Friday, August 31, 2012

The Sprayberry Academy of Radio

If you mail it in now, today, get ready for your place in Radio Television! Not really, but inexplicably there still are radio schools in America.The Sprayberry Academy of Radio was a correspondence school from the height of the golden era. It existed for about 15 years operating from at least half a dozen different locations then vanished overnight. The first address I've found was from 1943: 610-K University Place NW, Washington (9) D.C. That first booklet he's selling is called "HOW TO MAKE MONEY IN RADIO."

In 1944 Frank L. Sprayberry began appearing in ads in magazines like Radio Craft, Mechanix Illustrated, Popular Science, Radio Electronics, Radio News, and others. The ads were often full page, with color. The mailing address for the Sprayberry Academy of Radio in these early ads was always in Pueblo Colorado but it did change a bit. Somtimes it was Room 5568, Room 2055, or Room 1088, one time it's listed as dept 55-L but always in the Sprayberry Building or just "1118 Sprayberry Building." I suspect the varied room numbers are bogus and only meant to identify specific advertisements as generating the business revenue. The ads began mentioning television as early as 1948. But the Pueblo location always lacks a street address. I've had no luck locating the mysterious Sprayberry Building. I believe that it was actually a PO Box. The earliest ad I found was in 1944 and it lists the address as Box 500RF. More here.

But early on they also used an address in Chicago: 20 N. Wacker Drive Chicago. That is the address of a 45-story skyscraper known as the Civic Opera Building built in 1929. Many of the lesson books from the school bear this address. Around 1956 they began using a different Chicago address: Dept 10-J, 111 N. Canal Street, Chicago 6 Ill. The block is now mixed use with both condos, offices and retailers sharing space.  In 1957, just a year later there's a new address again: 1512 Jarvis Avenue, Chicago 26, Ill. that lot now belongs to a Public Storage company. More here.

In 1958 the ads got smaller but were still going with the Jarvis Avenue address. But the real change was in management. The company president abruptly changed from Frank L. Sprayberry to Mason R. Warner. Warner was the owner of the Mason Warner Company, located at 221 N. LaSalle Chicago. It was an advertising company. You dont have to think too hard on how he might have gotten involved with Sprayberry. Prior to that Sprayberry had appeared as a floating head sporting the new title "Educational Director," but there was no mention of Mr. Warner. It's hard to date when the change  occurred. Sprayberry Academy appearances in advertisements and catalogs cease before 1960. It is in that year I find a short death notice in an issue of radio Electronics. They dedicated one whole sentence to a man who'd been buying full page ads for over a decade. "Frank Sprayberry, founder of the Sprayberry Academy of Radio & TV and widely known in the electronic industry, died at his home in Delray Fla."