|Broadcast area||Bowling Green, Kentucky|
"Your Place in the Country"& "Kentucky's Kountry King"
|First air date||June, 1940|
|ERP||5,000 watts (daytime)/1,000 watts directional (nighttime)|
WLBJ was the first commercial radio station in Bowling Green, Kentucky, signing-on in June, 1940. The station operated at 1410 kilohertz for much of its existence. Among the more significant local programs it produced were the 4 O'Clock Special, hosted by disc jockeys G. W. Boyum in 1947 and Brad Taylor in 1950, The Smilemaker, a morning and afternoon drive program featuring cuts from comedy albums by popular comedians, and Opinion Line, an Associated Press award-winning local public affairs program hosted by newscaster Mike Green in the 1980s.
In its early days, the station's studios were located in downtown Bowling Green and would later relocate both the studios and transmitter to its final location of 689 Scott Lane, now known as Indian Ridge Subdivision, adjacent to the Indian Hills Country Club.
In later years, the station was well known as a favorite among country music fans in South Central Kentucky and North Central Tennessee, as it had an effective daytime power of 5,000 watts (1,000 watts directional at night). One of the station's most popular programs was the 1981 launch of the Wrangler Country Showdown, a live-broadcast country music talent search which preceded such current programs as "American Idol" by some 20 years.
The station was also known as one of the earliest and longest-running affiliates of the now-defunct Mutual Broadcasting System and also carried Mutual's The Larry King Show, which was broadcast overnight during the early 1980s, making the station Bowling Green's first 24-hour radio operation.
The station was an affiliate of Cincinnati Reds baseball and the University of Kentucky football/basketball networks. The station was also known for live broadcasts of horse racing events at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington.
The station also became well known for using their cowboy "boot" (Kentucky Kountry King)logo and 30-second jingle in television advertisements which aired on WBKO-TV. In return, 30-second spots advertising WBKO's evening news stories were aired over the radio station.
During the 1970s and early 1980s, the call letters were also assigned to sister station WLBJ-FM, operating at 96.7 megahertz under the brands "Natural 97" (Album-Oriented Rock) under the program direction lead of Jay Preston, Greg Pogue & later Dean Warfield, and later an automated "BJ 97" (Adult Contemporary). The call letters of the FM station were changed in the mid-1980s to WCBZ, which reflected ownership of both stations through much of their later history by Bahakel Communications of Charlotte, North Carolina. Today, the 96.7 frequency is owned and operated by Bowling Green-based country music station, WBVR.
Former on-air staff
- Carol Birge
- Odis Blanton
- James Bunch
- Gary Cannon
- Pat Collins "PattyAnne" - (actual name Rachel C. Rosenfeld) first female broadcast personality in Southern Kentucky.
- Donna Dee
- Rick Dubose (General Manager)
- Janelle Finn McGee
- Lee Giles
- Tom Slayton (Evening DJ Feb 1976 Until May 1978)
- Jim Grant (actual name Jim Fletcher) who went on to serve as meteorologist and mid-day talk show host on WBKO -TV. and most recently as publisher of the Santa Rosa Press Gazette in Milton, Fl.
- Mike Green
- Dick Hanchette
- Jim Holton
- Dean Howlett
- Randy Johnson
- Brandon Kelley
- Joe Larkins
- Dean Maggard, Chief Engineer and General Manager for many years. Maggard succumbed to lung and heart disease at age 77, on July 8, 2009.
- Michael Patrick McNay
- Rick Mitchell
- James Parnell
- Don Pierson, DJ/music director & hosted a Sunday afternoon Bluegrass show (before Bluegrass was COOL!)
- Greg Pogue
- Rick Porterfield ("the Yankee Clipper")
- Jay Preston, served as DJ, music director & later program director of both WLBJ & WLBJ-FM/"Natural 97FM"
- Bob Proctor, First Voice of the WKU Hilltoppers on the Ashland Oil Sports Network, master station WLBJ.
- Steve Reeves
- Tracy Reynolds
- Keith Richards (Program Director 1984-1985, real name Richard Ryan)
- Lynn Rustin (actual name: Bonnie Berry)
- Chuck Scoggins
- Roxanne Siler
- Shirley Smith
- Bill Stamps
- Sid Starks
- Johnathan Stone
- Boyce (Buddy) Tate
- Jim Taylor
- Don Tiddle
- Beth Tucker
- Dean Warfield
- Joe White
- Barry Williams
- Tommy Womack
- Del Wood
- Sies, Luther F. Encyclopedia of American Radio 1920-1960. Jefferson, NC:McFarland, 2000. ISBN 0-7864-0452-3