98.5 FM Atlanta
WCON-FM > WSB-FM

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Tony Williams (r) maintaining "Beautiful 98 WSB FM" automation | 1977 | Georgia State University Archives
1974 trade ad
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B98.5 morning team (l to r.: Dale O'Brien, Kari Dean, Jim Gossett, and Keith Connors)
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B98.5 afternoon personality Kelly McCoy. After time in Athens at WDOL and WRFC and then at WQXI-AM, Kelly spent 27 years at B98.5 and retired in 2012.
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B98.5 overnight personality Larry "Night train" Lane, who was also a WQXI-AM jock in the 70s.  Larry passed away in 2014 at the age of 62.
1981 TV spot | Beautiful 98
1984 aircheck | Dale O'Brien
1991 Aircheck Dale O'Brien and Bob Scott (via airchecks.com)
2012 Fall TV campaign
May 2014 ID
Kelly McCoy final air shift after 27 years
00:00 / 1:04:38

History

Early years

In the early 1940s, the Atlanta Constitution started an FM radio station. After an experimental period, it became WCON-FM on 98.5 MHz.The call sign contained the letters CON for "Constitution." The competing Atlanta Journal had already put Atlanta's first AM station on the air in 1922, WSB. In 1948, the Journal added a companion FM station, WSB-FM, broadcasting on 104.5 MHz.When the two newspapers merged under Cox Enterprises ownership in 1952, WCON-FM and WSB-FMwent silent. WSB-FM returned to the air in 1955 on WCON-FM's dial position, 98.5 FM. While it has the call letters of WSB-FM, the station traces its founding to when WCON-FM first signed on. During its early years, when few people had FM radio receivers, WSB-FM mostly simulcast the programming on WSB (AM). That included dramas, comedies, news, and sports from the NBC Red network, as well as local shows. As network programming moved from radio to television in the 1950s, WSB-AM-FM carried a full-service, middle-of-the-road format of popular music, news, sports, and information.

 

Beautiful music

In the 1960s, the Federal Communications Commission encouraged large market radio stations to provide separate programming on their FM outlets. WSB-FM would begin airing beautiful music, 15minute sweeps of orchestral music, mostly cover versions of pop songs, as well as Hollywood and Broadway show tunes. It was mostly automated.

 

Switch to AC

 

In the 1970s, WSB-FM added some soft vocals to its beautiful music playlist. The ratio of vocals to instrumentals continued to increase until March 15, 1982, when the station formally switched to soft adult contemporary music and eliminated the instrumentals. In the 1980s, many FM stations were rounding off their dial positions on the air; WSB-FM stopped identifying itself as 98.5 and rounded it off to "99FM." In 1985, WSB-FM sued its soft AC competitor WLTA-FM, owned by Susquehanna Broadcasting, which had begun calling itself "Warm 99." Cox Broadcasting claimed trademark infringement, saying listeners would be confused with two Atlanta stations with similar formats using "99" as their dial position. Arbitron was having trouble crediting each station in the ratings because of the common use of "99."Cox v. Susquehanna Broadcasting became a landmark case in United States district court. The judge was handed a digital radio and asked to tune to 100.0 MHz, but there was no signal. To find the nearest station, he pressed the "Scan" button, and it stopped at 101.5 MHz (WKHX-FM). Next, he entered 99.0MHz, which, again, contained no signal. Scanning from there, the radio hit 99.7, WLTA's frequency. In his precedent-setting decision, the judge stated that on a radio dial "a radio station's frequency is its address" and one cannot trademark an address. On June 25, he ruled in favor of Warm 99. A short time later, WSB-FM began calling itself "B98.5FM".

 

Competing with 94.9

 

Another former beautiful music station, WPCH, made the transition to Soft AC shortly after WSB-FM in the early 1980s. The two stations were locked in a battle for "at-work listeners" for two decades, with formats designed for workplace listening. WPCH, at various times, called itself "95 WPCH", "Peach 94.9", and "94.9 Lite FM," eventually switching its call letters to WLTMand then flipping to country music as WUBL in 2006.

 

DJs and programming changes

 

On December 29, 2006, WSB-FM became the Atlanta affiliate for the nationally syndicated Delilah show(which was previously broadcast on 94.9 Lite FM/Peach 94.9). Delilah was dropped from WSB-FM in December 2011. On July 1, 2008, Steve McCoy and Vikki Locke joined WSB-FM as the morning hosts after 17 years at Adult Top 40 station WSTR "Star 94." Steve McCoyleftin February 2010, and in March 2011, KellyStevens from the old "Kelly and Alpha" show rejoined the station and was paired with Vikki. During the spring of 2011, WSB-FM dropped music before 1980, more songs from the 2000s were added, and WSB-FM replaced "Atlanta's Best Variety of Soft Rock" positioning with "Your Favorites from the 80s, 90s, and Now," later shortened to "80s, 90s & Now".

 

On April 27, 2012, longtime WSB-FM afternoon DJ Kelly McCoy retired after 27 years in the same air shift, after joining the station in January 1985. At 4:00 that afternoon, WSB-FM aired a special tribute during his last show. It was the first time in recent memory that the station broke format during afternoon drive time.

 

Christmas music

 

Beginning with the 2004 holiday season, and repeated each year, WSB-FM played all Christmas music from the day before Thanksgiving until December 25. In 2012, the station did not go all-Christmas between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, instead mixing Christmas songs in with the regular format.

 

Former hosts

 

  • Denise Alexander, midday host (1987–1991)

  • Eddie Bauer, morning host (?-1999)

  • Brenda Bissett, midday host (1999–2001) Later paired with her husband, Pete Michaels, as part of the syndicated morning show "Pete & Brenda In the Morning"

  • Brian Buzby, morning host

  • Michael J. "Mike" Calhoun, morning host/newscaster (?-1999)

  • Marjorie Coley Davis, morning host/newscaster (2007–2008)

  • William C. "Barnacle Bill" Duncan, weekend host/fill-in WSB-FM, WJZF, WBTS (1994–2005) Deceased 2007

  • Jason Durden, traffic reporter (1996–2007) Later on WSB-TV in News Chopper 2

  • Sabrina Gibbons, morning host/newscaster (?-1998) Later with 750 WSB and state lottery drawings

  • Jordan Graye, midday host (1991-1999/2001-2015)

  • Christy Henry, morning host/newscaster (2003–2007)

  • Trevor Johns, morning host (?)

  • Jeff Laurence, Saturday Night Dance Party host (?-2001)

  • Vikki Locke, morning host (2008-2013)

  • Bobbi Marks, fill-in/weekend host (?-1999)

  • Bob (Bob Marsicano), morning show producer (1999–2000). Switched to 92.9 WZGC and later at Cox Radio Tampa

  • Kelly McCoy, afternoon drive (1985-2012)Steve McCoy, morning host (2008–2010)

  • Gary McKee, morning host (1994-1996) Worked at WQXI-AM-FM 94 Q (now WSTR) 1971-1989. Left with WZGC Z 93 1997-99

  • Charles McPhee, Dream Doctor Show host (2002–2004) Deceased 2011

  • Michael Mitchell, Atlanta's Love Songs host (2001–2002)

  • Dale O'Brien, morning host (?) Later worked at 94.9 WPCH

  • Nancy Richards, morning host/newscaster (1999–2003)

  • Chandler Steele, fill-in/weekend host (?)

  • Kelly Stevens, morning host (1999-2008 and 2011-2013)

  • Rebecca Stevens, Atlanta's Love Songs host (1985–2001) Later worked at 94.9 WPCH

  • Larry "Night Train" Lane, overnight host (1987-2009) Worked at WQXI 790/94.1 from 1975 through 1986

  • Kristy Tanner, morning host (?-1999)

  • Alpha Trivette, morning host (1999–2008)

  • Larry O'Neal, middays (1983–84). Left to buy stations in Arkansas and American Samoa.

  • Kari Dean, 1982-1993 morning co-host/news/traffic. Later WPCH morning co-host/news; in 2005, became a TV news producer at WAGA-TV

  • Jim Larsin, weekend/fill-in