WYSE/WWAB-AM 1330 Lakeland – Lakeland’s WYSE signed on the air in 1957 from second-floor studios at 207½ East Main Street across from Munn Park. It was a Top 40 operation owned by WYSE Radio, Inc. (William Evans, president/GM). Polk Radio, Inc. (William H. Martin, president) took control of the station the following year. WYSE was a one-kilowatt daytimer with a unique weekend programming concept. Pepsi Cola sponsored its entire weekend programming, dubbed the “Pepsi-Cola Music-thon” (“…for those who think young.”).
On Wednesday May 13, 1963, the calls switched to WWAB with a personality-oriented MOR music format (The Home of Light-Hearted Listening). The following year, WWAB was acquired by WWAB, Inc. (Truman A. Morris, president), and offices and studios moved from downtown Lakeland to the tower site on West Chase Street, overlooking Lake Bonnet. The format flipped to country with the deejays announcing on-air that "we are now broadcasting from our new home at Sugar Booger Ranch.” The station also became a Mutual network affiliate in the early 70’s.
WWAB was sold to Hugh Hughes and David Blossman (WWAB, Inc., Hugh Hughes, president) in 1973 and continued playing country until 1975 when it became Polk County’s first R&B station (the first song played – “Walking Down the Street with My Man” by the Staple Singers). WWAB became a Mutual Black Network affiliate in 1975 and was called Soul 13 and, later, Lucky 13, Thunderbird 13, and more recently The Station That Loves U Back. Hughes formed Radio Station WWAB, Inc. (Hugh Hughes, President/GM/chief engineer) in 1985 when he bought out Blossman to take sole ownership of the station.
Today (2009), WWAB continues to operate from its studios at 1203 West Chase Street. It is now a USA Radio Network affiliate and programs an urban/gospel/talk format. Still with one-kilowatt of daytime power, it is now permitted to operate at night with 118 watts.
Other names from WYSE history (1957-1963) include Tom Barber (GM/chief engineer-1958), George Hayward (PD-1958), Delores Hayward (women’s director-1958), Tom Wade (sales manager-1959), Mark Wheeler (PD-1959), Pat Patterson (1959), Buddy Lee (weekends-1959), Al Allen (Alan Huckleberry/station manager-1960), Richard Smith-1961), Woody Wooden (1960; PD-1962), Jim West (1960), Jay Kuppers (1961), Dick Stevens (1961), Dean Kane (1962), Dick Walden (afternoons-1962), and Phil Wayne and Larry Devore (sales-1962).
Other names from WWAB history as an MOR station (1963-1964) include “Lonesome” Buddy Penn (GM/mornings-1963), Mark Wheeler (PD/mid-morning-1963), Tom Dell (GM/mid-afternoon -1963), Alan G (Alan Huckleberry/sales manager/chief engineer/host of talk show “What’s On Your Mind?”/afternoons-1963), Herb Roller (1963), Bob Collins (Buddy Lee/late afternoons-1963), Howard Ellis (weekends-1963), and Roger Todd (Jim Maloy/weekends-1963).
Other names from WWAB history as a C&W station (1964-1975) include Don W. Hughes (GM-1964), “Lonesome” Buddy Penn (sales manager/mornings-1965), Carl Pugh (chief engineer-1965), “Good Neighbor Ben” Silver (sales manager-1967), Marie Bingham (PD-1967), Barbara Hughes (promotions-1967), Johnny Reb (Joe Asher/mornings-1967), “Big Jim” Turner (news director-1967), Dwight L. Cowden (chief engineer-1967), Tom Chapman (sales manager-1968), John Haughee (news director-1968), “Little Bill” Crow (promotions-1969), Ralph W. Sanders (chief engineer-1969), James Usher (sales manager-1971), Claude Williams (promotions-1971; sales manager-1972; news director-1973), Mike Brown (promotions-1972; announcer/sales), Caleb A. Boyd III (Joe Boyd/news director-1972), Vicki Hill (PD/music director-1973), Others include Paul Hershey (news), “Cactus Ken” Barfield, Terry Alan (Terry Roberts), June Pastore, Nick Scott (Nick Shutak), and Lulabelle Hickerson.
Other names from WWAB history as an R&B station (1975-present) include Dee Van Pelt (GM-1979), Frank Clarke (station manager/PD), Frankie Grover, Jerry Hughes (PD/music & news director-1979; host of “Straight Talk,” a daily three-hour syndicated show broadcast live via satellite from WWAB to other stations over the Accent Radio Network-1991), and Robert Lux.