WBGB-AM 1580 
Mount Dora

Original Call Letters: WMDF

Originally Licensed:  Jan. 1958

Original City of License: Mount Dora

Original Frequency: 1580

Origin of Call Letters:

Original Power: 5,000 watts

Original Location: 401 Old Eustis Road

Original Format: Country

Network Affiliation(s):

ABC Entertainment
Florida News Network


1958-Charlotte Radio & Television Corp. 
1959-Frank Taylor 
1959-Cherry Hill Broadcasters 
1962-Robert Lewis
1972-Cherry Hill Broadcasters
1974-Lake Radio, Inc.
1975-Community Broadcasting, Inc.
1976-Walter "Jack" Kaufman, Jr.
1980-Donald and Marilyn Painter
1982-Central Florida Broadcasting Inc.
1987-Group A Productions Ronald Aicher Receiver
1993-Cross Country Communications ($30,000) 
1998-American Community Radio Network
2000-American Community Oriented Radio Network
2002-Peoples Radio Network, Inc
2002-Rama Communications ($600,000 with WGAF-AM 1090) 

History Of Call Letters and Formats:

WMDF-1958-Country   "Cross Country"
WVGT-1960-MOR/News/Sports   "The Voice of the Golden Triangle"
WGTW-1976-Country  "Great Country GT158 AM"
WGTW-1976-MOR/Beautiful Music
WHTZ-1981-Easy Listening/Jazz/MOR
WBGB-1983-Easy Listening/Jazz/MOR
WBGB-1984-Beautiful Music
WNTF-1997-Simulcast of WPGS-AM 840
WNTF-2005-Black Gospel simulcast of WOKB-AM 1600
WNTF-2005-Spanish "Latina 1580AM"

History of WBGB

Built in the 1940s, the station is one of the oldest in Lake County. In March of 1986, Transmission and office equipment of WBGB was scheduled to be auctioned off. The station went off the air in mid-January after a Lake County circuit judge ordered the station's equipment sold to repay a bank loan.  Judge Ernest Aulls ordered the station closed and its equipment sold after Umatilla State Bank foreclosed on a mortgage to Central Florida Broadcasting Inc., an Ohio company that has operated the station for four years. The bank received a $30,000 judgment on the loan in default. The Lake County Sheriff's Department made an inventory of the station's equipment last month. A similar inventory was conducted at  WROD-AM 1340, Daytona Beach which is also operated by Central Florida Broadcasting. Michael Buckley, vice president of Central Florida Broadcasting, said that the company was working with two groups  in an attempt to get WBGB out of its financial bind. He refused to identify the groups. Buckley said WBGB is owned by Central Florida Radio Ltd., a limited partnership in which Central Florida Broadcasting serves as the managing partner. The company also serves as the managing partner of Daytona Beach Radio Ltd., which  owned WROD-AM 1340 in Daytona Beach at the time. The partnership plans to sell WROD for $1.2 million to LaPaz Broadcasting  Inc. by the end of the month. Ron Aicher, WBGB's former owner, said Central Florida Broadcasting still is licensed by the Federal Communications  Commission to operate the station. Aicher and Karl Meek, who owned the station for five years before selling it in 1980,  have been awarded a $90,000 judgment against Central Florida Broadcasting. The amount included a $75,000 mortgage  plus interest and legal fees. The station's license cannot be transferred to a new owner without FCC approval. If the station is sold, the FCC must  approve an operating license for the new owner. An involuntary license transfer could be requested if the station were placed into receivership. Aicher said he is working with Umatilla State Bank to get the station operating without having to sell off the equipment. He said creditors would not recoup one-tenth of what they are owed if the equipment is sold. He estimated the value the equipment at $10,000. 

Two former employees of WBGB-AM (1580), Mount Dora, will...
May 18, 1986 By Adam Yeomans of The Sentinel Staff

Two former employees of WBGB-AM (1580), Mount Dora, will receive $6,500 and attorneys' fees under a judgment for back wages approved by the U.S. Middle District Court earlier this month. Ted and Cheryle Branch sued the station's owner, Central Florida Broadcasting Inc., last summer for failing to pay back wages. WBGB, one of the county's oldest stations, went off the air in January after Umatilla State Bank foreclosed on a mortgage to Central Florida Broadcasting.

Switched: The Erie Couple Who Decided To Make The Jump To Moscow

Philadelphia Inquirer, The (PA) - Saturday, January 23, 1988
Jeff Brown, Inquirer Staff Writer

For years, Theodore and Cheryl Branch struggled fruitlessly for prominence. This week, the couple from Erie had their fleeting moment in the public eye - but even that was laced with scorn. The attention came Tuesday, when a Soviet official summoned reporters to a news conference in Moscow to announce that a pair of American "mass- communication experts" had been granted "political asylum" in the Soviet Union. The Branches - both in their 40s - were not rocket scientists or nuclear physicists; he was a radio disc jockey and she his helper. They apparently carried no national secrets, and their move - characterized by some American news organizations as a "defection" - left the U.S. State Department nonplused. Americans, the State Department observed, have a constitutional right to live wherever they want.  The Branches' decision was notable, though. Since World War II, a period in which more than six million people have fled the Soviet bloc, fewer than 100 Americans have elected to move permanently to the Soviet Union, according to a State Department estimate. So why did the Branches do it?  Interviews this week with people who know or were acquainted with the couple - including the former owner of a Florida radio station where the couple worked, and a Philadelphia woman who was with them in Leningrad two months ago - indicate that for years they struggled unsuccessfully to achieve a respected position in America.  There is no indication they were motivated by any deeply held political beliefs, while there is much to suggest they were isolated and seeking escape  from a cycle of lost jobs and professional disappointments. "They're certainly not 'mass communication' experts," said Ron Aicher, president and general manager of Group A Television Productions in Florida. "He kind of reminded me . . . of a milquetoast kind of guy," Aicher said. Aicher said he knew the Branches when they worked for WBGB, a tiny 5,000- watt daytime-only AM radio station he once owned in Mount Dora, Fla.  WBGB is currently off the air because of financial problems, but a few years ago it broadcast easy-listening pop tunes from the 1940s and 1950s to a target audience of retirees, many of them living in the numerous trailer parks of Lake County, not far from Orlando, he said.  Theodore Branch's job application, filed with the station in October 1983, said he was born Dec. 11, 1943, and grew up in Erie , where he completed his education at a broadcasting school in the 1960s, Aicher said. The application said Branch worked as a $1.75-an-hour disc jockey from December 1969 to June 1972 at a radio station in Union City, Pa., according to Aicher. From January to December 1977, Branch was a disc jockey at a station in Covington, Ky., making $3.50 an hour. From January to November 1978, Branch drove a taxi in Erie , the application said, and from November 1978 to June 1983, he worked as a "bin operator" at a Coca-Cola plant in Leesburg, Fla. He left the cab job to "move to Florida," and he left Coca-Cola because of "lack of work," according to the application, Aicher said. After leaving Coke and starting work at WBGB, the Branches remained in Leesburg, where they lived in a mobile home, Aicher recalled. Theodore was the morning disc jockey, and the couple worked together in the afternoons selling air time and producing commercials, Aicher said. The couple had few friends, if any, and were inseparable, Aicher said. Often Cheryl would sit quietly behind her husband as he did his morning show, Aicher said. "His wife just followed him around like a little puppy dog," Aicher recalled. Aicher said he didn't think Branch had enough talent to make it to the big time. "He wasn't terrible," said Aicher. "He was just the kind of guy that would always work at a small-market radio station." Yet Branch seemed to feel he could do important things in the radio business if given the chance. "They were kind of spaced-out, kind of frustrated. . . . There was always somebody against them. . . . They bitched and moaned about everything." In 1985, a new station owner fired Branch. The couple filed suit against the station, and in 1986 they were awarded  $22,000 in lost wages and attorneys' fees. They never collected because the station failed, eventually falling into receivership, Aicher said. The Branches returned to Erie , where they moved in with Theodore's father, Clarence.  During this last stint of unemployment, the Branches met a Russian couple who had moved to the United States. The woman, apparently homesick, painted a rosy picture of life in the Soviet Union, the elder Branch said. Much to the dismay of friends and family, the Branches started talking about moving to Russia, a decision the elder Branch described as "stupid."  On Nov. 14, the Branches were in a group of 15 Americans who landed in Moscow for a seven-day package tour. One of the tourists was Gina Tyler of Philadelphia. The Branches soon became a topic of conversation on the tour. Tyler said she never got a complete picture of the Branches, but she picked up bits and pieces.  "They were sort of weird," she said last week. " To be 'experts in mass communication' . . . I mean, after 'Hello, how are you?' all other possibilities of conversation were exhausted." She noticed something odd about them almost immediately, she said. "It was supposed to be a week (tour)," she said. "That's why we thought it was strange that they took all those linoleum steamer trunks." While the Branches were generally uncommunicative, they revealed some of their thoughts. "They were sort of vague and told some sort of disjointed stories. . . . What little they said was very hostile - very hostile to the United States." Midway through the tour the group went to Leningrad. A day or two later, the group gathered for breakfast in its hotel. The tourist guide called attention and announced that the Branches had returned to Moscow , but there was no explanation of why. Nor was there ever any explanation for the delay of two months or so in announcing the Branches' decision to stay in the Soviet Union. "Of course, the speculation was that they had decided to stay," she said. ''It was such a weird thing to do, and if anyone was going to do it they would be the ones."  In Florida, Aicher speculated that the Branches' move was just another step in their fruitless search for success. "This is the God's truth," Aicher said. "I really believe this guy went to Russia just to be in the radio business. He just wanted to be in radio, but didn't have the talent. . . . "This guy thought he was great and nobody else did. It's a shame, really."

Mount Dora Am Station Facing Foreclosure
June 19, 1985 By Adam Yeomans of The Sentinel Staff
MOUNT DORA Creditors plan to foreclose on WBGB Radio 1580 in Mount Dora unless the owner arranges to sell the station, one of the oldest in Lake County. The station's owner, Central Florida Broadcasting Inc., has been negotiating a sale for about six months with a group of investors in Orlando. Michael Buckley, company vice president, refused to comment Tuesday about the sale until it is completed later this month. Creditors filed suit last fall against Central Florida Broadcasting for failing to make payments on loans worth more than $100,000. The company bought the station at 401 Old Eustis Road in 1982. A hearing will be held in early July at the county courthouse to consider the creditors' request to foreclose on the station. Ron Aicher, one of the creditors, owned the station for five years before selling it in 1980. Court records show the company has not made payments on loans of more than $75,000 from Aicher and Karl Meek, another creditor. The owner also has not made payments on a $25,000 loan from Umatilla State Bank, court records show. Del Potter, a Mount Dora attorney representing Central Florida Broadcasting, said the company has considered several alternatives to improve its cash flow. In addition to trying to sell the station, the owners have considered bringing in another partner and reducing company costs to retain ownership. Potter said he has been told by company officials that a sales agreement is being completed but he has not seen a contract. Buckley has said that the station's financial problems stem from a lack of advertising and some staff problems. Built in the 1940s, the station will continue to air nostalgic music. Central Florida Broadcasting is based in Cleveland and also owns radio stations in Daytona Beach and Sarasota.

WBGB Personalities
Ted Branch-1984-Station Manager/Mornings-Central Florida Broadcasting Inc.

Charles (Charlie) Northrup


Mike Konstan
Ken Courtright-General Manager/Weekends
Debra Courtright-Assistant Manager
Julie Courtright Haugh began a radio career of sorts at WBGB. Mom, Debra, had a sore throat so she had 5 year old daughter Julie do the announcing during her show. Julie became a newscaster in her Father's footsteps.
Robert Vincent Sims-"Garden Show" Vince would become "The Garden Rebel"
Jim Conway

Ken Courtright
-General Manager/News In Memory

Other Names In WBGB History

Michael Buckley-1984-Vice President of Central Florida Broadcasting
Cheryle Branch-1984-Assistant Station Manager/Program Director-Central Florida Broadcasting Inc.
George Zarris-1993-General Manager-Cross Country Communications
Olympus Zarris-1994-Vice President-Cross Country Communications
Dave Rawleigh-Station Manager
Johnny Nixon-Station Manager
Bill Wise-Station Manager
Ron Aicher 
Karl Meek

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