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Opinion >  Column

100 years ago in Spokane: A free radio was the big draw in a Chronicle contest to get more subscriptions

UPDATED: Thu., May 19, 2022

 (Spokane Daily Chronicle archives )
(Spokane Daily Chronicle archives )

The Spokane Daily Chronicle announced an audacious giveaway: a free radio receiving set to “every man, woman and child” in its circulation area.

“This is not a toy or so-called ‘air bug’ which can be purchased for two or three dollars, but a complete radio receiving set with a retail value of $35,” the Chronicle said in a full-page announcement.

The goal was “a radio in every home in Spokane and Eastern Washington.”

Well, there were a few catches. Actually, one really big catch.

To get your free radio, you had to go around to your friends and neighbors and secure 20 new subscriptions to the Chronicle. These new subscriptions had to be from households not already taking the Chronicle.

The announcement downplayed the difficulty of doing so, saying that it amounted to just “a few hours work during your spare time.” However, in that era, just finding 20 people not already taking the Chronicle was probably not easy. And then you had to convince them to commit to a six-month subscription at 65 cents per month.

Clearly, this could never result in a “radio in every home in Spokane and Eastern Washington” – but it might result in the Chronicle in more homes.

Also, the Chronicle had other motives beyond securing new subscriptions. The newspaper had announced plans to launch its own radio station within a few weeks.

From the narcotics beat: The city’s White Cross league declared the city’s major dope dealers had been driven out and the narcotics trade cut by half.

The head of the league said that stricter enforcement of new laws was responsible for much of the improvement.

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