WQPD-AM 1430 Lakeland – Sentinel Broadcasting (Doris B. Potter, president) sold Polk County’s first radio station, WLAK, in 1971 to Hugh Holder Enterprises (former CBS radio network staff announcer Hugh Holder, president) who changed the MOR station to Top 40 WQPD. The 5-kilowatt (1-kw night) station’s long-time association with NBC (since 1938) was dumped for ABC-Contemporary. Offices and studios remained in the old WLAK location at 1412 East Lime Street in Lakeland.
Holder sold his station in 1979 for $630,000 to WQPD, Inc. (WQPD GM Bob Kelly, president) which included area investors Jim Quinn, president of DeSears of Lakeland Inc., local insurance executive John Mack, Harold Spears, president of Floyd Enterprises Inc., John Shearer, general manager of Florida Equipment and Service, Fred Gregg, president of Florence Inc., W. Fred Smith of Little & Company, and Tom DiCesare, chairman of Student Services at Hillsborough Community College in Plant City.
Running against stiff competition from Tampa Bay’s Q105 WRBQ for the Top 40 crowd, a last-ditch effort to develop an audience was made when station manager Jay Kuppers and news director Tom Anthony took over the morning show in the early 80’s. However, it was a case of too little too late. Time had run out for WQPD. In 1983 Kelly and his group sold out to Root Communications of Daytona Beach (Chapman Root, president) and the station became WLKF.
Other names from WQPD history include Downey Hewey (station/sales manager-1971), Dick Bennick (mornings-1971, Garland Burt (operations-1971), Dave Ralston (PD-1971), Lindsey B (Lindsey Yates), Nick Powers (Nick Shutak), Hal Paul (sales manager-1974), Dan Russell, Frank Berry (chief engineer-1974), Bill Mack, Bob Helmick, Les Howard (Les Jacoby/PD/music director-1974), George McGovern (PD/music director/afternoons-1975; mid-days-1978), Long John Kay (Robert Ottinger/afternoons 12-4PM/chief engineer-1975), Tommy Edwards (Tommy Reynolds), Al Brock, Debbie Studdard (sales-1977), Gary Knight (mid 70's), Bawana Johnny (mid 70's), Bob Steele (mid 70's), Rick Collins (1976), Charlie Brown (Gary Parker/nights-1977), Rose Nutley (bookkeeper/receptionist-1977), Larry Cox (overnights-1977), Bob McCord (mid-days-1977), Susan Combs (traffic manager-1977), Dave Wright (mornings/sales-1977), Jim Maloy (mid-days-1977; PD/music director/afternoons-1978), Ross Wheldon (nights-1978). John Jenkins (PD-1979), Roscoe P. Goodtyme (Paul Gilmore/mornings-1979), Ryck Warren (music director-1979), John Clark Wheeler (news director-1979), Judge Krater (Mike Creiger), Mark Dempsey (weekends-1979), Jim Gates, Steve Michaels (afternoons-1981; PD-1982), Bill Stuart (music director-1982), and Tom Anthony (news director-1982).