No one person was more involved in the development of Tampa Bay radio (or television) than W. Walter Tison of Cedartown, Georgia, whose career spanned 38 years. His work began in Atlanta when The Atlanta Journal newspaper hired the WW I Navy vet to help build WSB, Georgia’s first licensed commercial station, in 1921. It wasn’t long before he got involved in setting up stations around Tampa Bay.
Tison founded or was involved with the launch of numerous stations:
1925 – Built 500-watt WGHB AM-1130 in Clearwater, which would later become WFLA.
1930s – Formed Florida West Coast Broadcasting Company with former Clearwater mayor Ham Baskin and bought WFLA.
1938 – Was part owner of Lakeland’s WLAK AM-1430 and the person responsible for bringing the station’s NBC network programming to the Polk County area. He eventually sold his interest in the operation to S.O. Ward.
1939 – Participated in founding St. Petersburg’s WTSP AM-1380.
1946 – Founded AM-1110 WALT, Tampa’s first non-network station.
1947 – Assisted Houston Cox with the founding of WCLE AM-680 in Clearwater. WCLE became St. Pete’s WPIN in 1950 and then WWBA in 1968.
1948 – Assisted Densil Pulley in founding Clearwater’s WTAN.
1955 – Formed Tampa Television Company and built WTVT (Channel 13). Served as station manager until selling it to Gaylord in 1956. Channel 13’s call letters were his and his wife’s initials – Walter Tison Virginia Tison. As part of an agreement with the FCC to obtain the Channel 13 license, Tison was forced to sell WALT.
1957 – Acquired one-kilowatt Tampa daytimer WEBK AM-1300 and changed the calls to WWTB (Walter Tison Broadcasting) to specialize in Spanish programming. WWTB became WSOL in 1959 after being sold to Rust Craft Broadcasting.
W. Walter Tison passed away in the early 1980’s.
(Photo courtesy Mike Clark/Big13.net)
1925 - 1959 Other Tampa Bay Area Stations (Management)