WGTO-AM 540
Haines City

Original Call Letters: WGTO
Originally Licensed: Sep 9, 1955
Original City of License: Haines City
Original Frequency: 540
Origin of Call Letters: Slogan; "Gulf To Ocean"
Original Power: 50,000 Watts
Original Location: Palm Crest Hotel, Haines City
Original Format: Top 40


Owner(s):


1955-KWK, Inc.

1958-KSTP, Inc. (Hubbard Broadcasting)  

1964-Hubbard Broadcasting

1986-Cypress Broadcast, Ltd ($1.5 million)

1990-Florida Media Inc. 

1994-Paxson Broadcasting

1997-Clear Channel Communications


Network Affiliation(s):


CBS

Unistar, Mutual

Florida Gators Radio Network

Motor Car Racing Network


History Of Call Letters and Formats:


WGTO-1955-Top 40  “Gulf To Ocean”

WGTO-1958-Top 40   "Covering Florida Like Sun"

WGTO-1977-Country Western "Great Country Music 54"

WGTO-1986-Gospel

WGTO-1990-Oldies ''Cruisin' Oldies 54''  

WGTO-1990-Talk/Sports

WWZN-1994-Sports

WWZN-1995-Talk

WRTM-1996-Sports

WQTM-1996-Sports "540 the Team" 

WFLF-1997-News/Talk "540 WFLA"


History of WGTO 

WGTO was conceived by the owners of KWK, Inc. out of St. Louis.

1955-WGTO took to the air from The Palm Crest Hotel in Haines City. Licensed to broadcast with 10,000 watts of power at 540 on the dial. The format was Top 40. 

1958-Hubbard Broadcasting moved the station from Haines City to Cypress Gardens

1977-Music format changed to country

1978-WGTO was named Billboard Magazine's "Small Market Station of the Year"

1986-WGTO was sold to Cypress Broadcast, Ltd. and the format was changed to "gospel". 

1990-WGTO sold to Florida Media Inc. (a company owned by two Fort Myers doctors and a lawyer) the studios were moved to Ocoee.

1992-WGTO went to a satellite service, resulting in the layoff of 30 employees including Rocky Dee, Russ Ross (Original Doo-Wop Shoppe), Allan Brady (Music and Memories). Perry Moore would remain at the station in sales.

1994-WGTO was sold to Paxson Broadcasting, the call letters were changed to WWZN and the format became sports talk.


RCA Broadcast News, February 1957:

"WGTO is located in the center of a group of metropolitan areas as contrasted to the more usual establishment of a station in a principal city of its own. Its coverage, on 540 kc, encompasses such major cities as Gainesville, Daytona Beach, Orlando, Lakeland, Tampa, Clearwater and St. Petersburg. This area, covering the more populous sections of Central Florida, extends from Gainesville to Okeechobee and from Gulf to Ocean hence the call letters WGTO.

       

wgto qsl card.jpg (33931 bytes)
       
WGTO QSL Card 
courtesy of Larry Flegle

    

           1957 floor plan of WGTO studios in the Pine Crest Hotel
(RCA Broadcast News, February 1957)

 
    WGTO two antenna array on a cattle ranch 6.4 miles from Haines City

 
WGTO-AM 540 2 tower array.jpg (68959 bytes)
(RCA Broadcast News, February 1957)

              WGTO-AM 540 transmitter building.jpg (56875 bytes)
            WGTO Transmitter building 
           (RCA Broadcast News, February 1957)


1957 ad.jpg (120606 bytes)

1957 Ad



    
 
Here's a photo of the WGTO control room when the studios were located on Marshal Farms Road in Ocoee in 1992 
Photo
courtesy of Dave Edwards

   


WGTO Personalities

Bayliss "Jim" Corbett-1955-News Director-KWK, Inc./1958-News/Farm Director-KSTP, Inc. (Hubbard Broadcasting)
Bob Wery-1955-KWK, Inc./1958-KSTP, Inc. (Hubbard Broadcasting)

Dale Starkey-1955-1958-KSTP, Inc. (Hubbard Broadcasting)

Dar Dodds-1955-1959-Morning Drive-KSTP, Inc. (Hubbard Broadcasting)

George Prescott-1958-Host of "Welcome to Florida Show" from Cypress Gardens/1966-1971-Program Director-KSTP, Inc. (Hubbard Broadcasting) /1973-Promotions Manager-Hubbard Broadcasting

Richard Hart-1958-Farm Director--KSTP, Inc. (Hubbard Broadcasting)/1964-Farm Director-Hubbard Broadcasting /1971-Chief Engineer-Hubbard Broadcasting

Paul Hershey-1958-Farm Director-KSTP, Inc. (Hubbard Broadcasting)
Bill Cramer-1959-Program Director-KSTP, Inc. (Hubbard Broadcasting)
William Gramer-1960-Program Director-KSTP, Inc. (Hubbard Broadcasting)
Bob Grossman-1964-Program Director/1969-General Sales Manager-Hubbard Broadcasting



Buddy Lee (Harold Wallace Lee aka Bob Collins)-1965-Hubbard Broadcasting



Woody Wooden
-1967-1971/1975-1984-Sales
/1968-Farm News Director-Hubbard Broadcasting    In Memory

Larry Green (Larry Cox)-1967-1968-Mid-days/ 1973-1974-News-Hubbard Broadcasting 

John Taylor-1968-News Director-Hubbard Broadcasting                                    



Dan Grant-1968-Mid-days
-Hubbard Broadcasting

Ronnie Gee (Ron St. John)-1968/1973-Program Director-Hubbard Broadcasting

Jim Kennedy-1970-1971-Weekends-Hubbard Broadcasting

Dave Wright-1972-1973-Hubbard Broadcasting



Dick Bennick
-(Dr. Paul Bearer)1973-1977-Mornings/Program Director/Production Director/Sales/1977-1986-General Manager-Hubbard Broadcasting  

In Memory

Wes Belisle-1974-1978  1974-1978-News-Hubbard Broadcasting


James "Jim" Greenfield-1976-1982-News Director/Public Affairs Director-Hubbard Broadcasting
John Terry-1977-Program Director-Hubbard Broadcasting
"Crazy" Bob Fuller-1977-Hubbard Broadcasting


Jim "Jimbo" Maloy-1977-1982
-Mornings-Hubbard Broadcasting

Terry "The Bird" Slane-1977-Hubbard Broadcasting Terry was named Small Market Broadcast Personality of the Year in 1979-Hubbard Broadcasting

Dave Campbell-1977-Hubbard Broadcasting

Mike McCoy-1977-Hubbard Broadcasting
Terry Stone-1977-Program Director-Hubbard Broadcasting


Bill Carson-1979-1981-Midnight-6AM-Hubbard Broadcasting  
In Memory


“PJ the DJ”-Patti Jordan-1981-1982-Part time weekends/1982-1986-Midnight-6AM
-Hubbard Broadcasting 
Ron Riley-1982-Assistant News Director/News Director-Hubbard Broadcasting

Henry Jay-1984-1986-3PM-7PM/Music Director-Hubbard Broadcasting



Jerry Steffen-1990-2008  Biography

 

Joe Penny-1987-1990-Cypress Broadcast, Ltd
Robert J. Wright-1990-Mornings-Florida Media Inc. 

Kathy McFarland-1990-Morning News Anchor-Florida Media Inc.

"Captain" Joe Canzoneri-1990-Traffic Reporter/Weekends-Florida Media Inc.

Hank Dole-1990-Assistant Program Director-Florida Media Inc.

Terry Mason (Terry England)-1990-Program Director/Afternoon Drive In Memory



Jeff Allen (Cassell)-1990-Florida Media Inc./1994-Program Director/Morning Drive/Sports Director-Paxson Broadcasting  

Bio
graphy



Perry Moore
-1991-10AM-Noon Weekdays/Sales/Promotions-Florida Media Inc. Biography   In Memory



Dave Edwards-1992-Florida Media Inc. Biography

Ric Karlson and Ed Schmidt Jr.-1993-Co-hosts of Golf Talk- Fridays 4PM- 5PM-Florida Media Inc.

Peter Banks-1993-Host of "Singles Connection", a talk show for singles-Florida Media Inc. 

Gordon Banta-1993-Co-host and psychic on "Singles Connection", a talk show for singles-Florida Media Inc. 

Doug Gilley-1993-Host of "Let's Go Fishing"-6AM-7AM-Florida Media Inc.

Steve Duff-1993-Producer of "Let's Go Fishing"-Florida Media Inc.

Peter Rocchio-1993-Florida Media Inc.



Ed Hartley-1993-"Cryin', Lovin' & Leavin'"
-Florida Media Inc.



Jack Nelson-"MoneyTalk"-1993-Saturdays from 8AM- 9:30AM
-Florida Media Inc.  In Memory

Vince Regan-1994-Host-"House of Sports"-6PM- 9PM Weeknights-Paxson Broadcasting

Jack ''Goose'' Givens-1994-"Courtside Weekly"

"Judge Krater"  (Mike Greager)-7PM-Midnight-Hubbard Broadcasting



Doug Rockwell

"Uncle Russie"-Russ Ross  Biography

Rocky D! 

Lee Manning



Allan Brady
-Host of "Music and Memories" and "The Rock and Roll Palace Show", "live" from Little Darlin's Rock and Roll Palace.   Biography

   WGTO 50+4 survey 2-14-70.jpg (667965 bytes)   
Courtesy of Steve Kennedy

Tom Drake

Keith Holliday

Scott Edwards
Beth Fouchee

Becky Johnson

Jeff Kierce

R.C. Kelley

Carol Lamons

Dave Lane

Jay Menchen

Bob McCord

Allen Rich

Roy Riley

Jack Robertson

Tom Rusk

Dan Sanborn

Harry Sharp

Maris Siegel

Kathi Tanner

Lyle Wood

Roy Beemer



Patricia Madden



Tom Anthony
  Biography

Merrill Craig

Jay Cresswell



Clive Thomas Biography



Jerry O'Neill
  Biography



Greg Warmoth

Al Brock

Charlie "Rock" Brown

Larry Cox

Allen Shaw, Jr.



Joe Francis-News Director

Rick Beckett
Todd Wright


Other Names in WGTO History

Robert Convey-1955-President-KWK, Inc.
V.E. Carmichael-1955-Vice President-KWK, Inc.
Roy Dady-1955-Director of Operations-KWK, Inc.
Eugene Hill-1955-General Manager/Commercial Manager-KWK, Inc.
David Schick-1955-Chief Engineer-KWK, Inc.
Nick Zehr-1955-Chief Engineer-KWK, Inc.

Stanley E. Hubbard-1958-President-KSTP, Inc. (Hubbard Broadcasting)/1969-Chairman of the Board-Hubbard Broadcasting

C.M. "Max" Kimbrel-1958-General Sales Manager/1959-General Manager/General Sales Manager-KSTP, Inc. (Hubbard Broadcasting)
Gary Miller-1958-Sales Manager/Promotions Manager-KSTP, Inc. (Hubbard Broadcasting)

Hal Meyer-1958-Sales Manager-Hubbard Broadcasting

Marvin Rosene-1959-Vice President In Charge Of Sales-KSTP, Inc. (Hubbard Broadcasting)/1969-Vice President-Hubbard Broadcasting
Stanley S. Hubbard-1969-President/General Manger-Hubbard Broadcasting

Spencer Danes-1970-1972-Management-Hubbard Broadcasting

Dick Hart-1958-1971 and 1982-1986-Engineer-Hubbard Broadcasting

Frank Berry-1971-1973 and 1979-1982-Director of Technical Operations-Hubbard Broadcasting
Frank tells us about his time at WGTO-AM. "...During my tenure at WGTO, I replaced almost all of the studio equipment and, when the old RCA BTA 10H transmitter failed, I replaced the transmitter with a Harris MW-1A to provide better nighttime service at their 1kw licensed power level. The night that the old RCA transmitter failed, I put the Gates MW-50 transmitter on the air at its lowest stable power which was about 8kw.  I was able to reduce the output power further by detuning the output network of the transmitter so that it produced about 1kw of power. After we achieved stabile nighttime operation, I called Stanley Hubbard at home and explained that the old RCA transmitter had failed beyond reasonable repair.  Stan authorized me to purchase a Harris MW-1A transmitter. I called Harris and ordered the transmitter and requested rush delivery. We operated in that mode overnight and before pattern change in the morning, I re-tuned the output network so that the station could operate at full power. We went through these detuning/retuning gyrations for two or three days until the new MW-1A transmitter arrived. During the time that it took to receive the new transmitter, we removed the old RCA 10kw unit and moved the nighttime phasor  into its new position...directly beside the soon-to-be-delivered Harris MW-1A. Before moving the phasor, I called our Consulting Engineer, Ogden Prestholdt of A. D. Ring and Associates and told him of my desire to move the phasor.  Mr. Prestholdt told me "absolutely not.  You don't have the knowledge to re-tune the antenna array". I moved the phasor anyway and retuned the array.  It remained stable and within the licensed specifications throughout my tenure at WGTO..."

Bob Kelly-1971-1973-Station Manager-Hubbard Broadcasting-Now owner of Kelly Communications, Inc in Peoria, Illinois

Hal Myer-1972-Sales Manager-Hubbard Broadcasting

Paul Titchenal-1972-1979-Engineer-Hubbard Broadcasting

Howard Trickey-1973-1978-General Manager-Hubbard Broadcasting  

John Redwine-1977-Commercial Manager-Hubbard Broadcasting
Jacki West (Moira Jackson)-1979-1986-Noon-3PM-Promotions Manager/1981-Country Music Association's Disc Jockey of the Year Award Winner (Small Market Division)-Hubbard Broadcasting

Lloyd Barham-1978-General Manager-Hubbard Broadcasting

Howard Hoffman-1990-General Manager-Florida Media Inc. 

Keith Feeney-1990-Accounting/Traffic Manager-Florida Media Inc. 

Bill Patti-1990-Creative Services Director-Florida Media Inc. 

Mark Anderson-1990-General Sales Manager-Florida Media Inc.



Bob Johnson-1991-General Sales Manager/General Manager
-Florida Media Inc. 



Jay Waggoner-1992-Chief Engineer-Florida Media Inc.  
In Memory



Lowell "Bud" Paxson-1994-1997-President-Paxson Broadcasting

Nancy Cattarius-Sales

Tommy Kramer-Program Director

John Frost-General Manager  

Thanks to Jay Waggoner for these WGTO photos

     

 WGTO 6 Tower Array                      WGTO Transmitter Workshop

       

WGTO FEMA Bomb shelter                          WGTO phasor                        

 
                                                                          
  
  Jay Waggoner at WGTO
photos courtesy of Jay Waggoner





Frank Berry
took this photo of the original WGTO transmitter in 1975. It was an RCA BTA-10H which was purchased in 1955. The photo was taken as the old RCA Ampliphase transmitter was being dismantled for shipment to Guayaquil, Ecuador. The 10H was on the air as WGTO's only transmitter at the time this photo was taken. The boxes in the photo contain parts for the old RCA BTA 50G Ampliphase.  On the far right of the photo you can see one of the power amplifier tubes.


Other Programs In WGTO History
"Cousin Brucie's Cruisin' America"-1991-Friday nights from 10PM-1AM-syndicated


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