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WILZ - A History

WILZ-AM 1590 St. Petersburg Beach – WILZ signed on the air December 4, 1957 from offices and studios at 7500 Boca Ciega Drive in St. Pete Beach. Its 1,000-watt transmitter and tower were located in St. Petersburg at 38th Avenue South and 38th Street. Owned by Holiday Isles Broadcasting Company (Edmund A. Spence, president), WILZ programmed a nostalgic pop music format featuring “all time favorites from 1925 to the present,” according to a St. Pete Times article from the day the station went on the air. It would later program Top 40 as Z16 and oldies as Solid Gold 16.

When Guy Lombardo’s Port O’Call Inn and Resort opened on Tierra Verde in 1963, the station re-located its studios to the complex at 200 Madonna Boulevard. Lombardo promoted Port O’Call on his tours across the country and notable celebrities appeared there, including Frank Sinatra, Mel Torme, Liberace, and Marlene Dietrich, as well as a number of popular big bands. He and his brothers, Carmen and Lebe, also lived on the island for a time.

In 1969, ownership of WILZ was transferred from Holiday Isles Broadcasting to Millbeck Broadcasting (Arthur Neil Millman, president). The new owners initially programmed to the area's retiree population with New York Mets baseball and a nostalgia format (music from the 20's, 30's, and 40's), but switched to oldies as Solid Gold 16 in 1973.

Studios were moved to the transmitter site at 38th Street and 38th Avenue South in 1975, the year before Rolyn Broadcasting acquired the outlet and it became urban contemporary WRXB.

Other names from WILZ history include: Jack Faulkner (GM/PD-1957), William D. Mangold (chief engineer-1957), Roy Ludwick (engineering-1957), Neil Spencer (engineering-1957), Hazel Riley (receptionist/traffic-1957), Glen Dill (announcer/public relations 1957), Gene Stiers (announcer/sales-1957), Dave Hart (announcer/sales-1957), Jim Shumway (announcer/sales-1957), Bud Lucas (announcer/sales-1957), Don Kimberlin (engineering-1958), Charles W. Mackey (president Holiday Isles Broadcasting-1962), Thomas W. Lawson (PD-1965), Donald K. King (news director-1965), C.W. Atcheson (news director-1967), Joy Hill (1969), Jim Boynton (PD-1969), William P. Gossett (chief engineer-1969), Ron (King) McKenny (on air/sales manager-1969), Tim Trott (1969), Pat Munson (copy writer and traffic-1969), George Bland (GM-1972), William Schricker (sales manager-1972), Bob Holmes (news director-1972), Geoff Avery (chief engineer-1972), J.H. Jarvis (GM)-1973), Harold Hatfield (PD & chief engineer-1973), Marshall Moore (music director), Scott Sortman (news director-1973), Jack Regan, Chuck Alton, Hal Murray, Dave Wright, Dick Stambaugh, Dave McKay (David McElroy 1970-71), Jim Shirah, Howard Hewes, George Gainey, Mel Tinney, Jerry Kelly (sales), Richard L. “Dick” Marsh (GM), John DeHaven, Jack Armstrong (1974), and Larry MacMillan (PD).

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Station History

1957 - 1976 Other Tampa Bay Area Stations (History)

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