Sunday, September 21, 2008

Legendary Station of the Year

I was in the Nashville area this past week for some training (Dave Ramsey Certified Counselor Training) and stopped to snap a shot of the WSM-AM radio tower along I-65 just south of town. The unique Blaw-Knox designed tower was a beacon for all to see.

At the time the tower was erected, it was the tallest broadcast tower ever built. Of course with todays radio towers going over 2,000 feet, the WSM tower is tiny compared to them.

When the tower erection team was finished, they headed to Cincinnati, Ohio to erect a similar tower for WLW radio.

For years WSM has long been known as a powerhouse and innovative force in broadcast radio.

So you're asking why I have an interest in WSM?

Just out of high school in 1973, I took a job with WRFD AM in Columbus to run their Sunday morning public affairs and church programs. Since WRFD was a daytime only station and could only begin broadcasting at New York City sunrise, the sign on time varied from 6:00 am during the summer months to 7:15 in the winter.

On my way to the radio station, I would listen to the radio in my car either to local station WTVN (Ed Eppley) or nearby WLW (Nick Young) during the summer months as they were still playing contemporary music on my way to the radio station to begin the broadcast day. However as the days grew shorter, my trip to the station began around 6:30. By 6:00 am WLW had made the transition to religious broadcasts and WTVN followed at 6:20 am. As I was going to be listening to my fair share of God's word over the next few hours in my job, I began to seek out stations from around the nation on the AM band that I could listen to that were playing music. The only stations that were playing music at that time were country themed stations such as WWL out of New Orleans and WSM out of Nashville.

Frankly, at the time I hated country music. But not so much as to avoid listening to a boring public affairs program or some fire and brimstone radio minister (they all seemed to be based in Texarkana, Texas) giving me a trip tik on my souls destination. If you were looking for anything other than fire and brimstone preachers or the a topical discussion on the school lunch milk program, you were limited to these 50kw flame throwers and the voices of Patsy Cline, Buck Owens and Jim Reeves. A little Bluegrass may have been sprinkled into the mix too. Oh, and WWL's King Edward Cigar time checks.

Remember, this was before FM radios were widely available in automobiles. And the FM stations were largely duplicating their AM sisters or playing elevator music.

So having listened to this legend of a radio station made it really neat to see the tower that brought not only the Grand Old Opry and other assorted country tunes to my ears.

To add to the unique find, while in the Nashville area, I learned WSM was named legendary station of the year by the National Association of Broadcasters. Based on its history, that was a long time coming.

While leaving town on Saturday I listened to the solid gold sounds of country music. My music tastes have mellowed and it was fun to listen to the country gold tunes stream from my cars speakers. As I got closer to home and the sun had left the horizon, WSM was streaming threw the atmosphere with the sounds of that Saturday evenings Grand Old Opry program.

Yes, WSM truly is a Legendary Station.

No comments: