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WBT
Wbtlogo.png
City of license Charlotte, North Carolina
Broadcast area Charlotte metropolitan area
Branding News/Talk 1110
Slogan Charlotte's News, Weather, and Traffic Station
Frequency 1110 kHz (AM)
99.3 MHz (FM)
First air date AM: April 10, 1922 (originally experimental as 4XD from December 19, 1920 - April 9, 1922)
FM: August 30th, 1969
Format News/Talk
Power 50,000 Watts (AM)
ERP 7,700 Watts (FM)
Class Class A AM Station
Class C3 FM Station
Transmitter coordinates 35°7′56.00″N 80°53′23.00″W / 35.13222°N 80.88972°W / 35.13222; -80.88972 (AM)
34°47′30.00″N 81°16′6.00″W / 34.79167°N 81.26833°W / 34.79167; -81.26833 (FM)
Callsign meaning randomly assigned by FCC; unofficially meant Watch Buicks Travel while it was owned by a local Buick dealer
Owner Greater Media
Webcast WBT-AM Live Feed
Website wbt.com

WBT (known on air as News Talk 1110) is a 50,000 watt clear-channel radio station in Charlotte, North Carolina, broadcasting on the AM dial at 1110 kHz. It simulcasts on WBT-FM, at 99.3 MHz in Chester, South Carolina. It is owned by Greater Media. The station's studios are located just west of uptown Charlotte, while its transmitter is located in the southern part of the city.

Contents

Programming

The station relies mostly on locally-produced talk shows and offers podcasts of its local shows on its official site. Like many talk radio stations, WBT's programming tends to lean to the right of the political spectrum and presents news, weather, and traffic reports each half hour. On weekdays, the station offers a four-hour morning drive-time newscast with co-hosts Al Gardner and Stacey Simms, and local hosts Keith Larson, Tara Servatius, John Hancock and Pete Kaliner, as well as the syndicated Rush Limbaugh, Neal Boortz (which is tape delayed), and The Mutual Fund Show with Adam Bold and Coast to Coast AM with George Noory programs.

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Weekday News Talk

Each weekday, WBT offers five local shows:

From 5 a.m. to 9 a.m., Al Gardner and Stacey Simms co-host a morning show entitled "Charlotte's Morning News with Al Gardner and Stacey Simms." Their website advertises "Get all the news to start your day with Charlotte's Morning News with Al Gardner & Stacey Simms, plus weather and traffic every 10 minutes. Weekdays from 5am-9am on News Talk 1110 WBT!"

Keith Larson hosts his own show from 9 a.m. to 12 noon. Larson, a former advertising executive, cracks open the microphone each weekday morning to discuss local and national issues important to the Charlotte community. Keith is in touch with the pulse of his listeners and, more importantly, uses the tools he's been given to make Charlotte a better place to live.

The 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. time slot is anchored by Tara Servatius. She recently switched from the 9:00pm to midnight slot to the 3:00pm to 6:00pm after the previous host, Jeff Katz, was fired for unknown reasons. Her website says, "The Tara Servatius show is a mixture of local and national commentary, interviews and forensic journalism from the perspective of a life-long Charlottean. Weekdays from 3pm to 6pm."

John Hancock, "Charlotte's Beloved," is the host for the 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. slot. His website describes his show: "Since 1990, John Hancock has been "Charlotte's Most Beloved!" Join us weeknights from 6pm-9pm for "Talk-lectic" programming! You name it... we've talked about it: Politics, Local Issues, Pop Culture, Music, Sports, Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll... yes... all of the above... and then some..."

The 9 p.m. to midnight show is hosted by Pete Kaliner. He is the newest addition to the weekday team after taking Tara Servatius's spot when she moved to the 3:00pm slot. Before moving to the late-night slot, Kaliner spent nearly a decade as a reporter in the WBT newsroom.

Sports

WBT is the flagship station of the Carolina Panthers. It was the flagship of the Charlotte Hornets from the team's debut in 1988 until the team moved to New Orleans in 2002. It was also the Charlotte home of the University of North Carolina Tar Heels from 1977 to 1991 and again from 1995 to 2006. From 1991 to 1995, it was the Charlotte-area home of the Duke Blue Devils.

Past programming

Past hosts include "Hello" Henry Boggan, H.A. Thompson, Ty Boyd, Grady Cole, "Rockin'" Ray Gooding, Bob Lacey, and Jason Lewis.

Don Russell is the station's longest-tenured personality, having worked at the station on six separate occasions since the 1970s. He currently hosts the weekend version of Charlotte's Morning News.

History

The station dates to December 1920, when Fred Laxton, Earle Gluck and Fred Bunker set up an amateur radio station in Laxton's home. Four months later, the station received an experimental license as 4XD. The trio decided to go commercial in 1922, and incorporated as the Southern Radio Corporation. In April, the station signed on as the first fully-licensed radio station south of Washington, D.C. WSB in Atlanta was the first station in the Southeast to actually broadcast, a month before WBT. However, the Commerce Department only authorized WSB to broadcast weather reports until it received its license a few months after WBT.

In 1925, the original owners sold WBT to Charlotte Buick dealer C.C. Coddington, who promoted both the radio station and his auto dealership with the slogan "Watch Buicks Travel." Coddington located the station's transmitter site at a farm property he owned on Nations Ford Road in south Charlotte, where it remains today. He sold WBT to the two-year-old CBS network in 1929, beginning a relationship between the station and the network which also continues today. A series of power increases brought the station to its current 50,000 watts. New FCC regulations forced CBS to sell the station to Jefferson Standard Life Insurance Company, forerunner of Jefferson-Pilot, in 1945, though it remained a CBS affiliate. Jefferson Standard signed on Charlotte's first television station, WBTV, as well as an FM station that eventually became WLNK. (WBT co-founder Earle Gluck was later a partner in competitor WSOC, and was the first president of WSOC-TV when it launched in 1957.)

In 1925, Freeman Gosden and Charlie Correll started a comedy show carried by WBT that was a forerunner to Amos and Andy.[1]. Russ Hodges, later famous as the radio voice of the New York/San Francisco Giants, worked for a time at WBT.

For much of its history, WBT aired a variety of programming including news, sports, soap operas, and musical programs such as "Arthur Smith and the Crackerjacks." Smith, best known for writing the song that became the Deliverance theme "Dueling Banjos," went to work at WBT at age 20 at the invitation of station manager Charles Crutchfield. He played guitar and fiddle for musical programs on WBT before getting his own show.[1][2] Crutchfield believed that Charlotte, not Nashville, could have ended up being the country music capital because of the station's early "Briarhoppers" and "Carolina Hayride" shows, which may have inspired The Grand Ole Opry.[3] Country music continued at night on WBT until the late 1970s, with Larry James reaching 22 states and Canada starting in 1975, and awarded CMA DJ of the year for 1978.[4]

Grady Cole was WBT morning host for 32 years, replaced in 1961 by Ty Boyd, who hosted the morning show until 1973, playing such artists as Duke Ellington, Peggy Lee and Petula Clark. Then he moved to WBTV. He returned to WBT in 2008 to co-host the morning show while its regular hosts took time off.[5]

WBT was the number one station in Charlotte for many years; among its employees were Charles Kuralt and Nelson Benton. But by 1970, WBT was down to number nine, and national advertising representative Blair Radio Network wanted ratings to improve. Jefferson Standard did not like the idea of change, but Blair enlisted Mel Goldberg to research what programming Charlotte needed. Even Crutchfield gave in, and WBT let go 28 staffers and spent $200,000 on changes that included new studios. The station dropped CBS and many programs that advertisers supported but which didn't attract enough listeners.

On March 15, 1971, WBT switched to adult contemporary music during the day; Rob Hunter and H. A. Thompson were new DJs. Bob Lacey started at WBT in 1972 with a nighttime talk show "Lacey Listens". Two years later, WBT had reached number one again, reaching the highest Arbitron numbers on record to this day. WBT won Billboard adult contemporary station of the year in 1976 and 1978. In 1979, "Hello Henry" Boggan began his nighttime talk show.[6][7]

Talk programming continued to increase on WBT through the 1980s, mostly at night. Larry King moved from WSOC and stayed on WBT until 1987, when WBT decided its NBC affiliation needed to take priority over Mutual Broadcasting System requirements. Bruce Williams' NBC show Talknet replaced King. WBT expanded "Hello Henry" and its "Sports Huddle" program.[8]

For their entire 14 years in Charlotte, starting with the inaugural 1988-89 season, WBT aired the games of the NBA Hornets.[9][10]

WBT made changes to its format on December 10, 1990, hoping to attract more women. The station dropped James K. Flynn, Thompson and Tom Desio, generating numerous protests. Don Russell had hosted "Russell & Flynn" in the morning; the show was renamed "Russell & Friends." John Hancock became midday host, and WBTV personalities Mike and Barbara McKay began an afternoon program. Boggan, whose show had run in the afternoon, returned to his evening slot, replacing Desio, but was sometimes pre-empted by sports programs. WBT also switched its network affiliation from NBC to CBS on December 21[11][12]

WBT was not the first Charlotte-area station to air Rush Limbaugh. WADA in Shelby, WSIC in Statesville and WHKY in Hickory preceded WBT.[13] But on September 3, 1991, WBT dropped the McKays to become the 400th station to air the conservative talk show host.[14]

WBT aired games of the NFL Carolina Panthers from the 1995 inaugural season until 1999, returning as the team's flagship station in 2005.[15]

Also in 1995, Jefferson-Pilot bought WBZK-FM (which signed on August 30, 1969) in Chester to improve its nighttime coverage in the Charlotte area. The AM station must adjust its coverage at night (see below), resulting in spotty coverage in much of the western portion of the area. Soon after the purchase, WBZK's calls became WBT-FM. The transmitter is located 40 miles southwest of Charlotte. WBT-FM almost always simulcasts its AM sister, although the two have occasionally carried different programming. For example, in 1998 and 1999, the FM station carried audio of the Bill Clinton impeachment proceedings, while the AM station continued with its regularly scheduled programs.

Lincoln Financial Group bought Jefferson-Pilot in 2006. The merged company retained Jefferson-Pilot's broadcasting division, renaming it Lincoln Financial Media. In January 2008, Lincoln Financial sold WBT-AM-FM and WLNK to Greater Media of Braintree, Massachusetts. It sold its three television stations, including WBTV, to Raycom Media--thus breaking up Charlotte's last heritage radio/television cluster. Greater Media had long wanted to expand into the fast-growing Charlotte market; its owner had wanted to buy WBT after hearing its signal at night on Cape Cod.

Broadcasting

WBT's unusual diamond-shaped antennas (called Blaw-Knox Towers), make up three of only eight still operational in the United States. In the morning hours of September 22, 1989, Hurricane Hugo slammed into Charlotte. The storm severely damaged two of WBT's towers and nearly killed station engineer Bob White. The FCC approved WBT to operate on a full-power non-directional pattern for the next year while the two damaged towers were rebuilt.

Despite its clear-channel status, WBT's signal is spotty at best in some parts of the Charlotte metropolitan area at night because it must adjust its coverage at sundown to protect co-located KFAB in Omaha, Nebraska. Even though WBT must direct its signal north-south as a result, its nighttime signal still reaches parts of 22 states (including much of the country east of the Mississippi River) as well as portions of Ontario and Quebec. It can also be heard in some Caribbean islands. During the day, it provides at least grade B coverage as far as the fringes of the Columbia, Upstate and Piedmont Triad areas.

For many years, WBT boasted that it could be heard "from Maine to Miami" at night.

References

  1. ^ a b Kay McFadden, "WBT's Been on the Air for 75 Years," The Charlotte Observer, April 10, 1997.
  2. ^ http://www.kenilworthmedia.com/cv/ourstate/people/arthur_smith.htm, Retrieved on 2008/10/28.
  3. ^ Tom Minehart, "Country's Capital Could Have Been Charlotte," Chicago Tribune, November 19, 1985.
  4. ^ "Where are they now?". http://www.angelfire.com/weird2/georgia/page15.html. Retrieved 2010-01-05.  
  5. ^ Mark Washburn, "Ty Boyd Will Be Back on the Radio Monday," The Charlotte Observer, July 5, 2008.
  6. ^ McMurray, Tom. "Magic Happened Here". reelradio.com. http://www.reelradio.com/ideas/index.html#wbtgmrh. Retrieved 2010-01-05.  
  7. ^ "The History of WBT". http://wbt.com/programming/history.cfm;jsessionid=2a30597873dacd809d612111477434a6b300?decade=1970. Retrieved 2010/01/05.  
  8. ^ Jeff Borden, "Larry King Dethroned by WBT," The Charlotte Observer, October 1, 1987.
  9. ^ Spanberg, Erik (2000-04-07). "WBT-Hornets radio deal hits crunch time". Charlotte Business Journal. http://charlotte.bizjournals.com/charlotte/stories/2000/04/10/story4.html. Retrieved 2010-01-05.  
  10. ^ "WBT contract extended". nba.com. 2001-10-04. http://www.nba.com/hornets/news/wbt_extension.html. Retrieved 2010-01-05.  
  11. ^ Tim Funk, "WBT Pair Lose Jobs in Shakeup," The Charlotte Observer, December 7, 1990.
  12. ^ Tim Funk, "WBT Radio Lineup Seeks Change of Image," The Charlotte Observer, Tuesday, December 11, 1990.
  13. ^ Tim Funk, "Listen Up: From 'Radio Free Bubba' to 'The Shadow,' Area Radio's Ready to Turn You On," The Charlotte Observer, July 12, 1991.
  14. ^ Diane Suchetka, "Rush Limbaugh's Replacing McKays on WBT Talk Show," The Charlotte Observer, September 2, 1991.
  15. ^ Spanberg, Erik (2005-05-12). "Panthers headed back to WBT-AM". Charlotte Business Journal. http://www.bizjournals.com/charlotte/stories/2005/05/09/daily44.html?jst=b_ln_hl. Retrieved 2010-01-05.  

External links

Coordinates: 35°07′56″N 80°53′23″W / 35.132222°N 80.889722°W / 35.132222; -80.889722


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