WKES - A History
WKES-FM 101.5 St. Petersburg – In 1974, St. Petersburg’s 101.5 FM WGNB (Good News Broadcaster) became WKES-FM (for its licensee Southern KESwick, Inc., operator of Keswick Christian School at 10101 54th Avenue North in Seminole). The non-commercial listener-supported religious station broadcasts from studios on the school’s grounds at 5800 100th Way North.
In its early years, WKES programming was a simulcast of sister station WGNP-AM 1520, a one-kilowatt daytimer licensed to Indian Rocks Beach. It changed calls to WGNB in 1975, then sold in 1989 when it became WXYB.
In 1997, Lakeland’s Carpenter's Home Church sold its Christian adult contemporary 91.1 WCIE to Paxson Broadcasting for $5 million. Paxson then swapped the 91.1 frequency for WKES’ 101.5. WKES moved to 91.1 and was re-licensed to Lakeland, while Paxson launched commercial station WILV-FM on 101.5.
Today (2009), WKES is owned by the Moody Bible Institute of Chicago (since 1977) and continues to broadcast from studios on the grounds of Keswick Christian School. Its tower site is located on Knights-Griffin Road near Lakeland in Polk County.
The 100,000 watt FM is the flagship station of the statewide “Moody Radio for the Heart of Florida Network,” which includes WHGN 91.9 FM Crystal River/Ocala, WSOR 90.9 FM Naples/Ft. Myers, and WKZM 104.3 FM Sarasota. Programming includes Christian music and talk featuring “The Dobson Family Minute” and “Focus On the Family” with Dr. James Dobson, David Gibbs’ “Legal Alert,” and “Insights” with Chuck Swindoll.
The WKES staff includes Pierre Chestang (station manager), Mike Gleichman (OM), Ron Maxwell (PD and host of “New Day Florida”), Kate Bruington (co-host “New Day Florida”), John Stortz (chief engineer), Steve Krumlauf (news anchor), Alan Winfield (meteorologist), Annette DiMarco (office administrator), Ruth Dinwiddie and Joni Downes (office assistants), and part-time announcers Dan Hirschy, Joe Wisinski, Mark Simpson, and Nathaniel Kurant.
Other names from WKES history include Rob Whitehurst (board operator 1973-74), Bill Caldwell (GM, president of Southern Keswick, Inc), Manley St. Jean (chief engineer), Fabian Lothian (night operator 1974-1992), Dan Lothian (news), Dick Florence (GM 1990-2002), Carl Metcalf (mornings 1992-2001) and Paul Porter (morning news, sports, and traffic 2006).
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1974 - 2009 Other Tampa Bay Area Stations (History)