WPCV-FM 97.5 Winter Haven – Recreation Broadcasting of Central Florida (H. Hunting, president) sold Winter Haven’s WHFL-FM in 1973 to Orange Broadcasting Co., Inc. (NBC Sports personality Joe Garagiola, president/GM) for $225,000.
One of the first changes Garagiola made was flipping the FM’s music format to country and changing the calls to Polk County’s Voice WPCV, calls that came to mean Powerful Country Voice after Frank Berry, a local, well-respected broadcast engineer, was hired to boost the FM to 100,000 watts.
WPCV’s studios were in the Florida Citrus Showcase – later known as the Orange Dome – on Cypress Gardens Boulevard in Winter Haven. During the years Garagiola was owner (1973-1976), its sales department and management were separate from that of WONN (sister station, also acquired by Garagiola) which was headquartered in Lakeland.
Garagiola sold both Polk County stations in late 1976 to WONN, Inc. (Herbert S. Stewart, president). Then, in 1981, Hall Communications (Robert M. Hall, president), a group owner with stations primarily in the Northeast, acquired the combo and merged WPCV and WONN offices and studios into a single location across from the Lakeland Center.
Today (2006) 97 Country continues to be the flagship of Hall’s Lakeland cluster, which also includes AM’s WONN and WLKF, and WWRZ-FM.
Other names in WPCV history include Roy Riley (the first deejay to play country music after the calls changed-1973), Bob Schoopman (chief engineer-1974), Garland Burt (station manager-1975), Joe Trevette (Joe T/mornings-1975), John Henderson (mid-days-1975), Bob Helmick (PD-1975), Dan Sanborn (news director-1975), Alan Wendt (news-1975), Hal Paul (sales manager-1975), Sal Porta (sales-1975), Dave Wright (1978; music director-1988; PD-1991), Chris Harder (1978), Bob Hailey (chief engineer-1979), Jim Kennedy (Ken Barfield/nights-1982), Smilin’ Jack Daniels (Terry Roberts/afternoons-1982), Lyle Wood (early 80’s), Tunie Moss (receptionist-1983; promotions-1994; Bob Nickell (news director-1984), Keith Halliday (mornings-1986), Reba Zoellner (sales-1986), Dave Day (Dave Efurd/overnights-1986; nights-1991), Bonnie Higbie (promotions-1987), Joe Donelan (1987), Mark Gunder (nights-1988), Jerry Dennis (afternoons-1989), Mike Craigen (PD/afternoons-1989), Scott Wynn (mornings-1992), Dean Godfrey (1992), Lori Marx (Loris Duncan/production director-1995; original host of Sunday night’s “Classics Show”-1995), Tom O’Brien (news director-1995; morning co-host-1995), Henry Jay (Henry Zambrano/host of the Sunday night “Classics Show”-1997), Tom Shaw (copy/production director-1997), Andrea Oliver (news director-1997), Terri Lombardi (weekends-1997; news-2005), Jeni Taylor (weekends-1997; nights-1998; mid-days/music director-2001), Debbie Tennick (promotions-1998), Woody Wooden (sales-1998; host of Sunday night “Classics Show”-2001), Steve Howard (station manager), Eric Michaels (promotions-2000), Enrique Lopez (chief engineer-2001), Rob Tanner (morning show co-host-2001), Sara Michaels (overnights-2001; nights-2003; mornings-2004; afternoons-2006), Chris Wolfe (weekends-2002; nights;2006), Tim Galloway (chief engineer-2002), Hope Thomas (overnights-2002), Scott Hooker (weekends; nights-2008), Steve Adams (Steve McNutt/weekends 2003-2006), Gary Ballinger (weekends 2004), Mike James (PD/morning co-host-2004; operations manager-2006), Jesse James (Jesse Howell/nights-2006), and Roger Todd (morning co-host-2006).