This page updated Tuesday, August 23, 2016


In the 1960s and 1970s, Louisville, Kentucky was the scene of one of the hottest radio battles in the country: Top 40 station WAKY vs. Top 40 station WKLO. This Website is dedicated to the fans and former employees of "The Big 1080: Radio WKLO." (For WAKY lovers, go here.) Thanks for visiting!

What's New

August 23, 2016

Thanks to Carl Blanton for the 1969 studio pics of Bill Bailey two days before he left WKLO. Find them on this page.

Former WKLO announcer Ted Barbone's obituary has been posted here.

November 27, 2015

Several WKLO surveys from 1970, 1971 and 1972 have been added, courtesy Phillip Davidson. We've also added and updated .zip files on the WKLO surveys page to make it easier to download a year or more's worth of surveys at a time.

Old "What's New" Items

We invite you to check out our as well! salutes other classic Louisville radio stations.

On this site you'll find WKLO material from our personal collection, plus audio, images and information contributed by former WKLO employees and listeners. Do you have any WKLO material or information you'd like to make available to this project? Please contact us. We'd be honored to accept additional airchecks, photos, surveys and other pieces of historic data to share with our visitors. Thanks to all who've helped preserve the memory of the "Big 1080"! -- John Quincy, Curator 

From Billboard Magazine - July 13, 1959

Another recent format change took place at WKLO, Louisville, Ky., which introduced a new "Modern Format" July 4. The new format, an around-the-clock pop music plan, involved the hiring of new deejay-program director Barney Groven (formerly with KFDA, Amarillo, Tex.) and new jocks Jim Dixon, KSYD, Wichita Falls, Tex.; Paul Crawford, ex-KRGV, Weslaco, Tex.;  Jack Grady, formerly with KSYD, Wichita Falls; and Chuck Irvin, another ex-KFDA, Amarillo, Tex. staffer. Long-time WKLO jock Paul Cowley will be heard from 7-10 p.m. nightly while other veteran WKLO jocks Tommy Downs and Jimmy Lloyd split the midnight to 6 a.m. shift.

WKLO-WAKY 2006 Reunion Review Page

"As the manager who hired Mitch Michael, Bill Hennes, Bill Bailey and many more from 1964-1976, I am naturally most interested in your efforts to tell the WKLO story, and very pleased. WKLO was a unique station that combined a great rock format with some terrific personalities, plus deep interaction with our younger listeners, and some genuine community service, all done with a lot of fun." - Ernie Gudridge, Fort Myers, Florida

"...we should not short change Ernie Gudridge. Peter Drucker says: 'No enterprise can be more successful than its management...' Ernie was the strong management that allowed me to spread my wings, and also was able to correct me when necessary without ever diminishing my enthusiasm...and, he's the one who had the wisdom and courage to withstand the initial dismay of staff, sellers, and advertisers when [Bill] Bailey came on the scene.  Few general managers of that day, most of whom would have been concerned primarily with sales at the expense of programming, would have understood, been as supportive or had the wisdom and foresight of Ernie." - Terrell Metheny (Mitch Michael), Van Buren, Arkansas (WKLO Program Director 1964-1968)

'KLO Comments from Allen Bryan (March, 2005)

My tenure at WKLO was from 1960-1972, so I worked there before, during, and after the Terrell Metheny years. My memory of the competitive situation is different than his and I have a Hooper rating sheet to substantiate mine. In the pre-TM days, WAKY and WKLO were 1 and 2 in the market. Although WAKY was consistently number 1 overall, WKLO was strong in the mornings and mid-day. WAKY was the leader in PM drive and at night. One important fact about WKLO at night is that we had a very restricted signal pattern that was imposed at sundown. We probably lost half of our coverage area at night. Sometimes the signal was hard to get in parts of Jefferson County. During that pre-Terrell period, all the rest of the radio stations were tied for last place after WKLO and WAKY and had shares that are similar to today's market (5-10%).

The architect of the early WKLO period was a guy named Barney Groven, who was PD when I got there in May of '60, and was still there when I was drafted and went to the Army in December of '61. In the 2 years I was gone there was a big turnover including the GM, Barney, and most of the jocks. Ken Rowland, who had been news director, was named PD. During that period in '62-'63 they may have lost a lot of ground with WAKY, but when I came back from the Army in December of '62, Barney Groven was back, and they were competitive again. (Ken was a fine News Director, had a long career in local TV news, and was recently named to the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame.)

There's no question that the arrival of Terrell was the key to the greatest period of success at WKLO in the mid and late '60s. There is also no question that TM put his stamp on virtually every aspect of the on-air sound of the station. While he was able to recruit some very good talent, there was a lot of turnover (mostly guys going to better gigs), but the success was in the format. As Terrell noted in his interview, even the great unique style of Bill Bailey was successful because it was captured within the format, and Bill learned how to suspend his train of thought in his stories between records, commercials, newscasts, etc.

One of the greatest conflicts that happened when TM arrived was the conflict between a news-dominated station and a music-and-format oriented PD. The evolution of the news product under his PD-ship was very interesting, and I was on the front line of that evolution as News Director. I think it helped that I had been a DJ and was much more interested in sound and format issues than Ken Rowland had been. I always thought of Ken as being from the Walter Cronkite/Ed Murrow school of broadcast journalism.

Prior to TM, WKLO was a news-dominated station. Our AM and PM drive times were essentially all news and commercials. Not much music. We did 2 five-minute newscasts per hour during AM and PM drive. We had no real limits on the number of commercials. We ran as many as the sales staff could sell. The sales department also took precedence over programming in things like remote broadcasts. If they sold it, we did it -- regardless of how it affected the format.

When TM showed up, his first priority was the stuff between the newscasts. It took a little longer to start working on the news on-air sound. I could talk about the changes for hours, but will save that for later. Lots of changes occurred in the presentation of the news on the air.

Regarding the TM memos, I was interested in his references to the news. It was obviously a high priority, and newsmen had the right of way when it came to traffic reports and breaking news. News was a vital element of WKLO's success. I never actually saw those memos at the time, but I knew what the policy was about the newsman's authority to get on the air. Another interesting thing about this from a programming flow point of view is that the DJs had to always be very quick and flexible in changing course to accommodate the news guy. Some of them resented it and were pretty ugly about it, essentially trying to intimidate the newsman to keep him off the air, but most of them followed the format and were very accommodating.

For the newsman...especially in drive time with two newscasts an was a very busy and hectic routine. This was especially true in afternoon drive when there were a lot more traffic condition reports, and a lot more breaking news. The PM drive news shift was very demanding both physically and mentally. During one period where I was working on a new style of writing and delivering the news, I would often go into a PM drive newscast without any typewritten copy. My stories were mostly handwritten notes with the bare facts of the story which I would adlib around. Only there was nothing about it that sounded adlibbed. It was quick paced, and tight.

One of the most unusual experiences I had was when we moved to 307 W. Walnut, Terrell decided that he wanted me, as News Director, to share an office with him. I think he thought this would help integrate news and programming. There was some benefit, but eventually he decided it wasn't working, because he needed the privacy to talk with jocks, make phone calls, etc. So we eventually split.

During the years I was with WKLO, I started as the 6p-12m newsman, moved to doing afternoon drive news and the 9a-12n DJ show at the same time, then to nighttime teen DJ, then back to news, and then I was appointed News Director. I worked morning drive doing news with Bill Bailey for a couple of years, then went off the air as Sales Marketing Manager, then a dual role as Manager of News and Information which included the news department. I finally left in December of 1973 to go to work for the Mayor of Louisville. I never went back to radio after that.

Even though it was 30-40 years ago, it was still probably one of the most interesting and exciting times of my life...and I was young enough to enjoy it. However I always approached my work as a professional....not as a kid in a candy store...because my dad had been in radio all of my life, and this was a profession, not a game.

It has been great in the past few years to reestablish contact with some of the guys I worked with and to realize that we all agree how special the WKLO experience was.

I totally agree with what Terrell Metheny wrote about Ernie Gudridge...he was by far the best boss I ever worked for (other than my Dad) anywhere in any situation in my 50 years in the workplace. He gave me many opportunities to do different things at WKLO, and was always supportive and at the same time he demanded excellence.

'KLO Comments from the late Mike Rivers (August 14, 2003)

Back in the early to mid 70's, we sped up the tables at WKLO, Louisville by 4% (exactly a half-tone). The turntables we used didn't have a pitch control, so we had to manually lift the platters off and put a precisely measured length of 1/4" splicing tape around the 45 rpm section of the turntable capstan. This increased the size of that part of the capstan just enough to pitch it up 4%. I also have perfect pitch, so this little assignment was left to me. I'd have to replace the capstan tape about once a month.

The one song I remember really benefiting from this treatment was "Rocking Pneumonia and the Boogie-Woogie Flu" - at normal speed it seem to really drag. Up 4% and it cooked.

Our chief competition, WAKY never did speed theirs up, but I knew some of their staff and they always complained about how the music sounded "so much better" on our station than on theirs. I don't think they had anyone over there with ears keen enough to figure out what we were doing. We also varisped-up our jingles by 4% as well, so there wouldn't be a pitch-clash.

WAKY purchased The Last Contest from Jack McCoy of KCBQ in San Diego. KCBQ was extremely well-known for, among other things, "the shotgun jingle" which TM distilled from this package. So when we culled our OWN shotgun out of the package and used it against WAKY, THAT was what stirred the pot. Of course, there wasn't anything TM or anyone else could do about it - we'd BOUGHT the package back in its heyday.

BTW, you'll remember that WKLO ran a promotion against The Last Contest - and won the ratings period - whereby we gave away cheesy little $2.00-a-pop plastic chess sets and Bobby Fischer paperback books on chess vs. all the prize packages they were "offering." But Willie Hennes had me cook up a bunch of Jack McCoy-style promos that were better than the prizes themselves - which effectively blurred the waters enough that our superior air staff was able to win the book for us.

Of course, The Last Contest was a success for WAKY in that it was actually a self-liquidating merchandising promotion whereby tons of sponsors paid to be a part of it and only one had to kick in an actual prize, since the contest had only one winner at the end. WAKY made money on it, but we won the war. Hennes played that one beautifully!

Sheesh. If only it could be so much fun today.

Mike Rivers (Real Name: Ralph W. Wright, Jr.) passed away September 13, 2004.

About the Curator

Even though he was born 15 years earlier, Lexington, Kentucky native John Quincy didn't really discover Top 40 radio until he smuggled in a transistor radio to a church camp outside of Louisville in the summer of 1970. After a few hours of listening to the legendary WAKY (WKLO's main competition) in his dorm room, he caught the radio fever. Upon his return to Lexington and a visit to local stations to find out how radio stations really performed that on-air magic, he was hooked.

Shortly thereafter a high school teacher told him about a Junior Achievement program being sponsored by WVLK-AM. Every Wednesday night WVLK would turn over a half hour of their programming to high school kids, who would sell, operate, and program it. Quincy made sure he was one of the ones chosen to be one of the teen DJs.

Between his junior and senior year of high school, Quincy scored a summer job working seven days a week at WBGR AM & FM in Paris, Kentucky. Most of the time was spent running the board for Cincinnati Reds baseball games, but for part of each shift he got to play DJ. While it was country music (which was especially bad in the early '70s), it was radio. From that point, Quincy never looked back.

There were stints in other Lexington area radio stations (WEKY, WAXU, WCBR, WKDJ, and WBLG) before Quincy got the call in 1979 to escape Lexington's awful winters and work in sunny Savannah, Georgia (WKBX and WZAT). Then in 1981, Quincy moved up the coast to Charleston, South Carolina to take on PM drive duties at rock station WSSX. Later Charleston gigs included AC WXTC (where he spent nearly 10 years as PD), All 70s WJUK, Country WBUB, Oldies WXLY, News-Talk WTMA, and Country WNKT. Subscribers to Tom Konard's Aircheck Factory service might remember Quincy as one of the narrators of "Around The Dial" and various profiles.

Today Quincy is the Program Director at News-Talker WTMA in Charleston. Along with his radio work, he does regular mobile DJ gigs plus creates and maintains Web sites including tribute sites to Charleston radio stations WTMA and WOKE, as well as pre-1990s Louisville and Lexington, Kentucky radio

Cool Links

WAKY, Louisville Tribute Site (Louisville and Lexington Radio Tribute Site)
WCSC, Charleston Tribute Site
WOKE, Charleston Tribute Site
WQAM, Miami Tribute Site
WTMA, Charleston Tribute Site