The Vault: WHAS Radio celebrates 95 years

Our Kayla Moody looks back at the station's evolution from an analog to a digital world

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – July 18, 1922 – it was a scratchy statement, WHAS joined the airwaves.

“This is WHAS the radio telephone broadcasting station of the Courier Journal and the Louisville Times in Louisville, Kentucky”

Spoken through an old microphone and heard on a box, WHAS would carry folks through the good times and the bad.

The station broadcast life-saving information during the Great Flood of 1937 and the deadly tornado outbreak in 1974.

For 95 years WHAS has weathered the changing tide of technology. Surviving the rise of television – FM radio and the digital age.

WHAS is also known for its iconic personalities, present and past. Familiar voices like Randy Atcher, Fred Wiche and Milton Metz.

"They didn't believe in the cult of the personality so instead of calling it “Metz Here” as it later became it was called Juniper 5-2385 and we had prefixes,” Metz said in an archived interview.

And for the past three decades, Terry Meiners.

"I came to WHAS in 1985 because I worked for a ruckus morning show and they thought you know what we need to inject a little more steam into WHAS Radio and I thought well I'm 28 years old I need to grow up so I decided I needed to jump over here and do talk radio and I've loved it every minute since."

It was 1985 when a storm swept through eastern Jefferson County, toppling the station's huge tower to the ground. The engineers made a make-shift tower to get by – a story Terry remembers a little different than most.

"The tower just went merrrr pow! And you could only hear this station off of two or three blocks from that area and off kids braces. That was the only place it would play anymore,” he said. "Engineers have it pretty good until things go array. So they're usually up there boozing, drinking, and what they had to do is take some of the electrical component that run their tap, their beer tappers and actually reconnect that to the tower's location to get us back on the air. 5:05 and so now that we got back on the air, this was 30 years ago, but they've been drunk ever since."

They wanted a little more pizazz – and they got it.

Over the years, Terry has interviewed newsmakers and entertainers alike. His show – a trusted venue for some of the most sensitive interviews.

"There's nothing like a two-way conversation with someone on the radio because it's long form, it's unedited and a person feels at ease to start telling their story," Meiners said.

But perhaps the best part of WHAS is the one organization that has kept WHAS-TV and radio connected after all these years.

“I think the crusade for children is the standard by which all other stations are measured across America. WHAS-TV and WHAS radio stayed partners in that for 66 years now and it continues to be, I think, the golden nugget of what we do.”
Through highs and lows, triumphs and tough times, WHAS Radio is keeping Kentuckiana company – 95 years and counting.


"The best thing about radio is it is an intimate medium. People listen and they feel like they're sitting on a couch with you and you're having a conversation even if I'm just doing a monologue on here I know there are lots of people and they're just listening and taking it in as though I'm telling a story in their kitchen. That's the beauty of radio. People tolerate pauses, mistakes, a stutter here or there or you say the wrong word and say sorry I meant this instead and that's all ok because it's just a friend who is delivering some information. Sometimes it's sad and tragic information, sometimes it's joyous information, sometimes it's convenient information but it's always there. A constant stream of companionship for a lot of people."

The reach of WHAS extends far beyond Kentuckiana.
 

Because of its 50,000-watt Clear-Channel signal, it has beamed out to two-thirds of America. It serves as a conduit for information during times of crisis, like hurricanes on the east coast.

© 2017 WHAS-TV


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