*** UPDATE: We are saddened
to report that
Bob Nelson passed away in early 2019.
At this time, the site has been preserved for those of you who enjoy this research. However, additions/corrections are on hold for now, until we determine who, if anyone will be the "new curator" of the call letter Origins.
(If you are interested in volunteering, let us know.)
The resource for Radio History on the Web is Barry Mishkind's Broadcast Archive at OLDRADIO, the primary site for this listing of broadcast call letter origins. Of course, there's much more information at OLDRADIO about pioneer radio stations, broadcast history and current industry issues as well.Copyright 1988-2020 by Barry Mishkind -
If you wish to contribute or make a correction, send e-mail in plain text form (no HTML accepted) to xxxx with the word ORIGINS included as part of the subject line.Last Modified - $Date: 2018-05-21 14:20:58-05 $
An an editorial aside, the collater of this list well remembers hearing a station with a similar callsign not too far from Cincinnati. It's WGTZ in Eaton, OH which had the memorable (and perfectly legal) hour ID of:
Many thanks to Mr. George DeVault, President, Holston Valley Broadcasting Corporation in Kingsport, Tennessee for an extensive list of new call letter origins and corrections.
In order to protect the privacy of those who responded via e-mail, attributions are not revealed here. However, an off-site database correlating the contributors to the call signs is maintained. All of the call letters in the list are provided by those who contribute using e-mail. I simply compile the listing, using a variety of text-processing tools on a Linux platform, based upon the information submitted in this manner.
Admittedly, some of the meanings may have been applied after the calls were randomly assigned. Also, given the rapid pace of change in broadcasting, call letters often migrate to another location and what was once meaningful in one city no longer pertains in the new locale.
The importance of call letters by radio stations has diminished over the years. In particular, changes in audience measurement methodology by Arbitron can track listening by means other than recalling a sequence of letters. In fact, broadcast facilities in a number of countries rarely, if ever, use the assigned callsign on the air, preferring to be known by a slogan that better brands the identity of the station.
An article concerning Southwest Airline's stock ticker symbol of LUV merits a mention. It's really not too much of a stretch to draw an analogy between a NYSE or NASDAQ symbol and broadcast call letters.
When NBC wanted that call in Los Angeles they changed the station call to KNBR. When Susquehanna Radio bought it there was some consideration of requesting the original three letter call from the FCC, but finally corporate decided that owning a three letter call 50 kW Clear Channel station (which the President really wanted) might be too confusing to the listeners, so it stayed KNBR. Now Cumulus.
The NBC FM station was first KNBC-FM; then KNBR-FM; then KNAI News And Information (short lived), then KYUU ("for you"), and a dozen different ones since then. I think now it is KFRC, although those of us that have been around for along time will always consider "KFRC" to be "The Big 610".
Another call sign, although not broadcast, history: PH was a maritime station started in 1905 at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. Letters were chosen as the "sine" following wireline telegraph practice. That station became KPH and is still licensed to Globe Wireless. I volunteer to operate and maintain the former KPH facility in Marin County that is now owned by the National Park Service. The KPH Project story can be found at the Maritime Radio Historical Society.
Other San Francisco call history.
KDFC, originally on 102.1 MHz started by and owned by Ed Davis, Sundial Broadcasting, is considered to be Damn Fine Classics.
KFOG's signature was a steam diaphone fog horn. It signed on as KBAY.
KSFR (long gone) was San Francisco Records.
All three stations were classical at one time. KDFC exists as a non-commercial station but still classical music.
KPOO was a Lorenzo Milam station. He thought that "POO" was as close to bad taste as the FCC would allow.
KGEI (now dark shortwave international broadcast) is General Electric International. Signed on as W6XBE.
KRCA we now know was the call sign used during WWII by RCA Communications for OWI international broadcast from KET/KPH transmitter site in Bolinas, CA.
I enjoyed looking at your website!
The station was founded by the Banker's Life Insurance Company in 1924, and the call letters WHO were chosen by Banker's Life President George Kuhns. There is some indication that the call letters may have been derived from a Banker's Life motto (We Help Others), but it is more likely Kuhns chose them because people searching the radio dial for stations would ask, "Who is it?".
We had to build the studios, the studio equipment and the transmitter and the connection to the power lines. We also had to rip up the floor in the basement because it was too 'bouncy' and the records jumped on the record players (this was before CDs). We found bowling alleys below the floor and had to cut them out also to get down to the foundation. (Try cutting up a hardwood bowling alley sometime!) The station was moved to Packer Hall when the student activities were concentrated there. To the best of my knowledge, it is in operation still, broadcasting music, news, commentary, and athletics, particularly football games and wrestling matches. We could not afford to rent phone lines, so we had local industries patch us through to their sales offices in the cities we needed to reach. We operated on 640 KC to minimize the radiation area. The FCC dropped by one time, but had no complaints.
In the early 30's George Barnes sold both stations to Don Lee, the Cadillac distributor and dealer. Don Lee was getting into the radio station business as was Earle C. Anthony [Packard - KFI - KECA] and C. S. Howard [Buick -- KFAC] Don Lee founded a West Coast network in 1931 or 32- first it was the Western extension of CBS, then later as the Don Lee Network it had 30 or 40 affiliates in CA, OR and WA. This was a part of the Mutual Broadcasting System. At that time only four O & O's [Owned and Operated] were allowed and the Don Lee O & O's were KHJ in LA, KGB in San Diego, KDB in Santa Barbara and KFRC in San Francisco.
KDB(AM) is no more. It changed calls (to KBKO) and is still on 1490 in Santa Barbara all Spanish speaking. KDB-FM has a fine website and is a wondrous station. All classical music - a cultural treasure. Last year I had a chat with the station manager on the telephone and in our conversation he reminded me of the origin of the calls KGB and KDB - being G)eorge and D)orothy B)arnes.
Been a radio listener since age of 5 in 1922. Remember KDKA first broadcast was in 1921? Well I was listening to WOR in Newark NJ with a crystal detector radio and earphones in 1922. Later in the twenties used to log as many AM stations as I could. Been an amateur radio operator for 70 years! From 1951 to 1982...worked for NBC-TV in many capacities, primarily as a Technical Director. None of it as much fun as the old AM radio days, working conbination [announcer/engineer] for $150 per MONTH!
WJDX 620 AM- Call sign stood for J)ackson D)istant X) - Transmitter (as in the old ham 'DX' lingo) Originally signed on in 1929 on 1270 KHz (later 1300 with the NARBA change of 1941). WRBC - R)ebel B)roadcasting C)ompany -- Originally on 620 AM Came up around 1948. In the Fall of 1952 WJDX and WRBC did a transmitter swap with WJDX going to 620 and WRBC to 1300. The switch was a boom for WJDX which went on to become Mississippi's premier AM station. WSLI 930 AM signed on in 1939 with the call sign meaning S)tandard L)ife I)nsurance company as their original owner. WSLI added WSLI TV in early 1953 on VHF Channel 12. WJDX AM added WLBT in December of 1953. WLBT = L)amar B)roadcast T)elevision for their original owners Lamar Life Insurance company. WLBT was first NBC / ABC on VHF Channel 3.
WJTV - J)ackson T)elevision Channel 25 came on the air with CBS programming, owned by the Hederman family, who also owned the Jackson Clarion-Ledger and Jackson Daily News newspapers. Both WSLI and WJTV had hard times in the beginning, with ABC's limited programming and UHF's limited patterns and receivers. Eventually Channel 25 went dark, WSLI's Channel 12 transmitter was sold to the Hederman family, became WJTV and kept CBS. ABC did not have another presence in the market until 1970 with the addition of WAPT Channel 16. WAPT = A)merican P)ublic T)elevision for their owners American Public Life Insurance.
WLBT / WJDX added WJDX-FM in the 60's @ 102.9 In the 70's the radio stations were sold and WJDX-FM became WZZQ-FM. Somewhere around 1980 WZZQ became WMSI-FM. Further shifts in ownership through out the '90s got things really confused. In the late 90's the original WJDX (620 AM) became WJDS and WJDX moved to 96.3 FM which was occupied by what was WSLI-FM.
Also noteworthy, albeit not topical to radio call letters, the designer and original implementer of the C++ programming languange, Bjarne Stroustrup is endowed chair in the in the Department of Computer Science at Texas A&M University. Much of what drives this site is possible due to Dr. Stroustrup's innovations in computer programming languages.
In the late 1960's, my first broacasting job was at WJJZ, Mt. Holly, NJ which was a 5kw directiional daytime station at 1460 Khz. The station at that time was owned (2nd owner) by West Jersey Broadcasting Company. The station originally was licensed in the early 1960's, about 1962-63, to Mt. Holly-Burlington Broadcasting Company, whose founder and President was John J. Farina, a gentleman from Newark, NJ Little did I know that in about 1971, I would work for Mr. Farina at another station he put on, WWLE, Cornwall, N.Y. During a conversation one night with John and another couple of fellows, both of whom I had worked with previously at WJJZ, I asked: "John, how/where did you come up with the idea for the call letters, WJJZ?" I asked, "Did it have to do with the first two letters/initials in your name, JJ?" He said, "No, no, that's what most people believe or speculate but that's not why I picked 'em." He said, "I wanted something to sound like "Jersey" but I couldn't get WJRZ because those calls were taken and so were WJZ which was in Baltimore. He said, "The only thing I could think of/come up with was to throw another J in there so the last three letters -- JJZ sounded like a long jayzee or jerzee."
Auldridge later swapped the 107.1 frequency for a CP to build a more powerful FM at 107.9 MHz. At that time, he changed calls of both the AM and CP to KAKS to foster the on-air slogans "108 Kiss FM" and "Classic Kiss 1550 AM". Eventually, the stations went through at least two other ownership changes before becoming part of the Cumulus group. Stations were given their current KZRK calls when previous ownership put the Z)-R)ock) format on the FM (Cumulus hasn't bothered to change them).
WDGO ran into some problems with its call letters. The owners use a scotty dog as a logo, so everybody referred to the station as WDOG. But the problem was compounded by an ad the station ran that had a typo in the call letters - you guessed it - WDOG.
WCLV has been a classical music station since the beginning, and when the latest consolidation sale in Cleveland goes through, WCLV will be the only locally owned FM station licensed to Cleveland. There is one low powered daytimer AM, WABQ, that is also locally owned. We are also the only commercial station in Cleveland not have changed its format in the 36 years we've been on the air. We have been broadcasting on the web at wclv.com since November of 1996.
While on the topic of WCLV, on 3 July 2001, seven Cleveland (including those in the Cleveland area) stations were involved in what is known as The Great Cleveland Radio Frequency Swap. From WCLV's President, Robert Conrad, comes this firsthand account:
WCLV-FM (classical) moved from 95.5 FM to 104.9 FM. WHK (1420 AM - Cleveland's original radio station) became the property of Radio Seaway and operates as WCLV AM. The call letters of WHK will move to 1220 AM (originally WGAR AM - more recently WKNR). The call letters of WKNR will move to 850 AM (originally WJW - more recently WRMR). The WRMR calls disappear and its intellectual property, format (big band and American standards) and some staff members move to WCLV AM. WASK moves from 104.9 to 96.5 in Akron. WKDD moves from 96.5 to 98.1 in Canton WHK-FM moves from 98.1 to 95.5 and becomes WFHM.
We're calling this the Great Cleveland Radio Frequency Swap. It's the biggest change of frequencies and formats in Ohio radio history, and maybe in the country. The format line up will be:
104.9 WCLV-FM - classical 1420 WCLV(AM) - classic pops 1220 WHK - religious 850 WKNR - sports/talk 96.5 WASK - rock (Kiss format) 98.1 WKDD - Hot AC 95.5 WFHM - Christian rock
In May, 1977 the FCC finally granted our CP. But by that time, the Town of Marshfield had purchased our proposed transmitter site as conservation land to raise coyotes and spotted turtles. We found another site but when we approached the town Zoning Board, hundreds of angry potential neighbors turned out to deep six the tower. That particular meeting was well reported in the local papers. Shortly thereafter a lady called to offer us six acres of woodland next to the town landfill. She thought we might have fewer problems locating a tower there. As she adeptly observed..."The landfill rats will be your closest neighbors. They don't vote and usually don't attend meetings." (We later discovered that a few of them did run for local office.)
When we went to the Zoning Board for tower approval at the landfill site, only a few people showed up to complain and the board approved our application on the spot. After the meeting we stopped at a local Chinese restaurant to celebrate and plan the next move which was our call letter request. There were four of us and we got a bit skunked. A lot skunked actually. Someone suggested we memorialize our zoning victory with the call letters WATD. We retired to our lawyer's office and banged out the request letter on his old IBM Selectric. We mailed the letter that evening.=20
A week later our station was officially WATD. It's a lasting tribute to the only place in town we could build a tower. WATD..."W)e're A)t T)he D)ump".
That was 23 years ago. In 1999 WATD was awarded the national Edward R. Murrow Award for Overall News Excellence. The station is one of the most honored in the state. We're usually sold out and run live 24 hours every day. But the dump is no more. On September 1, 2000 it officially became a "transfer station".
The WCVY call letters stand for C)ov)entry). We originally wanted WCHS, but that was in use C)h)arles)ton, West Virginia. We applied for WCVY and had to wait for approval from the US Navy, because WCVY had been assigned to some kind of merchant vessel from WWII days.
I am proud to say that many WCVY alumni are working in radio and television broadcasting today.
The primary emphasis remains on radio -- but significant television call letters are also included. Chicago's WTTW(TV) has an interesting and historic slogan associated with it: W)indow T)o T)he W)orld. That slogan is prominently displayed on their web page.
Although I realize that many call letters were simply assigned by the government, it is fascinating to trace the story of a radio station by its use of the call letters. For example, the random WBBM call letters assigned to Ralph Atlass in Chicago presented an opportunity to promote his station as the W)orld's B)est B)roadcast M)edium, W)e B)roadcast B)etter M)usic or W)e B)roadcast B)roadmoor M)usic.
Slogans were often "forced" upon these assigned call letters by contests involving listeners. As a result, Pittsburgh listeners heard that WJAS was the W)orld's J)olliest A)erial S)tation. Across the state, there was Philly's WNAT: W)e N)ever A)re T)ired in Philadelphia. (I'm sure this slogan predated W.C. Fields). Well-known Unix hacker and Open Source Evangelist, Eric S. Raymond, refers to this practice as a using a backronym.
There is the story that the FCC swapped by mistake the calls WALL and WMID, WMID was MIDdletown, NY and WALL for AtLantic City, NJ, this may just be an "urban legend." I think your data is correct.
Many of the calls of current stations were requested calls in their first incarnation -- WBCN originally belonged to a station in Chicago which was owned by a newspaper -- the calls were requested, and stood for World's Best Community Newspaper. I can tell you about a number of other stations that used to have requested calls -- WSSH was not Wish originally -- it was owned by the Tremont Baptist Church, and it stood for the "Stranger's Sabbath Home", referring to the hospitality the church showed to those who were new in town."
Note: Thanks to Mike Fitzpatrick, Engineer with WWLP-TV in Springfield, MA for corrections and updates made to Mr. Ross's narrative.
WBNW, Boston -- now WEZE -- was a business news station, affiliated with the Bloomberg Network. There was once a sister station in Providence called WPNW.
WAMH -- Amherst, Massachusetts -- student-operated station of Amherst and Hampshire Colleges. Originally, it was WAMF, Amherst College (Amherst FM, I suppose)
WBOQ (FM) Gloucester, MA. This classical-music station calls itself WBACH, and the call letters reflect that. The station was previously known as WVCA -- Voice of Cape Ann.
WCGY (FM) is now WQSX. For awhile, it was WEGQ, "The Eagle." This station began life around 1960 as WGHJ, which were the owner's initials. It was simulcasting programs from WCCM and eventually became WCCM-FM.
WCOP Boston is no longer WMEX. A couple of years ago, it became WROR temporarily, so that the owner could reserve the calls until they were ready to put them on one of their FM stations. Then it became WNFT ("Nifty 1150") until this year...
WEZE Boston originally stood for Easy Listening music. The present WEZE used to be WEEI, and the original WEZE is now WPZE. The two stations were bought by a religious broadcaster who called WPZE "Praise 1260," though now it is leased by Radio Disney.
WFCR (FM) in Amherst, MA was originally =four= college radio. Then the four-college consortium founded Hampshire College, in the late 60s, and it became Five College Radio.
There used to be a WFTQ in Worcester, at 1440, which called itself "14Q radio."
WHDH, Boston originally had studios on the water in Gloucester. Its calls never really stood for We Haul Dead Haddock, but it was often said that they did.
WJIB (FM) was given a nautical call because its studios, at the time, were located on Commercial Wharf, on the waterfront. It is no longer WCDJ and hasn't been for several years. The station began life in the 1940s as W1XHR, and then WXHR, which stood for Harvey Radio Laboratories, its owner. In the mid-1960s, it became WXHR-FM, when its then co-owned AM became WXHR(AM) and began simulcasting its classical music format. After the stations were sold, it became WJIB. The WCDJ calls went with a change to a smooth jazz format and apparently stood for CD-Jazz. It then became WBCS "We're Boston's Country Station." A couple of years ago, when its owners bought out the competing country station, WKLB-FM ("The Country Club"), WBCS became WKLB-FM. Not long after, the WKLB calls and format moved to 99.5 in Lowell, where they are now (formerly WOAZ, "The Oasis") and this station became WSJZ "Smooth Jazz" again. Just a week or two ago, the station changed to a talk format, and the new call letters are WTKK.
WJIB (AM) took those calls in order to take over the beautiful music format associated with WJIB (FM). That station began life in 1948 as WTAO, which stood for its dial position, 740. The T was supposed to represent a 7 and the A was supposed to be a 4. It became WXHR in the mid-1960s, as described above, for a couple of years. Then it became WCAS, which stood for Watertown, Cambridge, Arlington, Somerville. In bankruptcy, it became WLVG, and I don't know what that stood for. When Bob Bittner bought it, he first called it WWEA, for "Earth Radio" until the WJIB calls became available.
WKLB-FM, Lawrence, Mass. These calls originally were on 105.7 in Framingham. Its moves to its present station are described above. It was previously WVBF, which you have listed. When the country music format was adopted, it became WCLB, "The Country Club," but after the owners noticed a sudden precipitous jump in the ratings for classical music WCRB, they changed it to WKLB-FM. There is a WKLB (AM) in Kentucky, I think, which is unrelated. The original WKLB-FM (and WVBF) is now WROR.
WLLH -- I believe you have the order wrong. It's Lowell, Lawrence, Haverhill. The station has always been based in Lowell, with a synchronous transmitter in Lawrence.
WMBR (FM) studios are =still= located in Walker Memorial Basement at MIT. This station was formerly WTBS, "Technology Broadcasting System until Ted Turner came along and made it worth their while to change calls.
WMGT -- This is the original calls of the present WCDC, Channel 19 in North Adams, Massachusetts. The transmitter was (probably still is) located on Mt. Greylock. The present calls are a remnant of a three-station group in the 1950s called WCDA, WCDB, and WCDC, based in Albany. The CD stood for Capital District. WCDA was the main station, on channel 41, and the other two were relays. By the late 1950s, WCDA became WTEN, Channel 10 in Albany. WCDC still relays its programming. (WCDB signed off the air. WCDC still uses the same site as WMGT).
WMTW-TV, WMTW-FM This was the original calls of Channel 8 in Poland Springs, Maine, and an FM station, both of whose transmitters were located on Mount Washington, New Hampshire. (The calls are now WHOM).
WNRB, Boston -- used to be owned by National Religious Broadcasters. At one time in the 1980s, it was "WMRE, the Memory Station," playing pre-rock-era pop music. Before that it was WITS, "Weather, Information, Talk, Sports." It was originally WMEX, from the 1930s through the 1970s. In the late 50s and 60s, it was a popular Top 40 station, and because of that, when the former WCOP adopted an oldies format in 1985, it also adopted the WMEX calls.
WORL -- used to be a station in Boston. It was WRYT in the 70s and 80s. When the present owners tried to get back the original calls, the best they could get was WROL, which is the current calls.
WPLM -- At one time, they used the slogan "We Play Lovely Music."
WSNY -- These calls were once in Schenectady, New York. They also were once on 1150 in Boston.
WUPY, WUPI -- These were the calls of an ill-fated jazz station in Peabody, Massachusetts in the 1960s. The calls stood for "Whoopie."
WXYZ, Detroit -- supposedly the original owner, George W. Trendel, wanted these call letters to stand for "The Last Word in Broadcasting."
KWTC in Santa Ana had calls requested for "Kome West To California". The slogan was used from late 1926 through 1928 by KWTC. Its first broadcast was on 10 December 1926. The owner, Dr. John Wesley Hancock signed an advertising deal with an Orange County-based cereal called "Fig-Nuts", made by the California Fig-Nuts Company in Orange. The plan by Hancock was to sell Fig-Nuts to out-of-state listeners by mail-order. KWTC got a related slogan then, "The Date Station", since Fig-nuts was a combination of roasted figs, dates, walnuts, raisins and whole wheat.
Like most stations in the '20s, Hancock put KWTC on the air at night, when the signal could potentially skip out for hundreds of miles to DXers (distant listeners), under the right reception conditions. He reportedly had a car tour the country with a specially-equipped radio and antenna. The car would tour the west and midwest U.S., and pull into a different town each night. The engineer driving the car would tune into KWTC each night, reception permitting. The locals in town would then gather around the loudspeakers to hear the programs from Santa Ana, California and the Fig-Nuts commercials. KWTC and the slogan "Kome West To California" would be heard by as many listeners as possible, under this promotion by Doc Hancock.
(Dr. Hancock, incidentally, was an eye doctor, who got interested in broadcasting through amateur radio). Orange County historian Jim Sleeper told the Los Angeles Times in 1981 that he had no idea whatever became of Fig-Nuts, and there's no record of how many sales of the cereal came through the KWTC broadcasts!
KWTC became KREG, when it was owned by the Santa Ana Register newspaper. The paper eventually sold the station to Ernest Spencer and Wallace Wiggins and it became KVOE in 1936 for "Voice Of the Orange Empire". The calls were changed to KWIZ in 1954. An unconfirmed story is that calls were requested for "Quiz" since quiz shows were popular for a time on radio then.
During a 40th Anniversary program in 1993, the meaning of KSBW channel 8 in Salinas was given: "Salad Bowl of the World". (Salinas Valley, CA, was made famous by writer John Steinbeck).
I came across one of those obviously contrived call letter slogans created to fit the calls of a station that had been on the air for 2 years! This was from the Citizen's Radio Call Book of Fall-1924. It was for KFAW-Santa Ana (August 1922-November 1925) I found it on a site about low-power broadcasting...KFAW was only 10 watts. This said KFAW's slogan was "K)ept F)rom A)wful W)inters"!
I thought I knew all the meanings of the early Los Angeles radio stations, but recently, I did a websearch on KGEF, Los Angeles (1926 to 1932), and found a website on the First United Methodist Church, which had the slogan for KGEF radio. KGEF was owned by Rev. Robert P. Shuler, of Trinity Methodist Church in downtown L.A. He was also known as "Fightin" Bob Shuler, and no relation to the pastor who runs the Crystal Cathedral today in Garden Grove, CA.
This story on the website says KGEF stood for: K)eep G)od E)ver F)irst That may be entirely possible, though I have never seen it in print in any of the Los Angeles radio magazines of the day....Unknown if it was heard on the air on KGEF, but that is likely. These slogans were mostly created after the call letters were assigned, and KGEF got their call letters in December 1926, assigned in sequential order. Shuler lost his license for KGEF in 1932, due to his controversial broadacsts attacking Jews, Catholics, Blacks, and going after the sinners in the L.A. Hollywood community who he deemed to be corrupt, dishonest, immoral and such.
I found another meaning for KGEF, 1926-1932, from an individual who did a thesis on the station in 1975 for journalism class. He found KGEF not only stood for K)eep G)od E)ver F)irst, but they also made up this slogan, K)ind, G)entle, E)mphatic F)riend. I'm not sure if they mean the radio station or the pastor of the church, Bob Shuler, who owned the station and was pastor of Trinity Methodist Church where the KGEF studios were.
I also have evidence now that KMIC, Inglewood, California stood for K-MIC or K-Mike for microphone, since the station was co-owned by the Universal Microphone Company of Inglewood from 1927-1929. James R. Fouch was owner of KMIC and the microphone manufacturer. They were located in the same building, the old Inglewood Chamber of Commerce Building, then at 219 N. Market Street in Inglewood. However, there's no evidence that KMIC used such a slogan on the air and in radio program schedules of the day, they never printed information that the station also owned Universal Microphone Company.Today, KMIC is 1150-AM in Los Angeles, KXTA.
WFBC, Greenville, S.C. - We Foster Better Citizenship. My father-in-law, who grew up in Greenville County, has a transcription from WFBC, dated 1935, with that slogan on it. Also, to my knowledge, WFBC was not moved from Knoxville...it began right there in Greenville in 1933. WIS in Columbia, and WNOX in Knoxville swapped frequencies in the late 30's. They were owned by the same companies, allowing WIS founder (in a manner of speaking) G. Richard Shafto to move WNOX's 560 to Columbia, where it could increase power to 5kw daytime (1kw non-da at night, later 5kw da-n, to protect WQAM in Miami. The WIS da was among the first in the country, so I'm told.), and move WIS's 1010 (later moving to 990) to Knoxville, where it could also operate with 5kw daytime, 1kw non-da nighttime (later increasing to 10kw day and night...da at night).
WLBB, Carrollton, Ga. - I've heard about the Judge's supposed "Love of Butter Beans", but I don't think it's so. Bob Thorburn, long time manager of WLBB, says the calls were randomly assigned by the FCC, and that one the Judge's critics, because of the Judge's "healthy" appetite (he weighed over 350 pounds, and stood 6'6"), came up with the Butterbeans slogan. The Judge, who had a wicked sense of humor, took the slogan and...well, ran with it...serving on the bench for over 50 years.
WMOG, Brunswick, Ga. - Wonderful Marshes Of Glynn. Poem by Sydney Lanier. Brunswick is in Glynn County.
WORG, Orangeburg, S.C. - Watching Orangeburg's Rapid Growth. Original calls were WBPD, which were nucleus of co-owner, Clarence Jones' ham calls, W4BPD. WORG calls now on FM licensed to Elloree, S.C., with studios in Orangeburg. The 1580 AM facility has WPJK, We Proclaim Jesus King (it has religious format).
WTND, Orangeburg, S.C. - Founded by the Gressette family, owners of the Orangeburg Times And Democrat, locally referred to as the "T & D". Now silent.
WRNO, Orangeburg, S.C. - Radio iN Orangeburg. Later, WDIX in DIXie. Now silent.
WBAW, Barnwell, S.C. - Barnwell Allendale Williston
WSNW, Seneca, S.C. - Seneca aNd Walhalla
WCOS, Columbia, S.C. - Columbia's Own Station (WIS was owned by the Greenville based Liberty Life Insurance Co.)
WJHP, Jacksonville, Fl. - John H. Perry, founder of station (and owner of the Jacksonville Times-Union). Station (1320 AM) was later WZAZ (I think that was it), WVOJ, and WQIK-AM. Now WJGR.
WDLP, Panama City, Fl. - founded by John H. Perry, station was named for his wife, Dorothea Lindstrom Perry. Perry owned the Panama City News-Herald. Given Panama City's reputation as the "Redneck Riviera", many of the locals said the calls stood for We Drink Liquor Publicly. Station (590 AM) was later WGNE. Now WDIZ.
WMGA, Moultrie, Ga. - Watching Moultrie Grow Agriculturally. This station has operated on 3 frequencies...first on 1400, (250w...later 1kw-d/250w-n), then on 1130 (10kw-d/10kw da-ch/250w da-n), and now on 580 (900w-d/250w da-n).
WWNS, Statesboro, Ga. - Welcome to Where Nature Smiles. Interesting story...in the late 30's, Walter McDougald won a contest put on by the local Chamber Of Commerce. The contest was to come up with a slogan for the city of Statesboro. McDougald's slogan was "Where Nature Smiles and Progress Has the Right of Way". When Statesboro mayor Alfred Dorman built the station in 1946, he selected part of that slogan for the call sign. Four of Walter McDougald's sons would later have careers in broadcasting...Worth McDougald, (now retired) dean of the Henry Grady School of Journalism at the University of Georgia, Donald, who along with brothers Worth and Horace bought WWNS in 1958 (they sold it in 1975 for $800,000.00...just a tad more than the $85,000.00 they paid for it in '58), and Michael, who worked for WSB in Atlanta, built WCHK in Canton, Georgia, managed WAAX in Gadsden, Alabama, and owned WRGA-AM/WQTU-FM in Rome, Georgia, which he sold late last year. According to Mike, it was Statesboro having a station that made he and Worth pursue broadcasting as a career, with Don and Horace coming along later.
WPTB, Statesboro, Ga. - Wonderful Place To Be. Helen Rosengart's (one of the owners) 7 year old son came up with this one.
WCEH, Hawkinsville, Ga. - Cochran Eastman Hawkinsville. This regional (500w@610) had studios in all three towns, and broadcast daily from them into the mid-60's.
The original WGOG(AM) 1000 celebrated its 40th anniversary in April, 1999. Over those 4 decades the station has played everything from Country to the mainstream pop hits of the late 1960's. In 1991 new owner Luzanne Griffith was given an FM broadcast license and WGOG 96.3 FM began broadcasting in September, 1991. At that time the original WGOG was changed to a southern gospel format, which has proven to be very popular in the golden corner of South Carolina. Every weekend, "Solid Gospel AM 1000" boasts a great lineup of local gospel musician who come to the studio to host their own call in shows.
WGOG-FM is very popular with an Adult Contemporary format, local news and emphasis on college and high school sports. WGOG together has been an affiliate of the Clemson Sports Network for all of its 40 years. With the addition in 1991 of my brother, Dr. Gary Butts, to our staff, we have become the leader in bringing high school and college sports to the Upstate of South Carolina on the weekends.
In your call letter list, you mention KANS and KVGB. The KANS calls have been used in three different locations. First used in Wichita, the letters were on 1240 until the station changed frequencies to 1480 after WWII. (This station in time became top 40 outlet KLEO, and currently is the home to all sports KQAM). The second home to the calls was in Larned, which is on your list. This station on 1510 went on the air in 1963 and added an FM a few years later. Eventually, KANS-FM would become KQDF and later KGTR, it's current calls. KANS-FM is currently licensed to an Osage City licensed station on 92.9 (studio in Emporia). The Osage City and Larned stations were for a time under common ownership, and the Larned AM calls became KNNS after those stations were sold, with the KANS calls retained in Osage City/Emporia.
KVGB in Great Bend also has a second meaning to it's call letters. It also was known as K)ansas V)oice of the G)olden B)elt, in reference to the area of Kansas where Great Bend is located (from the Golden Belt Highway, or US 40 between Kansas City and Denver)
Three stations derive their call signs from Kanza, the indian tribe for which Kansas is named. They are KNZA in Hiawatha, KANZ in Garden City and KZNA in Hill City (the latter is a satellite for KANZ).
There are a number of cases in Kansas where parts of calls letters signify the past or current ownership. On radio, the LS suffix is derived from the initials of L)arry S)teckline, who built or bought a chain of radio stations he sold off the last of a couple of years ago. The LS calls were placed on a total of 11 stations over the years, first on KJLS in Hays in the early 70's, then to KWLS-KGLS Pratt and KSLS Liberal in the late 70's, then to KXLS Alva/Enid, OK and WWLS Moore, OK (old WNAD in Norman), and KQLS Colby in the Early 80's. Later on we would see KILS, first in Liberal (now KYUU) now at Minneapolis, KS (Salina), KOLS Dodge City (former KDCK), KZLS Great Bend (was KZXL), KBLS North Fort Riley, and KLLS Augusta/Wichita.
Two groups of TV (in Kansas) stations have common call sign prefixes. The NBC stations in Kansas begin with KSN, for K)ansas S)tate N)etwork (KSNW Wicihta, KSNC Great Bend (the C for Central), KSNG Garden City and KSNK Oberlin KS/McCook NE, and KSNT Topeka). KSN at one time also owned KSNF Joplin, MO, with the F denoting their coverage of four states. KWCH Wichita operates a chain in Western Kanas under the Kansas Broadcasting System moniker (KBSD Ensign/Dodge City, KBSH Hays, and KBSL Goodland).
Sometime, I or someone is going to have to sit down and write a history of Kansas broadcasting. In over 75 years, there have been more than a few legends made on the airwaves of the Sunflower State.
However, the original intent or meaning behind the call letters could have been somewhat different. I remember working there in 1985 when someone found and purchased for the radio station a large, old electric clock at some antique store. This beautiful black glass clock was some sort of promotional item that advertised the radio station's call letters. The letters K-V-G-B were very big and prominent on the clock and following the big letters, words were spelled out. Like this:
K)ansas' V)ast G)rain B)elt
I'm no expert on electric clocks but I'd guess that the clock dated back to at least the late 1930s or early 1940s (because of its triangular art deco design). I no longer work at KVGB AM FM...but I know many people who are still there. I should give them a call sometime and ask whether that clock is still hanging around the station somewhere.
Anyhow...this alternative slogan seems to be just another possibility when it comes to the origins of K-V-G-B. Of course, in the years that I worked there (mid 80s through 1992), we said Voice of the Golden Belt on the air.
KREX-TV Grand Junction KREY-TV Montrose KREG-TV Glenwood SpringsIn the Sixties, KREZ-TV, Durango, was part of the group, which referred to itself as the "XYZ Television Network".
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