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WHOO AM & FM - A History

WHOO-AM 990 & WHOO-FM 96.5 Orlando – WHOO went on the air in 1947 at 990 kHz with a power of 10,000 watts days and 5,000 watts at night. It was an ABC network affiliate owned by the Orlando Daily Newspapers (Martin Andersen, president) and broadcasted from studios in the Fort Gatlin Hotel. WHOO-FM signed on the following year at 96.5 mHz with a power of 59 kilowatts.  Both stations maintained a tower site on WHOO Road, off Silver Star Road, in what is now the Pine Hills area.

Other early owners included WHOO, Inc. (Toledo, OH attorney and broadcaster Edward Lamb) in 1952. When the stations were acquired by Bluegrass Broadcasting (Garvis Kincaid, president) in 1958, operation moved to 311 N. Rosalind Avenue for a few years, then to the tower/transmitter site in 1964.

As Orlando’s ABC affiliate, WHOO carried a complete lineup of the network’s soaps, audience participation, quiz, variety, comedy, drama, and mystery shows from the late 1940’s to the mid1950’s. The station’s longest running network shows were “Don McNeill’s Breakfast Club,” which ran well into the latter half of the 1960’s, and Paul Harvey’s broadcasts.  

Many Orlando area people will remember Chastain’s Restaurant on Orange Blossom Trail near Colonial Drive and its two-story broadcast tower in the parking lot called The Owls Nest. A local country group, The Five Owls, performed there. But the tower was used for other things, too. After the Chastain family took over the eatery in 1956, area radio stations, including WHOO, used it for remote broadcasts. Kids would climb the ladder to the tower to talk to the deejays and make requests, and the jocks would acknowledge cars that flashed their headlights as they drove by on the OBT.

WHOO-AM was Orlando’s most popular Top 40 station by the early 60’s, but was overtaken in the ratings after GM John Rutledge left to become an owner and run crosstown WLOF. The two rockers became locked in a fierce battle for teen supremacy. In the spring of 1967, the FCC granted WHOO a daytime power increase to 50,000 watts which Bluegrass thought would surely aid its effort to regain number one status – but it didn’t. So, in 1968, the station threw in the towel and gave up the fight with WLOF and, in a major programming move, flipped to country. Meanwhile, WHOO-FM continued to be a successful beautiful music operation broadcasting in stereo and, in the mid 70’s, boosted its power to 100 kilowatts.

In the 1980’s, WHOO-AM’s music format underwent numerous changes, switching to adult contemporary, oldies, and then rock. The WHOO calls became WMMA (Magic 99) in 1985, then returned to WHOO again in 1987 with The Music of Your Life. But it didn’t end there as it went on to program classic country and ABC’s Stardust pop standards satellite format in a continuing struggle to find a successful identity in the market. The FM switched from beautiful music to country in 1984 and became 96 Country.

WHOO-AM and WHOO-FM were sold to TK Communications in 1987 and the FM turned to a rock format with the calls WHTQ. Cox Radio bought the combo in the 1990’s and sold the AM to ABC in 2001 which flipped it to Radio Disney WDYZ. The historic WHOO calls surfaced shortly thereafter at the former WFIV-AM 1080 in Kissimmee. 

Other names in WHOO-AM history as a pop music station (prior to 1968) are Walter G. Speight, Jr. (GM-1948), George Newhart (sales manager-1948), Larry Scarbrough (PD-1948), Stanley Beck (chief engineer-1948), John Buning (GM-1949), Clarence Bracey (sales manager-1949; GM/sales manager-1950), Freda Hilton (PD-1949; women’s director-1956), Gene Dashiell (chief engineer-1949), Betty Jean Kline (promotions-1950), Tom Sawyer (PD-1950), Carl Hallberg (sales manager-1951;GM-1953), Clarence Daniel (PD-1951), Josephine Bledsoe (traffic manager-1951), Phil Gaines (news director-1951), Ruth Smith (women’s director-1951), Dan Daniel (PD/news/sports director-1952), Ann Rupert (promotions-1952), Don Compton (chief engineer-1952), Bob Kilgore (farm director-1952), Gordon Towne (farm director-1953), Walter Sickles (PD-1954), Walter Mitchell (promotions-1954), Al Stockmeier (sports director-1955;GM/sales manager-1956), Boo Malicord (women’s director-1955), Claude Raney (PD/promotions/sports director-1956), Dallas Crutcher (news director-1956), Charles Retner (farm direrctor-1956), John Lofton (news director-1957), John Rutledge (GM-1960 left to buy competitor WLOF), “Rock” Robinson (PD/mornings-1960; news director-1967), Hugh Robinson (operations-1960), Gene Stuart (production director-1960; operations manager-1961), Cecil West (news director-1960), Charles Chrisman (chief engineer-1960), Donald Welsh (sales manager-1960), Bob Carroll (news director-1961), Charlie Champion (PD-1964), Dick Wilson (PD/music director-1965), Dale Wright (operations manager-1965), James W. Moore (chief engineer-1965), O.C. Halyard, Jr. (GM-1966), Bob Hood (sales manager-1966; station manager-1967; GM-1968), Dave Ralston (PD-1966), “Big” Billy Love (promotions/evenings-1966), Bill Martin (chief engineer-1966), Ron Nickell (GM-1967), Mac Allen (mornings-1967), Johnny Walker (PD/afternoons-1967), Jim Maloy (9-12n 1967), Pete Porter (music director/12n-3pm 1967), Cool Chris (Christopher Hanna-1967), Bill Clifford (weekends-1967), Ron Fraiser (9-12n 1967), Tom Dooley (Tom Goins-overnights 1967), and Tom McCloud (Tom Lock-traffic reporter 1967-1974). Others were Bob Johnson (GM), Marty Stebbins (overnights), Gilbert Brooks, “Big” Bill Smith, Pete Forgione, Dick Shannon (Dick Camnitz), “Wild Bill” Carter, Ken Bowman, Jack Hayse, and Chuck Golder.

Names from WHOO-AM’s country music years beginning in 1968 include Bob Baker (PD-1968), C.A. Baker (chief engineer-1968), John Dolive (news director-1969), local country music performer Clay Daniels (PD/afternoons-1971), Robert Johnson (sales manager-1974; GM-1975), Rick Taylor (music director-1974), Jerry Skirvin (news director-1974), Mike Burger (PD-1975), Wayne Bennett (news director-1975), Tim Sawyer (chief engineer-1975), Bill Stakelin (GM-1979), Andy Wilson (promotions-1979), Adrian Charles (news director-1979), and Eric Miller (chief engineer-1979). Others were Al Dunaway (mornings), “Large” Larry English (afternoons), Bucks Braun  (PD/VP of operations), Jim Poling (news), Max Rein (GM), Bob Nyles (nights/afternoons/music director/ sales), Bob Grayson (PD), Roy Adams (mid-days), Mike Goode (afternoons), Steve Kennedy (nights), Frank Vaught (sports), Alan Spector (news), Rick Saylor, Pete Lazar, and Chuck Lowe.

Names from WHOO-FM include Hal Suit (PD-1951), Tom Seaver (PD-1952), Charles Chrismon (manager/chief engineer-1960), Stan Jensen (sales manager-1960), Charles Wilson (program manager-1960), Cecil West (PD-1967), Rick Taylor  (PD-1974), Dutch Edwards (promotions-1979), Marty Stebbins, Rick and Dick (mornings), Jesse Lynne, (mid-days), Mike Goode (afternoons), Mike Kinosian (PD), Ruby Love (overnights), Anne Jeffries, Steve Kennedy, Bill Michaels (mid-days), Clayton Delaney (afternoons), Dave Edwards (nights), Tony George (mornings), and June Myers.

Station History

1947 - 1985 Other Central Florida Stations (History)
1987 - 2001 Other Central Florida Stations (History)

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