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WKLX & others

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Lexington Radio History, WKLX, WKQQ/WLEX-FM
(Disclaimer: The information in this history is pulled from the cobwebs of my brain and is subject to distortion over time. If you feel that I am in error or have information that you would like me to add to this document, please fill out a contact form and I'll review it for possible inclusion or correction to this document, as my time permits.)

WLEX AM is a unique station. Now, this station, along with WKLX makes for the most confusing story of Lexington broadcast history. WLEX-AM probably went on the air sometime in the 1940's. It was located near the site of the current day WLEX-TV, but it predates the TV station by a number of years. WLEX-AM was licensed for 1340 kHz. It broadcast from downtown Lexington, on the 2nd floor of a Savings and Loan building on Short Street, about a block west of the old Nunn building that housed WLAP for the years when Gilmore Nunn owned the station. It later moved to the old Quonset hut (now where the WLEX TV studio exists) on the WLEX property on Russell Cave Rd. It is thought to have been a daytime only station.

Enter WKLX. It was built in 1946. WKLX bought a used Western Electric 443A transmitter, circa 1940, and put it on 1300 kHz. In those days, transmitter manufacturers used transmitter cabinets to make the phasing arrays for the stations, so an identical cabinet housed the phasing apparatus, making for a nice looking pair. Their transmitter site was on Greendale Pike, Lexington, KY. It is a 3-tower array, originally 1kW Day Omni, and 1kW Night, Directional, later to become 2.5kW Day and 1kW night. This stations directional pattern covered the city the best. There were no deep nulls in the pattern. The transmitter site was a 5-room block building complete with a kitchen and bathroom with a shower. The engineer could live there, when necessary.

WKLX studios were located on top of the Lafayette Hotel in downtown Lexington. Not much more is known about WKLX. One night in the early 1950s, WKLX and WLEX swapped transmitter sites. WLEX now was licensed as 1300 kHz and WKLX as 1340 kHz. Soon afterwards, WKLX went dark. WLEX-AM continued on until it was sold in 1958. The new owner, Roy White, changed the call letters to WBLG. Their studios in downtown Lexington, across from the courthouse, made national news when one of their announcers locked himself in the control room and continued to broadcast what he wanted to until he finally was arrested. WBLG also turned to television in 1968 with Channel 62. The radio station was sold again, in the mid 1970's to Chapel Hill Broadcasting who co-located it with their purchase of WLEX-FM (now WKQQ) and put them in the old WKYT-TV building, just off of New Circle Rd, in Lexington. This was about the time AM radio was starting its fall from popularity. WBLG-AM was again sold, this time to Triplett Communications around 1980 who changed its callsign to WTKC. It's home was in an old house on West Main Street in downtown Lexington. It stayed there until 1984 when Walter May, who had bought it from Triplett in 1983 moved it to the transmitter site. All radio operations, billing, sales and management were housed in the original 800 square foot building. It was at this site, WTKC-AM became the first station in Lexington to broadcast AM Stereo using the C-Quam system. Of course the control room board was the original 1968 RCA console that WLEX-FM had gone on the air with, but it still worked fine. In fact, the proof of performance for the AM-Stereo upgrade demonstrated that the station had better separation than its former sister FM station. This is the only time I've ever seen a 1956 Gates BC-1F transmitter with a "Mono / Stereo" switch on it's old 807 oscillator. By this time, WTKC was using a Harris MW-5A transmitter, running at 2.5KW during the daytime, but the old BC-1F still ran during the nighttime hours. It had a more mellow tone to it than did the Harris. Processing was set up to be pleasant to listen to with some dynamic range as the format was country music. The Harris had better proof numbers, but the BC-1F sounded more mellow. And believe it or not, BOTH transmitters exceeded the #2 FM station in town for proof of performance numbers on separation and distortion.

In late 1985, Lynn Martin bought WTKC and eventually changed it to WLXG. For a while it ran oldies in stereo, then went to all talk, as many AM's did in those days. It once again had a sister station; an FM licensed to Paris, KY. He built on to the original building to house all operations. In the years since I’ve left Lexington, his studios have moved away from the Greendale Pike site, Mr. Martin’s operations have expanded to five FM stations and WLXG-AM.

WLEX broadcast AM and FM, just at different times. WLEX-FM came on the air in 1968 on 98.1 Mhz, with an RCA transmitter running 50KW ERP. WLEX seemed to be an RCA house for the most part. RCA videotape machines and transmitters have been used at the TV facility for years and RCA audio consoles were used for the FM station. WLEX-FM was another automated station. Using the old "Hit Parade" format for years, it kept bringing in the bacon. Sometime in the mid 1970's, it was sold to Chapel Hill Broadcasting and the callsign was changed to WKQQ or Double Q as it was known where it had names like Terry Meiners , Mike Moon and Dave Krusenklaus, aka Kruser. Shortly afterwards they acquired WBLG-AM and the old WKYT-TV building. This gave them a broadcast facility, with a 500' black iron tower on site. WKQQ was licensed as a 50KW facility, and sometime in the late 70's or early 80's that was increased to 100KW. A Sintronix transmitter was purchased for the upgrade in power. It ran from this site until the late 90's when the FCC mandated that all Class C FMs running 100KW ERP must be 1000' HAAT. At this point, WKQQ switched frequencies with the old Winchester, KY Class A FM, received a CP for 100KW on 100.3Mhz and built a new station and identity. Winchester received the old 98.1Mhz frequency at the 50KW power level. Clear Channel Communications under one of its many holding companies now runs these facilities.