Texas Guinan on WEAF 1922
This story begins during the Roaring 20s with Bruce Reynolds, a popular actor and lecturer, who told it to the columnist Ben Gross.
• • One morning in 1922, Bruce Reynolds saw an ad in the New York Times announcing that A.T.&T. was "considering" the acceptance of advertising on its radio station WEAF.
• • "I rushed downtown to the station and made them an audacious proposal," Bruce said. "I offered to buy all of WEAF's commercial time. They said they would consider it and, in the meanwhile, they'd be willing to sell me some fifteen-minute segments for one hundred dollars each. So I raced about the city trying to interest manufacturers and merchants in going on the radio but most of them laughed at me.
• • "Finally, however, I succeeded in signing Coty's Perfume, United Cigar Stores, Bossert Houses, and several others. I made many thousands on the resale of time and broadcast four or five different products every night. It was a real bonanza."
• • Then A.T.&T. complained. Its officials said Reynolds' straight sales talks were too blatant. "Be more subtle," they suggested, "so that the listeners won't realize it's advertising."
• • "As a result," Bruce continued, "I hired people with big names, such as Texas Guinan, to deliver the talks and to be more 'subtle' about it. But again the WEAF management said too many listeners were protesting and they finally put me off the air."
• • Now Bruce made the rounds of other stations, among them WOR. The Bamberger executives were horrified at his proposal. "Never!" one of them exclaimed. "We wouldn't prostitute our station by accepting outside advertising!" . . .
Source: I Looked and I Listened by Ben Gross 
• • photo: Texas • •