Text and photos by SCOTT FYBUSH
I’ve always been a little lukewarm about my name. It was the generic choice for suburban parents in the early 1970s, after all, and there’s not much distinctive about it.
But just like my friend Clarke Ingram did the time we visited the outskirts of Scranton and he got to brag about being in “MY Summit,” I always enjoy visiting places that share my name.
There aren’t many “Scott” places in radio, as it turns out, so it’s a rare pleasure – but the summer 2019 trip I took with Indiana Radio Watch editor Blaine Thompson brought us to one of them.
Scottsburg, Indiana is the seat of Scott County. Just off I-65 an hour or so north of Louisville, Scottsburg boasts a classic courthouse square in its tidy downtown – and just across from the courthouse, a row of turn-of-the-century commercial buildings includes the studios of Scott County’s radio voice, WMPI (105.3 Scottsburg).
This was an early standalone FM operation, having signed on in December 1966 as a 3 kW signal on 100.9, operating from a tower south of Scottsburg just off US 31 and studios right along 31 near downtown.
The studios moved around a bit over the years before settling in here on McClain Street, and in 1994 WMPI itself made a big move: to make room for an upgrade to another 100.9 signal to the west, WBDC Huntingburg, WMPI relocated from 100.9 to 105.3, moving to a new tower site east of Scottsburg near Blocher, Indiana.
(The old site lives on in the name of “Radio Tower Road,” which still crosses 31 a few miles south of Scottsburg.)
Under longtime owner D.R. Rice Broadcasting, WMPI has settled in nicely here. This is a classic smalltown studio setup: walk in the storefront and you’re looking right through a window behind the reception desk into the main air studio.
Look to your left and you’ll likely see a pile of toys: since 1990, WMPI has grown the annual “We Care” charity auction that’s collected more than $1.5 million to buy clothes for Scott County school children in need.
And as we leave, there’s one memory of WMPI’s earlier existence, too: among the merchants who sponsored bricks in the McClain Street sidewalk was “RADIO 101 WMPI.”
From here, it’s just a short drive down I-65 to the big city of Louisville, where (except for a drive through late at night on the way to the 2017 total eclipse) we’d last visited on the original 2001 Big Trip. Stay tuned for those visits over the next few Site of the Week installments.
Thanks to Dan Daggett for the tours!
We have a great lineup of podcasts here on our site. While you’re catching up with your summer reading, don’t forget about your summer listening. Now is the time to make sure you’re up to date with Top of the Tower.
Our latest one features Donna Halper discussing her life in radio, from her time at WMMS when she helped Rush get US airplay, to what she learned from Arnie “Woo Woo” Ginsburg.
Don’t forget you can still visit our store to check out our other great products. We’ll be taking preorders for the 2021 calendar soon. Stay tuned!
And don’t miss a big batch of southeast Indiana IDs next Wednesday, over at our sister site, TopHour.com!
Next week: Louisville Public Media