The story of the very first radio station to broadcast in Baltimore is lost in the dustbin of Baltimore history - never to realize the full recognition it deserved. That's because the father of the young builder of the station threw the station out - his son's most promising and historic creation!
Crowds were lined up on both sides three deep along Holiday Street leading to City Hall, on the afternoon of August 15, 1971, cheering, “We love you, Cass.” The Cass was Cass Elliott, The Momma Cass who popularized such hits as “Make your Own Kind of Music.” She was actually Ellen Naomi Cohen, grew up in Baltimore, attended Forest Park High School and dropped out two weeks before she was to graduate. She went to New York to try her luck as a pop vocalist. Her luck was very good. But Baltimore never took to her, and this welcoming parade was the City’s attempt to make up for that indiscretion. As does this story…
On the afternoon of October 22, 1933 something unusual was going on at the Pimlico Race track. It was a Sunday, not a racing day, and not a horse in sight, yet more than 7,000 fans had filled the stands. The crowd was there to see a ghost race, run by ghost horses. And the very first trial of the TOTALISATOR, later to be known as the Tote Board. The Tote Board modernized the way odds were displayed at the track between races, replacing manual displays with electronic displays, and because of it, the bettor was thought by many to have more of a chance at winning. Asked about that point of view, one of the officials said, ”Absolutely not” and gave a surprising explanation!
It is 1960 and you are dining on a starched white linen table cloth with gleaming silverware, enjoying a choice of five appetizers, eight entrees, eleven vegetables, a dozen salads, seven desserts. From the balcony comes the soft slow dinner music of Jack Lederer’s orchestra. You might think you are dining in one of Baltimore’s most expensive restaurants, but you are dining in a most modesty-priced Oriole cafeteria. All six Oriole cafeterias closed by 1975 because management said, “the dining community preferred hamburgers and colas and eat and run.” Oriole cafeterias took pride in offering plenty of choice and their customers made one: fast food over slow music.
At exactly 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 30, 1947, about seven hundred Baltimoreans who owned television sets sat watching Baltimore's first television show telecast over its first television station, WMAR, then Channel 2, in black and white on six inch screens. The show being telecast was the sixth race at Pimlico. There were a lot of winners that day: seven hundred or so TV owners watching he race on their TV Screens, The techie gang that produced the show; a come-from-behind horse names Blue Yonder who would come in first, and mayor D'Alesandro - who told everybody that he would.