WQYK AM & FM - A History
WQYK-AM 1110 Tampa & WQYK-FM 99.5 St. Petersburg – Marshall Rowland, President of Suncoast Radio and owner of WQIK AM & FM in Jacksonville, took former classical station WTCX-FM 99.5 (which had gone silent and was in bankruptcy) and WALT 1110-AM (which was long past its Top 40 prime) and launched country twins WQYK-AM and WQYK-FM (Tampa Bay’s first 24-hour stereo FM country music station).
WQYK-AM hit the air first with the new country format in 1970 broadcasting from studios in a second floor suite of offices at 1902 West Kennedy Boulevard in Tampa. The FM, which started out broadcasting from 5750 N. Haines Road in St. Petersburg, followed in 1971. In their early years on the air, the stations were affiliated with the Mutual Radio Network.
In 1974, the combo packed up and moved across the bay to the FM transmitter site down a narrow dirt road off 4th Street North (today's 112th Avenue North) in St. Petersburg where a brand new building had been erected. The WQYK-AM tower and transmitter were also moved there from Temple Terrace. In 1976, Suncoast sold off the AM to Forus Communications, a religious broadcast group headed by Simon Rosen, and its call letters became WTIS. Since the AM station would remain at the transmitter location, the FM moved its offices and studios a few blocks further south on 4th Street into the Koger Center just south of Gandy Boulevard.
WQYK had several managers during the time Suncoast owned the station (1970-1977). Marshall Rowland ran the station himself for awhile. Doug Coombs was brought in later to manage. Don Hibbitts (Sales Manager and former on-air personality Don Dee) was another, and in 1976 Rowland’s brother, Bobby, was sent down from sister station WQIK in Jacksonville to run things.
Other announcers from WQYK's early years were Jeff Alexander (PD), Rick Allen, Gary Donovan, Bob Hudson, Wayne Kysor, Chuck Allen (Doug Sinclair, overnights), Jeff King, Charlie Mac, Jim Brand (who called himself Chuck Brand for a short while), Jim Maloy, John Parker, Ken Cramer, Don Beckman, Dave Young, John Scott, Larry Michaels (Larry Flegle, overnights 1974-1975), Steve Alexander, Jay Roberts, Ross Wheldon, Don Wallis, Dave Ralston, Rusty Walker, John St. John, Jeff Ryan, John DeHaven, Dennis Thomas, Keith Halladay, Lyn Michaels, Pepper Lipsync and Kris Erik Stevens (Tommy Reynolds). Herb Hunt (former WLCY jock “Johnny Rebel”) was News Director for awhile in the mid 1970’s.
Off-air personnel at WQYK during the station’s early years were Beryl Beckett (copy writer), Stella Valenti (bookkeeper), sales staffers Russ Altizer, Stan Wineman, and Tony Nicholson, Pat Barr (traffic) and Duane Cornett (Chief Engineer). Valenti left the company when offices and studios moved to St. Petersburg in 1974 and was replaced by Shirley Buss who stayed through two more ownership changes and retired in the early 2000’s. Cornett was also Chief Engineer at sister stations WQIK AM & FM in Jacksonville.
When Suncoast Radio sold WQYK-FM in 1977 to Suncoast Stereo Corporation for $1.25 million, Rod Brosig and Joe Patrick became the first GM and PD respectively under the new ownership. Less than a decade later, in 1986, Infinity (later renamed CBS Radio) bought the station for some $27 million. In a multi-station swap, WQYK-FM was acquired by the Beasley Broadcast Group from CBS in late 2014. Circa 2011, the station's broadcast tower moved from downtown to 1708 S. 50th Street in Tampa.
In 1987, Infinity acquired 50,000 watt WCBF AM-1010 (formerly WINQ). That November, Chief Engineer Frank Berry took the station off the air to rebuild the transmitter facility. During that time, the old towers were taken down and the building was gutted and reconfigured to better accommodate the transmitter equipment. The two transmitters, a Continental 50kw for daytime and a Harris 5kw for nights were dismantled, cleaned and reassembled. Berry ordered new phasing and tuning equipment, new towers, equipment racks and audio processing, transmitter remote control equipment and STL transmitters and receivers.
On April 1, 1988, after many months of wiring, tuning and testing, the new WQYK-AM signed on the air at 12 noon with the start-up broadcast and dedication ceremonies (WQYK-AM Dedication Video). (Video courtesy Frank Berry)
WQYK-AM’s format has changed back and forth several times since the late 1980’s from classic country to sports/talk and, in 2004, its call letters changed to WBZZ (1010 the Buzz). In 2006 CBS Radio (formerly Infinity) returned the heritage WQYK calls on January 3rd and programmed classic country until August 11th when they again switched back to all sports (1010 Sports).
On Aug. 9, 2012, a week after sister station 98.7 WSJT-FM became Sports Radio 98.7 The Fan WHFS-FM (and Tampa Bay’s first FM with an all sports format), WQYK-AM flipped its calls to WHFS-AM and began simulcasting the FM’s programming. It became a 24/7 CBS Sports Radio affiliate on January 2, 2013.
Some names from WQYK-AM as a sports station include Todd Wright (overnights), Mike Pepper (mornings), Tom Krasniqi (mornings), The SportsChix (mid-days), JP Peterson (afternoons), and Al Keck (afternoons).
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1971 - 2018 Other Tampa Bay Area Stations (History)