WNAX was one of the early broadcast stations going on the air in 1922. In 1925, John Chandler "Chan" Gurney, D. B. Gurney's son, began making a reputation for himself as a talented announcer and programmer for the station.
At the same time, D. B. began to notice the successful efforts of his major competitor, Field's Seed and Nursery Company of Shenandoah, Iowa, broadcasting on station KFNF.
Chan was sent to Shenandoah to look over the KFNF set-up, and upon his return home, he recommend that his father purchase WNAX located in Yankton. Thus, on February 28, 1926 (Note: one news article has the year as 1927), listeners heard: "This is station WNAX, Voice of the House of Gurney in Yankton."
After a brief period in D. B.'s home, the studio was moved to the third floor of the seedhouse. WNAX's live talent and folksy commentary attracted thousands of listeners and sold millions of Gurney seeds and trees.
By the early 1930's, the Gurney seedhouse building was one of the area's first shopping centers, housing hairdressers and barbers, dry goods, groceries, jewelry, and medicine. Everything was available from Gurney and all was promoted by WNAX. Product quality and helpful service did the rest, and soon Gurney became a household name.
And they gave back more than just entertainment and information to folks. Although both were important during the bad times of the '30s and '40s. One example is illustrated in the following article (click here) about the annual, five day long event called "Gurney Pancake Days."
In 1983, a fire destroyed the main WNAX building. Most of the station's historic live recordings, as well as thousands of records were destroyed. The staff of WNAX rushed to the station's transmitter site and continued broadcasting. Eventually, the station recovered and a new building was constructed on Highway 50 in Yankton.
Although no longer owned by Gurney Seed, WNAX is a premier station and still located in Yankton. They are now owned by Saga Communications, Inc. and are still operating at WNAX-AM 570 as well as at WNAX-FM 104.1.
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