Past WTMA On-Air People:
Are They Now?
About this Site and WTMA
WTMA is Charleston, South
Carolina's second-oldest AM radio station (WCSC
was the first) and the only one that still has
its original call letters. WTMA signed on June 15, 1939. During radio's
"golden age" WTMA was an NBC affiliate and thus carried much of NBC's
slate of network programming. Since 1989, WTMA has been Charleston's
leading news/talk station. However, in the 1960s and 1970s, WTMA was
THE Top 40 station in Charleston.
In those Top 40 "glory
days" WTMA had higher cumulative ratings (per capita) than any radio
station in the southeast - including Atlanta. Example: 40 shares in
middays in 1974. (Is there a radio station in a large or medium U.S. market that could come close to that today?) A 1974 promotional
announcement said: Every day, from 6am till midnight, more people
listen to WTMA than the next four radio stations combined. Subject to
limitations of source, ARB, April May, 1974.
On this site you'll find
photos of WTMA air personalities and
music surveys. You may also
download MP3 files of old WTMA jingles,
on-air production elements, airchecks, and interviews with past on-air
We're looking for additional audio
recordings of WTMA as well as photos, print articles, and promotion material.
Have some you'd like to
share? Please contact the curator of this Website,
John Quincy. We appreciate all who've contributed thus far.
We hope you'll become a regular visitor as
we continue to add more content to this site as it's made available to
WTMA Original 9-11-01
About the Curator
started his professional radio career in 1972 at the tender age of 16 in
Paris, Kentucky. He worked at several stations in the Lexington, Kentucky area until
December of 1979 when he decided he'd had enough snowy winters and moved
to Savannah, Georgia. There he continued his vocation at WKBX and then
later at WZAT.
In 1981 John came up the
coast to Charleston, South Carolina where he lives to this day. He's
slaved over hot microphones at Low Country radio outlets such as WSSX,
WXTC, WBUB, WXLY, WSUY...and yes, even
WTMA as a program
director in 2002 and 2003. He's currently the APD, technical director,
morning show producer and imaging guy at WTMA.
WTMA's 60th Anniversary Reunion in 1999 and
being disappointed that a station with the same call letters for 60
years had so little in the way of archived audio and memorabilia, John
set out on a mission to locate and preserve as much of WTMA's rich
history as he could, and then share it with the rest of the world. This
labor-of-love Website is a result of that quest.
Thanks to all who've
contributed their "WTMA Memories!"
you have any recordings of WTMA?
We'll be happy to transfer them to CD at no charge.
We Remember Gery London
Former WTMA DJ Gery London
We Remember Keith Nichols
Former WTMA DJ Keith Nichols
WTMA Fast Facts
1. WTMA signed on June 15,
1939 with its first broadcast originating from the Dock Street Theater.
It was Charleston's second radio station. (WCSC-AM was the first, signing
on in 1930.)
2. WTMA initially launched at 1210 on the dial with a power of 250
watts. It moved to its current 1250 position in 1941 when its
power was increased to 1000 watts. (WCSC-AM was moved from 1360 to 1390
at the same time.) In 1947 WTMA's daytime power was upped to 5000 watts non-directional
day, 1000 watts directional night.
3. A few months after signing on, WTMA became Charleston's NBC Radio affiliate,
eventually carrying many of the shows from NBC's Red Network. (WCSC-AM carried the CBS
4. WTMA is the only AM radio station in Charleston to have its original
call letters. The call letters WTMA don't officially stand for
anything...they were just assigned at random by the Federal
Communications Commission. (One former employee joked that it meant "We'll
Try 'Most Anything."
John Burwell has informed us that former PD/GM John Trenton
said "TMA" stood for The Most Audience.)
5. WTMA's first studios, offices, and transmitter were in Wagener
Terrace on 10th Street. A short time later they moved the studios to the
second floor of a drug store at the corner of King and Calhoun streets
(across the street from the Francis Marion Hotel where WCSC's studios
6. WTMA's studios and offices moved to
131 Church Street (a.k.a. the "Dock Street Theater") in the mid 1940s.
131 Church Street is also known as the James Huston House, c. 1809, a
three-story brick single house. It still retains its street entrance, a
common feature on houses used for business and residential purposes.
(Huston was a merchant tailor.)
7. Around 1947 WTMA's transmitter was relocated to the Ashley River end of Orange Grove Road
in West Ashley.
8. WTMA relocated its studios and offices from the Dock Street Theater to
the Orange Grove Road site (also known as "One Radio Park") in 1969.
9. WTMA moved its studios and offices to its current Faber Place Drive
location in North Charleston in October of 2001.
10. In 2010 a new
transmitter was purchased, and the transmitter site was relocated to a
shared tower site with 1390 AM at the end of Orange Branch Road, West
11. WTMA's first owners were Y. Wilcox Scarborough and Jesse W.
Orvin. They owned it only a few months, selling it in October 1939 to
the News & Courier and Evening Post (Charleston's newspapers).
Interviews with the sons of the original owners can be found on the
12. In the 1950s, the newspaper sold WTMA to Charles (Chuck) Smith
who owned it until around 1980 except for two years circa 1970 when
the station was owned by Turner Communications (Ted Turner).
Other owners have included Sconnix, Faircom, Jett Communications (Hugh
Jett and Bill Dudley) Wicks, Citadel Broadcasting, and
13. WTMA adopted a Top 40 format in the early 1960s and was hugely
successful with that programming approach until around 1980, when the station's
format switched to
Adult Contemporary. In the mid-80s it went oldies as "Classic Rock, Roll
and Soul". On January 1, 1987 WTMA went country with mostly satellite-fed
programming. On June 1, 1989 it adopted its current News/Talk format.
14. Slogans for the station over the years have included "Radio
Charleston" "The Mighty TMA" "Tiger Radio" "Music Radio" "Talk Radio"
"News Talk" and "The Big Talker".
15. Notable past personalities include Jack Gale, John Trenton,
Booby Nash and Dan Moon. WCSC-TV's Bill Sharpe
began his Charleston news career at WTMA.
16. WTMA was a Mutual affiliate from the 1960s until the mid-1980s.
Since then it has used national network news feeds from NBC Radio, CBS
Radio, ABC Radio and today, WestwoodOne.
Corrections or additions?
E-mail the curator.
Here's an article about
WTMA that appeared in print in the Charleston News & Courier on Friday,
June 16, 1939:
RADIO PLANS TOLD BY
Exchangeites Hear Fellow Member, Proprietor of Station WTMA
The letters identifying
Charleston’s newest radio station, WTMA, were assigned by the Federal
Communications Commission and have no local meaning so far as the
commission is concerned, but it is possible that station officials may
advertise Charleston by employing the slogan "Where Tourists Meet Always
or Again," Y. Wilcox Scarborough, one of the proprietors, said in an
address at the weekly meeting of the Exchange club yesterday afternoon.
Mr. Scarborough, who with Jesse W. Orvin is owner and operator, outlined
the two-year effort to bring a second station here. He explained that the
most modern broadcasting equipment obtainable has been purchased and
installed in a new building in Wagener Terrace, where both studio and
transmitting facilities are located.
The station officially was opened last night
when the first program was broadcast from the stage of the Dock Street
theater by remote control. Starting at 7 o’clock this morning, it will be
on the air seventeen hours daily. Fourteen persons are employed in the
various departments, with each department having its own head, he said.
Although engineers have not been able to
determine the distance WTMA's signal travels, Mr. Scarborough said he had
received a message from a resident of Camden, New Jersey, saying reception
during a test broadcast one morning had been good.
WTMA's First Air Staff
Harry A. Westcott,
program director, comes to Charleston from Washington where he has been
in radio and on the stage. He formerly was with WJSV, Washington. He
recently was selected from among many applicants as an actor on Kay
Kaiser's Musical Kollege. He promises many new and novel performances
for Charleston radio listeners.
Mason Dixon, chief announcer and
assistant program director, came to WTMA from Station WFBX, at
Greenville. He is thirty-one years old and has been in radio since 1930.
His first assignment was as commercial announcer on the Corn Cob Pipe
Club, NBC 's weekly broadcast from Richmond. He writes and directs
dramatic shows, handles commercial announcements and conducts informal
Miss Meredith Smith comes to
Charleston from Washington. A native of San Antonio, she was brought up
in Arlington, Va., and went to school in Washington, where she attended
Western High School and Marjorie Webster School of Speech and American
University. She has been broadcasting since her first year of college,
in every type for program from dramatic roles to sound effects. Her
varied experience plus specialized courses in subjects important to the
homemaker fit her especially for her post as woman's commentator.
John S. Hoar comes also from
Washington, where he was associated with the Washington Civic theater
and publicity division of the District of Columbia Red Cross roll call.
He was a frequent broadcaster over stations of all three national
networks. Born in Colorado, he was educated in Minnesota, Wisconsin and
Massachusetts. He has a wide experience in dramatics and forensic
activities. He has a particularly pleasing voice which should become
popular with listeners throughout Coastal South Carolina.
Wylie Calder, a native of
Charleston, has five years of radio experience in production and copy
writing. He began his radio career at WJTL, Oglethorpe University (now
WATL, Atlanta). He later joined the staff of WCSC here, and then became
associated with a local advertising agency, and has many business and
social contacts here.
September 2, 1967
WTMA, the hot 100 format
station in Charleston, SC, has revamped its programming to feature more
music, says operations manager Dave Lloyd. He went on, "I listened
to the so-called 'boss sound' in other markets, and what I didn't like
was the chastity belt around the mouths of the DJs. I've got a good
bunch of guys here and I didn't want to clamp down on them."
What Happened to WTMA's Top 40
WTMA continued its Top 40
approach to radio until around 1979 when, like many AM Top 40 stations
around the country at that time, it morphed into an Adult Contemporary
format. It had some success with that for a few years but found major
competition with WCSC-AM during that time.
In 1985 WCSC's FM station
(WXTC) switched from beautiful music to become the market's first AC on
FM. This move, along with Charleston listeners embracing the FM dial for
their music fix, pretty much marked the end of AC on AM. WTMA then
experimented with a heavy R & B-flavored oldies mix and called themselves
"Classic Rock, Roll & Soul". That format ran its course and WTMA became a
country music station on January 1, 1987 using a satellite feed from
Transtar. All the DJs and newspeople were let go. A short time later
Dan Moon was lured out of radio retirement (he was managing a cable TV
system in Summerville) and hired to be WTMA's Program Director and morning
On June 1, 1989 WTMA switched
to a talk format with national hosts that included Rush Limbaugh,
Bruce Williams, and Dr. Joy Browne. Thanks to Hurricane Hugo in
September of 1989 and WTMA's extensive live and local emergency
programming anchored by Dan Moon following the disaster, Charlestonians
rediscovered WTMA and the station enjoyed success once again.
Moon, popular local WTMA talk hosts have included
Nancy Wolf, Scott Cason, Ron Monroe, Charlie Thompson, Rocky D, Richard Todd, Jack Hunter, Tara Servatius
and Charlie James.
What can you use
a cart machine for in the 21st Century?