WHKP Celebrates 75th Year - TribPapers

WHKP Celebrates 75th Year

Hendersonville – WHKP RADIO is truly Hendersonville’s ‘first media company’.

WHKP was signed on the air on October 24th, 1946 as Hendersonville’s FIRST radio station by a group of local business principles. 

It was assigned a radio ‘dial frequency’ of 1450 on the AM broadcast dial by the Federal Communication Commission in Washington, D.C., and immediately became recognized as ‘Hendersonville’s radio station.’

The station celebrates its 70th year of broadcasting this year. As usual in those days, every station’s call letters stood for something of importance in their community of license. WHKP stood for ‘Where the Heavens Kiss the Peaks,’ promoting one of the most beautiful ‘mountain plateaus’ in the entire Blue Ridge Mountain Range, just above the South Carolina border.

Over the years, WHKP featured broadcast interests of the local area of Henderson County, from local news to sports to community events.

In 1955 Radio Hendersonville signed on another Western North Carolina radio station with the call letters WWIT, on the AM radio dial at the 970 frequency. It broadcast out of Canton, N.C. a town about 30 miles west on the banks of the Pigeon River. 

The call letters were chosen to promote ‘Where the Wheels of Industry Turn’, highlighting the importance of Champion Paper Company in Canton which at that time employed some 3,500 workers. The company became involved in community affairs and operated the station successfully until the late fifties. At that time it was sold to a local group of businesspeople who operate it to this day.

FM Added

Over the years, Radio Hendersonville grew from these two ‘start-ups’ to include the highest-power FM station in the United States, humbly beginning with the call-letters WHKP-FM, with an initial power of 7,800 watts in 1957. This time period was not conducive to selling advertising and it wasn’t until FM that broadcasting was widely accepted by the public that WHKP-FM applied for a power increase and call-letter change.

 In the late seventies, the station was awarded 100,000 watts of power (the most power any FM station can receive) and the call letters were changed to WKIT-FM. That station’s power was changed to 100,000 watts by petitioning FCC in the early 1980s. It became one of the most powerful FM stations in all of North and South Carolina. Radio Hendersonville sold the station in 1985 and is now known as MY 102 in Greenville, S.C.

*** In November of 2014, WHKP was once again granted an FM frequency, this time through what the FCC calls a TRANSLATOR. This translator signed on the air in the summer of 2015 at the dial position of 107.7 FM.  All programming on the FM band is the same as broadcast on the AM band, as mandated by the FCC. Our company is happy to once again be heard on the FM dial.

Outdoor Billboard Company

In 1960, Radio Hendersonville embarked upon the installation of fifteen  Junior-Size (6’x12’) Outdoor Billboard frames in the Hendersonville, NC area which was leased to a Congressional Candidate Heinz Rollman from Waynesville. By the time UNITED SIGNS sold their entire operation to Summey Sign Company in 1985, they had amassed a total of 235 of these Junior Panel Outdoor Billboards and 32 of the large uni-pole billboard giants on I-26 in Hendersonville.

Sign Manufacturing Company

During the same time period that the outdoor billboard business was booming, Radio Hendesonville, Inc. purchased two local custom sign manufacturing companies, Warlick Signs and Ledbetter Signs. The companies manufactured business signs for hundreds of businesses around town and also painted many of the sign-faces for the outdoor billboard company. They operated under the name of United Signs until the sale of the company in 1985.

Trimulcast Broadcasting With Additional Stations

In 1990, Radio Hendersonville, Inc. purchased two area AM radio stations to form a three-station network and appropriately named it TRIMULCASTING, a new name in the radio industry. What was heard in Hendersonville on WHKP was also heard in Brevard on WPNF and in Tryon on WTYN. This operation continued until the mid-’90s until the Brevard station was sold to a WHKP employee and the Tryon station was sold to a religious broadcaster.

Returning To Roots

In the mid-nineties, after the Brevard and Tryon stations were sold, the operators continued to make WHKP the ‘heritage’ broadcast station throughout the mountains with broadcast innovations including the internet and LED outdoor sign products at their company headquarters on Four Season Boulevard in Hendersonville. Today this location features the latest Time-O-Matic LED technology on a 17 x 22 Foot two-sided Electronic Message Center. Promotion for the station is featured on this unit, as well as advertising messages for businesses throughout our area.

Worldwide Broadcasting Through Technology

WHKP now reaches thousands of listeners daily – not only from our studios and radio tower on Four Seasons Boulevard and Signal Hill Road in Hendersonville, as well as our FM antenna on the Morris Broadband Tower off Highway 191 but also through the worldwide internet at our web site – www.whkp.com. As modern technology continues to surface, WHKP hopes to always ‘be there’ utilizing the latest discoveries and advances in communications in order to ‘reach the people’ of the little home town in which WHKP RADIO was founded, way back in 1946, which since that time has grown to be the 19th largest retail sales market in the 100 counties in the state of North Carolina.

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