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|Broadcast area||Oklahoma City Metroplex|
|Branding||930 WKY Deportes|
|First air date||1922|
|Power||5,000 watts day|
510 watts night
|Callsign meaning||None; assigned sequentially|
|Owner||Cumulus Media |
(Radio License Holding CBC, LLC)
|Sister stations||KATT, KKWD, KQOB, KYIS, KWPN, WWLS-FM|
WKY (930 AM) is a radio station located in Oklahoma City and is under ownership of Cumulus Media. Its studios are in Northwest Oklahoma City, and the transmitter and 1 tower are located on E. Britton Road in Oklahoma City.
WKY is the oldest radio station in Oklahoma, the 28th-oldest in the nation and the third-oldest west of the Mississippi River (behind only WEW in St. Louis and KGU in Honolulu). It has featured many formats over the years, including Top-40, Oldies, Country, Adult Contemporary, Easy Listening, Christian, "Hot Talk," News-Talk and Regional Hispanic (acting as a simulcast of then-sister station KINB), and sports talk. The station broadcasts from the tallest AM radio tower in the country.
5XT became the 87th licensed station in the United States on March 16, 1922. It was owned by the Oklahoma Radio Shop (Earl C. Hull and H.S. Richards). The station was assigned the WKY call letters and began broadcasting weekdays from noon to 1:00 p.m. and from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. On Sundays, WKY was on the air from 3 to 4 p.m. and 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.
On November 1922, WKY announced a "silent night" policy, meaning the station would broadcast only four, and later three nights a week. This was so listeners could have a chance to tune into other stations in neighboring states.
Richards and Hull struggled to keep WKY on the air. In late 1925, Richards left the radio business, but Hull continued to keep WKY on the air by selling shares of the station to radio dealers in Oklahoma City. The dealers paid Hull a small salary to keep the station broadcasting; however they decided the financial drain had become too much. In 1928, WKY was purchased by the Oklahoma Publishing Company, publishers of the Daily Oklahoman for the hefty sum of $5,000 (over $71,000 in 2016 dollars).
The formal opening of the new WKY was set for November 11, 1928, but the station went on the air several days earlier to carry the presidential election returns as Herbert Hoover won in a Republican landslide.
That December, the station became an NBC affiliate and began broadcasting the network's programs. By the following year, WKY was attempting to operate like the powerhouse stations in the east. Aside from the programming from NBC, everything broadcast by WKY originated locally.
WKY operated from the Skirvin Hotel in downtown Oklahoma City from 1936 to 1951, and was contracted to broadcast live from the Venetian Room from 11:00 to Midnight every evening. The opening night performance cost $15 a couple for dinner and dancing.
From November 1941, through June 1942, WKY broadcast its own original supernatural thriller series called Dark Fantasy (series). All 31 episodes can still be heard today.
WKY-FM was launched on July 1, 1947 at 98.9, (now sister station KYIS). The programming was classical or semi-classical music. A strong effort was made to minimize the duplication of WKY programs and make WKY-FM a true second station.
By 1952, WKY management had to make a decision about keeping the station on the air or increasing the power of their new television tower. Since the FM dial was struggling during this time, radio lost out.
WKY-FM donated its transmitter and other equipment to the Oklahoma City Public School District and went off the air. The station received one letter of protest, that from a music lover in Norman, Oklahoma.
Although KOMA was very famous outside Oklahoma City, due to its large nighttime signal (like WABC in New York), WKY was usually the ratings leader in the city itself (as WMCA won New York City ratings books from 1963–1966); WKY continued to top many Arbitron ratings sweeps into the 1970s.
Ironically, WKY mainstays during that time—Danny Williams, Ronnie Kaye and Fred Hendrickson—would go on to become "KOMA Good Guys" when the station flipped from a standards to an oldies format.
WKY changed its format to country music in the early 1980s, shortly after station owner Edward Gaylord purchased Nashville radio powerhouse WSM-AM and the Grand Ole Opry WKY and WSM simulcast live Grand Ole Opry broadcasts for a short time.
WKY dropped its country format to become an easy listening station on June 30, 1990 shortly after longtime easy listening station KKNG 92.5 became a soft AC. Bus benches throughout Oklahoma City had the purple and white logo declaring "Easy Listening is back, 930 WKY."
Although it took a bit of time to grow the format, within a year 930 WKY had beaten KKNG 92.5 in the ratings. After getting beaten by WKY, KKNG would take the "Soft & Easy" format to straight ahead AC as "Mix 92.5," which flopped badly and barely lasted a year.
Ironically, WKY's taking stewardship of the easy listening format ended up helping former rival KOMA, as it took over the 92.5 frequency in the summer of 1992. Despite getting high ratings, the easy listening format on WKY had trouble getting advertisers to buy in. The easy listening format lasted about four years.
Changing times, WKY as a talk station
WKY flipped to a talk format in 1994. In the process of flipping, it hired back many of the news staff it let go when it flipped from country to easy listening in 1990.
The station stumbled out of the starting gate and struggled to compete against Clear Channel's KTOK 1000. In its first year, it failed to cover its operational costs. In 1995, OPUBCO turned over operation of WKY to Clear Channel Communications, who operated the station through a local marketing agreement, after several continued months of operating in the red.
Finally, in 2002, OPUBCO sold the station to Citadel Broadcasting after 74 years of ownership. WKY and the WSM stations had been the last vestiges of the once-vast Gaylord broadcasting empire, which at its height included eight radio stations and seven television stations.
From 2000–2002, WKY was a talk station. It flirted with sports talk, with two local sports talk shows in the drive time periods. "SuperTalk 930 WKY" was launched in March 2003. The format featured local-oriented talk shows throughout the day with some syndicated talk shows during the evening and weekend.
WKY en español; other changes
In an effort to target Oklahoma City's growing Hispanic population, "SuperTalk" ended in January 2006, replaced by a simulcast of KINB "La Indomable 105.3 FM". Because KINB was divested as part of the Citadel–ABC Radio merger, the simulcast on WKY was dropped June 12, 2007 and the station began stunting for several days.
On Wednesday June 20, 2007 at 9:01 a.m., Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, a former sports, and later news anchor on KOCO-TV, signaled the start of JOX 930 WKY. It was the fifth station in the market with a sports radio format.
After struggling in the ratings, it was announced on December 22, 2008 that WKY would change formats from sports programming. On January 7, 2009, WKY flipped back to "La Indomable." That format would remain in place until February 2017 when WKY became a full-time affiliate of ESPN Deportes Radio.
Sale to Cumulus
On March 10, 2011, Cumulus Media announced that it would purchase Citadel Broadcasting. After receiving conditional regulatory approval from the Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission, the deal was approved by Citadel shareholders on September 15, 2011. The merger of the two companies closed on September 16, 2011, and Citadel became an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Cumulus Media.
- CBS Evening News anchor Walter Cronkite (1916–2009) served as play-by-play commentator for University of Oklahoma football games during the 1936 season.
- Frank McGee (1921–1974) Co-Anchor, NBC Nightly News, NBC's Today Show.
- TV Show host Mike Douglas (1926–2006) started his career as a staff singer on WKY before joining the Navy during World War II and serving on a munitions ship.
- Danny Williams (1927–2013) Program Director during WKY's years as a Top 40 station. Williams began the Oklahoma portion of his career in 1950, and would stay at WKY until his first "retirement" in 1979. At the age of 81, he retired from 92.5 KOMA-FM on August 29, 2008 after spending the last 16 years as the morning drive personality.
- Phil Boyce, Program Director, Salem Communications.
- Kevin Metheny (1954–2014)"Kevin Michaels" during his 1971 stint at WKY, was portrayed by Paul Giamatti under the name Kenny "Pig Vomit" Rushton in the movie Private Parts, starring Howard Stern. Metheny was the program director at WNBC-AM in New York City during the early 1980s. He went on to work at MTV as Vice President for Production and Programming. At the time of his death, Metheny was Program Director for Cumulus Media in San Francisco.
- Syndicated DJ Steve Goddard
- Jimmy O'Neill (1940–2013) Host of ABC's Shindig! TV program from 1964–66; longtime DJ in Los Angeles.
- Ernest Istook, a former Republican member of the United States House of Representatives for the 5th District of Oklahoma. Istook was a member of the Appropriations and the Homeland Security committees. He was the Republican gubernatorial nominee in 2006, running against incumbent Democrat Gov. Brad Henry. Istook lost the gubernatorial race. During the 1970s, Istook worked as a radio news reporter at WKY. Istook also worked at KOMA.
- Jack Mildren (1949–2008) All-American Quarterback at the University of Oklahoma from 1969–1971. During that time, he earned the title of "Godfather of the Wishbone." Mildren played in the NFL from 1972 through 1974 for the Baltimore Colts and the New England Patriots. In 1990, Mildren became the 22nd Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma. In 1994, he ran unsuccessfully as a Democratic candidate for Governor of Oklahoma, losing to Republican Frank Keating. In addition to his drive-time show on WKY, Mildren was also a regular contributor on sister station WWLS.
- Russell Pierson (1911–2015) farm broadcaster from 1959–1983 and was known for closing every program with a rhyme.
- Chuck Dunaway Houston, TX native who worked his way to Oklahoma City and eventually landed in New York at WABC 770. He had two stints at WKY and went on to own radio stations in Lexington, KY and Joplin, MO.
Oklahoma City sister stations
- KATT 100.5 FM – Rock
- KQOB 96.9 FM – Variety Hits
- KYIS 98.9 FM – Hot AC
- KWPN 640 AM/WWLS-FM 98.1 FM – Sports
- WKY "ESPN Deportes" Website
- Query the FCC's AM station database for WKY
- Radio-Locator Information on WKY
- Query Nielsen Audio's AM station database for WKY
- ABC Radio to Merge with Citadel Broadcasting Official press release.
- 1969 WKY Aircheck
- Website of former WKY personality, Danny Williams
- WKY Described
- WKY's Transmitter Building and former studios
- Voices of Oklahoma interview with Danny Williams. First person interview conducted on June 18, 2009 with Oklahoma broadcast legend, Danny Williams. Original audio and transcript archived with Voices of Oklahoma oral history project.
- FCC History Cards for WKY