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City of license Raleigh, North Carolina
Broadcast area The Triangle (North Carolina)
Frequency 850 kHz
Format Oldies
Audience share 1.2 (Fa'07, R&R[1])
Power 10,000 watts day
5,000 watts night
Class B
Facility ID 888
Transmitter coordinates 35°48′4.00″N 78°48′51.00″W / 35.80111°N 78.81417°W / 35.80111; -78.81417
Callsign meaning We're Raleigh's BuZz
Former callsigns WNAO (1947-1959), WKIX (1959-1994), WYLT (1994-1995)
Owner Curtis Media

WRBZ (850 AM) is a radio station broadcasting an oldies format. Licensed to Raleigh, North Carolina, USA, the station serves the Research Triangle, North Carolina area. The station is currently owned by Curtis Media Group.[2]


WNAO radio, which signed on in 1947, was owned by the News and Observer newspaper. As of 1948, WNAO was an ABC radio affiliate. WNAO-FM was added in 1949. The Raleigh-Durham market's first TV station, WNAO-TV, signed on at Channel 28 in 1953 but went off the air in 1959. In 1958, Hugh Holder bought the radio stations and renamed them WKIX and WKIX-FM.[3] The FM continued to air the AM station's programming (due to a limited nighttime signal on the AM) until it became easy listening WYYD in the 1970s.

WKIX was originally a top 40 radio station owned by Southern Broadcasting and serving the Raleigh market. Called 85-WKIX, the station was one of the most successful top-40 outlets in the country from the 1950s through the late 1970s when FM began to dominate the music formats. WKIX was at one time owned by Mann Media and the slogan was the "10,000 watt Giant of the South".

WKIX in the 1970s had a strong news department, with such news icons as: Bill Leslie, who is now at WRAL-TV; Mike Blackmon, who went onto WPTF Radio; Scott White, who later went onto WBT-AM Charlotte; Steven Reid; and J. Paul McGonagal. WKIX had what is called "20/20" news. News brief at 20 past the hour and a full newscast at 20 before the hour. This was very effective since most other Triangle stations had news at the top of the hour, bottom of the hour or at 55 past the hour.

WKIX was home to some legendary names in North Carolina radio including Dale Van Horn, Pat Patterson, Ron McKay, Mike Mitchell, Mark Mitchell, Bob Bolton, Bill Flynn, Russ Spooner, Gary Edens, Tommy Walker[citation needed], Charlie Brown, Rick Dees[4], Doug Limerick[5] and others.

WKIX changed format to Country in the summer of 1981, with such announcers as Joe Wade Formacola, who had come down from WWWW (4W) Detroit and Jay Butler, a graduate of the Central Carolina Technical Institute Radio-TV program, who later went to WQDR, where he stayed for many years as morning personality. WKIX became the first significant country station in the Raleigh market. After several years of ratings success, WQDR changed to country on Labor Day in September 1984 and shortly after, WKIX went oldies on Wednesday September 17, 1986 at 4:00 PM. The first DJ on the air after the format switch was Dale Van Horn and first song played was the Rolling Stones "Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown".

From 1990 to 1995 the format was satellite adult standards with some talk shows and sports programming. The letters changed to WYLT in 1994 when the co-owned FM station traded letters with the AM.[6] The station went all-talk in 1995 but gradually added more sports programming[7] before becoming an all-sports radio station in April 1998.

Former logo

Don Curtis of Curtis Media had planned to buy WRBZ from Alchemy Communications early in 2005 but was prevented by FCC rules from owning any more stations. His son-in-law Billy McClatchey bought the station instead.[8]

For six years, The Buzz was an ESPN Radio affiliate. When ESPN insisted that The Buzz carry its shows instead of local programming, The Buzz changed to Fox Sports Radio effective August 1, 2005.[9] Unlike sister station WDNC which relied more on network programming from ESPN, WRBZ's lineup consisted almost entirely of locally produced sports talk local programming from morning hosts Adam Gold, Joe Ovies and Tony Rigsbee; David Glenn; and Morgan Patrick (the Sports Pig). Jim Rome's weekday afternoon show and network programming from Fox Sports Radio on weekend afternoons and daily overnights rounded out the lineup[citation needed]. Until October 2008, WRBZ aired The Herd with Colin Cowherd, from ESPN; both WDNC and WRBZ dropped ESPN programming because the network wanted a stronger commitment than McClatchey was willing to provide.[10]

The Don Imus morning show aired on WRBZ from the time the station switched to sports until the Rutgers University controversy that caused CBS to drop his show.[7][11].

WRBZ was the second flagship station of the Carolina Hurricanes. When the team moved there from Hartford, Connecticut, in 1997, WPTF was the first flagship station. WRBZ later carried Duke University football and basketball games, Carolina Panthers football games, select East Carolina University football games, the Roy Williams and Butch Davis shows, and several other seasonal play by play games.

WRBZ celebrated 10 years in the sports radio format on April 10, 2008, with a special guest hosting appearance by The Fabulous Sports Babe, who has largely been in retirement since 2001.[12]

On August 10, 2009, Curtis Media Group announced an intent to purchase WRBZ from McClatchey Broadcasting, with plans to convert the sports-talk station to a music format. Gold and Ovies moved to former sister station WDNC to host a local morning program, while David Glenn hosts an afternoon show on WCMC-FM.[13]

Early in 2010, WRBZ ended a simulcast of sports talk to switch to oldies from the late 50s and the 60s, with a few 70s tunes. The playlist started with 3000 songs but was expected to be reduced. The target audience is 55 to 70.[14]


  1. ^ "Raleigh Market Ratings". Radio & Records. 
  2. ^ "WRBZ Facility Record". United States Federal Communications Commission, audio division. 
  3. ^ "Raleigh, Durham, Cary, Chapel Hill Radio History". Retrieved 2008-05-07. 
  4. ^ "NAB Award Winner--Rick Dees". Radio Journal. April 2007 Special NAB Convention Issue. Retrieved 24 March 2009. 
  5. ^ Clark, Rebecca (13 March 2009). "Shelby Native Set to Take Paul Harvey's Timeslot on ABC Radio". Shelby Star. Retrieved 24 March 2009. 
  6. ^ David Menconi, "WYLT Changes Format, Call Letters - Station Chucks Alternative Rock for Country Digs", The News & Observer, January 5, 1994.
  7. ^ a b David Menconi, "Local Station to Change to Sports/Talk Format", The News & Observer, June 29, 1995.
  8. ^ David Ranii, "Radio Station Still Being Sold, but to Someone Else," The News & Observer, Tuesday, January 11, 2005.
  9. ^ Lorenzo Perez, "'The Buzz' Ditches ESPN," The News & Observer, August 3, 2005.
  10. ^ Roger Van Der Horst, "Imus Returning to Triangle Radio," The News & Observer, October 15, 2008.
  11. ^ Danny Hooley, "Buzz Fills Imus Slot," The News & Observer, May 15, 2007.
  12. ^ Hooley, Danny (April 08, 2008). "Babe is back on Buzz's birthday". News and Observer. Retrieved 2008-05-07. 
  13. ^ "Deal reshapes Triangle radio market". August 10, 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-10. 
  14. ^ Baysden, Chris (2010-02-22). "Curtis Media turns 850 AM into oldies station". Triangle Business Journal. Retrieved 2010-03-08. 

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