After 65 years on air serving Benton County from Camden, Tenn., WFWL(AM) is signing off the air for good on Dec. 1.
Community Broadcasting Services Inc., owner of the station, plans to focus its energies on WFWL sister station, WRJB(FM). “It’s purely a business decision. … It just makes sense for us,” said Dylan Powley, program/music director for the organization and host of the WRJB morning show.
“The studio will be converted into a multimedia space. We plan on being able to offer more in the way of interviews and digital content, as well as hosting musicians for live performances. This ties back into us putting our efforts into 95.9 WRJB,” Powley said.
He also noted that plans for the station’s towers and transmission equipment, had yet to be finalized. Community Broadcasting is looking to repurpose W259BN, WFWL’s FM translator on 99.7 MHz.
WFWL has been a fixture in Camden since it went on air on September 18, 1956. “It was the only radio station in Camden for 20 years,” said Powley. “It was instrumental in covering news and offering entertainment to every corner of the county.”
Originally owned by Camden Broadcasting Co., the station was sold to WRJB in the mid-1980s. John Latham, one of the original partners in Camden Broadcasting, had launched the FM station in 1976. With the ownership change, the two stations’ studios were consolidated on Vicksburg Avenue in Camden.
Over the years, the station operations changed, but Powley said WFWL remained a presence on 1220 kHz. “WFWL has maintained a presence, albeit much smaller, in the more recent history, playing modern country and gospel on Saturday mornings,” he said.
“While it’s always sad to see a station like WFWL go off-air, this doesn’t mean that local radio is going anywhere in Camden,” said Powley. “We have made a commitment to get off satellite programming, which is rare in rural radio, at least here. We’ve already been able to build an improved listener base with a new, unique format, and the exit of WFWL will allow for the entrance of a more modern operation that can better service our listening area.”
Powley noted that WFWL going dark will not affect any of CBS’s four full-time employees and the “handful of part-timers that help out.”
To mark the end of the WFWL era, the station will spend its last day on air celebrating the station’s history. Station Manager Ron Lane, who has worked at the station since he was a high school senior in 1959, told The Camden Chronicle that the station’s last day of programming would include comments from current and former WFWL personalities.
“We have such tremendous memories surrounding this station. It has been a pleasure to be part of it,” Lane told The Chronicle.
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