|City||Statesville, North Carolina|
|Branding||96.9 The Kat|
|Slogan||Charlotte's Best Country|
|Frequency||96.9 MHz (also on HD Radio)|
|First air date||1967 (as WDBM-FM)|
|Callsign meaning||We're Kat KounTry|
|Former callsigns||WDBM-FM (1967-1973)
(Capstar TX LLC)
|Sister stations||WEND, WHQC, WLKO, WRFX|
WKKT is a country music radio station in Charlotte, North Carolina. Owned by iHeartMedia, its transmitter is located in Mooresville, North Carolina, and its studios are located on Woodridge Center Drive in South Charlotte.
In the Boone area, WKKT is subject to co-channel interference from WXBQ-FM, licensed to Bristol, Virginia. The transmitters of the two stations are less than 100 miles apart, and WXBQ broadcasts with an effective radiated power of 75,000 watts.
The station on 96.9 FM in Statesville, North Carolina began in 1967 as WDBM-FM, and was largely the simulcast partner to co-owned daytime station WDBM (now with the call sign WAME). The station's original owner was Walter B. Duke, and the call letters supposedly stood for "Walter Duke's Beautiful Music" station. WDBM-FM continued to broadcast in the evenings after the AM station signed off.
The Duke family sold the stations in 1973, and the new owners separated the operations of the AM and FM, and programmed the FM station as a rock-oriented Underground format, changing the call letters to WOOO and the station's slogan to "Triple-O-97".
In 1981, WOOO was sold again. The new owners increased its power to 100,000 watts and began serving the Charlotte market under the call letters WLVV and slogan "Love 97". Its initial format under those call letters was an automated system called "The FM100 Plan", but later changed to Churchill Productions' "Radio One", a soft adult contemporary format. Popular announcers on the station in those years included Phil Green, Bob Brandon, Bob Chrysler, Dan Lucas, Dick Durante and Anne Cruse.
Another ownership change and a switch to country came in 1985, along with new call letters WLVK ("K-97"). In January 1989, Bill Blevins, using the on-air name Billy Buck, became the new morning host to compete with Charlotte's top DJ, Bill Dollar.
On March 23, 1990, the station switched to a "high-octane country" format as WTDR ("Thunder 96.9"), with the first song "If You Don't Like Hank Williams" by Hank Williams Jr.. Research showed many male listeners who liked country music also listened to album rock WRFX. Program director Mark Tudor said the previous target audience was 25-54, while the new audience was 21-37, specifically a median age of 33. The playlist included more newer hits and less gold. Rock songs in the new format included "Move It On Over" by George Thorogood and "Sharp Dressed Man" by ZZ Top. Kenny Rogers, Crystal Gayle and Anne Murray were no longer played, though Ronnie Milsap's "Smoky Mountain Rain" and George Jones' "He Stopped Loving Her Today" were acceptable. Liners included "Slammin' the Door on the Same Old Country" (referring to WSOC-FM), "Country Without the Restrictor Plate" and "Playing What You Asked for 'Cause No One Else Will". That experiment didn't last long, and the station went back to all-country under the moniker "New Country 96.9." However, the WTDR calls remained for a while.
The call letters were changed to the current WKKT in 1997. Along with the new calls came a new nickname, "96.9 Kat Kountry." In December 1997, Paul Schadt moved to WKKT after 16 years at WSOC.
Jingles and sweepers
- Station voice: Emily Mcintosh, John Willyard
- Station jingles: YoungGuns Studios
- Jeff Borden, "Country WLVK Puts Its Money on Billy Buck," The Charlotte Observer, January 6, 1989
- Ross, Sean (April 28, 1990). "Can 'Thunder' Take Country By storm?". Billboard. 102 (17): 10.
- Stark, Phyllis (June 4, 1994). "Vox Jox". Billboard. 106 (23): 129.
- Mark Price, "Country DJ Schadt Moves to WKKT-FM," The Charlotte Observer, January 8, 1998.
- Mark Washburn, "Once a Powerhouse, WSOC Slips in Ratings," The Charlotte Observer, January 19, 2001.
- Official website
- Query the FCC's FM station database for WKKT
- Radio-Locator information on WKKT
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for WKKT