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WLCY AM & FM - A History

WLCY-AM 1380 St. Petersburg & WLCY-FM 94.9 Tampa – In 1956, WTSP, Inc. (N. Joe Rahall, president, and brothers Sam G. and Farris) bought St. Pete’s 5,000 watt Mutual affiliate, WTSP-AM 1380 and 4-kilowatt WTSP-FM 102.5 from Pinellas Broadcasting Co. (St. Pete Times newspaper publisher Nelson Poynter, president).  Not interested in pursuing the FM’s possibilities, the Rahalls shut it down shortly thereafter and let it go silent. 

Turning their attention to the AM, the Rahalls dropped the network immediately and started programming waltzes and polkas – just like their successful station in Allentown, Pennsylvania. However, the Tampa Bay audience just yawned. To say the least, it was not successful. Then, according to the story, it was discovered that the name of the Borden’s Dairy mascot, Elsie the Cow, had not been copyrighted. So the Rahalls changed WTSP-AM to WLCY (on July 15, 1959) and called it Radio Elsie.  But that didn’t help either.

After learning of Gordon McLendon’s success with Top 40 and that Tampa daytimer WALT was winning the audience wars in the market with the new format. Sam Rahall came to town with fire in his eyes and hired WALT’s entire on-air crew, including PD Roy Nilson, and flipped the format to Top 40. The rest is history. It wasn’t until June 20, 1963 that the licensee name officially became WLCY, Inc. The station began to identify dual city of license as “St. Petersburg-Tampa” in 1976.

For many years WLCY-AM was Tampa’s Bay’s premiere Top 40 station and operated from offices, studios, and transmitter site on Gandy Boulevard, just off 4th Street North, in the old WTSP facility. It later shared space with Rahall’s WLCY-TV Channel 10 in the Rahall Communications Center, just east of the original Gandy radio location.

The Rahalls signed on 52,000-watt WLCY-FM in 1970 (power upgraded to 100kw in 1972) from shared space in the Rahall Communications Center. For about five or six years, programming was Drake-Chenault’s “Hit Parade” and TM’s “Stereo Rock” formats. Equipment to run the automated operation included three carousels, four 10” decks, and some cart machines to hold the time announces. To become more competitive with market-leader Q105 WRBQ-FM, some live jocks were brought in as early as 1976 and eventually the moniker became “Y95,” although the dial position was actually 94.9. There was also a new set of calls in 1977 – WYNF.

In 1978, Rahall began to divest itself of its Tampa Bay properties, beginning with WLCY-TV which was sold to the Gulf Broadcasting Group. WLCY-AM was acquired by Florida Radio, Inc., and moved operations to 10051 Fifth Street North in St. Petersburg. Its Top 40 format kept going until 1981 when it became Harte-Hanks’ WNSI (News, Sports and Information). WYNF, after some time operating out of the old WTSP building next to the Channel 10 parking lot, was acquired by Taft in 1980 and re-branded “95YNF.” It relocated to 504 Reo Street in Tampa with new sister station 1250/ WDAE, and shifted its programming from Top 40 to AOR.

Other names from WLCY history include Clair Linn (news-1959), Marshall Cleaver (PD/host of “Open Mike”-1959; ass’t GM-1964), “The Shy Guy” Roy Nilson (operations manager-1960; PD-1964), Donald L. Jones (sales manager-1960; GM-1972), Jim Clark (Mike Apsey- 1960), Dick Stambaugh ((later known as Dick Starr at WFUN & KYA, mornings-1960), Dave Archard (mid-days-1960), Chip Collins (news director-1960),  Elmo Kitts (chief engineer-1960), Bob Ostiguy (promotions manager 1961), Jerry Nelson (host of "Sermon in Sounds"-1961), D.J. O’Day (news director-1961), WLCY’s “Eye in the Sky” Capt. Dan (Dan Lunin, chief engineer-1961), “The Weird Beard” Johnny Dark/Johnny Dart (Stan Grams-music director-1961), Rock Robbins (Robert Bernstein, nights-1962), Wayne Sexauer (promotions-1964), Bill David (news director-1964), Lolita (Dottie Groven, overnights 1965), Al Stockmeyer (“Open Mike” host -1966; WLCY-FM sales manager-1971), Mary Etta Sawyer (promotions-1967), J. Paul Robinson (Barney Groven, news director-1967), Ed Pyle aka Electric Edward (news-1968), Johnny Stevens (early 70’s), George Nix (middays & afternoons 1970-76), Mark Wheeler (1971; PD-1972), Mike Scott (Jim Shirah-1971), Bruce Singleton (chief engineer-1971), K.L. Miller (sales manager-1972), Jon Powers (news director-1972), Peter M. Schulte (GM-1973), Bill Parke (sales manager-1973), Sid Perry (promotions-1973), Tedd Webb (1973 & 1975), Daylon Rushing (music director-1973), Charlie Brown (PD-1974), Kathy Tanner (promotions-1974), Bill Cooper (chief engineer-1974), Steve Cheney (music director-1974), Kenny Parks (middays-1975), Ron Parker (1975; music director-1979), Jeff Laurence (mornings-1975), Bill Rice (GM-1975), Ray Yorke (sales manager-1975), Johnny Bridges (PD-1975), Herb Hunt aka Johnny Rebel (news), Bill Alford (news director-1975), Bob Tracey (mornings-1977), Bob Beattie (chief engineer-1975), Thomas B. Watson (GM-1979), David Strubbe (sales manager-1979), John Landers (PD-1979), Nancy Hubble (news director-1979), William Cooper (chief engineer-1979), Ron Scott (middays 1980-81), Howard Hewes (afternoons-1980), Jim “The Steamer” Stanley, Swinging Sweeney aka Rick Morgan (Richard Hutcheson), Al Dunaway, Jack E. Rabbitt (Ron O’Quinn and Gene Pope), “Big Daddy” Don Owens, Pepper Lipsync (James Wayman), Frank Lynn, “Bachelor” Bob Collins, “Beachcomber” Bob Carr, Richard B. Randall aka Rick Randall (Rick Crandall-news), Murph McHenry, Al Summers, Jack Kane, Bobby Lyons, Dean Drapin, Dutch Walker, Johnny Byrd (Dennis Waters), Billy “J”, John Harper, Johnny Brautigan, Bob Cannon (Claude Miranda), and the WLCY Weather Chick (Charlene Mathias).

Names from WLCY-FM, Y95 and 95YNF history include Bill Hennes (consultant), Robert Quedeen (station manager-1972), Steve Cheney (PD-1973), Bill Elliott (ass’t chief engineer-mid/late 70’s), Shotgun Charlie Bennett (mornings-1976), Tom Murphy (mornings), Dave Mann (Mike Lee-afternoons), Phil “Screaming Jay” Hawkins (nights-1976), Ben Christopher (overnights-1976), Chuck Morgan (PD-1976), Mike Rivers (overnights-1977), Uncle Johnny (nights-1979), Charlie Logan (PD-1980’s), Mark Larsen (PD & afternoons-1980’s), Walt-Bob (Walt Marsicano-1980’s), Don Capone (1984), Ron & Ron (Bennington & Diaz-late80’s/early90’s), Billy the Phone Freak (Bill Owens-late 80’s/early 90’s), Ray Yorke (GM), Randy Stewart, Mike Mann, J. Paul MacGregor (Ted Tidwell, news), Bob McNeill (mornings), Jack Strapp (Steve Austin), Russ Albums, Tom Marshall (PD), Al Peterson (PD), George Hawras (PD), Marla Stone, Jimmy Beck (Dave Adams), Bobby Ocean, Garry Mitchell (aka Garry Wing), Scott Phillips, John DeHaven, Robert Reed, Jeff Jensen, Tom Daniels (1991), Nobie Wheeler, Nick Van Cleve (afternoons), George Sosson (GM), Carey Curelop (PD), J.J. Lee, Fez Whatley, Don Marion, Steve Downes, Brian Sykes, Joe Corbett (sales), Becky “Flash” Gordon (news), Zoltan Koppany, Flipper, John Stewart, Morgan Prue (music and research), and Shawn Portmann (GM).

Station History

1959 - 1981 Other Tampa Bay Area Stations (History)

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