WCLK Staff Members
Circa 1974 Sign-on (Click to enlarge)
Kneeling L to R: Ops. Mgr./Chief Engineer Cecil O’Neal Jr., Asst. Engineer Reggie Williams
Row 1: Stan Washington, Morris Ector, ken Sharpe, Amanda Davis, Vicki Saunders, Pamm Jackson, Leslie Linton, Micheal Banner,
Row 2: Lamont Smith, Lawrence Alexander, Allen Johnston, Mario Lightfoote, Samuel Cann
Control room 1974
First Program Director
Quo Badis Gamble
WCLK's Stan Washington (r) with saxophonist Wayne Shorter ("Weather Report")
Leonard Tippy Calloway
David J. Reeves
Alexander Talmadge Jr.
"50 Watts From Noon to Midnight" - short feature by April Lundy
(2017 — Courtesy of April Lundy)
WCLK TV ad
WCLK Display Ad (2020)
(Courtesy of WCLK)
On April 10, 1974, Jazz 91.9 FM WCLK aired its very first Jazz selection, “Maiden Voyage,” by Herbie Hancock. Under the direction of former Clark College President Vivian Henderson, and former Director of Mass Communications Charles Hobson, WCLK became the first black federally licensed educational FM station in Georgia. Transmitting from Clark College's McPheters-Dennis Hall at a mere 54 watts from noon until midnight, WCLK marked the beginning of an exciting journey to cultivate an Atlanta public radio entity that would educate, inform and entertain listeners. Jazz 91.9 FM WCLK has made a major impact in Atlanta and the recording industry by introducing and/or furthering the careers of national and local artists. The Station's commitment to exposing its audience to diverse musical styles within the Jazz genre is demonstrated by the Station's freedom to explore an entire CD as opposed to playing just the most popular tracks. This affords the listener an opportunity to fully experience the artist's creativity.
Throughout the years, Jazz 91.9 FM WCLK has been the only station in the market to keep listeners musically tuned with its array of interviews. Many artists continue to visit the Station whenever they are in Atlanta. Some of these legendary vocalists and musicians have included: Sonny Rollins, Terence Blanchard, Nancy Wilson, Joshua Redman, Abbey Lincoln, Jimmy Smith, Chick Corea, Vanessa Rubin, Nnenna Freelon, Jon Lucien, Al Jarreau, Ronnie Laws, Hubert Laws, Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Joe Sample, Kirk Whalum, Incognito, Freddie Cole, Dr. Billy Taylor, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Houston Person, Russell Malone, Poncho Sanchez, Roy Ayers, and Rachelle Ferrell, just to name a few.
To ensure the perpetuation of this music genre, the Station continues to afford local artists the only outlet for showcasing their music. For instance, Jazz 91.9 FM WCLK introduced vocalists Lizz Wright, Donnie, and Grammy Award-winning India.Arie to the Atlanta market long before their first CDs were released, and they have attained national notoriety. In addition, Ms. Arie gives Jazz 91.9 FM WCLK and its on-air personalities credit on her first CD. Throughout the years, WCLK has built upon its initial journey by fine-tuning just the right mix of traditional and contemporary Jazz and Gospel music and information. Broadcasting to 200,000+ listeners weekly from the campus of Clark Atlanta University (CAU) at 6,000 watts, 24 hours a day, and now 48 years later...it's still Atlanta's primary source for Jazz music. Year after year, Jazz 91.9 FM WCLK has been awarded Reader's Choice & Critic's Choice as the “Best Jazz Radio Station” by the Creative Loafing Newspaper.
Jazz 91.9 WCLK is a National Public Radio (NPR) affiliate station that boats the best Jazz and the most informed and passionate announcing staff anywhere. We were enjoying a large and loyal audience and important relationships with business and community leaders who sought out the station to disseminate important information that would make a difference to listeners and constituents. WCLK was hit with a wave of media expansion and choices from satellite, internet and HD radio to corporate owned and syndicated formatted radio competitors. During that time you could find Jazz on commercial stations and Jazz stations streaming over the internet as well. Our Gospel listening was met with 24/7 competition too. And there were more offerings from satellite and Gospel music streams. Listeners could literally get their music from hundreds of places. The wave hit around 2004 and would continue. We started to see listenership erode on a daily basis. But, we were determined to keep the faith, to strategize and look for opportunities to reclaim our proud positioning. We quickly began to get our hands on the research. We leveraged five translators that were going to dissipate because we did not have the resources to build them out into stations. Our signal was impeded by the downtown skyscrapers causing major reception problems to the north, east and south. The translators became assets that we were able to leverage for funding and more importantly for resources and opportunities that eventually led to us moving to a larger commercial tower in the heart of the city and going from a directional to omni-directional antenna by sharing an antenna with another powerful media company in Atlanta.
Our coverage area grew from 1 million to 2.4 million households. Then through a myriad of other deals that were made, we were provided research from a major local broadcaster through the help of former CAU trustee and prominent Atlanta Business leader Juanita Baranco. The studies, undertaken in 2011, provided us much needed research on how the audience and marketplace were changing. We were able to use the research in 2012 to enhance our Jazz format in an effort to appeal to a larger segment of the population to include more women and more diverse listeners. We still tweak our format from time to time. And, we have added a mainstream HD 2 station accessible through WCLK.com and through the all new station WCLK app. WCLK also have an HD 3 station for student programming and production.
Today, WCLK is to be listed among the nation’s top five Jazz stations according to Nielsen and the Radio Research Consortium 2018. In 2019, WCLK reached an all-time high of 250,000 weekly listeners. But we don’t plan to rest on our laurels and never will. WCLK makes it a point to engage the community and to stay relevant fervently believing that if you are put in a position to make a difference.