|City of license||Nashville, Tennessee|
|Broadcast area||Nashville, Tennessee|
"Nashville's Home for 103-minute Music Marathons"
|First air date||April 18, 1962 (as WNFO-FM); January 1, 1967 (as WKDA-FM/WKDF)|
|Sister stations||WGFX, WQQK, WSM-FM, WWTN|
The first station to occupy the 103.3 FM frequency was WNFO-FM, founded in 1962 and operated by Hickory Broadcasting Corporation.[contradictory] Despite several FM stations already operating in Nashville at the time, receivers were not yet in widespread use, and the relatively few listeners were not enough to attract advertisers. It left the air sometime around 1965, with WKDA-AM, then one of the two Top 40-formatted stations in the market, taking over and restarting it on January 1, 1967 as WKDA-FM. WKDA-FM/WKDF was located for many years with its sister station in the downtown Stahlman Building, where its large neon sign remains mounted. The station was later moved to Rutledge Hill on Second Avenue South, to a property once occupied by the home of Captain Thomas G. Ryman (of Ryman Auditorium/Grand Ole Opry fame). In 2012, the station was moved to Nashville's Music Row.
In January 1970, WKDA-FM began playing album-oriented rock, aimed especially at Nashville's large college student population, first at night only, and, then, beginning in March concurrent with a format change of the AM to country, full-time, for about a year and a half. Afterward, in the daytime, the station employed a mix of rock and Top 40 music, while switching to hard and progressive rock at night, during most of the 1970s and early 1980s. As the FM format grew, it soon became the dominant station of the two, which eventually separated. For some years in the late 1970s and early 1980s, "KDF" (as it was popularly known after its callsign officially changed to WKDF in 1976) was the dominant station as determined by the number of listeners reported by Arbitron, in the Nashville market, due, again, to its vast popularity among younger listeners. The only true competition the station had in the rock market was the Vanderbilt University student station, WRVU, which played alternative and college forms of rock not considered commercially acceptable in that day and time (WRVU has since discontinued broadcasting on a terrestrial radio signal).
Although the station, like most 1970s-era album rock outlets, underwent some ratings decline during the early 1980s due to changing tastes among its adolescent listeners (e.g., "New Wave", techno pop), WKDF proved resilient to the point of being able to capitalize on the backlash against MTV-influenced artists later in the decade. By the early 1990s, the station shifted its playlist somewhat to reflect the then-rising grunge and alternative rock scenes, leaving other FMs in the area to pick up the oldies from its early days; in recent times, WNRQ-FM has served as Nashville's "classic" (oldies) rock outlet.
After nearly 30 years of programming rock, however, WKDF reformatted to country music on April 1, 1999, after continued ratings losses to competitor FM outlets. Originally going by the moniker "Music City 103.3", it reverted to using its call letters in branding beginning in 2001. In recent years, the playlist has featured a mixture of contemporary and classic country.
In September 2011, WKDF came under Cumulus ownership (as a result of the Cumulus acquisition of Citadel), and thus, is now a sister station to fellow Nashville country outlet WSM-FM. To date, no changes to the format of either station have occurred as a result of the merger.
Former on-air staff
Notable former disc jockeys from the station include:
- Shannon (McCombs): 1985-1994. Started overnights, moved to mid-days, then afternoons. Host of "Breakfast with the Beatles", and "Nashville Tapes." Returned for short time when the format flipped to country. Continues to work in the country music business. http://shannoncountry.com/
- Joe Elvis: afternoons/late 1980s-1998, Was at WNRQ, Nashville. Drummer for area rock band Government Cheese. Bandmate Tommy Womack often contributed to his program. Both Elvis and Womack (among others) served as host of the long-running local music show, The Nashville Tapes, which aired on Sunday nights from the mid-1980s until the 1999 format change.
- Patty Murray: mid-1980s (Deceased)
- Dave Walton "Toon"': 1980s
- David Hall: 1980s (Deceased)
- Steve Henderson: afternoon drive/late 1970s. Died in 1983.
- Carl P. Mayfield: mornings/1980s (later returned during the early period of the country format; also worked for WSIX, Sirius and WKDF's sister WGFX).
- Ian Case: mornings/early 1990s.
- Mike "The Duke" Donegan: mornings 1989-2003 - now at Sirius and stadium announcer for the Tennessee Titans.
- Pauly: nights/mid-1990s - Later with WZZP & WEGI, Clarksville, TN, WRQQ, Nashville, WNFZ, Knoxville and Operations Manager/Program Director at JWC Broadcasting WBXE & WKXD, Cookeville, Tennessee. Now Program Director at WHFX, Brunswick, Georgia.
- Sheri Sexton: music director, nights, middays/1990s.
- B. Derek (Buddy Scott): overnights/March 1987-December 1997. Now a local chiropractor.
- Kidd Redd: disc jockey, program director/1984-1999.
- Jimmy the K: weekends/1990s - now at WNRQ.
- Stevie Stevens:(Lisa Walker): Assistant Program Director and evenings/late 1980s and early 1990s.
- Chris Barrington: weekend overnights/1993-1995.
- Jack Shell: afternoons 2008-2011 - now middays/music director at WYCD/Detroit.
- Jason Joseph: 1990s - later at WBUZ, Nashville (as Biscuithead), and program director at WLRS, Lousiville, Ky.
- Aljon Go: 1990s - overnights, weekends and host of "Nashville Tapes." Later at "102.9 The Buzz" WBUZ, Nashville.
- Brent Fox: 1990s - weekends, and host/producer of "Nashville Tapes." Later at "102.9 The Buzz" WBUZ and "Rooster 106" WNPL, both Nashville.
- Jack Sass: 1997-1999 - later program director, WBOP, Harrisonburg, Va. Co-hosted show with Pauly (see above) on Vanderbilt University's WRVU.
- Big Dave: morning co-host (with Mike "The Duke" Donegan)/1990s. Now at B105 (WUBE) in Cincinnati, Ohio.
- Beth Donahue: morning co-host with Big Dave and the Duke/mid-1990s. Comedienne, later with WBUZ.
- Charley: evenings/early 1980s - now a high-technology social researcher in San Francisco.
- Steve Dickert: disc jockey, later general manager/1972-2005. Briefly joined Cumulus Nashville (WWTN, WSM-FM, WRQQ, WNFN, WQQK) as market manager in 2006.
- Traffic Squeegie: also on sister station WGFX (as Sid). After 12 year stint moved to WNRQ 1059 The Rock/Clear Channel in Production and on air 7p-midnight. Still active in Nashville broadcasting working now at 1029 The Buzz overnights. Voice for local Advertisers America's Motor Sports, MTSU adult degree program.
- John Nagara: research director starting mid-1980s. assistant program director/music director/starting early 1990s. Left in the mid-1990s to do record company music promotion.
- Slats: late 1980s; later at WMMS, Cleveland, Ohio. Management suspended him at least once for on-air pranks.
- John Haggard: early 1970s.
- Jay Franklin: early-to-mid-1970s.
- John McCall: mid-1970s overnights and weekends.
- Dick Mason: mid-1970s.
- Jim Battan (aka-Coyote J.) -70's---later at: WERC Birmingham, Q-93-New Orleans, KPRI-San Diego, THE X-Birmingham; joined WZRR-ROCK99.5 in Bham (classic album rock) in late 2006 after the demise of THE X;
- David Reed: Morning traffic 2008-2009
- Wylie Rose: Mornings 2008-2011.
- Eddie Foxx: (The Eddie Foxx Show): MD/afternoons/mornings 2000-2007 Now mornings at WKSF/Asheville
- Stuntboy Justin (Justin Cole): Mornings/Afternoons 2002-2007 Now PD WPOC/Baltimore
- Lisa Manning: Morning news 2002-2008 Now morning co-host WSM-FM/Nashville
- Tom Bootle: Mornings 1970s-80s (Carl P. and the P. Team, Mike Donegan "The Dook" Show)
The Nashville Tapes aired on KDF Sunday nights, featuring rock music from Nashville and the surrounding area. Hosts included (but were not limited to): Kidd Redd, Joe Elvis, Tommy Womack, Morgan, Leslie Hermsdorfer, Brent Fox, and Aljon Go. Go later founded the directly-inspired Local Buzz program on WBUZ, Nashville.
Current on-air staff
- Morning Show (5:00 a.m - 10 a.m): Marty McFly & Stewart James
- Mid-days (10 a.m - 3 p.m): Becca
- Afternoon Drive (3 p.m - 7 p.m): Randy Hill
- Evenings (7 p.m - 12 a.m): Darlas Rai
- Late Nights (12 a.m - 5:00 a.m): Kix Brooks
In popular culture
On The Dick Van Dyke Show episode titled "Ray Murdock's X-Ray," which originally aired on January 23, 1963, the call letters of the television station broadcasting the fictitious "Ray Murdock X-Ray Show" are WKDF.
In a mid-1990s episode of COPS on the Fox television network, Metro Nashville police answer a domestic disturbance call. Upon arriving at the residence, they are directed down a hallway to the locked door of a male teen who had allegedly been 'huffing' spray paint or glue and who had now barricaded himself in his room. When the police officers get to the teen's door, the viewer can clearly see a black and yellow KDF 'bullet' sticker affixed to the door at eye level.
Nashville based Country Music songwriter/singer Phil Vassar released his debut album in 2000 with an up-tempo song that broke into the Top 5 on the Billboard country singles chart called "Carlene" In the video, the iconic WKDF neon sign and Nashville skyline is seen in the first 10 seconds.
- WKDF official website
- Query the FCC's FM station database for WKDF
- Radio-Locator information on WKDF
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for WKDF
- History of WKDA/WKDF by a former employee