by Paula Bosse
An early radio stunt happened in Dallas on the night of June 29, 1922 when a couple exchanged wedding vows over the air, with the bride, the groom, and the minister each broadcasting from the studios of different Dallas radio stations: WDAO, WRR, and WFAA. These were the very early days of radio, and when the wedding was broadcast, WDAO had been on the air for a little over a month, and WFAA for less than a week! (WRR, Dallas’ first radio station had been on the air for about a year, but most of that time it had been operating as a one-way radio dispatcher for the city’s fire and police departments). In June of 1922, these were the only three Dallas-based radio stations, and they all worked together in this “historic” broadcast. (This early media stunt was a full 47 years before Tiny Tim and Miss Vicki got hitched on the Tonight Show.)
DALLAS COUPLE TO WED BY RADIO THURSDAY NIGHT
DALLAS — The first wireless marriage ceremony ever performed in which neither the bride, the groom, nor the officiating minister will be at the same place is to be solemnized here Thursday night when Miss Inez Mabel Brady, Dallas society girl, becomes the bride of John H. Stone, operator at WRR, the municipal broadcasting station.
It is estimated that more than 25,000 radio fans will “witness” the tying of the radio nuptial knot.
Three Dallas broadcasting stations will be used in the ceremony. Rev. Thomas Harper, pastor of the Central Congregational Church, who has been asked to officiate, will repeat the marriage ritual into the transmitter of [WFAA,] the broadcasting station on the roof of [the Dallas Morning News] building. The bride and her attendants will be at the Automotive Electric Company’s radio station [WDAO, on South Ervay], while the groom will make his responses from WRR, the station of which he is in charge.
Operating staffs of the three stations are working out the details of the ceremony, which will include a broadcasted wedding march.
(– Fort Worth Star-Telegram, June 28, 1922)
Obviously new to the hustle of radio promotion, The Dallas Morning News (owner of WFAA) mentioned the event only a couple of times — fleetingly. They did note that “This probably will be audible to one of the largest audiences ever ‘hearing’ a wedding ceremony” (DMN, June 28, 1922). It’s not known just how many people tuned in to listen to the ceremony (probably a considerable number), but the story made news around the country, as can be seen in this article from The Durham Morning Herald in Durham, North Carolina:
The broadcast had only a tiny hiccup:
Winfield (Kansas) Daily Press, June 30, 1922
As successful as the radio wedding was, the marriage between Inez Brady and John H. Stone does not appear to have lasted very long. At the time of the wedding, Inez was just out of school and was only 16 or 17 years old (the descriptions of her as a “society girl” and “debutante” were, I think, a bit of an exaggeration). According to the news stories surrounding the wedding, she “fell in love” with Mr. Stone’s voice on the radio. None of that bodes well for a lasting marriage. The 1923 city directory had the newlyweds renting rooms on McMillan, off Lower Greenville, but the 1924 directory had John in Oak Cliff and Inez in Old East Dallas. She re-married in 1928 at the creaky old age of 22, and he seems to have left WRR to work in some capacity for RCA. The marriage might not have lasted, but they both had a “brush-with-celebrity” story to tell (and re-tell) for the rest of their lives.
Top photo from CorbisImages, ©Bettmann/CORBIS.
I’m not sure which ended first — Mr. and Mrs. Stone’s wedded bliss or the radio station WDAO, which ceased operation sometime in 1923. A good look at the history of early local radio can be found at DFW Radio Archives, here. (WRR and WFAA continue to march forward, just a few years shy of their 100th anniversaries!)
Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.