WCOA has rumored tie to getting rid of elected mayor in 1930s

I’ve spent the day going through letters, photos and folders on the history of Pensacola’s first and oldest radio station – WCOA, which celebrated its 95th anniversary this year.  I came across some very interesting documents that appear to tie Penscaola’s switch to a city manager form of government in the 1930s to the station.

I will discuss on tomorrow’s show, starting a 7 a.m. There is so much to share.



1 thought on “WCOA has rumored tie to getting rid of elected mayor in 1930s

  1. The late UWF history professor Dr. James McGovern’s book “The Emergency of a City in the Modern South 1900-1945” provides what seems a very objective assessment of the city’s transition from an aldermanic to commission to council-manager form of government. Dr. McGovern frames the second change in the bigger context we tend to forget about which is the depression with many in the city out of work or underemployed. The commission’s efforts to balance the budget may have put it in direct conflict with many voters who wanted a more activist and less fiscally constrained city hall. In 1931, city voters might simply have voted for anything new so long as it was not what they had. The West Florida Public Library website hosts links to many old newspapers to include The Pensacola Journal from 1905 to 1985. There are newspaper stories, editorials and letters on both sides of many interesting 20th Century city issues to include the early days of the city-owned WCOA and the challenges of its origin to include all the hoops the city had to jump through to get equipment from Houston and permission from a federal government agency in Atlanta to begin operations. A key selling point was that WCOA would transmit weather information of value to farmers in the area. One especially interesting editorial board opinion piece took the commission to task for selling WCOA advertising time to non-city businesses in competition with city businesses. Both sides of the issue of transition from a commission to council-manager form of government are described in the newspaper’s 1931 reporting in particular and especially in July. The most surprising part to me was what Mayor Bayliss wrote on July 21, 1931 (the day of the referendum vote) in an open letter titled “To The People of Pensacola.” Two sentences jump out in particular as shocking to modern eyes, “Experience in Pensacola teaches that white supremacy is essential to the progress and prosperity of the city, the safety, peace, and happiness of all citizens. This is the most important issue in the campaign.”

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