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
here for part two
here for part three
here for part four
here for part five
here for part six
here for part seven
here for part eight
here for part nine
here for part ten
here for part eleven
Click here for
Click here for
Thursday, July 5 - The day that began in St. Louis
is coming to a close a few hundred miles to the east, in Evansville,
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
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!)
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
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
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).
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
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.
(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
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
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
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
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Click here to see a sample
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