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WBAR - A History

WBAR-AM 1460 Bartow – Nicknamed Wee-bar, Bartow’s first radio station, WBAR-AM, signed on the air in 1953 as a one kilowatt daytimer owned by Radio Station WBAR, Inc. (W.A. Wynne, president). Transmitter site and studios were located on North Maple Avenue in Bartow. Like most small-town stations at that time, programming was the block/variety type, even as late as the 1960’s when the schedule included gospel and country at sign on, easy listening during the middle of the day, and rock ‘n’ roll after school until sign off.

In 1962 WBAR was sold to WBAR, Inc. (James E. Yarbrough, president). Yarbrough was chief engineer for WDBO-TV in Orlando. Other owners through the years were Polk County Broadcasters, Inc. in 1972 (Mike Freeland, president), D-Bar Radio, Inc. in 1977 (H.R. Cook, president), Jim and Ray Livesey, and WBAR Broadcasting Co., Inc. in 1994 (Harvey and Judy Fay Morts, who also doubled as on-air personalities “Harvey Gene” and “Sunflower.”

Although it played other types of music at times over the years, WBAR is remembered primarily as a country music station which, by the early to mid 90’s, had steered its format toward classic country and bluegrass (Where the Legends Live On). In 1996 it affiliated with the CBS network, and then CNN in 2001. It was named the AM Radio Station of the Year by the Orange Blossom Country Music Association in 2002, the same year “Sunflower” was named the AM Radio Air Personality of the Year.

In late 2003, the Morts sold WBAR to Florida Broadcasting Media LLC of Miami. The following year, the station’s calls changed briefly to WRMX, then to WQXM, with programming in Spanish.

Other names in WBAR history history include Ted Leeper (GM-1955), Chuck Dent (PD-1955), Bill Alford (chief engineer-1955), Bill Hancock (GM), Ken Shroyer (PD), John Burgreen (GM/sales manager), Margaret Burgreen, Edward St. Claire (chief engineer), Bob Coe, Dick Pipes, Morton C. Cook (station/sales manager), Thomas Osborne (PD), Al Duncan (chief engineer), Nick Evers (GM/sales manager), Joe Gale, Robert Shikenjanski (chief engineer), Ken Morrison (sales manager), John Buning (GM/sales manager), Dick Palmer (sales manager), Sammy Lindsey (sales), Larry Love, Ginger Lynn Boulware (sales), Gail O’Doski (GM), Lindsey Yates, Eloise Buning, Joe Peters, Tommy Walker (news), Joe Wells (Engineering), Rusty Wells, Tommy Williams, Shirley Carroll, Roger Carroll, Jim Miles (GM/sales manager), Mike Michaels (PD), Terry Parker, Larry Hall, Roy Beymer (chief engineer), Dick Goleno (PD), Frank Berry (chief engineer), Doug Baker, Bob Wayne (1962), Bob Ski (1962), Henry Jay (Henry Zambrano, PD-1974), Tim Banks, Brenda Melech, Ed Cole (chief engineer), Reba Zoellner (sales), Craig Meyer, Tom Anthony, Richard Todd, Terry Lombardi (mornings), Jean Ladd (station manager), and Elmer White (GM).

Station History

1953 - 2004 Other Polk County Stations (History)

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