W. A. Smith
(1900 - 1975)
W. A. Smith was a prominent businessman in Plant City for many years. Back in the l940’s, with his brothers, Ray and Lester, he was co-owner of Smith Brothers Grocery, a local landmark on highway 39 at the southern edge of town. Mr. Smith and his wife, Irene, were members of the Church of Christ in Plant City, where W. A. was an elder. It was through the church that he met S. O. Ward, the owner of WLAK in Lakeland. Believing that the town was big enough to support its own radio station, Mr. Ward suggested W. A. start one in Plant City.
Mr. Smith really liked the idea of a local radio station. He thought it would be a great way to further spread the gospel by broadcasting church programs and religious music. That became his primary reason for wanting to open up a station in Plant City. W. A. tried to convince his two brothers to join him in the venture, but they were not interested. So, on faith, he took it upon himself to do it. Smith bought some property on Highway 39 south of town, built the studios and put WPLA on the air in 1949. Even after the station was up and running, he continued to work at Smith Brothers Grocery until it closed in the 1950’s.
Once the station was on the air, and for all the years that he owned it, Mr. Smith remained behind the scenes. He was seldom around the station except for one day a week when he would come down to sign the checks and discuss any business matters that needed to be addressed. He left the day-to-day running of the business in the capable hands of his General Manager.
Mr. and Mrs. Smith built a home within walking distance of the radio station on South Collins Street and lived there for many years. W. A. passed away in 1975.
1949 - 1975 WPLA (Management)