Live Wire Fund

In 1945, the Live Wire Fund came to fruition with Maxwell Kelch, owner of KENO (Las Vegas’ first permanent radio station) at its helm. Pop Squires wrote in the Las Vegas Age newspaper, “All businessmen should join in the campaign to spread the fame of Las Vegas to  every part of the country in preparation for the vast surge of travel which the end of the war will start.”

Chamber members pledged between 1 and 5 percent of their gross profits, with local resorts promising to match the figure up to $50,000. The Fund was an immediate and clear success, raising $84,000 in its first year. With the funds, the Chamber hired the Walter Thompson Agency, and then later switched to the West-Marquis firm in 1947. The firm created the first image of Vegas Vic, with the tagline “Howdy Podner.” The artwork was later transformed into the iconic neon sign still seen on Fremont Street today.

The Live Wire Fund created a major push after World War II to bring tourism and hospitality to Las Vegas, and played a major role in establishing legitimate gaming and hospitality as the city’s main industry.


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