Bill Polk was a longtime Tampa Bay deejay and radio personality who was well known to country music fans throughout the area. He voiced thousands of radio commercials and promotions that he created over the years and also worked behind the scenes, off the air, in station management, programming, engineering, and sales.
Born in 1923, Bill made his living as a traveling welder during the 1940s following a stint in the Army Air Corp during World War II. In the early 1950s, he made the decision to attend a radio engineering school in his hometown, Jacksonville, and get his first-class radio-telephone license. It proved to be a good idea, because he started on the air as a deejay and engineer in Swainsboro, Georgia, in 1951 for WJAT-AM 800 and later WBAW-AM 740 in Barnwell, South Carolina, both country music stations at the time.
In the summer of 1956, Bill moved his family to Tampa where he obtained a job with John and Martha Boling’s 250-watt country outlet WHBO-AM 1050 which broadcasted from studios on North Florida Avenue. There, he worked as engineer, deejay, and in sales, and started his long stint as the daily host of "The Bill Polk Show." During his time with the station, he was also instrumental in opening The Record Man, a retail record and music shop on North Florida Avenue near Fowler, owned by WHBO and station manager Bob Martin.
After ten years with WHBO, Bill resigned in 1966 and, for about a year, supported himself and his family with several jobs while trying to obtain a radio engineering position in the area. During this period he spent weekends as an engineer at the Seffner transmitter site of Tampa’s WINQ-AM 1010. In 1967, he landed a position in engineering, deejay work, and sales with another Tampa country music station, WYOU-AM 1550. He resumed his long-running show, reaching an even wider audience than before due to the station’s greater signal strength (10,000 watts), and eventually became station manager, a position he held for the remainder of his career. He also professionally assisted at sister station WZST-AM 1410 in Leesburg in both engineering and operations capacities.
During the final year of his life, Bill and WYOU owner Art Reuben made the decision to convert the station’s programming to an all-Spanish language format and brought in well-known Tampa Bay radio personality Woody Garcia, formerly with St. Pete’s WTSP-AM 1380 and Tampa’s WSOL-AM 1300, to help make WYOU the first full time Spanish station in Tampa. Today (2007), the station carries the calls WAMA.
Unfortunately, Bill did not live to see the lasting effect of this part of Tampa Bay's radio history. He passed away in 1978.
1956 - 1978 Other Tampa Bay Area Stations (On Air Personality)
1956 - 1978 Other Tampa Bay Area Stations (Engineering)
1956 - 1978 Other Tampa Bay Area Stations (Sales)
1966 - 1978 Other Tampa Bay Area Stations (Management)