The Courier-Journal - Tuesday, May 14, 1991

WDJX is giving up on its AM frequency
Tom Dorsey - TV-Radio Critic

WDJX is tossing in the towel on its AM-1080 outlet.

The station, the home of WKLO radio from 1948-1979, will rent out its 1080 dial position to WXLN, a Christian broadcast station. The new operators eventually want to convert the station to religious talk radio.

News of the deal comes as the winter Arbitron ratings show that WDJX-AM, which simulcasts its FM sister station's signal, has fallen to 18th place in the rankings. It has less than 1 percent of the audience.

Contractual details are still to be worked out, but Debra Kaiser, XLN general manager, said that the transfer could take place June 1 if everything goes right. WDJX FM-99.7 will remain unchanged.

"We're just glad somebody is finally going to be able to make some use of that strong AM signal," said Bill Wells, DJX general manager. The deal shows how tough it has become for AM stations to survive.

Few people in radio are surprised that DJX is giving up its AM affiliate. Some, however, are disappointed or angry - such as WHAS morning personality Wayne Perkey and program director Skip Essick. They say many stations have neglected their AM outlets by making them echoes of their FM stations. That's a certain path to oblivion, said Perkey, who owns WHIR-AM and WMGE-FM in Danville, Kentucky.

Industry critics also charge that government deregulation of the 1980s allowed people to buy stations one week and sell them the next for a profit.

Stations saddled with huge takeover debt had no money left for programming. Critics say the Federal Communications Commission's procrastination in approving stereo for AM also hurt.

"There's one big AM dog left in every city, and WHAS is it in Louisville," said Wells, who indicated the rest of the AM outlets are scrambling after the leftover scraps. The most recent ratings appear to back him up.

WHAS radio rose to No. 1 in the winter Arbitron survey and became the most-listened-to station in town, with more than 17 percent of the audience over 12 years old.

WLOU was the only other AM outlet in the 10 top stations. The six lowest-rated outlets were all on the AM band. WHAS remains a leader because it offers the only 50,000-watt, clear-channel news-information-sports station in town. Strong personalities, like Perkey and Terry Meiners, cement the station's success.

Nor is WHAS program director Essick worried about the large number of plus-50 listeners the station attracts. He points out WHAS is also No. 2 in the 25-54 age group. WAMZ is first in the 25-54 age category, followed by WHAS, VEZ, RKA and QMF.

WAVG, another AM station that mainly plays hit tunes from the 1940s, '50s and '60s, showed a significant audience jump, probably boosted by some University of Kentucky basketball broadcasts. The WAVG gains also came after WLSY, which also broadcast a soft-music format, went off the air.

One of AM radio's best hopes may lie in talk radio shows such as the ones WWKY has recently acquired. "We've sold out (advertising) in midday with 'The Rush Limbaugh Show' for the first time anybody can remember," said Frank Iorio, general manager.

The station, which now has a 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. talk block Monday through Fridays, is negotiating for two other discussion programs. But Iorio notes that the talk lineup costs more than music and needs more advertising and listener support to make it

WWKY is also on the verge of returning TalkNet radio to Louisville. The hang-up is over the nights the station would have to pre-empt "TalkNet" for baseball games under a previous commitment.

The ratings show country-music station WAMZ again trading first place with its sister station, WHAS. WQMF shot up sharply, undoubtedly helped by the demise of rock competitor WLRS.

LRS, once a Louisville powerhouse that now calls itself MIX-102, took a nose dive as it tried to compete with WVEZ, DJX and KISS (WZKS) for the younger listener with a contemporary hits format.

WVEZ is clearly winning that battle, but WGZB has taken a bite too. DJX has slipped in the 12-years-old-and-up category but still does well with its 18- to 34-year-old women target audience, Wells said.

The rest of the stations' shares of the audience remained about the same, moving up or down less than 1 percent.

The 12-year-old and up listener breakdown shows:

 1. WHAS
 2. WAMZ
 3. WQMF
 4. WVEZ
 5. WRKA
 7. WGZB
 8. WZKS
 9. WLOU
10. WLRS
11. WXVQ
12. WAVG
13. WLSY
14. WTMT
15. WLLV
16. WWKY
17. WLW
19. WFIA

WDJX-AM planning a reunion of
old DJs to mark its demise

Tom Dorsey - TV-Radio Critic
The Courier-Journal - Wednesday, June 19, 1991

Those were the days my friend; they thought they'd never end; but they are about to.

The end for WDJX-AM will arrive Sunday when its 1080 spot on the dial will be turned over to WXLN, which will begin a new era with Christian radio the next day.

Before the microphones go silent, the people who worked there over the years are going to throw one big, bad bash this weekend.

The DJX-XLN lease-transfer arrangement winds up almost 43 years of pop and country music going back to November 1948, when WKLO went on the air. It would later become WKJJ and WCII before winding up as WDJX.

Bill Wells, WDJX general manager, wanted to transform what might have been a wake into a nostalgic celebration. Listeners can join the time-warp trek with the people who have been heard over the years at 1080 on the dial. A marathon reunion will run from 6 a.m. Friday until midnight Saturday.

"We want them to do their thing and just have a lot of fun before the memories fade," Wells said.

They plan to talk a lot, cry a little and play oldies that really are old before the lights go out.

Bob Cline, alias J.R. Kennedy (1974-83) is one of the organizers. He's trying to talk Bill Bailey, who works for WVLK in Lexington, into joining the stroll down memory lane.

"He's promised to send us a taped greeting, but we're still hoping he'll be on live," says Cline. Cline also hopes to get Foster Brooks, who once did a shift on KLO, to drop by.

The familiarity of other names will depend on the listener's age. They include Big Bill Love, who called himself Brother Love on his show in the 1970s. Carl Truman Wiglesworth, now with a station in San Antonio, Texas, also will be here. "Remember, no matter what anybody calls you it will never be worse than Carl Truman Wiglesworth," he always reminded his audience.

Mighty Mitch Michael, who was Terrell Metheny off the air, is on the reunion roster too. He's remembered as the first program director ever to beat the invincible WAKY in the ratings.

Paul Cowley, who initiated the Hi-Fi Club (1958-1964), will call in, and so will Lee Gray, who worked three stints at the station over the years.

Tad Murray, who was Bo Brady behind the microphone, will be heard from, and so will Bill Hennes, now a station manager in Battle Creek, Michigan. Jimmy Osborne, who played country music on the station in the 1950s, will be on hand. Count on Bob Ryan, the Smiling Irishman, too.

"These guys were legends in their own time, and there are lots of people out there with fond memories of their heydays on that station," says Cline.

Top of Page