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1230 AM Savannah

WSOK 1230.jpg

History (Edited from Wikipedia)


After applying in 1944, Frank R. Pidcock and James M. Wilder (see WBIE Atlanta) were granted a construction permit for WFRP on 1230 AM in Savannah in 1946. The station went on the air on October 30, 1946 as Savannah's only independent (non-network) station, although in the early 1950s it was the local outlet for the short-lived Liberty Broadcasting System, and in 1952 it affiliated with ABC.



In 1958, Albert Fisher, who had previously owned stations in Charleston and Columbia, South Carolina, bought WFRP from the Georgia Broadcasting Company for $87,500, and changed the call letters to WSOK on January 5, 1959. As the sale concluded, an application was filed to increase WSOK's daytime power to 1,000 watts, which was granted in November 1961.


By this time, the station had been sold again to Joe Speidel for $221,000. The callsign change and new ownership turned WSOK into a soul-formatted radio station, even though WSOK's owner was white; in 1970, a Race Relations Information Center noted that five white-owned groups (including Speidel) owned 22 soul stations, at which African Americans held 34 of the 84 executive positions. Many of them, however, may have been in name only; for instance, WSOK disc jockey Charles Anthony was also the program director, news director, and public affairs director.

In 1971, WSOK was sold to B. C. C. Georgia, Inc., known as Black Communications Group,  for $400,000. Ben Tucker owned 40 percent of the company, while jazz pianist Billy Taylor owned another 10 percent. A concerted effort was made to pull WSOK out of the trap that befell many white-owned soul outlets. While not the musical director, Taylor helped steer the format at WSOK away from its prior heavy focus on chart music: according to him, "Most black stations are owned by white owners. They think they know what is best for us, and they're chart-oriented." Tucker expanded the station's album collection from 20 to 4,000 selections; in addition, the station began offering Mutual Black Network news and increased its commitment to local news and public affairs programming. The improvements at WSOK, the 15th black-owned radio station in the United States, had raised it to number one in the local ratings within nine months of Black Communications Group taking over and led to a tenfold increase in the number of advertisers on the station.

After more than a decade of ownership, Black Communications Group sold the station to Bay Communications of Biloxi, Mississippi, in 1984. The $375,000 sale made it a sister to WAEV, creating the city's only AM-FM duopoly. ( Georgia radio veteran Andrew "Butch" Guest adds:  Tucker remained on as a consultant, and all programming and Public Affairs decisions were made by PD Jay Bryant, who is Black, for the duration of Bay's ownership. )


 Tucker remained on as a consultant.  Their radio division was acquired by the Opus Communications Group in 1989 for $11 million, and in turn, Opus sold WAEV and WSOK to Southern Broadcasting for $2.35 million. 

In 1995, Patterson Broadcasting acquired the stations plus WLVH for $11 million. In 1996,  and the entire 36-station Patterson portfolio was sold to Capstar—the forerunner of today's iHeartMedia—in a $215 million sale in 1997.

WSOK's tradition of public affairs programming remained strong. Despite being an AM outlet, it was the number two radio station in Savannah in 1995 and ranked fifth in the market in billing, which station management attributed to its higher-than-normal talk output. Among the talk shows from 1978 to 1994 was one hosted by future Savannah mayor Otis Johnson, titled "Message from the Grass Roots", which aired on Sunday afternoons. WSOK maintained its ratings position in 1998 despite the market having five urban stations. However, Clear Channel came under fire in 2004 for axing most of the station's live talk programming while not doing the same to sister WTKS, with a primarily white audience.

WSOK first began broadcasting on an FM translator in 2015, at 103.5 FM, which was replaced in 2019 by a newly licensed translator on 99.7 FM.

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