WSLS-FM 99.1 (Channel 256)
WSLS-FM signed on the air November 1st, 1947. The hits of the day were "Near You" by Francis Craig, "Smoke, Smoke, Smoke" by Tex Williams, and "Peg 'o My Heart" by the Harmonicats. Programming on WSLS-AM was simulcast on WSLS-FM. Popular shows heard on the "Shenandoah Life Stations" included Bud Abbott & Lou Costello, Paul Whitman, Ethel & Albert, and Gary Moore's "Breakfast in Hollywood". These were from the ABC radio network.
In the mid 50's classical music was programmed to an upmarket listenership in urban areas. Then in 1961, the Federal Communication Commission authorized FM stereo broadcasting. This move turned out to be the demise of AM radio. In order to stay ahead of the competition, John Willet would drive up to the transmitter on Poor Mountain on Sunday afternoons, carrying a stack of classical records, to play the program in full stereo. It wasn't until several months later that the stereo STL (studio/transmitter/link) equipment would be installed.
Pictured below, the WSLS remote unit, a view of the transmitter building on Poor Mountain, and Phil Briggs adjusting the transmitter
It would be another 10 years before FM would really catch on and become the choice of listeners, so what did stations like WSLS-FM use for revenue? They rented out their subcarriers to businesses like Muzak and Seeberg. Those were the companies that broadcast elevator music, lift music, piped music, which were bland instrumental arrangements of popular music designed to be heard in malls, grocery stores, and doctor's offices. WSLS-FM leased it's subcarriers through the early '70's.
Shenandoah Life Insurance Company sold it's broadcasting stations, WSLS-AM-FM-TV to Roy H. Park on October 15, 1969. WSLS-FM became WSLQ-FM. Today WSLQ-FM (formally WSLS-FM) is the 5th most powerful FM radio station in the country operating with 200,000 watts.
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