WRKT-AM 1300 
Cocoa Beach

Original Call Letters: WRKT

Originally Licensed: Jun 22, 1959 

Original City of  License: Cocoa Beach 

Original Frequency: 1300

Origin of Call Letters: Sound like; RocKetie in with Cape Canaveral

Original Power: 500 watts daytime

Original Location: 425 W. Orange Ave.

Original Format: MOR 


Network Affiliation(s):


NBC
Florida Golden Net
ABC Information


Owner(s):


1959-Mel Wheeler 

1962-C. Sweet Smith

1968-Bucks County Radio News

1977-Bostwick Management

1981-Cocoa Beach Broadcasting (Guy Gannett Broadcasting Services, Inc)

1981-Triplett Broadcasting of Florida

1986-Guy Gannett Publishing Co.

1988-Champion Broadcasting of Florida ($325,000) 

1993-Rama Communications ($950,00 Purchased with WOKB AM 1600)

2008-Twin Towers Broadcasting (LMA)


History Of Call Letters and Formats:


WRKT-1959-MOR

WRKT-1968-Top 40

WRKT-1975-MOR/Top 40

WRKT-1977-Beautiful Music

WRKT-1979-Top 40

WRKT-1980-Adult Contemporary (simulcast with WRKT-FM 104.1)

WRKT-1981-Contemporary Country

WRKT-1985-Classic Hits

WRKT-1987-Oldies

WXXU-1988-Black Gospel (simulcast of WXXO 1600 AM)

WXXU-1990-Spanish

WXXU-1994-Ethnic

WXXU-1995-Travel Information

WXXU-1996-Urban

WXXU-1998-Black Gospel/Urban

WXXU-2002-Traveler Information

WTIR-2003-Traveler Information  

WTIR-2006-Spanish

WMEL-2008-Talk


WRKT History 
From Pete Wenk;  It (WRKT) actually originated as a 500 watt daytimer, with studios on the causeway in Cocoa Beach..." "...The upgrade to 5,000 watts day and 1,000 watts night took place in the spring of 1965, while I was working there, along with Mark Manucy (Engineer), Bill Baker, formerly of WPDQ and WTIX, Duane Nigh, who later went to WEZY, and Dick Price, who was one of the funniest guys on the planet (God knows what ever happened to him.  The last we saw, he had married some gal with a bunch of kids and was headed north to Alaska in a broken down converted school bus).  Jack Newsom was the Sales Manager, and, oh, yes, Mercer Livermore was there, as well.  The station at the time was owned by a fellow named C. Sweet Smith ("Jonesy"), who was the son of an influential local congress critter, and he continued to pour money into the thing, in spite of the fact that he could never catch WKKO, kind of amazing in view of the fact that we were full time and they were daytime.  Smith was the fellow who sold the station to Bucks County Radio. In 1981 WRKT was programming country music. But by 1985 faced with mediocre ratings, and new competition from WWKA-FM 92.3 and WHOO-FM 96.5,  management decided to adopt a ''classic hits'' format. Classic hits is an updated oldies format, a blend of Top 20 tunes from the '50s, '60s, '70s and, occasionally, the '80s. No one else in Brevard County was doing it. ''It gets down to how you can carve out your own little area and take advantage of it,'' said program director Allen Jackson. ''You may not end up with a giant, killer-number radio station -- like in double digits -- but our whole idea is to end up with a sampling of the best of all the other radio stations.'' Jackson told the Orlando Sentinel


WRKT Personalities

Jim McKnight-1959-News Director-Mel Wheeler Ownership

Rick Hutto-1959-Program Director-Mel Wheeler Ownership

Charles Maxwell-1961-News Director-Mel Wheeler Ownership
Charles Shaw-1962-Program Director-C. Sweet Smith Ownership
Dave Hunter-1962-News Director-C. Sweet Smith Ownership
Duane Nigh-1963-C. Sweet Smith Ownership  In Memory
William "Bill" Baker-1965-Program Director-C. Sweet Smith Ownership
Pete Wenk-1965-Promotions Manager-C. Sweet Smith Ownership
George Meguiar-1965-News Director-C. Sweet Smith Ownership



Jack Simpson-1967-"Jazz on the Beach"-C. Sweet Smith Ownership 



Rick Morton-1966-1968-C. Sweet Smith Ownership

Christopher M. Young-1968-President/News Director/1970-President/General Manager-Bucks County Radio News

Scott Conelley-1968-Program Director-Bucks County Radio News

Glenn Hill-1968-News Director/1972-Music Director-Bucks County Radio News

Al Radlin-1969-Program Director-Bucks County Radio News
Alan Thompson-1972-Bucks County Radio News
Dan Donovan-1972-Program Director/Mornings-Bucks County Radio News   
J.J. Derick-1972-News Director-Bucks County Radio News



Jack Gale-1973-1975-Program Director/Music Director-Bucks County Radio News

Edward B. Edwards-1973-News Director-Bucks County Radio News


The MojoMan
(Sid Grubbs)-1973-Bucks County Radio News
"I'll never forget July 1st 1973. While with Jack Gale at WRKT Cocoa Beach (the date the 18yr. olds got legal). We Broadcast atop The Sand Spur Bar on the beach 24 hrs a day all that weekend 20,000 up and down the beach. "...as The Mojo Man would say, "Hang loose, keep smilin', don't get lost, keep your shoes tied and keep on keepin' on"
Mitchell Stone-1974-News Director-Bucks County Radio News



Michael W. Lowe-1975-1978-(1976)-Music Director-Bucks County Radio News/-Bostwick Management
Biography



Dave Edwards-1975-1977-Bucks County Radio News 
Biography

Jim Sumpter-1975-Music Director-Bucks County Radio News

Gary Henderson-1975-News Director/1976-Program Director-Bucks County Radio News
Chris Jackson-1977-Music Director/1979-Operations Manager-Bostwick Management



Susie Fennelli-1977-1978-Bostwick Management 



Brian Wilkes-1978-News Director-Bostwick Management
Bob Thompson-1979-Program Director-Bostwick Management
Mike Shepard-1981-Program Director/Music Director-Cocoa Beach Broadcasting  
Ken McKenzie-1981-News Director-Cocoa Beach Broadcasting
Stan Anderson-1986-Guy Gannett Publishing Co.  Biography    In Memory

Dana Chapman-1987-News Director-Guy Gannett Publishing Co.



Jeff Allen (Cassell)-1986-1989-Program Supervisor-Champion Broadcasting Of Florida     Biography
Danz Chapman-1988-News Director-Champion Broadcasting Of Florida
Pedro F. Sanchez-1993-Program Director-Rama Communications Inc.
Kris Persuad-1996-Chief of Operations/Program Director-Rama Communications Inc.
Steve January-1999-General Manager/Program Director-Rama Communications Inc.

Joel Marquez-2007-Program Director-Rama Communications



Mercer Livermore-"Cocoa Chatter"  
Biography    In Memory


Frank Reed  Biography

Pepper Lipsync

Phil Stanley

Marc Elliot

JJ Derek 

Rita Michaels-Program Director

Gerald Johnson

Joe DeSantis-News

Les Robertson

Jim Sumpter

Ted Rose-Mornings



Ben Hill-Program Director-Pamal Broadcasting  Biography

“Brother Dave” Vasser

“Crazy Mike” Kessler 



Bill Vermillion
Biography   In Memory

Bill Baker
Dick Price


Other Names in WRKT History

Mel Wheeler-1959-Owner

Carl Collins-1959-General Manager/Chief Engineer-Mel Wheeler Ownership In Memory

John Fox-1959-Commercial Manager/1961-General Manager-Mel Wheeler Ownership/1965-Assistant Manager/Commercial Manager-C. Sweet Smith Ownership

Mack Stamps-1959-Promotions Manager/1960-Publicity Director-Mel Wheeler Ownership

Don Tucker-1961-Promtions Manager-Mel Wheeler Ownership

Bill Costello-1961-Chief Engineer-Mel Wheeler Ownership

C. Sweet Smith, Jr.-1962-President/General Manager 

John Fox-1962-General Manager/Commercial Manager-C. Sweet Smith Ownership

Fred Jaye-1962-Chief Engineer-C. Sweet Smith Ownership
Bill Diamond-1962-Sales Manager/Promotion Manager-C. Sweet Smith Ownership
George Allen-1962-Publicity Director-C. Sweet Smith Ownership
Mark Manucy-1965-Chief Engineer-C. Sweet Smith Ownership
Dean Wilson-1966-General Manager-C. Sweet Smith Ownership


Erne Legge-1966-Operations Manager
-C. Sweet Smith Ownership 
In Memory
Charles Plummer-1966-Chief Engineer-C. Sweet Smith Ownership
A.R. Mack-1967-Commercial Manager-C. Sweet Smith Ownership
Don Fleming-1967-Chief Engineer-C. Sweet Smith Ownership

John H. Meder, Jr.-1968-General Manager-Bucks County Radio News

Tom Morley-1968-Station Manager-Bucks County Radio News/1977-Commercial Manager-Bostwick Management

Steve Jasen-1968-Program Manager-Bucks County Radio News

Roger Kaplan-1968-Chief Engineer-Bucks County Radio News

Mike Patterson-1968-Commercial Manager-Bucks County Radio News

Steven Trieber-1968-Chief Engineer-Bucks County Radio News

Virginia Alsop-1969-Commercial Manager-Bucks County Radio News

William Marlin-1970-Station Manager-Bucks County Radio News

Chester E. "Chet" Pike-1971-President/General Manager-Bucks County Radio News In Memory

Sandy Gamblin-1972-Promotions Manager-Bucks County Radio News

Ron Schrader-1972-Chief Engineer-Bucks County Radio News

Ron Burgess-1972-Commercial Manager-Bucks County Radio News

Pam Rowland-1973-Promotions Director-Bucks County Radio News
Cindy Maestree-1974-Promtions Manager-Bucks County Radio News

Jim “Double Bubble” Pierce-1975-Music Director-Bucks County Radio News 

Robert B. Taylor-1977-President/General Manager-Bostwick Management
Donald Woodland-1977-Sales Manager-Bostwick Management

Bob Clarke-1981-WRKT-AM and FM Vice President and General Manager-Triplett Broadcasting of Florida

Louis Ludovici-1981-Chief Engineer-Triplett Broadcasting of Florida
Mathew B. Hoffman-1981-President-Triplett Broadcasting of Florida/1993-President-Rama Communications Inc.
Jane A. Clarke-1981-General Manager-Triplett Broadcasting of Florida
Willie Clarke-1981-General Sales Manager-Triplett Broadcasting of Florida
Larry Aderley-1981-Chief Engineer-Triplett Broadcasting of Florida

Allen Jackson-1985-Program Director  

J.D. Ricci-1993-General Manager-Rama Communications Inc.


Jay Waggoner-1993-Chief Engineer-Rama Communications Inc.
In Memory
Sabita Persaud-1996-President-Rama Communications Inc. 
Cleo Sears-1996-General Manager-Rama Communications Inc.
Rodger Ashworth-1999-Chief Engineer-Rama Communications Inc.
Bishop Anthony Hateher-2000-General Manager-Rama Communications Inc.

Benjamin Hill-Program Director  

Merv Pilgrim-Music Director and mid day host

Larry Weiss-Sales Manager 

Jack Newsom-Sales Manager 

        Sounds_like_the_big_bands_Fred King.jpg (945878 bytes) 

Fred King 2.jpg (619209 bytes)

Thanks to Fred King       click for full sized view


WRKT Memories From Dave Vasser

I was on WRKT AM-FM from February of 1974 until October 1974 when Chet Pike owned the station.  He had a boat called the MISS WRKT.  It was a big Bertram boat. My air name on WRKT and for lots of other stations thereafter was "Brother Dave" and I started doing nights at WRKT and was production director.  I eventually moved to PM drive.  The program director at WRKT at that time was Benjamin Hill who went to KIOA in Des Moines after leaving WRKT and then moved into TV and retired a millionaire.  Music director and mid days was Merv Pilgrim who went to BIG WAYS and into record promotion after BIG WAYS before leaving the business to run a video rental and appliance store in his hometown of Cleveland, Ga. Jim Sumpter did mornings and went from WRKT to WLCY in Tampa/St. Pete where he had a very long run.
After I left WRKT I spent seven years in Charleston SC at WTMA, WWWZ, WCSC and WQSN before moving to the Charlotte NC area in 1980 where I worked at Z-100, WFOX, WROQ, WABZ, WZKY and some other stations around Charlotte before finishing my radio career with a 14 year run of the Brother Dave Show on Magic 96.1 FM in Charlotte. 
The way I got to WRKT was through Benjamin Hill who had worked part time in news at WRFC in Athens GA where I was doing nights.  Ben's dad owned the local newspaper in Cocoa and I guess that is how Ben got the WRKT PD job.  Ben hired both me and Merv Pilgrim from WRFC in Athens to join him in Florida.  
When I arrived WRKT, the FM was AOR and WRKT-AM was Top 40 with all live jocks on both stations.  Shortly after I got there they went 24 hours and began simulcasting top 40 on both stations combining the staffs from both the FM and AM, moving me to PM drive. 
I enjoyed WRKT.  I was 19 years old at the time I went there and turned 20 while working there.  Although the station was probably licensed to Cocoa Beach and we said "Cocoa Beach" on the legal ID's, the WRKT AM & FM studios were never in Cocoa Beach when I worked there.  The station was actually in Cocoa on a mostly dirt road called Pluckebaum Rd in a concrete block building I called the "Radio Ranch" because there was nothing else but cows and horses and old abandoned orange groves out there. It was so remote it was almost spooky at night.  You couldn't drink the tap water because it was loaded with sulfur. The engineering department where the transmitters were located was down the entire left side of the building where the transmitters and racks were lined up.  Engineering had video cameras set up (rarer in 1974 than today) to scan the meters on the transmitter so the station would be legal.  The camera resolution was so low that you couldn't actually read the meters off the video monitor, but the FCC rules just said you had to be able to see the meters.  I remember Merv Pilgrim made a pot of coffee once with that awful tap water and everyone who drank coffee that morning had "the runs" for a while after that. We had great Top 40 programming and did lots of remotes from right on the beach in Chet Pike's old motor home that we converted into a mobile studio.  Also at this time WRKT AM and FM had one of the most dedicated engineers I ever worked with named Ron Schrader who had worked for NASA during the booming 60's doing some sort of electronics work.  He really knew electronics.  But he and I always disagreed over audio processing.  He was a very good engineer though it was just preferences.  He would only buy Collins brand equipment for some reason though, probably because he used Rockwell/Collins radio stuff in the military and at the Cape and was used to working on it.  Everything was Collins at WRKT AM/FM except the Ampex tape recorders  which were the old 350's and the RCA 77DX mics which were everywhere except in FM control where they had a big EV665 or some such dynamic.  The channel Air/Audition switches on the Collins boards went UP AND DOWN instead of Left to Right as I was used to at about every other station where I worked during that era until slide pot boards became the fashion. The station did very well in the ratings the spring book that I worked there.  The area wasn't quite as booming as I expected as Apollo was over and there was no shuttle yet, the Cape was basically a ghost town and I got out of there first chance I had.  I lived in a neighborhood called College Park on South Stetson Drive in Cocoa.  The house had 3 bedrooms in a nice neighborhood and the rent was $185 a month.  Wow!  I remember there were two salesmen at WRKT who where brothers when I got there!  One was named Ron Burgess who was your typical 1970's "Herb Tarleck-esqe" radio salesman, but his brother Rick was more of a regular Joe kind of guy and I liked him.  Ron was the tanned good looking and popular one.  There was also a bookkeeper whose name I can't recall and she embezzled a bunch of money from the books.  Ron Burgess and the embezzling bookkeeper ran off together with a bunch of Chet's money!  I don't know if Chet Pike ever caught up to the sneaky duo or not, nor do I know exactly how much they stole from him.  But it must have been a substantial amount.  Rick Burgess stayed and kept working at the station and he was there when I left a few months after the embezzlement escapade. Nobody at the station had any idea what was going on until they both had vaporized and Chet had the books checked. 
I'm amazed Chet Pike lived so long!  He was having some health issues with his heart back then and smoked a lot of cigarettes.  I can still see him tapping one on his watch crystal to pack the tobacco down before lighting up.  I tried to stay away from Chet - and all owners as much as possible until I got into management in Charleston.


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