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City of license Raleigh, North Carolina
Broadcast area Raleigh/Durham
Research Triangle
Branding TalkRadio 850 WPTF
Frequency 850 kHz
First air date 1947 (as WNAO)
Format Talk
Power 10,000 watts day
5,000 watts night
Class B
Facility ID 888
Transmitter coordinates 35°48′4.00″N 78°48′51.00″W / 35.8011111°N 78.8141667°W / 35.8011111; -78.8141667 (WPTK)
Callsign meaning WPTF TalK
Former callsigns WNAO (1947–1959)
WKIX (1959–1994)
WYLT (1994–1995)
WRBZ (1995–2010)
WKIX (2010–2012)
Owner Curtis Media Group
(AM 850, LLC)
Webcast Listen Live
Website www.talkradio850.com

WPTK (850 AM; "TalkRadio 850 WPTF") is a radio station broadcasting a talk radio format. Licensed to Raleigh, North Carolina, USA, the station serves the Research Triangle, North Carolina area. The station is currently owned by Curtis Media Group.[1] WPTK is branded as a second WPTF.[2]


WPTK signed on in 1947 as WNAO, owned by the News and Observer newspaper. As of 1948, WNAO was an ABC radio affiliate. WNAO-FM was added in 1949.[citation needed] Sir Walter Television purchased the stations from the newspaper effective February 13, 1953. The Raleigh-Durham market's first TV station, WNAO-TV, signed on at channel 28 in 1953,[3] but went off the air in 1957. The station was sold to an independent broadcaster, Ted Oberfelter, who changed the call letters to WKIX to avoid the connection that the original WNAO call sign associated with the newspaper. In 1958, Hugh Holder, a former CBS network announcer, bought the radio stations which had been already renamed WKIX and WKIX-FM.[4] The FM continued to air the AM station's programming (due to a limited nighttime signal on the AM) until it became easy listening WYYD in the 1970s.

Holder operated WKIX as a top 40 radio station, serving the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill market. Known as "Channel 85, WKIX", the station was one of the most successful top-40 outlets in the country from the 1950s through the late 1970s when FM began to dominate the music formats. Following Holder, WKIX was owned by Henderson Belk, Southern Broadcasting, and Mann Media, and the station's slogan was the "10,000-watt Giant of the South".

WKIX in the 1970s had a strong news department, with such news icons as: Bill Leslie, who is now at WRAL-TV and is also an accomplished musician; Mike Blackmon, who went onto WPTF; Scott White, who later went onto WBT in Charlotte; Steven Reid; Max Powell; Raymond Caulder; Bill McQuage; Joe Goodpasture; John Tesh, who went on to co-host Entertainment Tonight and now writes and produces music; Steve Shumake, who later moved to the North Carolina News Network; the late J. Paul McGonagal; Doug Limerick[5] of ABC Radio News and others.[6]

WKIX had what was called "20/20" news. News brief at 20 past the hour and a full newscast at 20 before the hour. This was very effective since most other Triangle stations had news at the top of the hour, bottom of the hour or at 55 past the hour.[6]

WKIX as a Top 40 station was home to some legendary names in North Carolina radio including Tom Scott; Jack Kane; Rich Reim; Mike Reineri; Al Smith; Tommy Woods; Bob Kelly; Bob Jones; Mark Starr; Steve Roddy; the legendary Jimmy Capps, with his show called "Our Best to You",Capps passed on in 1967; Dale Van Horn, who passed on in August 2001; Pat Patterson, Ron McKay, Mike Mitchell, Mark Mitchell, Bob Bolton, James K. Flynn, Russ Spooner, Gary Edens, Tommy Walker, Charlie Brown, Rick Dees,[7] Legendary General Manager, Hal Vester, designed the unique format based on his former experience with Top 40 stations in Asheville, Greensboro, Charlotte, Wilmington, and Washington, DC. Chief Engineer, Larry Gardner (who later became CE of WCKY in Cincinnati) was responsible for many technical innovations that provided the distinctive WKIX sound.

WKIX changed format to Country in the summer of 1981, with such announcers as Joe Wade Formicola, who had come down from KENR in Houston and Jay Butler, a graduate of the Central Carolina Technical Institute Radio-TV program, who later went to WQDR-FM, where he stayed for many years as morning personality. Butler passed on in February 2010. WKIX became the first significant country station in the Raleigh market. After several years of ratings success, WQDR-FM changed to country on Labor Day in September 1984 and shortly after, WKIX went oldies on Wednesday September 17, 1986 at 4:00 pm. The first DJ on the air after the format switch was Dale Van Horn and first song played was the Rolling Stones "Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown".[6]

From 1990 to 1995 the format was satellite adult standards with some talk shows and sports programming. The letters changed to WYLT in 1994 when the FM station, also owned by Alchemy Communications, traded letters with the AM.[8] The station went all-talk in 1995 as WRBZ, for its "850 The Buzz" branding, but gradually added more sports programming[9] before becoming an all-sports radio station in April 1998.

The station's logo as "850 The Buzz," WRBZ

Don Curtis of Curtis Media had planned to buy WRBZ from Alchemy Communications early in 2005 but was prevented by FCC rules from owning any more stations. His son-in-law Billy McClatchey bought the station instead.[10]

For six years, The Buzz was an ESPN Radio affiliate. When ESPN insisted that The Buzz carry its shows instead of local programming, The Buzz changed to Fox Sports Radio effective August 1, 2005.[11] Unlike sister station WDNC which relied more on network programming from ESPN, WRBZ's lineup consisted almost entirely of locally produced sports talk local programming from morning hosts Adam GOld, Joe Ovies and Tony Rigsbee; David Glenn; and Morgan Patrick (the Sports Pig). Jim Rome's weekday afternoon show and network programming from Fox Sports Radio on weekend afternoons and daily overnights rounded out the lineup[citation needed]. Until October 2008, WRBZ aired The Herd with Colin Cowherd, from ESPN; both WDNC and WRBZ dropped ESPN programming because the network wanted a stronger commitment than McClatchey was willing to provide.[12]

The Don Imus morning show aired on WRBZ from the time the station switched to sports until the Rutgers University controversy that caused CBS to drop his show.[9][13]

WRBZ was the second flagship station of the Carolina Hurricanes. When the team moved there from Hartford, Connecticut, in 1997, WPTF was the first flagship station. WRBZ later carried Duke University football and basketball games, Carolina Panthers football games, select East Carolina University football games, the Roy Williams and Butch Davis shows, and several other seasonal play by play games.

WRBZ celebrated 10 years in the sports radio format on April 10, 2008, with a special guest hosting appearance by The Fabulous Sports Babe, who has largely been in retirement since 2001.[14]

On August 10, 2009, Curtis Media Group announced an intent to purchase WRBZ from McClatchey Broadcasting, with plans to convert the sports-talk station to a music format. Gold and Ovies moved to former sister station WDNC to host a local morning program, while David Glenn hosts an afternoon show on WCMC-FM.[15]

The station's logo as "Kix 850"

Early in 2010, WRBZ ended a simulcast of sports talk to switch to oldies from the late 50s and the 60s, with a few 70s songs. The playlist started with 3000 songs but was expected to be reduced. The target audience was 55 to 70.[16] The station reclaimed its former WKIX callsign soon afterward.[17] WKIX had a very broad-based playlist incorporating some adult standards and classic country material into an oldies playlist spanning the early 1950s to early 1980s.

WKIX ended its oldies format (except for some weekend programming) on March 13, 2012 and reverted to a talk format, branded as TalkRadio 850 WPTF; the branding reflects its status as a compliment to sister station WPTF's increased emphasis on news programming.[2][18] The station's call letters were changed to WPTK on March 16.[17] Much of WPTK's programming moved from WPTF and WZTK (the latter of which changed format); some programming is shared with Piedmont Triad sister station WSJS.[2][18]

On June 8, 2012, WBT in Charlotte announced that Brad Krantz and Britt Whitmire would be taking over the afternoon slot; their show moved from WZTK to WPTK and WSJS and would end June 19.[19]


  1. ^ "WPTK Facility Record". United States Federal Communications Commission, audio division. 
  2. ^ a b c "North Carolina's Curtis Media makes talk changes in Raleigh & Greensboro". Radio-Info.com. March 12, 2012. Retrieved March 12, 2012. 
  3. ^ Teresa Leonard, "TV makes debut in Raleigh," News & Observer, July 10, 2013, p. 1B.
  4. ^ "Raleigh, Durham, Cary, Chapel Hill Radio History". Archived from the original on March 10, 2007. Retrieved May 7, 2008. 
  5. ^ Clark, Rebecca (March 13, 2009). "Shelby Native Set to Take Paul Harvey's Timeslot on ABC Radio". Shelby Star. Retrieved March 24, 2009. 
  6. ^ a b c Dr. Anthony Harrington, 1977 graduate of CCTI Radio Television Program, now BPT at CCCC in Sanford, NC and currently History Professor CCCC, Sanford, NC.3/13/2010
  7. ^ "NAB Award Winner—Rick Dees". Radio Journal. April 2007 Special NAB Convention Issue. Retrieved March 24, 2009. 
  8. ^ David Menconi, "WYLT Changes Format, Call Letters – Station Chucks Alternative Rock for Country Digs", The News & Observer, January 5, 1994.
  9. ^ a b David Menconi, "Local Station to Change to Sports/Talk Format", The News & Observer, June 29, 1995.
  10. ^ David Ranii, "Radio Station Still Being Sold, but to Someone Else," The News & Observer, Tuesday, January 11, 2005.
  11. ^ Lorenzo Perez, "'The Buzz' Ditches ESPN," The News & Observer, August 3, 2005.
  12. ^ Roger Van Der Horst, "Imus Returning to Triangle Radio," The News & Observer, October 15, 2008.
  13. ^ Danny Hooley, "Buzz Fills Imus Slot," The News & Observer, May 15, 2007.
  14. ^ Hooley, Danny (April 8, 2008). "Babe is back on Buzz's birthday". News and Observer. Archived from the original on April 11, 2008. Retrieved May 7, 2008. 
  15. ^ "Deal reshapes Triangle radio market". WRAL.com. August 10, 2009. Retrieved August 10, 2009. 
  16. ^ Baysden, Chris (February 22, 2010). "Curtis Media turns 850 AM into oldies station". Triangle Business Journal. Retrieved March 8, 2010. 
  17. ^ a b "Call Sign History". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved March 16, 2012. 
  18. ^ a b Venta, Lance (March 12, 2012). "680 WPTF Raleigh Expands News; 850 WKIX and 101.1 WZTK To Flip". RadioInsight. Retrieved March 12, 2012. 
  19. ^ Washburn, Mark (2012-06-08). "Krantz replacing Coakley on WBT". The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved 2012-06-12. 

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