Thursday, November 18, 2010
Sixteen-year-old Stuart Adcock first signed on the 50 watt station as WNAV-AM in 1921. He worked for People's Telephone and telegraph Co. the station lasted three years and was then destroyed in a fire. Adcock rebuilt, that same year. He sold it about a year later to the Sterchi Brothers Furniture Company. In 1929 he bought another local station 1450 WNBJ-AM, it was two years old and owned by the Baptist church of Koxville. He bought a 2-year old station and set up WNOX's first local competition. Sterchi sold more than furniture, they also sold records. They leveraged that to get better bookings. In 1926 the brothers changed the calls to WNOX-AM and bumped the power to 100 watts. In 1929 at WNBJ-AM PD Caswell "Cas" Walker created a variety show known as the Farm and Home Hour. In 1930, the station was bought by the Stuart Broadcast Co. and moved to 1310 AM. In 1931 they changed calls to WROL-AM. More here.
1936 was also the year they hired Archie Campbell. He graduated that Spring from Mars Hill College in North Carolina and got a job at WNOX. He performed on a program called on the Mid-Day Merry-Go-Round with country music artists like Roy Acuff, Cowboy Copas, Flatt and Scruggs, and Carl Smith. He left for a job at WDOD in Chattanooga a few years later. He stayed there until 1941 when he began his service in WWII under the U.S. Navy. It is sometimes written that he created the Tennessee Barn Dance. That program debuted in 1942, a which time he had already left WNOX, but also had left war.
It seems incongruous but actually the way the program began was as an outgrowth of the Mid-Day Merry-Go-Round. It's performers were rounded up to play an evening program on Saturdays at Market Hall. It was initially called the WNOX Carnival. It was merely renamed in 1942. By then he had already made his "Grandpappy" character famous. After WWII ended Campbell returned briefly to WNOX before moving to 1490 WROL-AM in 1952. He developed two more country variety shows: Country Playhouse and Dinner Bell. It went well enough that on WROL-TV he helped produce Knoxville's first country music TV program; the Country Playhouse, that premiered in 1952 and ran until 1958. He left in 1956 for the Grand Ole Opry. (He wrote a very readable biography in 1981) More here.
In 1988 WNOX flipped calls to WTNZ-AM and it was sold to Dick Broadcasting who changed the calls to WIVK-AM. They segued in the 1980s into an all News Talk format which persisted for decades. Shamefully WNOX-AM changed calls to WNML-AM In May of 2005 as part of a Sports Talk re-branding. It simulcasts on 99.1 WNML-FM. The WNOX heritage calls live on at 100.3 the old WOKI-FM, formerly a AAA outlet.