924, programming  resumed with frequent concerts and the broadcasting of college lectures. The station's only employee then was engineer and announcer Harold P. Danforth, who was paid $250 a year. Danforth eventually would rise to  president and general manager of the station.

Orlando Evening Star  Nov. 21, 1925

Station WDBO to Be On Air By Dec. 1st

WDBO to Be On Air By Dec. 1st
The Winter Park Radio Station WDBO will probably be on the air by December 1st - It Is planned to broadcast regularly each night from then on. This station will have ample power to reach over the greater part of the United Stares and , is certain to prove of great benefit to Winter Park, Orlando. and surrounding territory. The equipment for the station Is all new and a great many improvements are being made in the studio located on the campus of Rollins College, Winter Park. This station is owned by Justice Lee, W. L. Greene and Edwin McConnell. Mr. McConnell will have direction of the station, and will use much outside talent a well, as well as such exceptional talent, as may be secured locally.  The Orlando headquarters for station WDBO will be In Mr. Mc-Connell's office In the Phillips building on Washington and Orange. Mr. McConnell will be glad to interview artists in all lines who might prove of interest to the radio public

1925-A ship in the Pacific picks up WDBO's signal, making headlines all over the state of Florida. Meanwhile, WDBO is permitted to increase power to 100 watts.

1926-Rollins College decided the $600 budget to run WDBO was too much and gave the station to Col. George C. Johnston. Johnston was a radiologist from Pennsylvania who headed an investment bank called The Morris Plan, Col. Johnston named the corporation that took ownership of WDBO, The Orlando Broadcasting Company.
According to author Eve Bacon in her book "Orlando - A Centennial History"...cooperating in the maintenance of  the station were (the cities of) St. Cloud, Sanford, Winter Park, Sanlando, the Orange County Chamber of Commerce, Chase & Company, and Rollins College". The first  remote broadcast over WDBO originated from the Angebilt Hotel  

WDBO programming was broadcast from the traffic tower at the intersection of Central and Orange Aves in 1926. Traffic control towers served as a bridge between the times when Police officers directed traffic while standing in the roadway and when automatically controlled signals were installed. The "crow's nest" elevated the officer above traffic so  he would have a clear view of  traffic in all directions while he manipulated the colored lights. Broadcast time was increased to fifty hours per week.

1927- The station was moved to the Newell Electric Company store located in The Robinson Building on Pine street, Orlando, prior to the move to the Fort Gatlin Hotel1927-The station began broadcasting from the "new" Fort Gatlin Hotel in Orlando. Programming featured groups, including The Beasley Band. Colonel Johnston's  Orlando Broadcasting Co. takes full control of WDBO. The Federal Radio Commission authorizes WDBO to operate at 1040 kilocycles, with power of 1,000-watts daytime, 500-watts nighttime.

Orlando Morning Sentinel March 4, 1927
2 Local Broadcasting Stations Consolidate 
Plans For Merger of WDBO and WOCB Call for New and Improved Equipment 
Consolidation  of broadcasting stations WOCB of the Orlando Broadcasting Company at Orlando and WDBO of the Central  Florida broadcasting stations at Winter Park, was announced yesterday by officials, the consolidation of the two stations to go into effect Friday. The Orlando Broadcasting company has taken over the WDBO equipment and will rebuild the 500 watt transmitter, operating it temporarily from the present location of WOCB, in the Newell Electric building at 23 South Main Street in Orlando, while the main studio and offices will remain at the Angebilt hotel.  
The new organization is he led by Col. George C. Johnston, President, Jay J. Newell, Vice-President, and William Justice Lee, Secretary-Treasurer; the  Board of Directors includes the above and E. D. Little. The direction of programs and publicity will be in charge of Harold Danforth of the WOCB staff, and James Yarborough of WDBO remains its head of the operating and technical staff. Present plans of the consolidation call for the construction or a modern broadcast transmitter of high power, with the latest models of auxiliary equipment and remote control apparatus; and the new station will take up more intensively that work of remote-control broadcasting. A network of remote lines connect the Angebilt Hotel studio with many public buildings in Orlando, Including the new Municipal Auditorium, the Orlando Coliseum, the Lake Eola Bandstand, the Beacham Theatre, Mandarin Inn, several churches, Rollins College and many buildings and hotels in Winter Park. In addition to the early evening broadcasting schedules, the station plans to broadcast afternoon musical events such as the Royal Hussar band concerts from Lake Eola.
The main studio in room 927 of the Angebilt Hotel will be entirely redecorated and draped in accordance with the improved method to eliminate excessive vibration and echoes. By means of this consolidation, Orlando and central Florida has at its disposal a modern and effective means of publicity, in as much as the new transmitter will consistently be heard in all parts of the United States and Canada. The officials of the new company as well as the operating personnel have had long experience with radio broadcasting and will make Orlando's name well known to the millions of radio listeners who turn to the ether evening after evening for their recreation. WDBO, the Winter Park station has been in existence for more than four years, and during that time has been reported by radio fans the country over. WOCB was bought in Savannah, Ga and moved here a few months ago. It has also been operating  It has also been operating several years. By consolidating these two stations, it is believed that Orlando interests can be better represented than by dividing the work between two different broadcasting stations. Pending a more definite allocation of working wave lengths, the station will operate on 293.7 meters, and will use the call letters WDBO-WOCB. 

Orlando Morning Sentinel
April 13, 1927

Consolidation of Radio Stations Here Is Finished
Application Made For Raising Wave Length of WDBO To 1000 Watts

The official consolidation of radio stations WDBO and WOCB has been completed it was announced yesterday. The transfer of all the equipment has also been completed. Effective yesterday the combined stations will continue operating under the call letters WDBO and the WDBO wave length of 240 meters. The WOCB call letters and wave length of 293.7 meters will be dropped. Application has been made to the Federal Radio Commission for authority to increase, the power of WDBO from 500 to 1000 watts. An application has also been filed with the Federal Radio Commission for a higher wave length for WDBO. It Is expected that these application will be acted on in the near future by the Commission. In the meantime "the voice of Central Florida" will continue to broadcast from Orlando. Since this station was moved to Orlando many letters and telegrams have been received from many distant states. During the recent, concert broadcast from WDBO by Rosalinda , Morini, a long distance telephone call was received here from Scranton, Pa., congratulating the artist on her performance. The class of music and entertainment being furnished from WDBO is equal to anything broadcast, from any station in the state of Florida. The remote control lines to the auditorium, bandstand, Rollins College and other points, make it possible to broadcast the best music and best talent which is available in Central Florida.
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1928-WDBO officials asked the City of Orlando to buy the station, saying it would go off the air because Col. Johnston refused to comply with new rules set by the Federal Radio Commission. The City Council agreed to put the matter to a  referendum, but the city's residents turned down the purchase.  

The FCC authorizes WDBO to switch operation from 1040 kilocycles to 620 kilocycles.

Tampa Morning Tribune 11-19-29
Nov 21, 1929
WDBO receives full me authorization from the FCC that the station was permitted to broadcast on a full time basis on 1120 kilocycles.

Tampa Morning Tribune 11-21-29

1930-In March, the station became a part-time affiliate of the CBS Radio Network, which  brought national advertising to the new chain of five CBS South Atlantic stations. 

1931-WDBO became a full-time CBS Radio Network affiliate in June.

1936-WDBO's transmitter is moved to Dubsdread Country Club.

1937-WDBO is authorized to operate at an output power of 5,000-watts daytime

Wings Over Jordan

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   Wings_Over_Jordan.jpg (22516 bytes)   Going over script-Wings Over Jordan.jpg (23314 bytes)

In the 1930s and 1940 the Accapella sound of Cleveland's famed black choir captivated the nation. The popular Sunday morning radio program was broadcast by Columbia Broadcasting System from WDBO in  1943. Hoping to spread Christianity through Negro spirituals, the Rev. Glenn T. Settle launched the choir in 1935 from the sanctuary of Cleveland's Gethsemane Baptist Church. The choir drew the praise of mixed-race audiences with traditional spirituals and original works. For nearly a decade, America listened to the Wings Over Jordan choir, the first black singing group with a national radio audience. CBS began airing the "Negro Hour" in 1938 from the Cleveland studios of WGAR in Cleveland. The weekly program was later renamed "Wings Over Jordan." Besides presenting music, it featured sermons and black artists and scholars who offered ideas not heard on national radio.

1938-WDBO would have an "extension studio" in Deland at the Deland Chamber of Commerce. 563 N. Orange Ave., Deland.

1940-WDBO is authorized to operate at a power output of 5,000-watts full time, with a directional antenna at night.

1944-The Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944 destroyed the roof of the WDBO studios, in the Angebilt Hotel in downtown Orlando. WDBO's north tower in Dubsdread blew down. WDBO set up temporary studios in Orlando's Orange Court Hotel

1947-WDBO moves in to its studios to 30 South Ivanhoe Boulevard on the shores of Lake Ivanhoe.

Artist rendering in 1954. Thanks to Pete Simonson 

1948-WDBO signs on Orlando's first FM station, WDBO-FM operating on 92.3mhz with 34,000-watts of power

-You could listen to "The Goldbergs" on Friday evenings.

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WDBO Ivanhoe studios-courtesy of Dennis Snyder

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The building was rented by a number of people from 1986 on, with its last tenant being Strollo Architects, Inc. The building is now in its beginning stages of disrepair, and has closed it's doors. The future of the building has been determined as being torn down and replaced with a twin tower 34-story condominium complex and 37-story condominium  complex with retail and restaurants called Orlando Palace.

The WDBO studio building is still standing as of May 2015. This image from Google maps. 

Oct 2017 The demolition of the WDBO studios on Ivanhoe Blvd          photo by Mike Esposito 

1986-WDBO studios are moved from Ivanhoe Boulevard to its current home on John Young Parkway 

1991-The Gulf War creates a demand for talk radio. WDBO picks up the Rush Limbaugh Show. Music is completely phased out and other shows, including Bruce Williams, Sally Jesse Raphael and Larry King are phased in.
1983-WDBO becomes an affiliate of the ABC Radio Network                                                                                                           
WDBO Comes Home      6-24-20 
WDBO-FM 96.5 is moving back to its former frequency at 580 AM. WDBO began simulcasting on 580 AM, 96.5 FM HD2, and 107.3 this afternoon. The 96.5 frequency will become the home of Spanish Hot AC as xitos 96.5 FM on Monday 6-29. The ESPN programming heard on 580 AM since 2012 will now air on WCFB-FM 94.5 HD2.

For More WDBO History see page 2

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