WLNT-LP (96.1 FM) is a low-power FM radio station broadcasting from Loudon, Tennessee. As of 2011, its format is a 50/50 mix of modern and traditional country music. Licensed to Community Radio of Loudon County Inc., it serves Loudon County, Tennessee (including the cities of Loudon, Philadelphia and Lenoir City). The station is also audible in Roane, Monroe, Knox and Blount Counties. The station first began broadcasting in August 2002 and was originally owned by the Corporation For Radio Education, Inc.
WLNT was founded by Richard "Chip" Lynn, a lifelong resident of Loudon County. Lynn began his radio career at WLOD (AM) 1140 kHz in Loudon in the spring of 1985. From 1987 to 1995, he worked for the father-son team of James C. and Randall W. Sliger (and family) in Athens, Tennessee. Primarily on-air at WJSQ and WLAR, Lynn also helped with the construction of Sliger-owned station WYGO (99.5 MHz FM), the purchase and reformatting of WCLE (AM) 1570 in Cleveland and the construction of its Calhoun, Tennessee counterpart WCLE-FM (104.1).
From 1995 to 2003, Lynn worked in management at the network-operations department for Scripps-Howard Broadcasting at its Knoxville-based Home & Garden Television Network. He assisted the network when its programming temporarily originated from Atlanta, also creating backup facilities in Nashville. Lynn also assisted in moving and integrating the Food Network from New York to Knoxville, and with construction of the DIY and Fine Living Networks.
While WLNT was operating, Lynn became frustrated with the corporate world; he left Scripps in July 2003 to pursue a career in local radio, devoting nearly 20 hours per day to the station. Lynn was aided in WLNT's construction, operation and upgrades by Jim McGhee, another Loudon County resident who had recently retired as engineer and program director at WBIR-TV (channel 10) in Knoxville. McGhee retired from WLNT and the broadcast industry in 2005. The call letters WLNT were obtained from the old AM 1140 station in Loudon. AM 1140 used the call letters WLNT until 1985, when Gene Chrusciel and Doyle Lowe formed Loudon Broadcasters and bought the station. It was originally constructed in late 1982 by Tellico Broadcasting Company. TBC was founded by Jim McGhee and his business partner Howard Oberholtzer (a nuclear engineer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory). The pair sold the station in 1985 so McGhee could return to television. As of 2011, in retirement McGhee still stays in contact with WLNT and assists with projects. He spends several months per year at his condominium in Florida with his hobbies, including satellite television, radio DXing and the internet.
In fall 2003, WLNT began broadcasting Loudon Redskins football games with Kent Everett, Eric Mitchell and David "Top" Dukes. That year, two other stations (WDEH and WLIL) also carried Redskins games. In 2004, WLNT continued broadcasting Redskins football; WLIL no longer covered the games, since its sportscaster Russell Mayes left for a career in education. Mayes is (as of 2011) media instructor at Fulton High School in Knoxville, and operates WKCS FM (91.1) for the Knox County Schools. In 2005, WLNT was the only station to broadcast the Redskins and began using the slogan "There's only one place to hear the Redskins". The station also began covering Loudon Redskins basketball and baseball in 2003.
WLNT has had the same call letters and format since its inception in August 2002, first broadcasting from a transmitter on Prospect Church Road. In December 2002, the station petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to relocate its transmitter about 3,500 feet (1,100 m) east-northeast to its present site on Matlock Ridge in Loudon. This move increased WLNT's coverage, since the Matlock Ridge site is line-of-sight to a large part of the area's population. WLNT utilizes studio/transmitter link WPWW-390 at 951.5 MHz and remote pickup unit WPVX-964 at 161.64, 161.67, and 161.70 MHz.
WLNT operates two mirror websites, WLNTFM.com and REDSKINRADIO.com. Syndicated programming on the station includes "The Country Oldies Show" with Steve Warren and "Country Hitmakers" and "American Country Gold" with Freddie Carr. WLNT broadcasts sports from Loudon High School including football, basketball and baseball. Mike Thompson, Kent Everett, DeWayne Arp, Randy Davis, Clayton Stamey and Chip Lynn produce sports programming for the station. WLNT broadcasts national newscasts from the USA Radio Network. Religious programs from local churches are broadcast Sunday mornings; churches include Watson's Chapel, Blairland Baptist Church, Loudon Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Crossway Baptist Church and First Baptist Church of Loudon.
WLNT's music-programming announcers include Gene Chrusciel, Lynn Richards, Bill Fortune, Chip Lynn, Jeff Jackson and Dr. Doctor Thayer. The station broadcasts from studios in downtown Loudon, at the corner of Atlanta Avenue and Mulberry Street in the Fergosun Machine Shop. WLNT moved into new studios in the machine shop in mid-2009. The station maintains two off-site backup studios in the event of civil unrest, natural disaster or other disruption of service. On November 22, 2005 translator W235AZ in Sweetwater, Tennessee began operation, repeating WLNT's programming on 94.9 MHz. W235AZ broadcasts from Linwood Drive, off Vonore Road, in Sweetwater and is owned by Charles Lynn. W235AZ reaches all of Monroe County and parts of Loudon, McMinn and Rhea Counties. Virgil Wyrick owns the building and property where the translator is located, and oversees its equipment and operation.
A construction permit for a translator on 96.5 MHz in Lenoir City, Tennessee was granted to Jim McGhee in March 2005. With McGhee in Florida much of the year, it was transferred to Charles Lynn on December 27, 2007. The station is in the process of being moved from near the Loudon–Knox County line, closer to Lenoir City. The station is projected to be on the air at a new location in June 2009. An agreement with a tower owner in Lenoir City is being negotiated.[dated info]
In July 2008 a microburst struck WLNT's transmitter site, destroying the transmitter building and all equipment inside except for the transmitter, FM antenna and studio-transmitter-link. The station temporarily operated from a portable building until a new structure could be built. Because WLNT maintains backup equipment (including a spare antenna), downtime was less than 12 hours. Don Burgraff, former transmitter and studio engineer at WBIR-TV (channel 10) in Knoxville, is WLNT's engineer for transmitter and RF issues. Burgraff is also chief cngineer and board member for the Cumberland Communities Communications Corporation and its non-commercial station (WDVX (89.9 MHz), licensed in Clinton, Tennessee and is a contract engineer for several radio stations and translators in eastern Tennessee.
In mid-2008, WLNT was transferred from the Corporation For Radio Education to Community Radio of Loudon County. The divestment was required so the CRE could begin construction on two more FM stations: WLNQ-FM in Spring City, Tennessee and WLNB-FM in Wartburg, Tennessee. WLNQ is slated to begin broadcasting in the fall of 2009, and WLNB is scheduled to begin broadcasting in early 2010.[dated info] In March 2009, WLNT began carrying local and regional news during the morning and afternoon drive times.
WLNT is one of two stations which program for the residents of Loudon County; the other is WLIL-AM (730 kHz) in Lenoir City. Other stations (WNML-FM 99.1, WLOD-AM 1140, WFIV-FM 105.3, and WBLC-AM 1360) carry satellite programs or aim for more of a regional coverage and presence without specifically serving the residents of Loudon County. Only WLNT, WBLC and WLIL have offices and studios within the county. In May 2010, at Loudon High School's graduation cerermony, Chip Lynn was awarded the 2009-2010 Alumnus of the Year Award for his continuing support of Loudon High School and the Redskins.
- Rec Networks Retrieved 2011-10-07.
- WLNT website
- W235AZ translator
- Query the FCC's FM station database for WLNT
- Radio-Locator information on WLNT-LP
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for WLNT