WNEX

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WNEX
City of license Macon, Georgia
Broadcast area Macon
Frequency 1400 kHz
First air date 1945
Format Talk
Power 1,000 watts unlimited
Class C
Facility ID 54034
Transmitter coordinates 32°51′7″N 83°39′11″W / 32.85194°N 83.65306°W / 32.85194; -83.65306Coordinates: 32°51′7″N 83°39′11″W / 32.85194°N 83.65306°W / 32.85194; -83.65306
Owner Register Communications
(Radio Peach, Inc.)

WNEX is a radio station in Macon, Georgia, owned by Register Communications. WNEX operates on an assigned frequency of 1400 kHz. It is currently a talk radio station.

History[edit]

WNEX-AM signed on the air April 20, 1945, as an affiliate of the Mutual Broadcasting System. In addition to Mutual programming, the station's format included country music, local personalities and newscasts. The station was started by Al Lowe Sr., his brother Ed Lowe, Peyton Anderson and Ellsworth Hall. Charlie "Peanut" Faircloth (1927-2010) was one of the first announcers. Faircloth hosted "Farm Frolics", a show for the early morning risers. He would also entertain listeners on "Hillbilly Hit Parade" airing daily at 12:15pm. On Saturday nights, he could be heard on a show called "Heaps of Corn". By 1948, Faircloth's "Hoedown Party" was airing nationwide on the Mutual network. Del Ward Napier Leslie, who for many years was the popular host of "Date With Del" on WMAZ-TV, began her broadcasting career at WNEX, hosting "Across the Breakfast Table". Another early announcer was Marion Bragg, who said in a 1980 interview that he was on air when the station signed on in 1945. The story goes that shortly before the station was to sign on, the FCC asked owner Al Lowe Sr. if he had call letters in mind, he looked down at a partially covered box of Kleenex on his desk and said, yes, "WNEX."

In 1953, WNEX and Douglas, Georgia radio station WOKA combined to invest in one of the south's first UHF TV stations, WETV channel 47. They hoped that, by signing with the NBC network, central Georgians would buy the set-top adaptors required to watch the station. The two locally owned stations planned to use profits from the operation of their AM radio outlets to keep the TV station going until it could turn a profit.

WETV operated out of a new building on Macon's Pio Nono Avenue and placed advertising in Atlanta's "TV Digest," the precursor to TV Guide, and in the trade industry magazine Broadcasting in hopes of attracting national advertising. In a matter of weeks, the expense of running the station (particularly the power bill; UHF transmitters were very inefficient) caused the owners to rethink their investment in the blossoming television industry.

WETV soon changed call letters to WOKA, then briefly to WNEX. In turning the station off, WNEX asked that Macon's channel 47 not be deleted from the FCC database while the owner tried to find a way to return to the air. The station never did. The combination of few potential viewers, the expense of running the station, and crushing competition from crosstown CBS affiliate WMAZ TV 13 (whose signal could be received on all TV sets) made UHF impractical for decades.

Several years after WETV left the air, the WETV call letters were reassigned to Atlanta's first educational TV station operating on Channel 30. NBC didn't get a middle Georgia affiliate until 1968 when channel 41 WCWB TV signed on the air.

In the 1960s, when WNEX became affiliated with ABC, it began airing Don McNeill's popular "Breakfast Club," "Paul Harvey News," and "Howard Cosell's "Speaking of Sports." The station switched to Top 40 music and like many stations in small and medium markets, almost immediately became a favorite with area teen agers. Disc jockeys such as Tom Healy, Tommy Goodwin, Larry O'Neal, Ted Clark, Paul Peyton (Paul Beliveau), Aaron Bowers (the Night Creature), Oscar Leverette and Johnny Hayes were well known personalities.

In the 70s, WNEX was extremely popular especially among teenagers and young adults even though it had only 1000 watts of daytime power and 250 at night. Aubrey Hammock, Lamar Studstill, Merritt Buddy Wheeler, Dennis Hayes, Oscar Leverette, Sid Ingram, Jim Pryor, Bill Elder, Ben Sandifer, Dave "King Kong" Kelly, Terry Taylor and others kept a successful format going. Aubrey Hammock and Lamar Studstill (Jerry Walker) did the play-by-play high school football games for WNEX, as well as basketball games for Macon area. In the 70s. Hammock also worked for Macon's WBML AM, WDEN FM,Perry's WPGA AM/FM, Forsyth's WFNE FM as well as hosting a television show (Keeping in Touch) on Macon's WCOX TV Cable for 8 years as well as a monthly mental health program on WSFT AM in Thomaston, Ga for 6 years. He has also had numerous articles on mental health topics published on the Web as well as newspapers and magazines. Later, Dennis Hayes (no relation to Johnny Hayes) would do play-by-play. Hayes was on the air when Macon's Southwest High School won a national championship in boy's basketball. Pryor, Sandifer, Leverette and Elder went on to work for another local radio station, WMAZ-AM/FM. Barry Bullard joined WNEX in November 1984 after graduating from Columbia School of Broadcasting in Atlanta. Barry came on the air at six every evening, after Terry Taylor's show, to play classic rock oldies from the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Shortly after coming on board, Barry noticed listener demand for smoother sounds in the evening. Responding to that demand, Barry Bullard began NightTracks, featuring smooth and mellow classic rock music and trivia from 8pm until 10pm every night. This, combined with Barry's traditional approach of mixing classic rock trivia in his nightly show, gave WNEX a "shot in the arm" before the station finally decided to change.

In the mid 80s, hampered by FM competition, a weak 1000 watt daytime signal and an even weaker 250 watts at night, WNEX gave up on music and began broadcasting sports around the clock. That format lasted but a short time before the station changed hands and aired a "travelers' radio", format. For a time, WNEX went dark. The studio, off Rogers Place in Macon burned to the ground but the transmitter survived the fire. Purchased by Register Communications, the station went back on the air, first with all sports programming and later "Radio Disney". In November, 2008 with the "Radio Disney" contract set to expire, WNEX teamed with co-owned WPGA to broadcast a talk radio format. Kenny Burgamy and Charles Richardson, who co-hosted a morning talk show on WMAC-AM a few years earlier, anchored morning drive on the newly formatted stations. The show was simulcast on macon.com, the website of the Macon Telegraph where Richardson is employed as an editorial writer and columnist.

In May, 2010, the Macon Telegraph announced it would end its partnership with Register Communications, effective July 9. The morning drive program hosted by Burgamy and Richardson moved on July 12, to WGXA-TV with a simulcast on WMAC-AM and the Telegraph's website, Macon.com. Register Communications began a new morning talk program,"Mix In The Morning". The show is simulcast on WPGA-TV and WPGA-FM. WNEX, which had been simulcasting the program along with WPGA-AM, changed formats in mid-2011 to urban gospel.

External links[edit]