December 12-19, 2001

The Big Travelogue: Part Fourteen

There's nothing like a good road trip to get a feel for the state of radio these days. From June 23 until July 7, your editor (accompanied by Boston Radio Archives creator Garrett Wollman) hit the road to see what's on - and in - the air across a broad swath of mid-America.

For the next few installments of Site of the Week, we'll be recapping the many highlights of what we like to think of as The Big Trip, 2001 edition. Come along...

Click here for part one

Click here for part two

Click here for part three

Click here for part four

Click here for part five

Click here for part six

Click here for part seven

Click here for part eight

Click here for part nine

Click here for part ten

Click here for part eleven

Click here for part twelve

Click here for part thirteen

Thursday, July 5 - The day that began in St. Louis is coming to a close a few hundred miles to the east, in Evansville, Indiana.

It's a convenient spot to stop between St. Louis and our final tower-hunting stops in Louisville and Lexington, Kentucky, and it's also a good spot to meet our colleague Blaine Thompson again.

Blaine edits Indiana Radio Watch, so he knows everyone who's anyone in the Hoosier State. He's arranged several studio tours for us here in southern Indiana, beginning with a stop at the building seen at left.

Just east of downtown at the corner of Lincoln Avenue and US 41, this building started out as the home of WYNG-FM (105.3), but now houses much more than just the popular country station. Clear Channel's Evansville holdings also include talker WGBF (1280), rocker WGBF-FM (103.1), classic rocker WKRI (94.9) and CHR WDKS (106.1), all squeezed into the first floor of this building, and largely voicetracked when we stop by.

Also running automated when we visit (but for different reasons) is our next stop a few blocks away on Lincoln: the University of Evansville's WUEV (91.5).


WUEV is one of the neater college stations we've visited lately, in part because it's run with a larger audience in mind than your typical college outlet. Programming on WUEV includes a hefty dose of jazz, as well as urban and World Radio Network international news programming overnight.

The university is on its summer recess this July evening, of course, but station manager Len Clark is happy to give us a tour of the place, housed in the massive stone administration building at the center of the campus.

After admiring the old-fashioned "On Air" sign in the hallway and the awards display behind the glass, we head inside to see the compact but efficient studio setup, which includes the air studio shown at left, a production room and a newsroom that's home to some fairly community-minded news programming when school's in session.

(The training program at WUEV also includes plenty of exposure to the commercial side of the business; we'll see Len and several students a few months later in New Orleans at the NAB Radio Show!)

WUEV's transmitter is housed behind a glass door in a small room next to the studio. The transmission line snakes through the wall to the left of the transmitter, above Len's desk in his office next door, then out the window and up the tower to the antenna atop the building!

We talk about the local radio scene for a while with Len, including a chat about the other college station in town. WSWI at the University of Southern Indiana is an AM station, a daytimer on 820 that USI acquired a few years back. It runs a much more typical "college radio" format, and we're treated to some very loud rock music on the frequency the next morning.

(We never did make it way out to the west side of town to see the tower or the studios...)

From WUEV, there's time for a few more more stops before we call our tower-hunting quits for the night, beginning with a visit to downtown Evansville, such as it is.

If there was once historic charm in this downtown, it seems to have largely fallen victim to urban renewal in the sixties and seventies; we see quite a few vacant storefronts, and the most notable feature on the skyline is a big telephone company building.

Main Street has been closed to traffic to become a pedestrian mall, but we're able to drive over to the block closest to the river to see the building at number 44.

This is WEVV-TV (Channel 44), once the independent signal in town, but for the last few years a CBS affiliate, ever since the lone VHF commercial station in town, WTVW (Channel 7), switched to Fox.

WEVV never achieved the ratings of its much older competitors, and just a few weeks after our visit the station laid off its entire news staff and cancelled its local news programming.

Speaking of WTVW, we find it a few blocks away on Carpenter Street on the north side of downtown.

The modern building shown at right, at number 477, was built in the early eighties to replace WTVW's original home next door in Evansville's oldest building, the Willard Carpenter House.

WTVW, which had used a gymnasium on the Carpenter House grounds but not the 1847-1848 mansion itself, sold that facility to Evansville's public broadcaster, WNIN-TV (Channel 9) and WNIN-FM (88.3), which had been operating from a school basement since its debut in 1970.

As you can see here, WNIN has done a nice job of restoring the Carpenter House. It looks as though the house itself is used for WNIN's offices, with studios in the smaller structure to the left, behind the STL tower.

It's not a bad spot for a public broadcaster, is it?

(WNIN used to have a neat history of the Carpenter House and of its own timeline on its Web site, but a recent redesign appears to have removed it. You can still find it cached on Google if you're really curious, though...)

From WNIN we head west a mile or so, to the hilltop site on the west side of Evansville that's home to several FM signals and one TV studio.

Up here on Mount Auburn Road is Evansville's first TV station, NBC affiliate WFIE-TV (Channel 14), whose call letters even stand for.. "We're First In Evansville."

The tall tower seen next to the WFIE studios in this photomontage is no longer used for WFIE broadcasts; the main channel 14 tower, like the rest of the market's UHF television, is across the river to the south, near Henderson, Kentucky.

Across the street from channel 14 is a guyed tower that's home to two independently-owned FM stations: AC market leader WIKY-FM (104.1) and oldies WABX (107.5).

What's interesting here is at the base: the remnants of what looks to have been a much older self-supporting tower!

The WIKY tower is also home to three LPTV stations: WJPS-LP (Channel 4), WIKY-LP (Channel 5) and WWAZ-LP (Channel 17). Channel 4 runs the All News Channel, while 5 and 17 relay the UPN programming of WAZE-TV (Channel 19) over in Madisonville, Kentucky.

Friday, July 6 - The next morning finds us on another studio tour, this time at the new Brill Media facility downtown that's home to country WKDQ (99.5) and CHR WSTO (96.1 Owensboro KY).

They've done a nice job building out a century-old industrial building into a modern radio facility there, and now we've seen most of Evansville radio from the inside!

(A few stations that went otherwise unmentioned here: religious WVHI 1330 is far north of town and we don't get there; we also don't see the single stick of satellite urban WEOA 1400, which is operated with WABX and WIKY. The Evansville schools run WPSR 90.7, which is off for the summer, and there's WSON 860 across the river in Henderson, as well.)

Henderson is where we're headed next, down US 41 towards Marywood Drive and Evansville's ABC affiliate.

WEHT (seen at the top of the page) began its life on channel 50 back in the fifties, but soon moved to its current home on channel 25. The studio building at the base of the tower, seen in the photomontage here, is clearly of much newer vintage; we believe it surrounds a much older WEHT building.

Up Green River Road a mile or so away are some more tall sticks. Seen at left is WKDQ (99.5), with the stick of WEVV just visible in the background at right. WEVV's tower is also home to WTSN-LP (Channel 63), the PAX affiliate in town, as well as W56DN, which relays WTSN. (Why? We have no idea...)

And check out the tower registration number posted on the fence at WKDQ: it's nice to see they care enough about complying with the FAA rules to make their own sign!

Not seen here, but just visible from the WKDQ site as we look east, is the tall WFIE tower, completing our set of Evansville UHF facilities.

We head back to our motel in Evansville to part ways with Blaine (he'll head back to his base in Fort Wayne by way of Terre Haute later that day), checking out a few more sites on our way out of town.

Near our motel, on Burkhardt Road close to the interchange of I-164 and Indiana 62, we see the two self-supporting towers of WGBF (1280).

The talk station does its own local morning show now; for a few years, this heritage station joined its sister FM on 103.1 as one of the first syndicated affiliates of the Indianapolis-based Bob and Tom Show. (WGBF-FM still runs the show!)

If we had more time, we'd take up another invitation to head east on the Kentucky side of the river and visit nearby Owensboro, but Louisville is calling us and time is short, so we stay on the Indiana side, heading east on Indiana 66 and north on 261 to our last Evansville-market stop.

WTVW and WNIN aren't just neighbors at their Carpenter Street studios; they also share adjacent towers out here near Chandler, Indiana.

WTVW's stick is the taller one at left, we believe; the shorter one appears to carry WNIN-FM (halfway down) and perhaps WNIN-TV as well, unless channel 9 shares channel 7's antenna on the WTVW tower.

We're just north of Newburgh, Indiana here, and we also tune in WGAB (1180), the talk station licensed there.

And from here, it's just a few miles east to the last stop of this installment: Boonville, home to WBNL (1540) and the former WBNL-FM (107.1), which had just changed calls to WYZY and is now targeting the Evansville market under new ownership. They operate from this little building on Indiana 61, and no, there's no sign of the other "BNL" (as in the Canadian pop group) anywhere other than on the CD player in the car!

(If we had a million dollars, we could probably buy WBNL and have plenty of change left over...)

Thanks for your patience with our absence last week; we were out gathering more photos and stories for upcoming Site of the Week segments. A correction from last week: as several of you have pointed out, KXEN's daytime facilities use six towers; the sixth was cut off in our photos and our faulty memory! We're on schedule now to finish the Big Trip retrospective by year's end: look for Louisville next week and Lexington December 26...see you then! can still enjoy the Big Trip's lovely KFAB view and eleven more favorites from Tower Site of the Week all year long, if you order the Tower Site 2002 Calendar!

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