Jack Norworth and His Train Car Advertisement - April 1st, 2019

Sometimes the greatest, or our most cherished art, comes to us...rather than us to it. Whether it be paintings, photographs, sculptures, or songs. These pieces of art, timestamps of history, are often not premeditated but instead they are the results of an immediate inspiration. Maybe it’s something the artist hears from the conversation of a passerby that he or she determines would make a great story. Maybe it’s bombs exploding like fireworks overhead during a time where the artist wasn’t even sure they would make it out alive. Or Maybe, just maybe, it’s an advertisement for a ballgame at the Polo Grounds.

    Jack Norworth was born in Philadelphia Pennsylvania on January 5th, 1879. He was a stage comedian, singer, actor, & writer that really grew into a bit of a household name during the vaudeville stages of history. He was famous for things like Ziegfield Follies, which he performed with his wife Nora in 1908. That same year, Norworth would go on to write one of the most prolific songs in United States history.

    Jack Norworth had never in his life been to a baseball game, and in fact when he wrote the infamous words to Take Me Out To The Ballgame, odds are he was just going off of what he had heard about... and more importantly what had been advertised to him on his train rides and in his newspapers. Newspapers that likely talked about the new Boston “Red Sox”, who up until that year had been known as the Boston Americans. On April 14th they debut’d new thick canvas cotton jersey’s, and their new name against the Washington Senators who later on that year would go on to lose an American League record 29 games via the shutout. The Red Sox won that day won by a score of 3-1 at the Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds. The paper also would have headlined Honus Wagner announcing that he would be retiring at the end of the season. Nobody seemed to tell him however because he went on to play in 151 games, and led the league in just about every offensive category imaginable. Somewhere in the back pages of the paper would have been the story of Abner Doubleday, who despite overwhelming controversial evidence, was accredited with creating the game of Baseball in Cooperstown, New York in 1839. Nearly 80 years later and a little over a three hour drive to the south of Baseball’s Birthplace in Cooperstown was Jack Norworth, and his train car which held an advertisement for that day’s ballgame at the Polo Grounds. Located in Coogan’s Hollow, a small area of Harlem, was one of the most beautiful stadiums in all of baseball.

By the time the song had been written, the double decker stadium housed the New York Giants, who played daily for a little over 16,000 fans. By 1911 it could host 31,000 fans which was easily the most in baseball at that time. However still, Jack Norworth had never been to a game when he wrote down on a piece of paper the words to a song he surely hoped would turn into some sort of commercial or advertisement itself with the words

(words to take me out to the ballgame)

Jack Norworth would end up teaming up with Albert Von Tilzer who wrote the melody, and really turned it into a song in 1908, or so the story goes. But despite its fame and popularity of the song, Jack Norworth himself wouldn’t ever find himself in a hot summer seat enjoying cracker jacks, or a New York hot dog at the Polo Grounds, because it burnt down to the ground 3 years after he wrote the song. In fact, from what I can tell he didn’t find himself at a baseball game at all, until he attended for the first time in his life a Brooklyn Dodgers and Chicago Cubs game in 1940, 32 years later. Of course Brooklyn came away with the win at that ole ball game. To this day, I’m not sure if it was artistry, or inspiration, or an entertainer looking for his next big break that drove Jack Norworth to write Take Me Out To The Ballgame. Whatever it was, I’m thankful for it. I think we all are.

In 1958, on the 50th anniversary of the song Norworth was honored by the Los Angeles Dodgers on Jack Norworth Day. He died a year later in 1959, just a couple months after a fiery plane crash in early february took the lives of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and The Big Bopper.

Take Me Out to The Ballgame would go on to be a staple in the 7th inning of baseball games all throughout the country. Harey Carey made it even more famous in Chicago early in the 1970’s after he started singing it in the broadcast booth. The story there goes that a secret microphone was placed into the booth so that the fans could hear him sing the famed song, and because it was so bad, no fan was too intimidated to sing along.

Hurricane Hunters - March 12th, 2019

Welcome once again to Going, Going, Gone. A podcast by Texas Star Auctions where we look at a few of our favorite items, and we tell the history behind them that makes them so unique. If you haven’t already please subscribe, so that you don’t miss any of our short stories. We try to make them engaging, informative, and a little quirky and we love having you here for every single one.

Here is the show.

Most people would run, sprint, fly away from danger. Most people look for their safety in numbers. Most people look at the gravity of what mother nature can do to entire towns, buildings, and peoples’ homes. Most people would run from a hurricane. And yet, most people have also never heard of the Hurricane Hunters.

In 1951, the deadliest tropical cyclone of that years’ Atlantic hurricane season, was barreling across the sea and heading right for Corpus Christi, Texas. Or at least that’s what everyone thought. Hurricane Charlie started from a tropical wave east of the Lesser Antilles. Had it hit Corpus Christi, Tx it most likely would have made the history books, and it would have been a topic of conversation that we still talk about today, because it surely would have destroyed a good majority of the lives that the people of Corpus Christi, Port Arthur, North Padre Island had at that time. Instead, the hurricane struck Jamaica with winds of 135 miles an hour, before then hurtling into the Mexican coast and the Yucatan Peninsula. Hurricane Charlie was responsible for 250 deaths. It is known as the deadliest natural disaster of the 20th century for Jamaica and has numbers ranging around $50,000,000 in damages and 152 dead.  This hurricane was huge. However, back in 1951, we didn’t have the same technology we do today, and we would have never known some of the things we know now had it not been for the Air Force Reserve’s 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, better known today as the Hurricane Hunters.

Hurricane Hunting, as it were, is said to have started on a dare in the middle of World War II, when Lt. Col. Joe Duckworth took an AT-6 Texan training aircraft into the eye of a hurricane. Once again, it’s important to note that Lt. Col. Duckworth is not most people. As the story goes Duckworth was being ribbed and teased by his trainees at the time because they believed their training aircraft to be frail, and feeble compared to what they one day would like to be flying. Duckworth seemed to have had enough as he hopped in his training aircraft, and without notifying headquarters flew with a trainee into a 1943 storm off the coast of Galveston. This was the first time a plane had ever been intentionally and safely flown into an active hurricane. When he got back he described the event as “Being tossed about like a stick in a dog’s mouth” which to me sounds like a very soft and easy way to describe what had to be such a death defying moment. To Duckworth’s credit, after that there had never been another word said about the readiness or strength of the AT-6 Texan, and just one year later the Weather Reconnaissance Squadron was formed. While Duckworth is probably the most notable Hurricane Hunter, he of course is not the only one.

This is Captain Nicholas Brango. A while back in an auction we had reel to reel audio tapes, which we learned had the original audio from an interview with Captain Brango in 1951 as he was preparing for his reconnaissance mission into the eye of Hurricane Charlie. He has a host of notable accomplishments including a college boxing championship, flying patrol bombers during World War II, and even serving on the staff of Admiral John McCain, Commander in Chief of the Pacific in Honolulu Hawaii. However, none of that is as much his claim to fame as the more than 30 hurricanes he flew head on into as a part of the Hurricane Reconnaissance Squadron.

As Captain Brango explains, these missions which started as dares among pilots testing their limits, quickly became an invaluable way to view hurricanes. While it is a light-hearted view of their beginnings, these service men and women truly understand how important their job was and still is. These war planes which were once outfitted with bombs, and guns are now outfitted with meteorology equipment tuned for a different type of enemy. Captain Brango was on the coast of Corpus Christi in 1951 as Hurricane Charlie started to pick up steam. Him and his team continually flew into the eye of the storm, gathering data about pressure, temperature, and wind speed. For the first time, ever, they could get a brand-new look at this incredibly dangerous, big, storm.

Even today in 2019 with all the advancements of satellite and radar, the Hurricane Hunters are still used to assist in providing an accurate look at the interior barometric pressure of the hurricane, as well as providing accurate wind speed information.

Even today in 2019 most people would run, sprint, fly away from danger. And yet most people are thankful that the Hurricane Hunters don’t.


Thank you once again for listening. This once again is Going, Going, Gone, a product of Texas Star Auctions out of Alvarado, Tx. We specialize in Mid-Century Furniture, Antiques, Collectibles, and a host of other things so head on over to our website at TexasStarAuctions.com. That is also where you will find any of our other short stories, our calendar, and a couple pages that tell you a little bit more about who we are. We’ll see you next time.


Zenith Trans-Oceanic Radio - February 19th, 2019

That, is the sound of the Zenith Trans-Oceanic Radio. Created from 1941 to 1982 these radios were known as the “Royalty of Radios”. If you’re interested, I can tell you that the model we have for sale is listed as lot number 23 in our huge rustic and vintage tool auction. It wouldn’t be much of a podcast though, if we stopped there, so for the love of history let’s travel back to 1918 when amateur operators Ralph Matthews and Karl Hassel created the Zenith Corporation in Chicago. At that time, they produced and sold all kinds of amateur radio equipment and they did so under then name Chicago Radio Labs. In 1921 the boys added someone that would take their radios to the next level, someone known solely as “The Commander”

Eugene F. McDonald was a lieutenant commander in the United States Navy in World War One, and after the war he joined Matthews and Hassel to officially found the Zenith Radio Corporation. He stayed in the Navy Reserve until 1939, and while he was never recalled back into service, he found himself in his free time still at sea, on his yacht. I promise that’s an important part of the story. It took a couple years for them to get their feet going, but by 1926 they had begun mass production of their first AC powered radio. Zenith, through the efforts of McDonald, was a very significant player in the market share of the 1920’s. They didn’t hold the same weight as names like Atwater Kent or RCA, but that all changed in 1936. The factory that produced the Atwater Kent Radios closed, and right around the same time RCA decided to focus a lot of their efforts on the licensing of their patents instead of mass producing radios. The left a Zenith Radio sized hole in the market for the company to become the leading manufacturer of mid-grade to high-end radios.

In the late 1930’s tubes began to develop as an option for portability, and Eugene McDonald came up with the concept of a portable shortwave radio that he could use at sea on his yacht. I told you we would make it back. Even though this was obviously an endeavor that he wanted to take on, to better his own experience he knew that consumers were hungry for portables that could receive international shortwave broadcasts, which now was growing more and more rapidly by the day.

Zenith up to this point had been producing essentially AM-Only radios, but to do what McDonald wanted to do they were going to have to make some changes. They of course knew that they would have to make the chassis and cabinet bigger to fit the necessary components needed. The greatest challenge for Gilbert E. Gustafson, who was the Chief Engineer of the Zenith engineering team, was to design a tuning assembly that had stabile operation, but that could also fit into the newer cabinet. Starting in 1939 there were 20 prototypes that were submitted to McDonald for his approval. 19 times in a row McDonald rejected them one after another, until number 20. This version, had a six-button band selector that the user could use to switch between the AM Broadcast band, and 5 shortwave bands ranging up to 16 megahertz. Part of the reasons these are still so sought after today is because they used some of the highest quality parts to ensure stability in the often-rough environment that McDonald and his portable radio might be operated in. Now that the inside had be created it was time for the outside to be designed which was a task left up to Robert Davol Budlong, who was an industrial designer and graduate of Grinnell College in Iowa. His work had been seen before on Sunbeam Toasters, Shavers, Mixers and all kinds of things that featured a modernistic appearance. His method: To make radios look like radios. Crazy, right? At that time, everything looked like furniture or other objects meant to blend in with their environments. He wanted these to capture your attention, to do the opposite of avert your eyes. He wanted this to shine.

The very first version of these portable shortwave radios was the 7G605, and it was released in October of 1941. It featured a sailboat on the front, a nod to McDonald, and was known as the “Clipper”. For just $75 you could have the very first Trans-Oceanic radio. Zenith had planned to heavily promote the radio for the holiday season, and they were all geared up and ready to go. That is until December 7th, 1941. Most manufacturers had quit production of consumer goods, and focused on producing goods for the War effort. Zenith, however had other plans for their new radio. They changed the image on the front from the sailboat, to a B-17 bomber, and this change was made in such a fervor that some Trans-Oceanic radios are seen to have this grill stuck on top or inserted over the top of the previous sailboat grill. These radios, featuring the likeness of the United States Military were known as “Bombers”.

In April of 1942 the company was forced to discontinue all consumer production by the government decree that was known as the “War Planning Board Federal Edict” which ordered all manufacturing efforts to be directed to the war effort. By then 35,000 sets had been made, and at the time it left around 100,000 orders still unfulfilled. They finished up that line of radios by making around 1000 radios, that had names of dignitaries, CEO’s, War Heroes, & Celebrities silk-screened onto the front of them. These, for obvious reasons, are the most collectible and sought after radios to date.

The war didn’t kill everything for Zenith however, because they began to push the idea of Trans-Oceanics being sold to soldiers not as military radios, but as a doorway for troops to keep in touch with what was happening back in the states. They ran numerous advertisements featuring pictures of the radios being used by soldiers in the field and included stories of the radios surviving through all kinds of nearby blasts and being sprayed with dirt, water, and earth. This was not brought on by the Military until the Korean War years later

Zenith would continue to create, and modify their radios, and seemed to rather enjoy their nickname as the “Royalty of Radios”. In 1959, a year after the man nicknamed the “Commander” had died, Zenith released the Royal 1000, which transgressed in to the Royal 7000 that remained in production until 1982. While many things you’ll hear on shortwave these days is religious, or small-town broadcasts it’s easy to see that this radios tonal quality is incredibly superb, with buttons that can change from voice, to music, and the result is an audio clarity in an AM radio that is rare, even today.


Seeburg Stereo Showcase - January 16th, 2019

I always love consignment auctions, because they almost always have this effortless ability to just take you back to a different time. It might be the Watling “How Much Do You Weigh” coin operated scale that was created around 1940. I can just imagine the wheat pennies, buffalo nickels, and mercury dimes these people wrapped their knuckles around and slid out of their pockets just to place down the slotted hole to see how much they really weighed, and then laugh about it with their friends as they trotted off to the next venue that would take their excitement, and of course their money.


It also might be the Gearhart Knitting Machine Company which was known as the first true tool for the At-Home Knitter. Looking at the contraption, I can’t imagine making anything on it, but if you’re so inclined to try, ours comes with a 1924 manual, and instructions on making your own socks.


It could also be the old hand-crank multigraph created by the American Multigraph Company. The Company itself was founded by Harry Gammeter and Henry Osborn in 1902 and was located on E. 40th St. at Kelley Avenue in Cleveland Ohio, however this piece here, this was meant to go anywhere and everywhere. In fact, there is even one somewhere in the Smithsonian, however where you’d find it I don’t know.


This machine was an office printing machine invented by Gammeter who was a typewriter salesman, and the machine printed using these little tiny metal letters that could be slid into place on the wheel, which was then cranked and printed. The impression of these little letters was made with printing ink, or for some, through a ribbon. It has drawers, and drawers of little letters, and all I can think is that if 140 characters had to be sorted through, and placed in a slot the way these are, that we would have much more constructed tweets to scan through. These things however don’t take me back the way that music does, and there is no item in our sale that plays music the same way as the Seeburg Stereo Showcase.

When you’re looking at the history of jukeboxes or automated musical equipment you can’t skip the J.P. Seeburg and Company name. In fact, the classic M100C, which was produced in the late 1950’s was featured early in the opening of “Happy Days”. Now, before you get too upset, I know the actual spinning 45 rpm record infamously shown is being played on a Rock-Ola but still, being in the show that arguably made the Jukebox what it is today is still not anything to laugh at.


The Seeburg company starts much earlier than the M100C. It goes back to 1907 when Justice P. Seeburg started his own musical career by creating the J.P. Seeburg Piano Co. He was born in Sweden in 1871, came to the United States at 16, and settled in Chicago which at the times was one of the hotbeds of the American Music Industry.


His pianos were selling all around the country because of the number of instruments they had inside of them, which if played right could sound like an entire band. While he was successful with this line of automatic pianos, he wanted to stay right on the cutting edge of what was next in the music industry. In 1927 he discontinued the manufacturing of pianos and retooled his factories for making the new coin-operated phonograph.


Seeburg would continue to change, and develop their inventory and in 1928 he was one of the first manufacturers of the multi-select jukebox which was known as the “Audiophone”. The jukebox was a heavy 8-selection box that had pneumatic control valves which made it half nickelodeon and half phonograph. The sales of this never reached astronomical numbers, however they were enough to let Seeburg realize that he was onto something: The more music the machine could play, the better. By the 1930’s Seeburg was in his late 60’s and handed the company over to his son Noel, who reorganized the business to better compete against Wurlitzer and Rock-ola. If you ever get to see the Jukeboxes the Seeburg Co. created from 1940, to World War II, you’ll understand why these are such collector’s items still today.


Even through all that success, it wasn’t until 1949 when the Seeburg company would change everything we knew about the Jukebox history. Up until this time, with 78 rpm records the standard, only 10 to 24 selections could be played on one machine. That is, until Seeburg debuted the Select-O-Matic jukebox which held up to 50 records front and back, meaning that it could play 100 different songs. For those of you doing math at home that’s four-times greater than previously available. They weren’t done there however, because in 1950 they introduced the first commercial jukebox designed to play the then-new 45 rpm records. 5 years later they increased the number of records from 50 to 100, eventually settling on 50 or 80 per machine after 1958.


The machine for sale today, is the Seeburg Stereo Showcase which was created in 1966 and 1967, and features the same mechanism it did back then which stores the records in a linear magazine and plays them vertically clamped to a flywheel turntable. The record that you selected is then pushed forward from behind, clamped in place, and played. In the 1950’s the user could see all this magic or science, whichever you prefer, however in the later years they decided to add visuals and graphics that covered up what was happening inside the machine.


As the years moved on, and music became much easier to access at home Seeburg was faced with debt and a declining market. The company went bankrupt in 1979, and was completely dissolved by 1980. The name Seeburg found its way throughout the music industry several more times, including CD Jukeboxes, however those never took off. Today however, I think that Justice P. Seeburg could find some solace. I mentioned that his later motto was the more music the better, and I mention that because as of 2017 the Seeburg 1000 website continually livestreams the best of the Seeburg 1000 Background Music Library recordings. I’m listening to it now, January 2019, and let me tell you…it takes you back.

History Has Its Eyes On You

We are not makers of history. We are made by history.
— Martin Luther King Jr.

In our next online auction we take a dip into some of our greatest stories as a nation. Stories told through stamps, coins, letters, and pictures…lots of pictures. In this auction we travel from the late 1800’s to today. We fly through Japan in WWII, and the USSR years later. We hear “State of the Union” Presidential speeches, and we can feel on our fingertips the buttons, and coins that marked our most popular presidential races. Here in this auction, we take a look at thousands of pieces of history, knowing that history has it’s eyes on us now. Below are just a few of the stories we’ll encounter along the way.

To start our featured items I want to first travel to Detriot Michigan in 1909, where the KRIT Motor Car Company, first started to build touring cars and roadsters. Of course they weren’t the first to do this, but they were the first to include a Swastika as their car emblem. Its name most likely originated from Kenneth Crittenden, the financial backer and designer of the cars. They were 4-Cylindar models, and oddly enough many of them were sent to Europe and Australia. Of course the Germans had yet to sully the use of the Swastika, so at the time nobody had thought anything of it. The KRIT Motor Car Company wouldn’t live on to see what Nazi Germany would go on to do with their beloved emblem, because the company failed in 1915 due to the outbreak of WWI. Interestingly enough, in the exact same lot we have for sale is a button from the Nuremburg Rally of 1939. The Nuremburg Rally was the annual rally for the Nazi Party in Germany and went on from 1923-1938. In 1939, the 11th Party Congress scheduled the rally for September 2nd through the 11th, and even named it the “Rally of Peace” because it was intended to reiterate the German desire for peace with other countries and with the German people themselves. The rally however was cancelled quickly, because on September 1st, one day before the rally was to begin, Germany began its offensive push against Poland. The rest is as they say history.

Fast forward to after the attack on Pearl Harbor, where the government knew that the Japanese army could potentially have access to a lot of United States cash. Fearing the allowance of that kind of problem, the emergency Hawaii overprint note was created. Should the islands have been taken over, the United States Government would immediately reject any Hawaii overprint notes, knowing that they were in enemy hands.

While the overprint notes were being shipped to the islands of Hawaii, here on United States soil was the formation of the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, better known as the W.A.V.E.S. The waves were established in 1942, as a part of the United States Naval Reserve, and served at 900 different United States stations with their peak at over 86,000 women. Admiral Nimitz commended the W.A.V.E.S. at the conclusion of the war for their groundbreaking assistance on the national stage.

Once the war was near it’s end there was a need for strengthening a unification among allies, so President Harry S. Truman, and other world leaders were able to establish the United Nations, which held its first convention on the west coast of San Francisco. Edward Stettinius Jr., who was Secretary of State under Franklin Roosevelt and Truman both, would be named the first United States Ambassador to the United Nations. There in San Francisco from April 25th to June 26th, 1945 Edward Stettinius Jr. chaired the United States delegation to the United Nations Conference on International Organization.

These are only a few of our favorite stories, so be sure to check out the full catalog.

The KRIT Motor Car Co. is a pin from a part of Lot #51

The Hawaii Overprint Silver Certificates are Lot #195

The United Nations Conference Memorabilia is a part of Lot #143

The original W.A.V.E.S. Hat & Portraits are Lot #253

The Historic Baker Hotel


You wouldn’t think that in 1929, two weeks after the stock market crashed, opening up an extravagant and high-priced hotel in Mineral Wells Texas would be an idea and a project that we’d still be talking about to this day. However, that is the case of the Baker Hotel.

You might think “Why Texas, and Why Mineral Wells?” However for those unfamiliar with Texas, 50 miles west of Ft. Worth is the city of Mineral Wells, known historically for its healing properties in it’s water. In fact before this hotel was built the city had 46 hotels and boarding houses by the year 1909, and by 1910 they were welcoming around 150,000 people a year who were all looking to take a dip in the mineral waters themselves. In 1920, just 10 years later, the new-booming city had at least 400 mineral wells that visitors could use. Then, in 1929 comes Texas entrepreneur T.B. Baker. The hotel at the time cost $1.2 Million to build, and was the first of its kind outside of a major metropolitan area. As a guest you could enjoy amenities such as air conditioning, circulating ice water, automatic light controls, and valet doors for dry cleaning so that the hotel employees wouldn’t disturb the many the guests. According to the Ft. Worth Star Telegram the Baker Hotel opened with state-of-the-art features including “mineral baths, an Olympic-size swimming pool and a rooftop nightclub known as the Cloud Room, where old-timers could recall hearing music stream out across town at night”. In addition to the swimming pools and night club, the 14-story Baker Hotel was an immense architectural find for the celebrity looking to still find ways to spend money throughout the great depression and the years after. Hollywood Stars such as Judy Garland, Clark Gable, Roy Rogers, and the Three Stooges all made their way to Texas to take a dip, and a stay in the Baker Hotel.

The stars however, would find other places to go, and new sights to see. By the 1940’s, with WWII in full effect, Mineral Wells had become a military town and the halls and rooms that held celebrities and politicians, now held green-outfitted men either preparing or taking a break from the war a world away. The hotel would never see the night clubs full of youth, and excitement again. In fact The Baker closed it’s doors in 1963, and found enough backing to open two years later once again. However the last guests checked in, and out in the year 1972.

Years later, the Baker stood tall in the city of Mineral Wells yet the windows were boarded up, and nearly everything of value stripped from its walls. People took anything they could find like lamps, strips of wallpaper, pictures, mirrors, and of course silverware.


Now, before you get too heartbroken about this magnificent hotel, I need to note that the Baker Hotel plans to open it’s doors once again, however this time with some major changes. While here in this auction you can get a piece of this storied hotels’ past, the future of it looks bright and has the people of Mineral Wells excited for the first time in a long, long time. When the Baker Hotel re-opens there still be the famous pool & fountain, the lobby will be restored to it’s original beautiful architecture, the Presidential Suite on the 10th floor will be restored (as well as the Baker Suite on the 11th). That however, will be all that will be the same. Instead of the 450 rooms that the Baker Hotel originally had, it will now be scaled down to 155. The street-level floor where the kitchen is currently located will have retail space, and a diner and coffee shop. Several of the banquet halls will be transitioned into other purposes for the hotel, and the current gymnasium will become a meeting space, full of breakout rooms, and a small kitchen for if you needed that sort of thing. The new 14,000 Spa will be separated into men’s and women’s areas, and a new fitness area will be added. However even with all of this, the Baker Hotel will still sit, 50 miles west of Ft. Worth as one of the most storied, and unique landmarks throughout the state of Texas.

The knife which is inscribed Baker Hotel Co. is up for auction as a part of lot #751 in our October Local Consignment Auction.

The $25,000 Button


In 1974, the WABC Radio station out of New York City ran a contest known as the “WABC MusicRadio $25,000 Button Contest”. The “owner” or “wearer” of the button could possibly win up to $25,000 if he or she were seen around town with the button on. Rick Sklar, who is the program director credited as one of the originators of the Top 40 radio format, was also the architect of the famed button contest. While it was every program directors’ goal to continuously find new listeners, it was Sklar who made it a well-practiced success while at WABC. The station focused on young-hip teenagers, and frequently played the “hits” as it curated playlist upon playlist featuring the top songs of that day. It was played and played over and over by DJ’s who were true personalities, something most radio stations at the time couldn’t find with regularity. Under Sklar’s direction WABC was widely regarded as the most listened to radio station in North America throughout the mid 60’s and into the early 70’s.

Rick Sklar would move on to work at numerous radio stations, and later create his own consulting firm, but it was that $25,000 button that he held so close to his heart as one of his greatest accomplishments. The 14 million buttons that they passed out were seen all over New York, and WABC was at the top of the radio industry. The button and the contest were so popular when it was ran in 1974, that Sklar decided he would run it again 1982, though this time with McDonalds as a sponsor.

The button that we have here in our auction is the 2nd button of the contest, that was released in 1982, but it’s still just as awesome a piece of radio and American history. One that, with the rise of new mediums and opportunities for listening, that I hope we won’t forget for a long time.

The WABC Button is a part of lot #25 of our October 2018 Local Consignment Auction