|City||Winston-Salem, North Carolina|
|Broadcast area||Piedmont Triad|
|Branding||Classic Hits WTOB|
|First air date||October 28, 1950 (as WAAA)|
|Power||1,300 watts day
49 watts night
|Former callsigns||WAAA (1950-2006)
|Affiliations||Wake Forest University Demon Deacons Sports Radio Network|
|Owner||Richard Miller, Robert Scarborough and Richard Parker
(Southern Broadcast Media LLC)
|Sister stations||WBRF-FM, WPAQ|
WTOB (980 AM, "Classic Hits WTOB") is a radio station licensed to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA, which serves the Piedmont Triad area. The station is currently owned by Richard Miller and Robert Scarborough, through licensee Southern Broadcast Media LLC. and airs a classic hits format.
WAAA was owned by white businessman Roger Page when it first began broadcasting in 1950. This was rare at this time in the Deep South that a white owner would own and an operate a mainly black radio station.
On the afternoon of October 28, 1950, Larry L. Williams, an African-American, signed on WAAA. The first program broadcast was a football game between Morgan State University and A & T State University. The game was announced from the stadium by Togo West, Sr. (principal of Atkins High School) while Larry L. Williams conducted station operations.
On the morning of October 29, 1950, Williams signed on WAAA for the first full day of broadcasting as the second radio station in the state (after WGIV in 1947) specifically targeting an African American audience. WAAA was believed to be the third black radio station in the United States, preceded by WDIA in Memphis and WERD in Atlanta. WAAA was also the first black-owned station in North Carolina.
Prior to becoming the General Manager of WAAA, Larry L. Williams gave play-by-play action of the Winston-Salem State University football and basketball games; becoming known as the "Voice of the Rams." Larry L. Williams went on to become General Manager of radio stations in Alabama, South Carolina, and Charlotte, NC. He returned to his home in Asheville, North Carolina in 2002 to become General Manager of WOXL-FM. Larry L. Williams, a pioneer in radio, retired in 2008 at the age of 90.
Oscar "Daddy-Oh" Alexander was the station's best known DJ. He was described as "a jive-talking hipster who radiated cool while spinning hits from Motown and Stax."
Current WTOB station owner Richard Miller knew Alexander well. "Daddy-Oh used to let me make dedications on the air live in 1971 when Daddy-Oh was at WAIR radio. I also remember he used to date and go to high school with one of my dad's employees, (Back in the '50s before she worked for my dad) and in the early '70s he would dedicate songs to her on the radio. I personally saw her call him up on the air and tell him or should I say yell at him: 'Oscar Alexander, STOP DEDICATING SONGS TO ME, I'm not going out with you!!!' Daddy-Oh was quite a character and a very nice man."
Jazz pianist Keith Byrd, who once lived near him, described Alexander this way:
He had a voice that was like gravel going through molasses. You know what I'm saying? It was smooth and sweet. He was a good spirit, a great character and he played the hottest songs. He was almost like the black Wolfman Jack in this area.
Alexander left the station in 1962 after five years. But he made quite an impression with lines such as these:
It's Hooty-Tooty your host, the one that loves you the most.
It's 24 O'Roolies past 4 Mac Vouchers.
Here in the atmospheric conditions of our universal solar system - it's clear as a bell and hot as - 98 degrees.
Stick around, don't be no clown. Listen to what I'm puttin' down. This is Hooty-Tooty, the bandit's booty.
Mutter D. Evans bought WAAA from Media Broadcasting Corp. in 1979 for $1.04 million, making her the first African American woman to own a radio station in the United States. At the time, the station had 14 employees and was doing well financially considering its size. But in 1988 WAAA filed for Chapter 11. WAAA continued to broadcast but faced increasing competition from larger stations. But WAAA was unique in its service to the community, playing gospel music, jazz and rhythm and blues and broadcasting news, daily obituary reports, and Sunday religious programming.
On July 9, 2001, deputies locked the doors to the WAAA studios on Indiana Avenue because court documents showed rent had not been paid since 1997. Evans and the community worked to bring the station back, and a web site was introduced in January 2002. On July 5, 2002, WAAA returned to the air with new studios and a limited schedule, with Evans claiming to have solved her problems and intending to return to a full schedule as soon as possible.
GHB Broadcasting purchased the station. For several years WAAA, later called WTIX, aired the programming of WIST-FM, which played adult standards and then classic country. The switch to sports talk took place May 5, 2008.
Truth Broadcasting completed its purchase of the station January 6, 2010. The call letters changed to WEGO and the format changed to Spanish Christian. Programming included syndicated shows plus local programming from Iglesia Luz Admirable Assemblies of God.
The Spanish format was short-lived however, as on July 4, 2012, new owners Ralph Epperson Broadcasting Inc. switched the format from Spanish back to English. The station now is News/Talk and features many of the same local personalities who worked at WSJS. The Eagle has signed former longtime WSJS newsman Smith Patterson to be the news director and morning show host. Bill Flynn (formerly of WMAG and WPTI) will join Patterson on air on the morning show. WEGO is also the flagship radio station of Wake Forest University Demon Deacons football and basketball. Syndicated hosts include Dennis Prager, Michael Savage, Laura Ingraham and Mike Gallagher.
On December 18, 2015 at noon, WEGO switched to classic hits from the late 1950s to the late '70s, with the first song "Fly Like an Eagle" by Steve Miller Band, and began calling itself "Classic Hits WTOB". After new owners changed WTOB in November, employees of the former WTOB formed Southern Broadcast Media LLC to license a new station. Ingraham, Bennett and Savage have been dropped, but Wake Forest sports remain. Mark Richards, one of those in charge, said, "We’re all about live, community radio and bringing back a radio style that was almost forgotten."
Southern Broadcast Media consummated the purchase of WEGO from Truth Broadcasting effective June 6, 2016, at a price of $164,000.
On November 15, 2016, application was made to the Federal Communications Commission for WEGO to change its call letters to WTOB. The call letter change was made effective Tuesday November 22, 2016. On that day at 8:00 a.m., Announcers Mark Richards, Randy Simpson, and Bob Scarborough announced the change of call letters. Also that morning, Richards and Scott Brand, General Manager of the Carolina Thunderbirds Hockey Club announced that WTOB 980 AM would be the official broadcast partner and flagship station for the Thunderbirds Hockey team and will broadcast all 56 games of the Thunderbirds beginning in November 2017.
- "WTOB Facility Record". United States Federal Communications Commission, audio division.
- "WTIX Station Information Profile". Arbitron.
- "Media Legacy Celebrates 45th Anniversary," Winston-Salem Chronicle, October 26, 1995.
- "Silence: Hope Lingers for the Voice of WAAA," Winston-Salem Journal, January 27, 2002.
- Kay McFadden, "Museum Tunes in History of Radio in the Carolinas," The Charlotte Observer, September 21, 1997.
- Dawn Ziegenbalg, "Petition Asks Landlord to Let WAAA Back on Air," Winston-Salem Journal, July 17, 2001.
- http://list.msu.edu/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind9612a&L=aejmc&P=6096, Retrieved on 2008/03/13.
- http://booktofilm.irun.com/m_5.asp?n=39, Retrieved on 2008/03/13.
- Lisa O'Donnell, "Radio Days - The Carolina Music Ways Festival Will Take Audiences Back to the Golden Age of Radio." Winston-Salem Journal, October 7, 2004.
- "1 Voice: Divided City Tuned in to Daddy-Oh," Winston-Salem Journal, February 7, 2002.
- Mary Giunca, "A Calling - Pentecostal Preacher Doesn't Use Title of 'Rev.' - Or Draw a Salary 'It's Not about Her': Pastor, 82, Focuses on Bible," Winston-Salem Journal, March 24, 2007.
- Titan Barksdale, "Giving the Glory - 'Praise Is What I Do,' Says Anita Dean about Her Radio Show 'Annointed'," Winston-Salem Journal, May 14, 2007.
- Dawn Ziegenbalg, "WAAA-AM Is Locked Out of Building: Rental-Property Owner Says Station Owes Back Rent," Winston-Salem Journal, July 12, 2001.
- Lona D. Cobb, "Owner Perseveres, Gets WAAA Back on the Air," Winston-Salem Journal, July 11, 2002.
- "Several Events Planned for MLK Holiday," Winston-Salem Journal, January 14, 2006.
- http://www.marketresearch.com/map/prod/1308437.html, Retrieved on 2008/03/15.
- "Radio Station Becomes ESPN 980," News & Record, May 6, 2008.
- Clodfelter, Tim (2010-01-08). "AM station gets new format, call letters". Winston-Salem Journal. Retrieved 2010-01-21.
- Durham, Andy (2012-07-04). "Wake Forest Football headed to WEGO Radio this Fall: 980AM will be the 'New Home of the Deacs'". Greensboro Sports. Retrieved 2012-07-11.
- "SAM," Winston-Salem Journal, 2012-07-06, p. 2A.
- "SAM". Winston-Salem Journal. 2015-01-12.
- Clodfelter, Tim (2015-12-18). "WTOB veterans back on the air". Winston-Salem Journal. Retrieved 2015-12-29.
- WTOB/Thunderbirds press release