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):

Florida Network
ABC Information


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 (Purchased with WOKB AM 1600)
2008-Twin Towers Broadcasting (LMA)
2015-321 Corporation ($150,00)

History Of Call Letters and Formats:


WRKT-1968-Top 40

WRKT-1975-MOR/Top 40

WMOD-1978-Beautiful Music

WRKT-1979-Top 40

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

WRKT-1981-Contemporary Country

WRKT-1985-Classic Hits (5o's through 70's)


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



WXXU-1995-Travel Information


WXXU-1998-Black Gospel/Urban

WXXU-2002-Traveler Information

WTIR-2003-Traveler Information  


WMEL-2008-Talk  "The Talk To Me Station"

WKQK-2015-Variety  "Radio 1300 - All Local - All the Time"

WRKT History
The Evening Tribune
Cocoa, Florida • 

New Station At Beach
A new 500-watt radio station, designed to be the show place of the East Coast, will go on the air at Cocoa Beach May 15. The station is being constructed by C. Sweet Smith Jr., for lease to Mel Wheeler, prominent radio and television executive from Pensacola. A contract for construction of the 1,900 square foot building which will house the station already has been let to Jack Hurck of Cocoa Beach. Smith said an application is pending before the Federal Communications Commission for the call letters WCBF. The letters have a three-way meaning, Smith pointed . out. CBF stands for Cocoa Beach, Fla; Canaveral Beach, Fla., and Central Brevard, Fla." The station will be located on the north side of the causeway at the west end of Venetian Plaza, a new land development recently filled in from the Banana River. It will be in a Southern-colonial style building designed by architect Howard Fiedler of Orlando. The building will be completely air-conditioned by Barnes and Barber of Cocoa and will be furnished by Provost Office Supply Co., of Cocoa.
Smith and Breese Provost, head of the office supply firm, made a trip to High Point, N. C., to coordinate 'the furnishings with drapes and carpeting. Wheeler, to whom the station will be leased, ' is president of WEAR-TV in Pensacola, owner of WEAR radio in that city, another television station in Panama City and several other radio stations. Smith said an announcement of personnel for the new station will be made at a later date.

WRKT To Go On Air Next Sunday
The Orlando Sentinel
May 17, 1959
A one-week delay in getting on the air by Cocoa Beach's new radio station, WRKT the rocket station, has been announced by Mgr. Carl Collins due to the need for the Federal Communications commission's approval of an equipment  change. Collins said the station is now scheduled to go on the air next Sunday at 500 watts on 1300 kilocycles on a seven day schedule from 5:30 a.m. daily to sundown. The new station is located off the east bank of the Banana River adjacent to the beach causeway in the Venetian Plaza area. C. Sweet Smith Jr., Cocoa businessman, is building the station for lease to Mel Wheeler of Pensacola Northwest Florida radio and TV executive who has stations both In Pensacola and Panama City. The station's accent will be on music and news. Collins said as far as is known it will be the only radio station in Florida served by both United Press International and Associated Press Wire services. The general tone of music offerings will be a compromise of modern music eliminating the extremes in this field. A survey of the listening area is now being made to determine what the people prefer. When completed the station will represent around $200,000 investment. Its primary coverage area will be the Central Brevard with power enough to be heard in both north and south Brevard. The studio building, one of the few in this area employing the colonial architecture, is aimed at making it the show place of the coast. A 175-foot transmitter tower stands at the rear. Collins also announced the station staff yesterday. Johnny Fox will be sales manager; Zack Strickland, news director; Mrs. Kay Wright will be woman's editor, broadcasting at 9 a.m. each weekday morning from the Starlite Motel.  Doug Dederer, news man on the missile front and for Cocoa Beach area general news; Al Leonard, formerly with WKKO and WHIY, Orlando, announcer and sales representative; John Wilkins, sales representative; Gene Hutto, formerly with WDVH, Gainesville, staff announcer; Geo Mae, formerly with WVIP and the New York Herald-Tribune radio network, staff announcer; Mrs. Paul Toland, Merritt Island, receptionist and bookkeeper. Jack Hurck, Cocoa Beach, is general contractor, Howard Friedler, Orlando architect, has designed the studio; furnishings are by Provost Office Equipment, Cocoa; air conditioning by Barnes and Barber and electrical work by Ackroyd Electric. Two engineers of Collins Radio Co., Cedar Rapids, Iowa, have been at the studio all week working on the installations. All equipment was custom built for the station, much of it designed according to Carl Collins own recommendations. He recently re turned from four days in Iowa where he went to check on the equipment construction.

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(-AM 1480), 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
Zack Strickland-1959-News Director-Mel Wheeler Ownership
Mrs. Kay Wright-1959-Woman's Editor-broadcasting at 9 a.m. each weekday morning from the Starlite Motel-Mel Wheeler Ownership
Doug Dederer-1959-News-Mel Wheeler Ownership
Al Leonard-1959-Sales/On Air personality-Mel Wheeler Ownership
Gene Hutto-1959-Staff Announcer-Mel Wheeler Ownership
Geo Mae-1959-Staff Announcer-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 
In Memory

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    
In Memory

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"

“Brother Dave” Vasser-1974-1974-Bucks County Radio News

Merv Pilgrim-1974-Music Director/mid-day host-Bucks County Radio News

Billy Blue (Mitchell Stone)-1974-News Director-Bucks County Radio News

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

Dave Edwards-1975-1977-Bucks County Radio News  

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

Gary Henderson-1975-News Director/1976-Program Director-Bucks County Radio News

Ben Hill
-1976-Program Director--Bucks County Radio News  Biography

Michael Stone
-1976-7PM-Midnight-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 Taylor-1979-Program Director-Bostwick Management
Mike Shepard-1981-Program Director/Music Director-Cocoa Beach Broadcasting  
Ken McKenzie-1981-News Director-Cocoa Beach Broadcasting

Chuck Deel
-Guy Gannett Broadcasting Services, Inc.    In Memory
Rita Michaels-1984-1985-Guy Gannett Broadcasting Services, Inc.

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
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 King-"Cocoa Chatter"  
 Biography    In Memory

Frank Reed  Biography

Pepper Lipsync

Phil Stanley

Marc Elliot

JJ Derek 

-Program Director 

Gerald Johnson

Joe DeSantis-News

Les Robertson

Jim Sumpter

Ted Rose-Mornings

“Crazy Mike” Kessler 

Bill Vermillion 
  Biography   In Memory

Bill Baker
Dick Price
Keith Wright
Mike Kaye
Rob Wilkins
B. J. Dillon
Bob Sanders-News Director
Jim Pierce

Pete Wenk 
Starlite Motel
Cocoa Beach’s first motel - the Starlite Motel was opened in 1956 with 100 rooms. It had a bar, called the Starlight Lounge, which became a hub for off-duty personnel from Cape Canaveral during the late 1956s. The original Starlite Motel was destroyed in a fire in May of 1960 but may have been rebuilt in the 60’s, though I can’t find any documentation online stating this. A much bigger resort (called Ocean Landing Resort and Racquet Club) has since taken it’s place.
Courtesy of Dead Motels USA


Other Names in WRKT History

Mel Wheeler-1959-Owner

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

Johnny Fox-1959-Sales 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

Mrs. Paul Toland-1959-Receptionist/Bookkeeper-Mel Wheeler Ownership
John Wilkins-Sales-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  

Larry Weiss-Sales Manager 

Jack Newsom-Sales Manager 

 Sounds_like_the_big_bands_Fred King.jpg (945878 bytes) 

Thanks to Fred King       click for full sized view

Fred King 2.jpg (619209 bytes) TC aand Bob BK Promo 1984.jpg (43904 bytes)

WRKT Memories From  "Brother 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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