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WHNR - A History

WHNR-AM 1360 Cypress Gardens – In 1990 Seehafer Broadcasting of Manitowac, WI sold its AM-1360 WYXY to George Allen and Steve Samet. The call letters changed to WHNR (Winter HaveN Radio) and the previous music format was dumped in favor of Adult Standards/Nostalgia to reflect the growing senior population in the Greater Winter Haven area. The station’s studios and transmitter remained on Dundee Road and power was still 5,000 watts daytime and 2,500 watts at night.

Everything seemed in place for a successful operation. The overall theme was “make it local” and the music was right on target for the audience (older demographics). There was even a weekly remote broadcast from Cypress Gardens called “The Coffee Club." But in spite of it all, bad times fell on WHNR due to a series of unfortunate circumstances. One of the owners, Steve Samet, sold out and the other, George Allen, had health problems within his family, and soon financial pressures began to loom over the station.

At one point GM B.J. Nielsen was negotiating with Allen to buy the station. With her came the support of Dick Bennick, Tampa Bay TV’s Dr. Paul Bearer, and Unlimited Hydroplane Racing commentator Jim Hendrick. Legendary sports announcer Al Wester was also included as an outside investor. Several details of the sale had not been finalized and a bottom-line price could not be negotiated. Allen threatened to “shut down” the station if no agreement could be reached, and on January 30, 1995, sent a fax to Nielsen stating that the station would cease operating at midnight on the 31st of January. When the hour arrived, WHNR closed its doors and went off the air.

Nielsen continued to try to iron out the differences but by now Allen was not interested in hearing it. The station remained off the air until Frankie Grover (GB Enterprises Communications) got hold of it in 1995, switched to an Urban Contemporary music format, and began to court the 25+ audience as The Soul of Central Florida.

By the spring of 2003, Grover, who was plagued by health problems, could not maintain the energy level to run the station and filed for bankruptcy protection. Although two earlier attempts to sell the operation did not materialize, he announced in late May 2006 that papers had been filed with the FCC to sell WHNR and GB Enterprises to Martin Santos of Frostproof. Grover also cited a lack of community support for the station as another reason for cutting his losses and selling the business. The sale was finalized about four months later and WHNR switched to Spanish programming full time on Sunday September 17, 2006, branded La Poderosa: Maxima Potencia Radial (“The Power: Maximum Potential Radio”).

WHNR adopted a bi-lingual format in 2010, featuring regional Mexican music from 6 AM to 7 PM and Kickin’ Country, a classic country format featuring hits from the 60’s through the 90’s, from 7 PM to 6 AM.

In March 2012, a Polk County judge ordered that George R. Reed (Media Services Group) take over as receiver for WHNR after Martin Santos of GB Enterprises Communications, the license holder, failed to provide the court notice of the station’s sale to Florida Spanish Communications Corp. in 2011.  WHNR’s license was eventually acquired in 2014 by Catco Communications, LLC (Thomas C. and Carol A. Saunders). The station’s programming today (2015) is a simulcast from Kickin’ Country 1170 WKFL in Bushnell.

Other names from WHNR’s history as a nostalgia station include Bruce Cox (GM-1992), Jan Hall (sales manager-1992), Bruce Bannett (PD-1992), Lenn Spears (music director-1992), Jim Greenfield (news director-1992), Rodger Roth (chief engineer-1992), Terry Lombardi (production/promotions-1993), Scott Allen (PD/music director-1993), Tony Verity (mornings/music director-1994), Jim Sweeney (public affairs director-1994; PD/music director-1995), Jeff Thornburg (chief engineer-1994), Robert Pickering, Scott Hooker (copywriter/deejay), Dick Eyrich, Joe Trivette, and Hank O’Neil (mornings).

Other names from WHNR history as an urban contemporary station include Duree-Brown Grover (promotions/music/public affairs-1996), Scott Allen (news director-1996), Jerry Smith (chief engineer-1997), Don Pittman (sales manager-1998), Myra Bryant (promotions/music/public affairs-1998), Chris Williams (PD), LaShonda Love (promotions), Trinity Taylor (marketing), Terry “The Real Deal” Hill (PD), Cené Houser (promotions), Stacey Powers (morning talk show host), Jermaine Shepard (PD), and C. J. Allen (station manager).

 

 

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