What ever happened to WHIO’s famous tower? 

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What ever happened to WHIO’s famous tower? 

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Don Nelson
The new WHIO tower under construction.11/01/53

For more than six decades, a metal landmark towered over Dayton and transmitted news into thousands and thousands of homes in the Miami Valley. 

Today, a chunk of the WHIO broadcast tower dedicated in 1949 is on display at Dayton History at Carillon Historical Park. 

It helps tell the story of the entrepreneur, governor, newspaperman and broadcaster who put it there.

The Governor James M. Cox display opened in April with several other new displays at Carillon Historical Park, a 65-acre campus at  that showcases Dayton’s history of invention, transportation and early settlement.

A page from the Aug. 29, 1948 Dayton Daily News. The photos are of the crew constructing the WHIO-TV tower.

Other new displays include those on NCR’s Building 26, where they developed a machine that cracked the Nazi’s U-boat encryption code. Other exhibits feature artifacts from and the stories of Henny Penny Corp. and PK Lumber.

THE MAN BEHIND THE NAME

Brady Kress, Dayton History’s CEO and president, said the name Cox is familiar to many local residents due to institutions like the James M. Cox Dayton International Airport and Cox Arboretum MetroPark, but few know the influence their namesake had on the community, state and world. 

The 1920 presidential election pitted two Ohioans - Ohio Gov. James Cox and U.S. Sen. Warren Harding - in an election that Harding won easily. Both were also newspapermen. Cox started his newspaper career in Dayton when he founded the Dayton Daily News. Dayton Daily News Archive

“James Cox is one of those founding fathers (of Dayton) that no one thinks about,” Kress said. 

THE NEWSMAN 

Cox, a former schoolteacher and news reporter, bought the Dayton Evening News in 1898 and immediately renamed it the Dayton Daily News.

Cox Enterprises grew from there to include the Springfield Press Republic (now the Springfield News Sun), the Atlanta Journal (now the Atlanta Journal Constitution), radio stations WHIO in Dayton in 1935 followed by WSB in Atlanta in 1939, and WIOD in Miami.

WSB-TV in Atlanta became the South's first television station in 1948. WHIO-TV in Dayton went on the air for the first time later that year. 

WHIO’s Wilmington Avenue studios and tower were torn down in 2012. WHIO is now housed in the Cox Media Group Ohio Center at 1611 S. Main St. in Dayton.  

THE STATESMAN

Cox was Ohio’s 46th and 48th governor, serving from from 1913-1915 and 1917-1921.

Cox received the the Democratic nomination for the presidency, but lost to then-U.S. Senator Warren G. Harding, a fellow Ohioan and newspaper man, in 1920.

Franklin D. Roosevelt was Cox’s running mate. 

As governor he was influential in the establishment of the Miami Conservancy District, Kress said. 

The district was established in 1915 as a reaction to the devastating 1913 Great Flood.  

Brady Kress Dayton History, president & CEO, next to a piece of the WHIO tower dedicated in 1949. Photo by Amelia Robinson

Kress said that Cox is a great example of the influence Daytonians had on the world. 

“I never stop learning things, because Dayton, Ohio is just amazing, Kress said. “Its impact in the state and country is just phenomenal.” 

The WHIO tower. 02/22/49 Bill Simmons
Photo of the WHIO tower by Becky Grimes.
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