The First Broadcast – 80 Years Ago Today

For weeks, writer Fran Striker had submitted script after revised script to George W. Trendle for approval. The clarity of Trendle’s vision of the character was unwavering, and with it came rules. The Lone Ranger was to speak in perfect English. Forced to shoot, he would shoot to disarm, never to kill. There would be no romantic entanglements. The list was longer; Striker’s challenge great.

Despite the three hundred miles separating them–Trendle in Detroit, Striker in Buffalo–one-by-one the elements fell into place, and a script was approved. Rehearsals began with actors from WXYZ’s staff players. The first broadcast was scheduled for January 30, 1933.

WXYZ Staff 1931

Members of the WXYZ Staff in 1931: (L-R) Forrest Wallace, Brace Beemer, Harold True, Bob White and James Jewell, standing, and Owen Uridge, seated.

Monday night, nine o’clock. Nothing had been announced in advance. The only fanfare occurred when the needle was dropped on a recording of the William Tell Overture Finale. Surrounded by the cast, the mic in Studio A was opened. From the towers of the Michigan Radio Network’s seven stations, broadcasting history was made.

We can’t be sure who played the role of The Lone Ranger that night. What is certain is that he and his fiery horse galloped from Studio A to worldwide radio broadcast and on into books, records, comics, movies, and television. And amazingly, after eighty years, the legend lives on.

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