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WKEY-AM 2012.jpg
City Covington, Virginia
Broadcast area Covington, Virginia
Clifton Forge, Virginia
Branding "103.5 Big Country"
Slogan "The Highland's Best Country"
Frequency 1340 AM kHz
First air date May 23, 1941[1]
Format Country
Power 1,000 watts (day and night)
Class C
Facility ID 73157
Transmitter coordinates 37°46′3.0″N 79°59′6.0″W / 37.767500°N 79.985000°W / 37.767500; -79.985000
Callsign meaning Earl M. Key
former owner[2]
Former callsigns WJMA (1941-1943)[1][3]
Affiliations Dial Global's Mainstream Country network
Fox News Radio
MRN Radio
PRN Radio
Virginia Sports Network
Owner Todd P. Robinson, Inc.
Sister stations WJVR, WXCF
Webcast WKEY Webstream
Website WKEY Online

WKEY (1340 AM) is an American radio station licensed to serve the community of Covington, Virginia. The station, which began broadcasting in 1941, is owned and operated by Todd P. Robinson, Inc. The WKEY broadcast license is held by WVJT, LLC.[4]

The station broadcasts a country music format to the Covington/Clifton Forge area. WKEY is branded, along with its broadcast translator W278BF (103.5 FM, Covington), as "103.5 Big Country".[5]


Photo of Earl M. Key, owner of WKEY from 1942 until 1973.

WKEY began broadcasting on May 23, 1941 as WJMA with 250 watts of power.[1][6] WJMA was owned by John Arrington Jr. and his wife, Marcia.[1] On May 26, 1942, WJMA was sold to Earl M. Key and the callsign changed to WKEY in 1943.[2][6][7]

By 1964, the station's power had increased to 1,000 watts during the day, while the nighttime power remained at 250 watts.[8] On June 1, 1973, WKEY was sold to WKEY, Inc., headed by E.H. Barr, for an undisclosed amount.[9] WKEY increased its nighttime power in 1987 to 1,000 watts, matching its daytime power.[10]

On December 20, 2002, WKEY was acquired by Quorum Radio Partners of Virginia, Inc. for $650,000.[11][12] During 2002, WKEY switched from its longtime country format to oldies.[11] On April 20, 2005, Quorum Radio Partners of Virginia, Inc. filed for bankruptcy and WKEY placed into debtor-in-possession status pending a sale.[13] On January 1, 2006, WKEY was sold to Todd P. Robinson, Inc., for $100,000.[14][15]

On May 1, 2008, the station changed its format from oldies to Southern Gospel, under "The Cross" branding.[16] On January 14, 2012, WKEY began simulcasting sister station WIQO-FM, after its move to Forest, Virginia, and away from Covington.[17] On August 9, 2012, WKEY began simulcasting full-time on translator station W278BF (103.5 FM), located in Covington, with the country format that was previously heard on WIQO.[18]

On November 18, 2013, WKEY began streaming its signal live on the internet.[19]


Offices in Covington

WKEY carries a mix of local and syndicated programming. Weekdays begin with a locally produced morning show called "Highway 64 with Big Al".[20] The station also has a news department which prepares and broadcasts local news reports on weekdays.[20] The bulk of the broadcast day's programming comes from Dial Global's Mainstream Country network.[20] Nationally syndicated programs aired on WKEY include the "Tim White Bluegrass Show" and "zMAX Racing Country".[21] The station carries a one-minute newscast from Fox News Radio at the top of each hour.[22]

WKEY broadcasts live football games from Covington High School in the Fall.[20] WKEY is an affiliate of the University of Virginia's Virginia Sports Network, which carries the school's football and basketball games.[23] NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races can also be heard on WKEY with live coverage provided by the Motor Racing Network and the Performance Racing Network.[24][25]

On Sunday mornings, WKEY airs an assortment of religious programming.[20] Beginning with a half-hour, locally produced Gospel music program, the station then airs the syndicated In Touch Ministries and Focus on the Family programs, rounding out the block with a live local church service broadcast.[20]


In addition to the main station, WKEY is relayed by an FM translator to widen its broadcast area.[26][27]

Call sign Frequency
City of license Facility
m (ft)
Class FCC info
W278BF 103.5 FM Covington, Virginia 139546 16 watts 310.6 m (1,019 ft) D FCC


  1. ^ a b c d Broadcasting Yearbook - 1942 (PDF). Broadcasting Publications, Inc. 1942. p. 186. Retrieved December 10, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Broadcasting Yearbook - 1944 (PDF). Broadcasting Publications, Inc. 1944. p. 166. Retrieved December 10, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Call Sign History". CDBS Public Access Database. FCC Media Bureau. Retrieved May 13, 2013. 
  4. ^ "WKEY Facility Record". CDBS Public Access Database. FCC Media Bureau. Retrieved May 13, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Station Information Profile". Arbitron/Nielsen Holdings. Retrieved November 20, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b Broadcasting Yearbook - 1960 (PDF). Broadcasting Publications, Inc. 1960. pp. A–242. Retrieved December 10, 2012. 
  7. ^ Broadcasting Yearbook - 1943 (PDF). Broadcasting Publications, Inc. 1943. p. 150. Retrieved December 10, 2012. 
  8. ^ Broadcasting Yearbook - 1964 (PDF). Broadcasting Publications, Inc. 1964. pp. B–163. Retrieved December 10, 2012. 
  9. ^ Broadcasting Yearbook - 1974 (PDF). Broadcasting Publications, Inc. 1974. pp. B–218. Retrieved December 10, 2012. 
  10. ^ Broadcasting & Cablecasting Yearbook - 1987 (PDF). Broadcasting Publications, Inc. 1987. pp. B–296. Retrieved December 10, 2012. 
  11. ^ a b Broadcasting & Cable Yearbook - 2003-2004 (PDF). Reed Publishing (Nederland) B.V. 2003. pp. D–494. Retrieved December 10, 2012. 
  12. ^ Volume 19, Issue 86, Your Morning Radio Industry E-Paper. Radio Business Report. November 5, 2002. Retrieved May 6, 2012. 
  13. ^ Broadcasting & Cable Yearbook - 2006 (PDF). Reed Publishing (Nederland) B.V. 2006. pp. D–518. Retrieved December 10, 2012. 
  14. ^ "Application for Consent to Assignment of Broadcast Station Construction Permit or License". Federal Communications Commission. November 18, 2005. Retrieved December 10, 2012. 
  15. ^ "Escrow Agreement". Federal Communications Commission. November 4, 2005. Retrieved December 10, 2012. 
  16. ^ "M-Street Directory 2009/2010 - 18th Edition" (PDF). M Street Corporation. 2009. p. 644. Retrieved April 17, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Big Country 101". Todd P. Robinson, Inc. Archived from the original on 2012-01-16. Retrieved May 6, 2013. 
  18. ^ "We are set to...". Todd P. Robinson, Inc./Facebook. August 9, 2012. Retrieved May 6, 2013. 
  19. ^ "BIG COUNTRY is now WORLDWIDE!". Todd P. Robinson, Inc./Facebook. November 18, 2013. Retrieved November 22, 2013. 
  20. ^ a b c d e f "Big Country 103.5 - Highlands Media Group". Todd P. Robinson, Inc. Retrieved April 27, 2016. 
  21. ^ "Affiliates - zMAX Racing Country". Speedway Motorsports, Inc. Retrieved May 11, 2013. 
  22. ^ "Station Finder - Virginia". Fox News Channel/Premiere Networks. Retrieved November 20, 2013. 
  23. ^ "Virginia Sports Radio Network Affiliates". University of Virginia/CBS Interactive. Retrieved May 11, 2013. 
  24. ^ "Radio Stations - Virginia". MRN. Retrieved November 18, 2013. 
  25. ^ "Sprint Cup Series Affiliates". Speedway Motorsports, Inc. Retrieved May 11, 2013. 
  26. ^ "W278BF Facility Record". CDBS Public Access Database. FCC Media Bureau. Retrieved May 11, 2013. 
  27. ^ "Application for Authority to Construct or Make Changes in an FM Translator or FM Booster Station". FCC Media Bureau. January 3, 2012. Retrieved May 11, 2013. 

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