Tuesday, March 13, 2007

1490 History

This is my first Knoxville AM station history.

To begin, let's look at the history of Knoxville's 1490 which once was WROL-AM with a progressive rock format as "W149":

1490 History

The history of AM 1490 began on September 1, 1960 as WROL-AM. The WROL-AM call letters were previously heard on WNBJ-AM 1310 (now WRJZ-AM 620). In the early 1970s, the station became "W149" and progressive rock as their format. The station was mainly heard across the UT-Knoxville campus with city of license located in Fountain City. This was to protect a daytimer on 1470 in Alcoa. The station was put on the air by Johnny Pirkle who was in charge of programming and Dick Sterchi who was in charge of sales. This was during the time Pirkle was waiting for his 100.3 application to go through.

When "W149" died in 1976, the station became "15Q" with WKVQ as their new calls. Many of the DJs including Rockin' Ron Baptist and Kim Carson would work at the station. The station was a hot rockin' top 40 that would last less than a year. The station would drop CHR for MOR.

The MOR format was short-lived when in the late 1970s, WKVQ became WITA and the format became religious. The religious format at 1490 WITA continues to this day.

The information about "W149" and WITA comes from radioranch, a Radio-Info member.


James said...

W149 was THE rock station for Knoxville during the early 70s. Sadly, the stronger Knoxville FM stations did not pick up "progressive rock" except for WUOT's "Till Two" show from midnight to 2 a.m. WQUT, 101.5 out of Johnson City, had a decent but unreliable signal in Knoxville, leaving W149 to fill in the gap.

W149 gave away a lot of beer, thanks to the Pabst Blue Ribbon distributing company out on Middlebrook Pike. Some friends of mine were rock music trivia geniuses and would win those kegs. I think they won 6 in all.

I was sad when W149 transitioned to 15Q. I think that killed the station. Knoxville did not get "progressive rock" until WIMZ filled the void.

Unknown said...

yeah, that was the most rockin' am station I have ever heard. I lived there in the 70's and listened to it a lot. Wish I could remember some of the DJ names. I still have two large magnificent pictures that one of the DJ's had taken from the civic coliseum. Johnny Winter and Gregg ALlman. They hang on my wall today. I am very grateful to him.

Steve Howard said...

One of the DJs was a female jock who went by Leslie Shelor. Lo and behold when I moved from Knoxville back to my native Kingsport in 1981, I learned her name was Peggy and she had married one of my early radio mentors, Carl Swann. Carl is now one of the morning hosts of the show "Thinking Out Loud" on WJCW-910 am in Johnson City TN. Leslie/Peggy has continued doing voice work in the Tri-Cities market over the years.

Unknown said...

We drank two of those kegs in Reese Hall.