WBRD AM & FM - A History
WBRD-AM 1420 & WBRD-FM 103.3 Bradenton – WBRD was a one-kilowatt AM daytimer, that was licensed to the city of BRaDenton in 1957. It was commonly referred to as The Bird, and was owned by Sunshine State Broadcasting (Robert R. Nelson, president and general manager). Its first studios were at the tower site in the 2100 block of 26th Avenue East before relocating to 2600 First Street W (U.S. 41).
In September 1963, Nelson put 26,000 watt WBRD-FM on the air with separate programming (easy listening in stereo) at 103.3. In 1971, the format flipped to country. Two years later, the FM evolved into beautiful music The Dove WDUV.
In the late 80’s, WBRD moved its towers to a site off 33rd Street W in Palmetto, which enabled it to go 24-hours and increase power to 2500 watts day and one kilowatt night. This move also required the station be licensed to Palmetto. One of the two towers at the old transmitter site was dismantled and the other left for use as a non-directional backup.
WBRD-AM programmed various music formats over the years – including MOR, country, adult contemporary, talk, and southern gospel (Tampa Bay’s Solid Gospel).
In 1995, the Nelsons sold WBRD-AM and WDUV-FM to Jacor (soon to be aborbed into Clear Channel) for $14 million. The AM was spun off to the Metropolitan Radio Group and operated for a while from 2101 Hammock Place in Sarasota, home of new sister station WTMY. From there it moved to 1919 53rd Avenue East in Bradenton. The FM, which eventually went to Cox when Clear Channel was forced to divest itself of some of its Tampa Bay stations, moved to 103.5 and then 105.5 in a frequency switch with classic rock WTBT. It also moved its tower from Riverview to New Port Richey (the new city of license) and then to Holiday.
Today (2018), WBRD-AM is owned by Birach Broadcasting, which bought the facility from Metropolitan Radio Group for $850,000 in 2007. It broadcasts a Spanish format from studios in Ellenton at 3912 U.S. Highway 301 North and is branded “1420 AM Radio Lider.”
Other names from WBRD’s history include Hal Meyer (sales manager-1958), Marlen Hager (chief engineer-1958) Kenny Vincent (PD-1960), Tom Gillies (news director-1960), Richard Wetherbee (chief engineer-1960), Gil Butler (news director-1962), Paul Kelly (sales manager-1964), Tom Drane (as Tom Douglas, afternoons on AM; sundown to sign-off on FM-1965), Frank McGlynn (sales manager-1965), Lee Edwards (mid 1960’s), Richard D. Lundy (station manager/sales manager-1967), Art Schofield (sales manager-1969), W.W. Chaplin (news director-1969), Robert W. Nelson (chief engineer-1969; GM-1975), Early Williams (1970’s), Barry Rimler (sales manager-1975), Ron Jackson (PD/music director-1975), Mike Simions (news director-1975), Maggie Chance (promotions-1975), Bob Barnes (PD-1976; music director/operations-1982), Edward C. Hyers (sales manager-1976), David K. Jahn (sales manager-1977), Dave McKeever (news director-1979), Dave Barker (PD-1981), Rob Lankton (chief engineer-1986), Skip Broussard (sales manager-1990), Scott Ridener (sales manager-1992), Judy Johnson (sales manager-1993), Bob Keehn (sales manager-1996), Dave Reinhart (GM-1996), Valerie Silver (public affairs director-1997; operations/PD-1997), Lary Crews (PD & afternoons-1997), T. Michael Craft (GM-1997), Jim Grant (chief engineer-1998), Roy Smith (music director-1999; PD-2003), Grady Davis (ass't music director-1999), Tony Fernandez (chief engineer-2003), Bill Bailey (GM-2003), Jim Genovese, and Don Butterfield.
(Thanks to Bob Barnes who helped with this history. Please contact us if you have additional information to share about the history of WBRD AM & FM.)
1957 - 2018 Other Tampa Bay Area Stations (History)