WHBO - A History
WHBO-AM 1050 Sulphur Springs – Florida’s first full-time country music station was Tampa’s WHBO. The 250-watt daytimer was put on the air in 1948 by Sulphur Springs Broadcasters Inc. (Harold J. Dunlap, president and GM). The call letters referred to the county of license, HillsBOrough. At the time it went on the air, studios were located at 8122 N. Nebraska Avenue in the Sulphur Springs Arcade and Hotel. They moved to the transmitter/tower site on North Florida Avenue in 1954. The next year, WHBO's city of license designation became Tampa.
Gateway Broadcasters, Inc. (John Boling, president) acquired WHBO in 1956. Boling wanted out of the radio business in 1962 and sold out to five of his employees (Floradio, Inc., Bob Martin, president and GM, Bob Ross, Jim Holland, Bill Polk, and Bonita “Bunny” Fishback).
WHBO, a non-network station until 1959 when it picked up Mutual from St. Pete’s WTSP, sponsored numerous country shows featuring some big name stars over the years. It had no difficulty bringing in the top talent because one of the station’s employees, Bob Ross, was the step-son of Col. Tom Parker, the Col. Tom Parker, Elvis’ manager. In fact, one of Elvis’ first appearances was for the station at Tampa’s Ft. Homer Hesterly Armory. Some longtime bay area music enthusiasts may also remember The Record Man retail record and music shop on North Florida Avenue near Fowler that GM, Bob Martin, opened in the mid 60’s.
In the late 70’s, WHBO went from a 250-watt daytimer to 250 watts unlimited, allowing it to broadcast at night. Buccaneer Broadcasting (Robert Barnes, president) acquired the outlet in 1979 and, in 1982, programming flipped from country to oldies. To boost power to 5,000 watts (500 watts at night), the FCC required the station to move from 1050 kHz to 1040 kHz, which meant its city of license would change from Tampa to Pinellas Park. In 1985, Metroplex Communications acquired WHBO and moved the operation to new offices and studios in Clearwater, next to sister FM W-Lite 95.7 WNLT. In 1991, the WHBO calls became WMTX-AM and programming switched to a simulcast of sister station Mix 96 WMTX-FM.
Other names from WHBO history include Ann Bowman (PD-1949), Betty Strong (traffic manager-1949), Charles McClellan (chief engineer-1949), John Willys (1950’s), Maurice Scott (chief engineer-1950), Chaz Roye (host of "TNT," "Jive Jump and Jazz," and "Club 1050" - 1950), Ken Weber (sales manager-1951), Ellen Melching (PD-1951), Edwin H. Hill (chief engineer-1951), Ralph "The Jolly" Miller (news director-1951), Larry Lane (sports director-1951), Thomas E. Wolfe (sales manager-1952), "Uncle" Zeb Summers (1952), Bob Andrews (1952), Ellen Sauls (PD-1952), Nora Tehan (traffic director-1952), Laurence Castro (chief engineer-1952), Ralph Mueller (news director-1952), Robert Kulz (sports director-1952), Cyrus King (sales manager-1953), Martin Bannister (chief engineer-1953), John W. Herb (chief engineer-1954), Charley Arnett (sales manager-1955), Larry M. Kay (chief engineer-1955), G. Max Kimbrel (GM/sales manager-1956), Bob Ross (sales manager-1956), John W. de Aguirre (news director-1956), Roy Hawthorne (farm director-1956), Bert Coyle (sports director-1956), Joan Richards (women’s director-1956), Frank Evans (1958), Beryl Beckett (copy/traffic manager-1962), Al Waters (1963), Cuz’n Larry Lane (1967), Jay Perry (PD-1967), Marge Schmidt (chief engineer-1968), John Scott (1970), Shirley Martin (sales manager-1971), Mark Adams (PD/news director-1971), Elizabeth Horton (1971), O.E. Austin (chief engineer-1971), Wayne Kysor (1972), Cal Shrum (1972), Gary Shrum (1972), John Smith (PD/news director-1973), John Kansriddle (chief engineer-1974), Ernie Dale (PD/news director-1979).
Names from WHBO’s years as an oldies station include Robert D. Stoehr (GM/sales manager-1980), Duke Roberts (PD-1980), Betty Stoehr (business manager-1980), Bob Barnes (co-owner 1982), John DeHaven (GM/operations-1982), Roy Nilson (1982), Howard Hewes (afternoons 1982), Judd Otis (1982), Tony Sands (1982), Marty Berger, (1982), Daylon Rushing (1982), Bruce Green (operations-1986), Dale Naminga (chief engineer-1986), John Boswell (1986), Scott Robbins (1989), Marvin Boone, Jeff Laurence, and Jim Genovese.
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1948 - 1991 Other Tampa Bay Area Stations (History)