WJAG turns 91 Saturday
NORFOLK - Saturday is the 91st birthday of radio station WJAG. WJAG received its first broadcast license from the federal government on July 27th, 1922. Gene Huse had broadcast experimentally for several years before receiving his first license. WJAG, known originally as the "Voice of the Norfolk Daily News," is the oldest licensed station in Nebraska and is still owned by the Huse family.
In 1922, WJAG began broadcasting as a public service with 100 watts of power from a single room in the old Norfolk Daily News building in downtown Norfolk. In the early days, when federal radio rules were more relaxed, WJAG broadcast intermittently as news or talent was available. The first radios were crystal sets constructed by amateur radio technicians. Gene Huse distributed his own constructed radios without charge to "shut-ins," who had no other direct contact with the outside world. With few stations on the air, WJAG had listeners as far away as California and Florida.
The earliest radio personality connected with WJAG, until his election to Congress in 1934, was Karl Stefan. He was succeeded in that capacity by Art Thomas, who served as station manager from 1932 to 1951. He was followed by his son, Bob Thomas, until 1985, and grandson Robb Thomas until 2008. The current vice president and general manager of WJAG, Inc. is Bradley Hughes.