A strictly private wedding ceremony open to the public!
That's just what will take place next Saturday evening at Station WPTF in Studio No. 1 when Miss Margaret Fussell, staff pianist, and H. Felton Williams, radio engineer, speak their marriage vows before the microphone. Rev. E. Gibson Davis pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church, will officiate.
The studio ceremony comes as the culmination of a real radio romance which began about a month ago.
It will be the first wedding to be broadcast over radio in Raleigh, and so far as H. K. Carpenter, head-man at the Station, is able to determine, it will be the first time it has been done in the South.
The first marriage ceremony to go on the air was that of Wendell Hall, the "red-headed music-maker" of Station WLW in Cincinnati, Ohio, which took place in 1924. His bride was a member of the staff of that station.
The program of the wedding will consume 30 minutes of the day's broadcast, being on the air from 6:15 o'clock until 6:45 o'clock. After the ceremony, regular programs scheduled for the evening will continue from the studios.
The staff orchestra, The Blue Birds, will play the wedding music, Claiborn Mangum singing the nuptial numbers, Kingham Scott will preside at the organ, playing the wedding march.
Since the ceremony will be witnessed only by staff members and the families of the contracting parties, the studios will be closed to the public from 5 o'clock until 10 o'clock Saturday evening. The studio with its decoration, altar, and wedding setting will be open for inspection from Saturday at noon until 5 o'clock and all day Sunday so that those who would like to view the scene of the event may do so.
Following the ceremony, the bridal couple will be feted at a studio reception tendered them by their co-workers. During the ceremony there will be no one in the studio except those who have, of necessity, to be there. Staff members will view the scene from the reception hall.
Miss Fussell and Mr. Williams are not the ones who conceived the idea of having their wedding broadcast. It was Mr. Carpenter who had the happy thought. And if it hadn't been for Mr. Carpenter's detective ability, or his insight into the hearts, so to speak, of those with whom he comes into daily contact, there would be no studio ceremony.
"You know," said Mr. Carpenter, "I had a notion that something was up between those two, and it was just a few days ago that I got it out of Williams. He was back at the controls and I had him where he had to stay put, and so I gave him the third degree -- put him on the spot. I even accused him of being married already and told him I was going to announce that fact when I went on the air.... Well, he came across all right, not right at that moment, but he made me promise that I would not say anything that night and he'd tell me the truth of the whole situation. So, here you are, or rather, here they are."
Miss Fussell and Mr. Williams were rather non-committal concerning the affair. It seems that the announcement has had a devastating effect upon the morale of the staff. "We've hardly been able to get anything done," said Miss Fussell, "and our plans are by no means complete."
"We don't in the least mind having the ceremony go on the air," said Miss Fussell. "We're both so much at home here that it seems the natural thing to do. Of course, the folks here have kidded us a good deal and all of us are pretty much excited about it."
Mr. Williams, when told by Mr. Carpenter that the newspaper wanted a story on the affair ... said, "I'd better look out or I'll have to go around this town wearing black glasses and a mustache."
Kingham Scott, staff organist and funny-bone tickler, has written a clever parody on the broadcast of the ceremony. This, of course, is entirely aside from the actual ceremony and will probably be used in the Wupetyfuf Revue this week. ...
The bride-to-be is popularly known as "Peggy" Fussell. She is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. D. C. Fussell, of Goldsboro. She lived in Raleigh for several years before becoming associated with the radio station. She studied music under Mrs. W. J. Ferrell of this city and from the Southern Conservatory of Music in Durham. She made her radio debut in the fall of 1928, appearing from time to time on special programs. For about a year she has been a staff pianist and is well known to radio fans, and some time she has been singing before the microphone, playing her own accompaniment. The radio audience has been frequently entertained by Miss Fussell's own compositions which are of the popular type.
Mr. Williams is the son of Mr. and Mrs. H. E. Williams of this city and has between 8 and 9 years' experience in radio work. He is audio engineer at WPTF and has been with the local station about a year and a half.... His duties at the station consist of working at the control board, switching studios, checking remote control broadcasts and keeping the sound output at a constant level.
Controlling the volume of the tone of various speakers before the microphone, Mr. Williams has to increase and decrease the power according to the voice of the person broadcasting. "I told them," he said, "to be sure to get Peggy up close to the mike during the ceremony because her volume is low."
The engineer who will be at the controls when the wedding takes place jokingly said "When Felton says 'I do" I'm going to turn the volume up as low as possible, and when Peggy says it, I'm going to make it very low."
"We think it's going to be pretty nice having the wedding broadcast," said Miss Fussell, "especially since Mother and Dad may not be able to get there, then they can hear it all, even if they can't see us."
Mr. Carpenter is very enthusiastic about the whole plan and thinks it should prove a big success. "I hope," he said , "that the audience will get the spirit of this thing as we mean for them to get it and not look upon it as some publicity stunt, because it isn't"
And it isn't. To these two young people so perfectly at home among the staff of the station consider it the perfectly natural thing to have their wedding attended by their friends and heard by those to whose moods they cater each day. -- The News and Observer 2/22/1931