TUCoPS :: TV, Cable, Satellite :: origin1.txt

Origins of US Radio/TV station call signs

                       Radio Station Call Letter Origins   
                          First Release: 20 May 1989       

                                  by Bob Nelson
                                  Dallas, Texas

                             Compuserve: 72647,3332
                             Genie:      BNELSON5
                             Thrax BBS:  (214) 709-5127

     This initial release of Radio Call Letter Origins is certainly not meant
     to be a comprehensive study of the derivation of every call sign ever
     granted or currently in use. With over 11,000 broadcasters now on the
     air, such an analysis would be quite time consuming. Additionally, the
     majority of call letters signify absolutely nothing of any real historical
     consequence. Many current call signs are used to identify a station's
     current promotional position such as variations on "Power," and evidenced
     by Los Angeles' KPWR or Little Rock's KIPR. Likewise, certain memorable
     letters like "Q" and "X" are often used to reinforce a station's on-air
     logo, viz., KTXQ for Q-102 in Dallas and WXGT for 92-X in Columbus, OH.

     Consequently, since this is a "beta" version of what will hopefully expand
     into a more thorough document, I have limited the field to about 100 
     callsigns. In all cases, to the best of my knowledge, the call letters are still
     currently being used on the AM band in the city of license shown in the
     list. (Note: This does not preclude several of the call letters being
     used on FM as well, eg., WGAR(AM) and WGAR-FM in Cleveland). Furthermore,
     I have tried to deal primarily with call letters that have some intrinsic
     historical heritage. This means I have attempted (for this release) to
     avoid those call letters that have had a slogan "forced" upon them, such
     as Pittsburgh's WJAS which once featured a listener contest yielding the
     awkward, "World's Jolliest Aerial Station." Perhaps in updates of this
     study, we can deal with these slogans in a more in-depth manner.


(ORIGIN-Page 2)

     Much of what you see here is based upon the knowledge of associates
     currently in the broadcast industry or those who have moved on to the
     academic field,

       Dr. Robert M. Ogles, Professor: Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
       Roy Humpfrey, Chief Operator: WLTJ, Pittsburgh
       Hoyt Carter, Operations Manager: WNAH, Nashville
       Hal King, Director of Operations: Metro Traffic Control, Dallas
       Randy Dietterich, Chief Operator: WAMO AM/FM, Pittsburgh
       Dr. Herbert Howard, Assistant Dean-Graduate Studies
                                          College of Communications
                                          University of Tennessee, Knoxville

      A couple of publications have been valuable, including Tom Kneitel's
      "Radio Station Treasury" published by CRB Research and some choice
      periodicals from the National Radio Club.
      I'm hoping that I can add your name to those acknowledged above. With
      your help, this list can grow. If you are aware of the meaning lurking
      behind call letters in your region (or perhaps other parts of the
      country), please contact me via CompuServe, GEnie or the PC Pursuitable
      Thrax BBS in Dallas. Additionally, since much of this data is based
      upon oral history (and in some cases, hearsay), don't hesitate to point
      out errors! In the next edition, we'll include more stations and perhaps
      branch out into call letters that no longer exist in their original city
      of license, such as the legendary WCFL, once in Chicago, or those call 
      letters that have migrated to a different band in the same city, like 
      WIS(AM) ("Wonderful Iodine State") once at 560 kHz in Columbia, SC and 
      now on Channel 10 television there.

      Note: The list is arranged alphabetically in order of call letters.

    敖陳陳陳陳陳陳陳陳陳陳陳陳陳陳陳  K E Y  陳陳陳陳陳陳陳陳陳陳陳陳陳陳陳陳
      Calls: Call Letters (All are AM unless otherwise noted)               
      City of License: Current City of License as of this document's date   
      *: Origin of Call Letters                                             
      O-Ownership Related (Initials or Name of Original Licensee)           
      L-Location Related (Pertaining to Geographic Feature, Region or City) 
      S-Slogan (Promotional Phrase, usually reflecting Licensee)            
      Explanation/Notes: Highlights Relationship to Call Letters            
                         For instance, WCFL (once in Chicago) would be      
                         highlighted as: C)hicago F)ederation of L)abor     
                                         to clarify "CFL" in the callsign.  
                                         [Brackets indicate additional      
                                         historic facts dealing with the    
                                         call letters].                     


(ORIGIN-Page 3)

Calls     City of License         *      Explanation/Notes
陳陳      陳陳陳陳陳陳陳                陳陳陳陳陳陳陳陳陳

KBOI      Boise, ID               L      Boi)se, Idaho
KFBC      Cheyenne, WY            O      F)rontier B)roadcasting C)ompany
KFH       Wichita, KS             S      K)ansas's F)inest H)hotel
                                         [Original Owner: Hotel Lassen]
KFWB      Los Angeles, CA         O      W)arner B)rothers Broadcasting
KID       Idaho Falls, ID         L      Id)aho Falls, Idaho
KING      Seattle, WA             L      King) County, Washington
KLAC      Los Angeles, CA         L      L)os A)ngeles, C)alifornia
KMA       Shenadoah, IA           O      Ma)y Seed and Nursery Company
KMMJ      Grand Island, NE        O      The M). M). J)ohnson Co.
                                         [Original City: Clay Center, NE]
KOAC      Corvallis, OR           O      O)regon A)gricultural C)ollege
KOIL      Omaha, NE               O      Mona Motor Oil) Co.
KOWH      Omaha, NE               O      O)maha W)orld-H)erald
                                         [Newspaper Ownership]
KPMC      Bakersfiled, CA         O      P)ioneer M)ercantile C)ompany
KPOF      Denver, CO              O      P)illar O)f F)ire Ministries
KPRC      Houston, TX             O      P)ost R)adio C)ompany
                                         [Newspaper Ownership: Houston POST]
KRLD      Dallas, TX              O      R)adio L)abs of D)allas
KRMD      Shreveport, LA          O      R)obert M). D)ean
KSAC      Manhattan, KS           O      K)ansas S)tate A)gricultural C)ollege
KSD       St. Louis, MO           O      S)t. Louis Post-D)ispatch
                                         [Newspaper Ownership]
KSL       Salt Lake City, UT      L      S)alt L)ake City, Utah
KSTP      St. Paul, MN            L      St). P)aul, Minnesota
KTRH      Houston, TX             O      T)he R)ice H)otel
KWFT      Wichita Falls, TX       L      W)ichita F)alls, T)exas
KWKH      Shreveport, LA          O      W). K). H)enderson
WACO      Waco, TX                L      Waco), Texas
WAPI      Birmingham, AL          O      A)labama P)olytechnic I)nstitute
                                         [Original City: Auburn, AL]
WBAL      Baltimore, MD           L      Bal)timore, Maryland
WBCM      Bay City, MI            L      B)ay C)ity, M)ichigan
WBEN      Buffalo, NY             O      B)uffalo E)vening N)ews
                                         [Newspaper Ownership]
WBNS      Columbus, OH            O      W)olfe B)ank N)ewspaper and S)hoes
                                         [Newspaper Ownership:
                                         Columbus Dispatch]
WBOW      Terre Haute, IN         S      B)anks O)f W)abash River
WCCO      Minneapolis, MN         O      W)ashburn C)rosby Milling Co)mpany
                                         [Makers of Gold Medal Flour]

WCKY      Cincinnati, OH          L      C)ovington, K)entuckY)
                                         [Original City of License, still
                                         location of transmitter]
WCOA      Pensacola, FL           S      W)onderful C)ity O)f A)dvantages
WDEL      Wilmington, DE          L      Wilmington, Del)aware
WDGY      Minneapolis, MN         O      D)octor G)eorge Y)oung
WDNC      Durham, NC              L      D)urham, N)orth C)arolina
WDOD      Chattanooga, TN         O      D)ynamo O)f D)ixie


(ORIGIN-Page 4)

WDRC      Hartford, CT            O      D)oolittle R)adio C)ompany
WEDC      Chicago, IL             O      E)mil D)enemark C)ompany
WEEI      Boston, MA              O      E)dison E)lectic I)lluminating Co.
WEVD      New York, NY            O      E)ugene V). D)ebs
                                         [Reknown Socialist and Labor Activist]
WFBG      Altoona, PA             O      W)illiam F). G)able Co.
WFLA      Tampa, FL               L      Tampa, Fl)oridA)
WFMJ      Youngstown, OH          O      W)illiam F). M)aag, J)unior
WGAR      Cleveland, OH           O      G). A). R)ichards
WGBF      Evansville, IN          O      G). B). F)inke Furniture Co.
WGH       Newport News, VA        S      W)orld's G)reatest H)arbor
WGL       Ft. Wayne, IN           S      W)orld's G)reatest L)oudspeaker
                                         [Original Ownner: Magnavox]
WGN       Chicago, IL             S      W)orld's G)reatest N)ewspaper
                                         [Newspaper Ownserhip: Chicago Tribune]
WGST      Atlanta, GA             O      G)eorgia S)chool of T)echnology
WGY       Schenectady, NY         O      G)eneral Electric, SchenectadY)
WIBC      Indianapolis, IN        O      I)ndiana B)roadcasting C)ompany
WIBG      Philadelphia, PA        S      I) B)elieve in G)od
                                         [Original Owner: St. Paul's Church]
WILL      Urbana, IL              L      University of Ill)inois
WIOD      Miami, FL               S      W)onderful I)sle of D)reams
WJAC      Johnstown, PA           O      J)ohnstown A)utomotive C)ompany
WJLB      Detriot, MI             O      J)ohn L). B)ooth Broadcasting Co.
WJR       Detriot, MI             O      J)ewett R)adio & Phonograph Co.
WKAT      Miami Beach, FL         O      Frank L. Kat)zentine
WKRC      Cincinnati, OH          O      K)odel R)adio C)ompany
WKZO      Kalamazoo, MI           L      K)alamaz)o)o, Michigan
WLAC      Nashville, TN           O      L)ife A)and C)asualty Insurance Co.
WLDS      Jacksonville, IL        S      L)incoln D)ouglas S)tation
                                         [Tribute to Illinois Statesmen]
WLS       Chicago, IL             S      W)orld's L)argest S)tore
                                         [Original Owner: Sears-Roebuck]
WMAL      Washington, DC          O      M). A). L)eese Co.
WMBD      Peoria, IL              S      W)orld's M)ost B)eautiful D)rive
                                         [Original City: Peoria Heights, known
                                         for it's scenic boulevard]
WMBI      Chicago, IL             O      M)oody B)ible I)nstitute
WMC       Memphis, TN             O      M)emphis C)ommercial-Appeal
                                         [Newspaper Ownership]
WMCA      New York, NY            O      Hotel McA)lpine
WNOE      New Orleans, LA         O      James A. Noe)
WNYC      New York, NY            L      N)ew Y)ork C)ity
WOC       Davenport, IA           S      W)orld O)f C)hiropractic
                                         [Palmer School of Chiropractics]
WOSU      Columbus, OH            O      O)hio S)tate U)niversity
WOW       Omaha, NE               O      W)oodmen O)f the W)orld Insurance Co.
WPAD      Paducah, KY             L      Pad)ucah, Kentucky
WPAT      Paterson, NJ            L      Pat)erson, NJ
WPRO      Providence, RI          L      Pro)vidence, Rhode Island
WPTF      Raleigh, NC             S      W)e P)rotect T)he F)amily
                                         [Owner: Durham Life Insuarnce]
WRC       Washington, DC          O      R)adio C)orporation of America
                                         [Original Owner: RCA]
WREC      Memphis, TN             O      W)ooten R)adio and E)lectric C)ompany


(ORIGIN-Page 5)

WRKO      Boston, MA              O      RKO)-General Broadcasting
WRUF      Gainesville, FL         O      R)adio: U)niversity of F)lorida
WRVA      Richmond, VA            L      R)ichmond V)irginiA)
WSBC      Chicago, IL             O      W)orld S)torage B)attery C)ompany
WSBT      South Bend, IN          O      S)outh B)end T)ribune

WSJS      Winston-Salem, NC       O      W)inston-S)alem J)ournal S)tation
                                         [Newspaper Ownership]
WSLI      Jackson, MS             O      S)tandard L)ife I)nsurance Co.
WSM       Nashville, TN           S      W)e S)hield M)illions
                                         [Original Owner: National Life
                                         and Accident Insurance]
WSMB      New Orleans, LA         O      S)aenger Amusement-M)aison B)lanche
WSOC      Charlotte, NC           S      S)ounds O)f C)harlotte
WSPA      Spartanburg, SC         L      Spa)rtanburg, South Carolina
WSUI      Iowa City, IA           O      S)tate U)niversity of I)owa
WSVA      Harrisonburg, VA        L      S)henandoah Valley of V)irginiA)
WTIC      Hartford, CT            O      T)raveler's I)nsurance C)ompany
WTMJ      Milwaukee, WI           O      T)he M)ilwaukee J)ournal
                                         [Newspaper Ownership]
WWNC      Asheville, NC           L      W)estern N)orth C)arolina
WWRL      New York, NY            O      W)oodside R)adio L)abs
                                         [Original City: Woodside, LI, NY]
WWSW      Pittsburgh, PA          O      W)illiam S). W)alker
WWVA      Wheeling, WV            L      W)heeling W)est V)irginiA)

   I hope you found this document to be of interest and that you'll
   take some time to provide input---suggestions, additions, corrections.

   Thank You!

   Bob Nelson
   20 May 1989

TUCoPS is optimized to look best in Firefox® on a widescreen monitor (1440x900 or better).
Site design & layout copyright © 1986-2024 AOH