Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now


Letters: “Corporate Radio Has Not Been Kind to Our Market”

Two readers go back and forth about an Alabama radio station's history, call letters and participation in a local parade

In these letters to the editor, the authors comment on the story “Alabama Radio Station Featured in Parade 90 Years After Premier.” The below letters reflect two opposing views on WNRA(FM) and its participation in a Labor Day parade. One author challenges the story’s claims, while the original author writes in his defense. Comment on this or any article. Email [email protected].

Fact Check, Please

WNRA 1420 khz broadcast the Armistice Day Parade in Sheffield, Ala. in 1933. That was the picture featured in the story. In 1936 the station became WMSD which stood for Muscle Shoals District. After a succession of changes of licensees, the station became WLAY on March 29, 1941, and the frequency was changed to 1450 khz as a result of frequency reallocations due to the NARBA Treaty, also known as the “Havana Treaty.” WLAY continues to operate today in Muscle Shoals. We are celebrating our 90th anniversary this year.

Although Mr. Tidwell is well versed in local radio history, acquiring old call letters doesn’t change history. Some might find his submission a little confusing. WLAY(AM) is alive and well broadcasting on 1450 khz and 104.7 mhz.

— Kevin Self, Operations, Singing River Media Group, WLAY-WVNA-WMSR-WMXV


The original author responds below:

“Corporate Radio Has Not Been Kind to Our Market”

I would ask Mr. Self to re-read my letter word for word and find any factual errors in what I wrote. There will be none.

First off, the station did not broadcast the parade as it was not on the air yet. The station was later WMSD 1420 but it was off the air for an extended period of time before its license was purchased and new owners signed on the air as WLAY 1450 in September 1942 after much difficulty in obtaining equipment during the war.

After originating in Alaska during the 1920’s, the WLAY calls came to the Shoals in 1942 and are still in use by their station, where they have moved to no less than five frequencies over the years.  Which station the WLAY calls are on this week is the only thing that is confusing. Corporate radio has not been kind to our market.

We reclaimed the WNRA call letters to preserve the heritage of Shoals broadcasting, not to take away from any other person or station. I have been lucky enough to have collected all of WNRA’s original equipment over the past 15 years, and look forward to sharing how stations operated in the 1920’s and 30’s.

I would also like to commend Mr. Self, his brother Mike and Dr. Griffith for moving the station back to their 1949 studio building and for restoring the station’s neon sign. That sign lit up at night is one of my earliest memories.  My first job was at WLAY, and I wish it had still been in that location. It is also good to hear about their commitment to AM, after 1450 had been off the air since 2010. We have lost too many AMs in the past few years.

It was a wonderful treat to relive history by participating in the parade this year, and to share what radio once was and could be again. I challenge every station to find new ways of engaging listeners and transforming the industry into something other than satellite programming and cellphone remotes. It may pay the bills, but the romance is gone.

— Evan M. Tidwell, general manager, WNRA Real Country 94.5 FM

[Check Out More Letters at Radio World’s Reader’s Forum Section]