|City||Kannapolis, North Carolina|
|First air date||1946|
|Power||1,000 watts (day only)|
|Callsign meaning||World's Greatest Textile Land|
|Owner||Fred H. Whitley, Inc.|
WGTL (870 AM) was a radio station licensed to Kannapolis, North Carolina. It operated on 870 kHz with a power of 1000 watts, daytime, non-directional. The call letters were chosen to represent a common slogan for its city of license, "World's Greatest Textile Land." WGTL has been off the air since 1992.
The 870 frequency in the Charlotte market first went on the air with the call letters WGTL in 1946, it was owned and operated by Fred H. Whitley. From 1946 to 1948, the station had studios in downtown Concord at the Hotel Concord.
From 1948 to 1992, the studios were co-located with the transmitter on Highway 29 across from the Carolina Mall.
A side story: sister station WAAK
The station was initially applied for by Wayne M. Nelson and was to be licensed in Concord with 1000 watts daytime and nighttime. In 1960. Fred Whitley, owner of WGTL applied for the frequency as a daytime-only station in Dallas in order to keep new competition out of his market.
He won the construction permit for the station in Dallas, took the call letters WAAK off the top of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) call letter list, refurbished WGTL's studio (bought the audio board from WSJS-TV) and put the old WGTL console in Dallas.
WGTL was built for Whitley by Foy T. Hinson, a local radio repair shop owner who developed an interest in broadcast electronics during his service in World War II. Hinson was the Chief Engineer for the station until December 1961. During the previous year, he had applied for a station of his own, and had constructed the facilities without the knowledge of WGTL's owner, Mr. Whitley. Hinson resigned from WGTL the last week of November, and signed on WRKB-AM 1460 in Kannapolis the very next week.
William E. Rumple became the Chief Engineer of the station from that time until it went dark in 1992.
Location in Concord
Although licensed to Kannapolis, North Carolina, both studio and transmitter were within the corporate limits of Concord, North Carolina, for the last 15 years of its existence.
The station was able to do this because Kannapolis was an unincorporated city until 1984, and lacking definite city boundaries allowed the station to be built closer to the commercial center of Cabarrus County than would usually be allowed.
From 1948 until 1992, WGTL was known primarily as a Big Band and Easy Listening format, but had blocks of its day set aside for Country music and religious programming. Each day began and ended with "The Lord's Prayer," which the station also played when it first signed on.
WGTL was most remembered for playing all Christmas music between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, doing it decades before it became fashionable for Charlotte-area FM stations to do so.(I was an announcer at WGTL from 1964 to 1969 and this is true about the Christmas music format. It is also true that commercial content was so high during the Thanksgiving to Christmas season that not much music of any type was played. Commercials were as cheap as .25 each! Newscast consisted of news that was mailed in! The official "name" for the format was Variety, meaning we played what was later known as "middle of the road." We did have a teen segment with rock music from 3:30 to 5PM each weekday. Jerry Hancock)
The final sign-off
Following bankruptcy and an extensive eviction proceeding, WGTL signed off for good at sunset, December 25, 1992. The tower was dismantled two years later. Fred H. Whitley moved to Las Vegas, Nevada.
The future of 870 kHz
Radio station WGHC, formerly licensed in Clayton, Georgia, changed its community of license to Mount Holly, North Carolina, in 2009. When the move occurred, the station also changed broadcast frequencies from 1370 kHz to 870 kHz, the dial position formerly occupied by WGTL. The new call letters for the relocated station are WTCG.
The WGTL call letters are currently unassigned, but not available for assignment, by the Federal Communications Commission.
- Mark Plemmons, "WGTL Signs Off the Air with 'The Lord's Prayer,'" Concord Tribune, January 1, 1993.