WBT-AM is a nighttime clear channel 50 kW station on 1110 kHz based in Charlotte and that has a directional signal that aims up the I-85 corridor, but because of low ground conductivity (and being at a higher frequency) has nowhere near the range of a WBZ or KDKA. Even so, back in the days of long haul trucking it was listened to by truck drivers, many of whom were based in North Carolina. Yeehaw!
Back in the time I lived here in the 1970s, the radio and TV station were owned by Jefferson Pilot Broadcasting, an insurance company based in Greensboro. When Lincoln Financial took over Jefferson Pilot insurance, they had no interest in being in the radio business. They dumped WBT-AM and WLNK-FM on Greater Media right away, an owner centered in Boston. Not surprisingly, the station lost its local focus and Southern heritage.
WBTV-TV was sold off to Raycom in Alabama, so the synergy of owning both the TV and radio stations vanished. WBT is a mere shell of its former self, although it is the only listenable AM station left in the city. Now the station carries Coast to Coast AM overnight, Rush Limbaugh, Dave Ramsey and John Batchelor. It still does 11 hours a day of live local programming during the day, but the hosts generally talk about national issues, since most of the people living in Charlotte don’t live in North Carolina.
Beasley Broadcasting is a “frugal” broadcaster who started in North Carolina and is based in Florida. About a year ago, George Beasley did a station swap with CBS Radio and CBS gave him their cluster of 5 stations. Beasley immediately pulled the studios out of the main plaza downtown on the square, fired most of the staff, and moved operations to a low rent warehouse district. Ratings plummeted.
So Greater Media is selling WBT-AM to Beasley. There was a rumor a couple weeks ago. WBT currently has an FM simulcast in South Carolina and probably will be eligible for an FM translator. I would not be shocked if the station is turned into an urban or Spanish music station. The transmitter is also sitting on a very attractive piece of land. I don’t know if the land is being sold.
The land is relatively close to the transmodal facility built at the airport. It would be more useful as a distribution center or an office park than as a residential development as the neighborhood is industrial and declining and gets a lot of plane noise from the airport.
Its value as an AM station has come and gone. Time will tell.
In the three years since I moved back, I probably have listened to the station for 5 hours, so I don’t much care other than another piece of the past is slipping away…