Today June 17th, marks the 60th anniversary of WCMT radio station 1410 AM. WCMT signed on at sunrise on a Monday morning and has been broadcasting ever since.
WCMT was licensed to be a “day-time only” radio station which meant it was able to stay on the air during the day but had to sign off at night because of interference to other radio stations but in the late 80s the FCC authorized WCMT to broadcast on the air 24 hours a day and it has been doing so ever since.
WCMT was established by Blytheville, Arkansas businessman J.T. Sudbury and the land the radio station and tower are located on was once a cow pasture owned by Cliff and Virginia Weldon.
The first word spoken on WCMT was “hello.”
Its rich history has included a number of voices including the late Duke Drumm, who was the station manager for 20 years, Bill Laney, Fred Walker, Jerry Douglas, Ralph Faulkner, Brooks Oliver, John Kent, Wilbur Vaughn, Don Darnell, Herb Cathey, Gary Tuck, Gene Pope, Mike Riley, John Marino, Larry Doxey, J. T. Jones, Larry Bradford, Chris Brinkley, Rene Kimsey, Misty Menees and many others.
These very community-minded air personalities spent thousands of hours playing records, hosting the Swap Shop, reporting the local news, announcing critical weather information and sharing time on the air with listener’s phone calls all while serving the community. WCMT is home to “Good Times in the Morning” a daily “town hall” of what’s going on in our communities each day.
In its 60 years on the air, WCMT has had only two owners…Mr. Sudbury and Thunderbolt Broadcasting. Thunderbolt purchased WCMT in 1979. WCMT is also one of the few radio stations in the area that still has local ownership in West Tennessee.
WCMT has also received numerous awards and recognition’s through the years for its community service including being named the Chamber of Commerce “Business of the Year,” the National Association of Broadcasting’s “Crystal Award” for WCMT’s outstanding community service and numerous times by the Associated Press for WCMT’s local news coverage.
Before the addition of WCMT FM 101.3 (formerly 101.7) WCMT sports announcers would record high school football games on Friday night and play the games back on Saturday mornings.
WCMT is also home to “Coaches Corner” which was begun by Brooks Oliver in the late 60s. The program still airs today on Saturday mornings during sports season. Besides Coaches Corner, community affairs program “Thirty Minutes” and the Swap Shop, the First Baptist Church and Martin Church of Christ radio programs are among the longest running radio programs on WCMT 1410.
WCMT has and continues to employ UT Martin students which has allowed them to work at WCMT and helped put themselves through college. The radio station has given away several scholarships too.
In the past several years, WCMT has added channels 99.7 and 100.5 to allow listeners to hear WCMT AM on FM.
Thunderbolt President Paul Tinkle, who joined WCMT who began his career at the station when he was 15 years old says “a special celebration of WCMT’s rich history will be announced later this year.”
He went on to say “it’s an honor for WCMT to still be serving our listeners for so many years and we are grateful for all the advertisers who have supported us while getting a nice return on their investment in the community too. It’s a great honor to have a friendship with every one who listens to WCMT every day.”
Mr. Tinkle continued “we have an outstanding group of loyal, dedicated, talented, community minded radio people who love serving their community, you our listeners and for that we say a very special Thank You!”