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November 26, 2018 The Big Ape
Post by John Rancke
There is a popular beach blues tune by Mike Schermer titled “My Big Sister’s Radio”. It is a great tune and video is below:
Transistor radios! Remember them! And AM radio stations before there were FM stations.
On the East Coast from Miami Florida up through the Carolinas and into the Tidewater there was this one station far away that sent their signal across the Atlantic ocean and gave the East Coast a taste of Florida every day.
Located in Orange Park, a community in the Jacksonville Florida area, the station took advantage of the bend in the coast line and the signal had a straight direct line straight to the sand of Myrtle Beach and Ocean Drive and into Wrightsville Beach and beyond.
WAPE, a 50,000 watt AM giant pushing out the dreams for all the kids at the beach.
Every hour, on the hour the Ape Call is played to remind listeners they have their radio tuned just right to hear the best music around on the Big Ape, WAPE.
From 1959 through the early 1970’s, it could be said with great certainty that every teenager living along the southeast coast, from Daytona Beach to Wilmington, North Carolina, had two favorite radio stations; the Top 40 station in their home town and Jacksonville’s WAPE. And in some cases, it was the distant WAPE, and not their hometown station, that was on top of the local ratings.
The exceptional coverage area of the WAPE signal would allow it to spread its musical influence up and down the coastal areas of the southeast. The stations weekly playlist listed the most popular “top 40” acts of the day as well as regional and local artists. In addition to the Beatles, Aretha Franklin, the Turtles, Young Rascals and Otis Redding, listeners would also be treated to Mouse and the Boys, the Daybreakers, Soul Covered Glass, the Dalton Gang and the Coronadoes.
Take the Big Ape sounds and pair it with “The Himalaya” ride at the Myrtle Beach Pavilion and you have once upon a time teenagers remembering those beach weekends on the coast.
And they had real DJs that played music and cut up between the songs. There were no playlists generated by computer.