Radio

1920

Fred Laxton, Earle Gluck, and Frank L. Bunker begin broadcasting out of Laxton’s home — and chicken coop. In 1922, their station becomes Charlotte’s WBT, the first fully licensed commercial radio station in the Southeast.

1922

N.C. State College launches WLAC, our state’s first college radio station. It lasts less than a year, but the Wolfpack would be back: Today, State’s WKNC boasts one of college radio’s strongest signals, and is a champion of local music.

1927

The Durham Life Insurance Company buys Raleigh’s second radio station (first known as WFBQ, then WRCO), and changes its call letters to WPTF for “We Protect the Family,” the company’s motto.

1933

Carl Goerch broadcasts a Sunday night radio show called “Carolina Chats,” which lasts for 28 years, as well as a series called “Doings of the Legislature,” both on WPTF. The same year, he founds a magazine called The State.

1938

Edward R. Murrow, a native of Polecat Creek near Greensboro, makes history on CBS Radio, reporting live from Vienna as the Nazis occupy and annex Austria. “Good night,” he says through the war years, “and good luck.”

1938

Rocky Mount native Kay Kyser, “The Ol’ Professor,” airs his “Kollege of Musical Knowledge” on NBC Radio. In 1949, Kyser says, “So long, evahbody,” to radio, but not before building a fan base of 20 million weekly listeners.

1939

Earl Scruggs, just 15 years old, plays banjo on North Carolina radio for the first time, with a local string band called the Carolina Wildcats. It’s a natural next step for the boy from Flint Hill who began performing at the age of 6.

1946

WAKE, which would later become WFDD (for Wake Forest Demon Deacons), begins in a rooming house, operated by two Wake Forest College students. In 1971, WFDD becomes North Carolina’s first NPR member station.

1948

Mount Airy’s WPAQ broadcasts the region’s indigenous music, including old-time, bluegrass, and gospel. The station becomes known for “Merry-Go-Round,” now one of radio’s longest-running live-performance shows.

1950

WAAA, the state’s first AM station to focus on African-American interests, starts in Winston-Salem, giving a home to D.J.’s like Oscar Alexander and his “Daddy-Oh on the Patio,” which airs from Ray’s Roadside Drive-In.

1953

Future broadcasting legends Carl Kasell and Charles Kuralt, then students at UNC-Chapel Hill, take part in WUNC’s inaugural FM broadcast. In 1976, WUNC becomes an NPR member station, “bringing the world home” to its listeners.

1994

UNC-Chapel Hill’s WXYC becomes the first radio station to launch a streaming Internet broadcast. Rock ’n’ roll fans rejoice, and stations follow suit, making it possible these days to hear just about any broadcast, anywhere.

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