WBT (radio station)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from WBT-FM)
City WBT: Charlotte, North Carolina
WBT-FM: Chester, South Carolina
WLNK-HD2: Charlotte, North Carolina
Broadcast area Charlotte metropolitan area
Branding News 1110/99-3 WBT
Slogan Charlotte's News, Weather and Traffic
Leading Charlotte's Conversation
Frequency AM: 1110 kHz
FM: 99.3 MHz (also on HD Radio)
FM: 107.9-2 MHz
First air date

AM: April 10, 1922 (1922-04-10) (originally experimental as 4XD from December 19, 1920 – April 9, 1922)

FM: July 28, 1969 (1969-07-28)
WLNK-HD2: October 14, 2014 (2014-10-14)
Format News/Talk
Power AM: 50,000 watts
ERP FM: 7,700 watts
HAAT FM: 182.2 meters (598 ft)
Class AM: A
FM: C3
Facility ID AM: 30830
FM: 10764
Transmitter coordinates

AM: 35°07′56″N 80°53′23″W / 35.13222°N 80.88972°W / 35.13222; -80.88972Coordinates: 35°07′56″N 80°53′23″W / 35.13222°N 80.88972°W / 35.13222; -80.88972

34°47′30″N 81°16′6″W / 34.79167°N 81.26833°W / 34.79167; -81.26833
Callsign meaning randomly assigned by Commerce Department; unofficially meant Watch Buicks Travel while it was owned by a local Buick dealer
Affiliations Premiere Networks
Westwood One
ABC News Radio
Owner Entercom
(Entercom License, LLC)
Sister stations WLNK, WFNZ
Webcast Listen Live
Website WBT.com

WBT and WBT-FM (known on air as News 1110/99-3 WBT) are simulcast commercial radio stations serving the Charlotte metropolitan area which includes parts of North Carolina and South Carolina. The stations air a news/talk radio format and are owned by Entercom, one of the largest owners of radio stations in America. The station's studios are located at One Julian Price Place on West Morehead Street, just west of Uptown Charlotte. WBT's AM transmitter is located in the southern part of the city off Nations Ford Road.[1] The studios and offices are on Julian Price Place in Charlotte, co-located with the city's CBS affiliate WBTV (channel 3), which is currently owned by Raycom Media but at one time had common ownership with WBT Radio.[2] WBT's sister stations 610 WFNZ and 107.9 WLNK also have their studios there.

WBT broadcasts at 1110 kHz. It is a 50,000-watt Class A clear-channel station. By day WBT uses a non-directional antenna covering a good chunk of the Carolinas, audible in cities such as Greensboro, Cary, Raleigh, and Winston-Salem, North Carolina as well as Spartanburg and Columbia, South Carolina. At night, it uses a directional antenna to protect KFAB in Omaha, the other Class A station on its frequency. But it can be heard across most of the East Coast of North America at night with a good radio.

WBT-FM broadcasts at 99.3 MHz, licensed to Chester, South Carolina. Its effective radiated power is 7,700 watts using a tower nearly 600 feet in height above average terrain. The transmitter is off Armenia Road in Chester.[3]

WBT-FM is licensed to broadcast in the HD Radio format.[4][5] WBT programming is also heard on the HD-2 channel of co-owned 107.9 WLNK.


On weekdays, WBT-AM-FM air mostly locally produced talk shows and offer podcasts of these shows on its official website. News, weather, and traffic reports are heard each half-hour.

WBT-AM-FM begin each weekday with a four-hour morning drive time newscast hosted by Bo Thompson called "WBT's Morning News". Thompson and former North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory host a one-hour talk show immediately following the morning news. Vince Coakley, former WSOC-TV news anchor and North Carolina Congressional candidate, hosts from 10 am to noon. John Hancock hosts the late afternoon show and a one-hour newsmagazine called "Charlotte at Six" is anchored by Mark Garrison. The rest of the weekday schedule is made up of nationally syndicated hosts including Rush Limbaugh, Dave Ramsey, Mark Levin and Coast to Coast AM with George Noory.

Weekends feature shows on money, health, real estate, technology, cars and home repair, some of which are paid brokered programming.[6] Syndicated shows include "The Tech Guy with Leo Laporte" and "Cigar Dave". Some hours begin with ABC Radio News.


Since 2005, WBT has been the flagship station of the Carolina Panthers football team. It also was the Panthers' radio flagship from the team's 1995 inception until 1999. WBT was the flagship of the Charlotte Hornets from the team's debut in 1988 until the team moved to New Orleans in 2002. From 1991 to 1995, WBT was the Charlotte-area home of the Duke Blue Devils. It was also the Charlotte home of the University of North Carolina Tar Heels from 1977 to 1991 and again from 1995 to 2006. The Tar Heels returned to WBT in 2012.[7]


Early Years

The station dates to December 1920, when Fred Laxton, Earle Gluck and Frank 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 apply for a commercial license in 1922, and incorporated as the Southern Radio Corporation. On April 10, 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. (Gluck was later a partner in competitor WSOC, and was the first president of WSOC-TV when it launched in 1957.)

In 1925, the original owners sold WBT to Charlotte Buick car dealer C.C. Coddington, who promoted both the radio station and his auto dealership with the slogan "Watch Buicks Travel". Coddington built a transmitter 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 Radio Network in 1929. CBS wanted to make its Chicago station WBBM full-time on 780 AM, which was a shared frequency with KFAB in Omaha. In order to do that they moved KFAB to 1110 AM. That was accomplished by directionalizing the signal of WBT. A series of power increases brought WBT to its current 50,000 watts with the 50,000 watt transmitter being dedicated August 12, 1932.[8] In July 1947, a satellite station, five miles northeast of Shelby, North Carolina, was authorized "for benefit of nighttime listeners west of Charlotte".[9]

New Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations forced CBS to sell WBT when the network reached the maximum number of stations it could own. In 1945, it was acquired by the Jefferson Standard Life Insurance Company, forerunner of Jefferson-Pilot, though it remained a CBS affiliate. In 1947, an FM sister station at 99.9 MHz was put on the air.[10] But that WBT-FM was discontinued in the mid-1950s and is not same as today's WBT-FM 99.3, which first went on the air in 1969 as WCMJ, owned by the York-Clover Broadcasting Company.[11] In 1949, Jefferson Standard signed on Charlotte's first television station, WBTV Channel 3.[12]

CBS Radio and Amos & Andy

In 1925, Freeman Gosden and Charlie Correll started a comedy show carried by WBT that was a forerunner to Amos and Andy.[12] Russ Hodges, later famous as the radio voice of the New York/San Francisco Giants, was sports editor of WBT for a time in the late 1930s, leaving in 1941 for Washington, D.C.[13][14]

During the Golden Age of Radio, WBT carried the CBS schedule of dramas, comedies, news, sports, soap operas, game shows and big band broadcasts to listeners in the Carolinas and at night, around the Southern United States. One musical program was "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.[12][15] 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.[16]

Early Hosts

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 to host television shows. He returned to WBT in 2008 to co-host the morning show while its regular hosts took time off.[17]

Changes in the 1970s

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 in the ratings, and national advertisings wanted ratings to improve. Jefferson Standard did not like the idea of change, but the company brought in researchers to show what programming Charlotte wanted. WBT let go 28 staffers and spent $200,000 on changes that included new studios. It also canceled 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. Around the same time, the station dropped its longtime affiliation with the CBS Radio Network and joined ABC Radio.[18] WBT won Billboard adult contemporary station of the year in 1976 and 1978. In 1979, "Hello Henry" Boggan began his nighttime talk show.[19][20]

In 1978, Marty Lambert became Jeff Pilot, the traffic reporter for WBT and WBCY. Lambert became assistant program director and music director in 1982.[21]

Talk Shows at Night

WBT dropped its ABC affiliation in favor of NBC Radio in 1987.[18] Talk programming continued to increase on WBT through the 1980s, mostly at night. Larry King, on the Mutual Broadcasting System, moved from 930 WSOC and stayed on WBT until 1987, when WBT decided its new NBC affiliation needed to take priority over other networks. Bruce Williams' syndicated financial advice show, part of the NBC Talknet block, replaced King. WBT expanded "Hello Henry" and its "Sports Huddle" program.[22]

For their entire 14 years in Charlotte, starting with the inaugural 1988–89 season, WBT aired the games of the original NBA Hornets franchise.[23][24]

Seeking More Women Listeners

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 back to CBS on December 21[25][26]

Adding Rush Limbaugh

On September 3, 1991, WBT dropped the McKays and became the 400th station to air The Rush Limbaugh Show, which had already been heard in the Charlotte area on 1390 WADA in Shelby, 1400 WSIC in Statesville and 1290 WHKY in Hickory.[27][28]

WBT aired games of the NFL Carolina Panthers from the 1995 inaugural season until 1999, returning as the team's flagship station in 2005.[29]

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.

North Carolina Tar Heels

Also in 2006, WBT lost the North Carolina Tar Heels to all sports 610 WFNZ. Sales director Steve Sklenar said the games pre-empted John Hancock's show and, during the ACC Tournament, Rush Limbaugh. WBT wanted the games, Sklenar said, but the pre-emptions cost the station advertising revenue. The Tar Heels had aired on WBT from 1977 to 1991, and returned to the station in 1995. According to Cullie Tarleton, who ran the station at that time, putting the Tar Heels on WBT was largely the idea of longtime coach Dean Smith, who wanted to tell recruits from New England that their parents would be able to listen to the games.[30]

On May 5, 2012, WBT signed back on with the Tar Heel Sports Network to be Charlotte's main carrier of the Tar Heels. After WRFX carried night basketball games for several years, WNOW-FM took over up until this year. With this switch back, games can now be heard all up and down the Eastern Seaboard at night, as WBT's clear channel signal can be heard from "Maine to Miami".[7]

Programming Changes

On June 8, 2012, WBT announced that The Brad and Britt Show, hosted by Brad Krantz and Britt Whitmire of WPTK in Raleigh, would be taking over the afternoon slot from Vince Coakley effective July 2. Krantz and libertarian Richard Spires had a show on WBT prior to 2003.[31] In June 2013, the show moved to 6pm-9pm; Hancock would take over the 3pm-6pm afternoon drive slot.

On November 15, 2013, both WBT and WBTV were dedicated with a North Carolina historic marker at the corner of Tryon Street and Third Street. The Wilder Building, which was demolished in 1983, hosted the WBT's studios from 1924–1955. The sign reads "WBT/WBTV – Oldest broadcast stations in North Carolina established 1922. WBT radio long hosted live country music. WBTV sign-on, July 15, 1949. Studios here until 1955."[32][33]

On March 3, 2014, WBT again dropped CBS News and returned to ABC News. In making the move, the station cited the stronger resources ABC's reporters provides to WBT's local programming compared to CBS and Fox News Radio.[18]

Sale to Entercom

On July 19, 2016, Greater Media announced that it would merge with Beasley Media Group. Because Beasley already had the maximum number of stations in the Charlotte market with 5 FM's and 2 AM's, WBT AM/FM and WLNK were spun off to a divestiture trust, eventually going to a permanent buyer.[34] On October 18, 2016, Entercom announced that it would purchase WBT AM/FM and WLNK, plus WFNZ.[35] Upon the completion of the Greater/Beasley merger on November 1, Entercom began operating the stations via a time brokerage agreement, which lasted until the sale was consummated on January 6, 2017.

Broadcasting Facilities

WBT's diamond-shaped antennas account for three of only eight operational Blaw-Knox towers 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 a station engineer. 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 (particularly the western portion) because it must adjust its coverage at sundown to protect KFAB in Omaha, Nebraska, which also operates on 1110 AM. 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. Its daytime coverage area is not as large as that of other 50,000-watt stations due to the area's poor ground conductivity. Even so, it provides grade B coverage as far as the fringes of the Columbia, Upstate and Piedmont Triad areas. Under the right conditions, it can be heard as far east as Fayetteville and as far north as Durham.

To improve its nighttime coverage in the Charlotte area, WBT first tried a synchronous booster signal in Shelby.[36] Finally, in 1995, then-owner Jefferson-Pilot bought WBZK-FM (which signed on August 30, 1969 and was once called WDZK) in Chester to provide a better signal to the western part of the market at night. WBZK's calls became WBT-FM.[37] 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. In 2012, sister station WLNK added a simulcast of WBT on its HD subcarrier.

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

Past Hosts

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

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.

From 2009 until March 31, 2011, Pete Kaliner hosted a local program in the 9-midnight slot, but was fired in a cost-cutting move by Greater Media. Neal Boortz's syndicated show was heard on tape delay from 9pm-1am; however, this was a temporary move as nationally syndicated host and former WBT personality Jason Lewis began to be heard on the station from 9-midnight (on a three-hour delay from his live broadcast) beginning in May 2011.

Nearly two months after Kaliner's departure, Tara Servatius' contract was not renewed; Doug Kellett and Wayne Powers filled the 3-6pm slot on an interim basis while the station searched for a replacement. On June 22, 2011, former WSOC-TV lead anchor Vince Coakley, who had done fill-in work at WBT before, was named Servatius' replacement in the 3-6pm timeslot.[38] Coakley left after a little over a year and was replaced on July 2, 2012 by Brad Krantz (a former WBT host) and Britt Whitmire, formerly of WZTK. Krantz and Whitmire, in turn, were fired by the station on June 11, 2014, and were replaced by John Hancock, who moved up from evenings (6-9pm) and a 6pm local news hour hosted by Mark Garrison and a local show with former WFNZ host Brett Jensen from 7pm-10pm. Coakley, who became the Republican candidate for North Carolina's 12th District U.S. House seat in 2012, returned to the station in 2017.

In December 2012, morning co-host Stacey Simms left Charlotte's Morning News to spend more time with her family. On January 14, 2013, Charlotte native Doc Washburn, most recently a morning host at WFLF-FM in Panama City Beach, Florida, debuted in the 9pm-1am slot, bringing local talk to the timeslot for the first time in nearly two years, replacing Lewis and the retired Boortz. The show would be replaced by the nationally syndicated America Now with Andy Dean in May 2013; Washburn remained with the station as a fill-in host.

Following Entercom's takeover of WBT via LMA on October 31, 2016, Keith Larson, the station's longtime 9am-noon host, was fired.[39] The station ran a rotation of fill-in hosts while searching for his replacement before hiring former WPTF Raleigh morning host Scott Fitzgerald for the slot.[40] Scott was released in November 2017.


  1. ^ Radio-Locator.com/WBT
  2. ^ WBT.com/contact-us
  3. ^ Radio-Locator.com/WBT-FM
  4. ^ http://licensing.fcc.gov/cgi-bin/ws.exe/prod/cdbs/pubacc/prod/sta_det.pl?Facility_id=10764
  5. ^ http://licensing.fcc.gov/cgi-bin/ws.exe/prod/cdbs/pubacc/prod/sta_det.pl?Facility_id=30830
  6. ^ WBT.com/shows/show-schedule
  7. ^ a b Washburn, Mark (2012-05-12). "Tar Heel sports return to WBT". The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved 2012-05-17. 
  8. ^ "WBT Holds Dedication" (PDF). wpbc. August 15, 1932. Retrieved 4 October 2014. 
  9. ^ "WBT Extends Coverage With Booster Station" (PDF). Broadcasting. July 28, 1947. Retrieved 4 October 2014. 
  10. ^ Broadcasting Yearbook 1953 page 220
  11. ^ Broadcasting Yearbook 1971 page B-185
  12. ^ a b c Kay McFadden, "WBT's Been on the Air for 75 Years", The Charlotte Observer, April 10, 1997.
  13. ^ "1930's: The History of WBT". Retrieved 2010-11-04. 
  14. ^ "Russ Hodges to WOL". Broadcasting and Broadcast Advertising. Washington, D.C.: Broadcasting Publications, Inc. 21 (15): 52. October 13, 1941. 
  15. ^ Grizzle, Ralph. "Guitar Man: Arthur Smith". Retrieved 2010-11-04. 
  16. ^ Tom Minehart, "Country's Capital Could Have Been Charlotte", Chicago Tribune, November 19, 1985.
  17. ^ Mark Washburn, "Ty Boyd Will Be Back on the Radio Monday", The Charlotte Observer, July 5, 2008.
  18. ^ a b c Washburn, Mark (March 7, 2014). "That new sound on WBT is ABC". Charlotte Observer. Retrieved March 8, 2014. 
  19. ^ McMurray, Tom. "Magic Happened Here". reelradio.com. Retrieved 2010-01-05. 
  20. ^ "1970's: The History of WBT". Retrieved 2010-11-04. 
  21. ^ Carol Hazard, "Former Jeff Pilot Lands Job As Merchandise Mart Official", The Charlotte Observer, June 12, 1989, p. 8D.
  22. ^ Jeff Borden, "Larry King Dethroned by WBT", The Charlotte Observer, October 1, 1987.
  23. ^ Spanberg, Erik (2000-04-07). "WBT-Hornets radio deal hits crunch time". Charlotte Business Journal. Retrieved 2010-01-05. 
  24. ^ "WBT contract extended". nba.com. 2001-10-04. Retrieved 2010-01-05. 
  25. ^ Tim Funk, "WBT Pair Lose Jobs in Shakeup", The Charlotte Observer, December 7, 1990.
  26. ^ Tim Funk, "WBT Radio Lineup Seeks Change of Image", The Charlotte Observer, Tuesday, December 11, 1990.
  27. ^ 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.
  28. ^ Diane Suchetka, "Rush Limbaugh's Replacing McKays on WBT Talk Show", The Charlotte Observer, September 2, 1991.
  29. ^ Spanberg, Erik (2005-05-12). "Panthers headed back to WBT-AM". Charlotte Business Journal. Retrieved 2010-01-05. 
  30. ^ Washburn, Mark (2006-06-21). "Tar Heels could air on WFNZ". The Charlotte Observer. 
  31. ^ Washburn, Mark (2012-06-08). "Krantz replacing Coakley on WBT". The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved 2012-06-12. 
  32. ^ "State dedicates historic marker to memorialize NC's oldest broadcast station". Charlotte, North Carolina: WBTV. November 15, 2013. Retrieved November 16, 2013. 
  33. ^ Washburn, Mark (November 15, 2013). "Historical marker spotlights Wilder Building, broadcasting's Charlotte birthplace". Charlotte, North Carolina: Charlotte Observer. Archived from the original on April 13, 2014. Retrieved November 16, 2013. 
  34. ^ Beasley Acquires Greater Media
  35. ^ Entercom Acquires Beasley Charlotte Spinoffs
  36. ^ Fybush, Scott. WBT, Charlotte, North Carolina. 2003-05-15
  37. ^ Tim Funk and Blair Skinner, "Family Sells Off WBZK FM", The Charlotte Observer, February 2, 1995.
  38. ^ Washburn, Mark (2011-06-23). "Vince Coakley takes afternoon spot at WBT". The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved 201-11-11.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  39. ^ http://www.charlotteobserver.com/entertainment/tv/media-scene-blog/article111689022.html
  40. ^ http://www.charlotteobserver.com/entertainment/tv/media-scene-blog/article128482784.html

External links

  • Official website
  • Query the FCC's AM station database for WBT
  • Radio-Locator Information on WBT
  • Query Nielsen Audio's AM station database for WBT
  • FCC History Cards for WBT (AM)
  • Query the FCC's FM station database for WBT
  • Radio-Locator information on WBT
  • Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for WBT (FM)
  • Website covering WBT's History
Retrieved from "https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=WBT_(radio_station)&oldid=837156139"
This content was retrieved from Wikipedia : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WBT-FM
This page is based on the copyrighted Wikipedia article "WBT (radio station)"; it is used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA). You may redistribute it, verbatim or modified, providing that you comply with the terms of the CC-BY-SA