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WSM-FM
City of license Nashville, Tennessee
Branding 95.5 The Wolf
Slogan Nashville Country
Frequency 95.5 MHz
First air date 1941; November 1, 1962 (current frequency)
Format Country
ERP 100,000 watts
Class C
Callsign meaning We Shield Millions
(slogan of former owner, National Life & Accident Insurance Company)
Owner Cumulus Broadcasting
Sister stations WNFN, WQQK, WRQQ, WSM-FM, WWTN
Website http://www.955thewolf.com

WSM-FM is an FM radio station in Nashville, Tennessee, known on the air as 95.5 The Wolf. The station broadcasts at 95.5 MHz and broadcasts a country music format.

From 1968 to 2008, WSM-FM was the sister of the legendary clear-channel WSM-AM. The station is now owned by Cumulus Media and no longer has any organizational relation to the AM.

Contents

History

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Original WSM-FM, 1941-1951

The National Life and Accident Insurance Company, owners of WSM-AM, became the first commercial broadcaster in the U.S. to receive an FM license from the Federal Communications Commission in 1941. Originally known as W47NV, the station operated for about 10 years, until NL&AI realized that few area households had FM radio receivers and that its commercial potential was lacking, unlike the company's television station, WSM-TV (now WSMV). NL&AI shut down WSM-FM in 1951 and returned the license to the FCC.

Early 95.5 MHz Operations, 1962-1976

The present-day FM began broadcasting on November 1, 1962 as WLWM-FM, owned by C. Webber Parrish (d/b/a Barlane Broadcasting Corporation), a local Nashville businessman[1]. NL&AI purchased the 95.5 MHz frequency from Parrish in 1968, and after a short period of simulcasting the AM, programmed an easy listening format (probably the format WLWM used) on it from 1969 until early 1976.

SM95, 1976-1983

WSM-FM logo from the early 80's

Afterward, NL&AI allowed a change (despite some management misgivings) to a soft-rock playlist that was very broad by today's standards; during those years, the station adopted the branding "SM95".

In demographics, the station went after an audience of people in their twenties and thirties who, obviously enough, wanted something more musically interesting than easy listening but disliked the harder and louder rock (or disco) that was becoming popular among teenagers then. SM95 was one of the few outlets in the nation for upcoming singer-songwriters to get airplay without having a smash record elsewhere; some of the artists were in fact Nashville-based, reflecting the growth in non-country artists recording there. One might consider the moderately eclectic format a forerunner of the "adult alternative" playlists that achieved some success years later, in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Former SM95 disc jockey Nick Archer operated a Live 365 internet-only streaming re-creation of the station's format (featuring the original station IDs and jingles) from November 2001 until February 2008, almost longer than the original broadcast station's run.

Nashville 95/The Wolf, 1983-present

95.5 The Wolf logo
2008-2009

The ratings of SM95, however, began to decline (and thus advertiser appeal) as its audience began aging in the early 1980s. By 1983, some four years after the conversion of the AM to a full-time country format and after the sale of WSM, Inc. to Gaylord Broadcasting, management decided to bring the FM in line with the AM, and brought in country (with an emphasis on current hits, instead of the AM's emphasis on oldies) full-time. Gaylord moved the studios of both AM and FM to the Opryland Hotel complex at that time, from their 1970s home on Knob Road in west Nashville, where former sister TV station WSMV still operates today.

For most of the 1980s and 1990s, 95.5 FM was a highly-competitive, yet usually #2 (behind rival WSIX-FM), country station. For much of the 1980s and 1990s, the station was branded as "Nashville 95". However, upon the arrival of a fourth country station in the market in 1999 (the legendary FM rocker WKDF, which shocked longtime Nashvillians by changing formats), WSM-FM fell to a distant third place, and sometimes fell to fourth behind then-sister WSM-AM. In September 2004, the station adopted a revised country format, referred to as "The Wolf," in an attempt to again become competitive in Nashville's highly-competitive country radio market; early indications are that it is boosting Arbitron ratings considerably, and the station is approaching the #1 spot, held in recent times by WSIX. The FM generally has gone after a younger demographic than the AM, whose appeal to older listeners and devotees of traditional styles of country is unique.

From 2003 to 2008, Cumulus Media operated the sales department of WSM-AM, while Gaylord Entertainment continued to hold the license. Cumulus, however, bought WSM-FM outright (along with FM talk outlet WWTN) from Gaylord at that time. When the WSM-AM agreement ended, the two stations' 40-year association came to an end also. WSM-FM offices and studios moved to the Cumulus complex on Music Circle East, in Nashville's Music Row area, while WSM-AM remains at the Opryland Hotel. However, the WSM-FM website, as of April 2009, continues to promote the Opry and Gaylord's hospitality properties, so it is unknown whether Cumulus will eventually change the FM's identity in the near future by adopting a new callsign and/or making other changes.

Spring 2009 Phase II Arbitron rating: 4.1 (#11)

Grand Ole Opry Schedule Conflicts

When WSM-AM had the rights to broadcast Vanderbilt Commodore football and basketball games, it had WSM-FM air them whenever they took place on Saturday nights, in order not to preempt the live Grand Ole Opry shows on AM 650. WSM did this during most of the 1970s and again from the mid-1990s through the mid-2000s. Until the end of the 2003-08 Cumulus operating agreement, WSM-FM also aired NASCAR broadcasts under the same circumstances.

Airstaff

The current lineup (as of September 8, 2009) is as follows

Morning Show: Wake Up With The Wolf Show - Charley Connolly and DeAnna Lee
Mid-days: Lisa Taylor
Afternoon Drive: Russel P.
Nighttime: CMT Radio Live - Cody Alan
Weekends: Josh Connor and Nikki Knight
Program Director: Charley Connolly

References

  1. ^ Broadcasting Yearbook 1963

External links

See also


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