Wednesday, March 18, 2009

WCMS Marine Patrol!

1050 WCMS-AM no longer exists of course; neither does WCMS-FM 100.5. That frequency is presently occupied by WVXX-AM. Presently Davidson owns 1050, having bought it from Barnstable in February of 2005.

But the WCMS calls had been gone from the AM dial for a year already. Davidson dropped the WCMS-AM calls in December of 2004 when they dropped their country music format for sports-talk. And the format on that AM stick had been volatile a long time. In December of 2003 they had flipped from Adult Standards, and in April of 2002 they'd dropped Black Gospel. WCMS was a waste of a heritage callsign. In the late 80s it was playing Urban AC... that at least had some continuity with black gospel, except they tried an easy listening format (as WFOG) in between for several years in the 1990s! Today WVXX-AM is a spanish station and looks to stay that way for many years yet.

For the record...WCMS-FM had stuck with country music and still does today. That is the root of the WCMS brand. From it's foundation in the 1950s into the early 1980s WCMS-AM had been a country station. George Crump bought the station in 1961 and really innovated a commercial country format our of a heritage station. He signed on as an all-country radio station on July 1, 1954, broadcasting from sunrise to sunset. This was the first time that a radio station had dedicated itself to playing nothing but country music.
Crump was was an advertising savant. He bought and converted an ambulance into a rolling billboard stenciled on it's side "WCMS stands for We Cure Sick Businesses." The ambulance was staffed with actual trained medics and strangely led to a real paramedic service he eventually sold to the city of Norfolk. He also sponsored a marine patrol boat to provide first aid around Chesapeake Bay. (See image above.)

Crump sold the station to Barnstable in 1999, and retired with his wife to Suffolk. He wrote a book Write it Down: a history of country music in Hampton Roads. In 2008 the Country Music Hall of fame unveiled a terrace in his honor. He died in 2005 at the age of 79.