790 AM in Louisville was originally WGRC and featured a variety of programming typical of radio in the pre-rock era. In 1958, broadcaster Gordon McLendon, a Top 40 radio pioneer best known for his legendary KLIF in Dallas, Texas, purchased WGRC. After stunting with the novelty record "The Purple People Eater", WGRC became WAKY on July 7, 1958, and immediately shot to the top of the Louisville ratings as the market's first Top 40 music station. WAKY (known affectionately to its listeners as "Wacky") competed with 1080 AM WKLO during the 1960s and 1970s, with WAKY usually being the dominant station of the two. The station's popular personalities included Bill Bailey ("The Duke of Louisville"), Dude Walker, Gary Burbank (later of CKLW, WHAS, and WLW), Mason Lee Dixon, and the late Bert Markert (known on the air as "Weird Beard"). The station solidified its mass appeal by playing a great deal of country and R&B product mixed in with the mainstream pop and rock, owing to the large audiences for both genres of music in the Louisville market and the lack of a 24-hour R&B/soul station at the time (1350 WLOU, the area's primary black-oriented station, was a daytimer).
Having lost listeners during the 1970s to FM rock stations such as WQMF and WLRS, WAKY softened its music format to a more adult contemporary sound in about 1978, declaring, "The station you grew up with has grown up with you." This was followed by format changes to oldies in 1982, to automated beautiful music in June 1986, to automated country music, back to adult-contemporary in March 1988 as WVEZ-AM (dropping the heritage WAKY calls to reflect its simulcast with 106.9 FM), to classic country in 1989 as WWKY, and then to a talk format in the early 1990s. In 2001 WWKY changed to the current sports-talk format as WXXA ("Xtra Sports 790") before changing to the current WKRD call.
The legendary WAKY calls, which had been used by a station in Springfield, Kentucky, returned to the Louisville market on May 11, 2007, as oldies station WASE (103.5 FM), licensed to Radcliff, Kentucky with studios in Elizabethtown, became WAKY. The new station includes many nods to the original WAKY, including original and re-sung versions of "The Big 79"'s classic jingles.