A Good Neighbor Is Born (Click Here for More Photos from WGNS' History)
(MURFREESBORO) As the New Year of 1947 approached, rural Rutherford County had a dramatically different feel than that of today. Approximately 8,000 persons populated the entire county. It was a big thing for the county to get its first radio station! Word is that on the night of December 31, 1946, throughout the county people were tuning their radio dials. At 10:00 o'clock the static suddenly vanished and a strong new signal appeared. WGNS rang in the New Year of 1947. A popular song of the late 40's included the music goes round and round and comes out here.
WGNS continues to broadcast on AM 1450, but in March, 2007 WGNS added two FM channels: 101.9 in Murfreesboro and 101.9 is on a tower that's in Smyrna. When you add the internet site (WGNSradio.com), the station can now be heard anywhere in the world.
Local news, local sports and local history have continued to be the focus of this locally owned radio station.
Local Ownership--Local Involvement
Cecil Elrod started WGNS and for the first decade, it was located in the family's French Shoppe on the east side of the town square. In 1960, the station built a two-story building on South Church Street, where it continues.
The family tradition continues even today with the Walker family since 1947.
Bart Walker noted, "We love Murfreesboro and we love the broadcast business."
Perhaps that's why the current family has had WGNS longer than all of the years of previous owners added together. WGNS was borne by the Elrod family (1947-1960), then Bill Vogel and Monte Hale owned the station (1960-1979), the Davidson Group (1979-1984), and the Walker family (1984-present).
Just like today, local sports was extremely popular on WGNS. Cecil hired Ray Duffey to be one of the Good Neighbor Station's early sportscasters. Once listeners fell in love with Ray's heavy Boston' accent, they tuned in regularly. When the game got really exciting, Ray would say, "Hold onto the bedsheets grandmama" and as the ball went through the basket, Duffey would say "swish". In fact, he became known as "Swish" Duffey.
Duffey's love for sports got the attention of the City of Murfreesboro who were starting a Parks and Recreation Department. "Swish" Duffey became its first director.
Another local celebrity was John Hood. This high schooler had a dream of getting into radio. The school system offered an afternoon on-the-job training curriculum, and he was able to link with WGNS.
Now, since MTSU has grown to have this state's largest undergraduate enrollment, MTSU games are heard on a network of stations in other mid-state cities. WGNS continues to be the Heart of Tennessee's Blue Raider affiliate. Since 1947 WGNS has included live play-by-play of the local high school games. Through the efforts of such greats as Monte Hale, Dick Palmer, Jeff Jordan, that has expanded dramatically to include some elementary and middle school sports.
Bryan Barret continues the tradition. And of course, since 1981 WGNS continues to be your Atlanta Braves station.
WGNS Mirrors The Community
For a radio station to truly serve a community, it must be a mirror of the life and opinions of that area. Since 1947, Swap'n Shop continues to be one of the most popular broadcasts on the station. In addition, political leaders and people known as movers and shakers guest daily on talk shows. The public has the opportunity to call and get answers to questions. We earlier mentioned Man On The Street. Those are still popular.
Major topics then have long-form talk radio shows have specialists giving in-depth information. Often a series of programs with several experts give special attention to local issues. Today's broadcasts allow listeners to call-in with questions that concern them. We have had many younger listeners comment on how much they enjoy this new approach with the WGNS Man On The Street.
WGNS Connects Public To Aide
WGNS is always there to connect the public with emergency responders during times of crisis. Whether it's an ice storm, flooding, tornado or other natural or man-made disaster.
Residents living in neighborhood impacted by the tornados that ravaged the Heart of Tennessee in the 80s, 90s and now--depended on WGNS' live coverage. Police, firefighters and paramedics were able to talk directly to those victims and help them out of their frightening situations.
76-Years of Being Community Focused
Since the time that the Good Neighbor Station rang-in the New Year of 1947 until now, the focus of WGNS has been the same--serve the community with the local information that they want and need. Plus, give them the news, history, sports and other topics that they enjoy.
Special radio broadcast about the 76-years of WGNS
In the meantime, tune your radio to WGNS (Murfreesboro's AM 1450, FM 101.9 and Smyrna's FM 100.5) and get into the "Good Neighbor" habit!