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WHAS will crack triple digits next summer when Kentucky’s first commercial radio station turns 100

WHAS radio reporters covering the 1937 Ohio River flood. The station had to borrow extra equipment from out-of-state stations. (1937)
Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson brought in his own vinyl records to perform as guest deejay with Terry Meiners (1986)
Milton Metz, Gary Burbank, Jerry David Melloy, Joe Donovan, Steve George, Wayne Perkey (1977)
Ballard Chefs jug band on WHAS (1931)
WHAS bus ad (1970s)
CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite and WHAS talk show host Milton Metz (1979)
Terry Meiners interviews University of Kentucky basketball coach Rick Pitino at Churchill Downs on Oaks Day. Β The man in the cowboy hat behind Pitino is WHAS radio and television country singer legend Randy Atcher. (1996)

It’s still a year away but WHAS Radio will turn 100 on July 18, 2022. WHAS was Kentucky’s first licensed radio station. What a wild trip it’s been!

🎧 current WHAS audio:  morning show, mid-morning, afternoons  🎧  historical audio

Paul Rogers, Wayne Perkey, Ken Schulz, Fred Wiche, Ron Robertson
Jennifer Lawrence, Terry Meiners, Mary George Meiners (2010)
WHAS news anchor Suzanne Duvall with Sopranos actor Vincent Pastore
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (2015)
Terry Meiners chats with radio icon Gary Burbank, a former WHAS personality. (2009)

Here’s what WHAS-TV dug up in its video vault to note the radio station’s 95th birthday in 2017.

The Courier-Journal and Louisville Times Company obtained the broadcast license in 1922 and built a studio near the newspaper facility. This fall, current WHAS Radio owner iHeart Media will move the studio operations from Bishop Lane in the Newburg area back to downtown.

The final tote board for the 58th WHAS Crusade for Children. The most recent Crusade surpassed an all-time total of $200 million collected since 1954.

WHAS has enjoyed a fantastic array of broadcast talent over the past century. The station has won prestigious awards for news coverage, emergency operations during catastrophes, Crusade for Children community service, and highly recognized on air personalities.

(clockwise) Joe Donovan, Doug McElvein, Van Vance, Jack Fox, Terry Meiners, Milton Metz, Wayne Perkey (1994)
Dr Ricky Jones, iHeart Radio weekend show host (2019)

Tony Cruise leads today’s WHAS show lineup. He’s anchored the station for 17 years and is supported by Scott Fitzgerald and news anchor Will Clark. The midday show is co-hosted by Tony Vanetti and Dwight Witten. Early afternoons now feature Clay Travis and Buck Sexton, and Terry Meiners is starting his 37th year in afternoon drive, supported by Ian Vertrees and Jody Demling. Hayley Hansen Killkelly jumps in with Meiners and Vertrees at 6 PM for “Hayley and the Knobs.”

Β WHAS morning host Tony Cruise with Scott Fitzgerald, Gus Allen, and Paul Miles on Kentucky Derby Day at Churchill Downs (2021)
WHAS and iHeart Radio sports personalities included former college coaching rivals Joe B Hall and Denny Crum (center). The back row: Dave Jennings, Lachlan McLean, Tony Vanetti, Sid Jenkins. Down in front: Adam Neft, Paul Rogers, Drew Deener. (2009)

The Bingham family controlled Louisville’s largest media cluster: The Courier-Journal and Louisville Times newspapers, Standard Gravure printing, WHAS-TV, WHAS Radio and WAMZ-FM, the city’s two most popular radio stations.

Family fighting spurred patriarch Barry Bingham, Sr. to sell off the media holdings. Β The cluster could not be sold as a package.

The newspapers went to USA Today publisher Gannett. The printing company went to an Atlanta group. WHAS-TV was sold to Providence Journal Company from Rhode Island. WHAS and WAMZ radio stations became the 5th and 6th acquisitions in a small radio company called Clear Channel Communications from San Antonio, Texas. That company, now called iHeart Media, would eventually control over 1,200 radio stations in the United States.

Once the Binghams put the radio stations up for sale, WHAS promotions people dreamed up the “Bingham Bucks Sweepstakes.” One of the on air tag lines was “We’re giving away their money so that they don’t take it all.”

Mary Bingham, the family matriarch, called the radio contest vulgar and disgraceful but station management backed its promotion department and the contest continued its run.

WHAS Radio “Bingham Bucks” contest mailer (1986)

Terry Meiners to WHAS11 on WHAS Radio’s importance to listeners (2017)
Ralph Dix, John Asher, Brian Rublein, Belinda Stark, Mary Jeffries, Fred Wiche, Julie Kredens, John Ihrig

WHAS show content runs a wide spectrum of narratives. Talk topics aren’t always Marconi Award caliber…

Dwight Witten, Tony Vanetti, Hayley Hansen Kilkelly…desperate to be provocative. πŸ™„ (2019)

…but the station has offered a wide spectrum of voices and opinions from all walks of life over the last century.

Musically, WHAS was attached to classical compositions in its early days. When the producers of Chicago radio’s Saturday night barn dance show offered an affiliation in the 1930s, WHAS owners, deferring to the Bingham family’s love of classical music, declined to syndicate the “hillbilly” music show.

Producers then headed south to the next 50,000 watt radio signal and found a home at WSM. The syndicated barn dance show was renamed The Grand Ole Opry.

That concept seemed to catch on in Nashville. πŸ€”

WHAS eventually adapted to the area’s taste for country music. Randy Atcher and the Hayloft Hoedown crew played live music from the 1950 until 1970 on WHAS Radio and television. Randy had been at WHAS earlier but his career path and WWll took him elsewhere throughout the 1940s.



WHAS radio is the home of the Kentucky Wildcats football and basketball broadcasts, the largest signal in UK’s roster of stations. WHAS is also the flagship station for University of Louisville football and basketball broadcasts.

Jody Demling, Paul Rogers, and Craig Swabek call a University of Louisville football game over WHAS and affiliated stations across Kentucky.

People seem to be a bit more relaxed behind today’s microphones than they appeared to be in the earlier days of the radio station’s history.

WHAS radio news anchors Paul Miles and Will Clark reporting from the Indy 500
As Senator Mitch McConnell finished his November 2015 WHAS interview with Terry Meiners, newly elected Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin entered the studio. The two men had been bitter rivals in the 2014 senate race where McConnell crushed Bevin. This was their first face-to-face meeting since Bevin’s election as governor. They greeted each other like best friends. 😳
Terry Meiners and “Papa John” Schnatter (2009) Things got frostier between them after Schnatter sat for a grueling interview with Meiners after Papa John’s 2018 racial slur meltdown.

Russ “Russdiculous” Smith, University of Louisville national champ
WHAS sports and Kentucky Wildcats play-by-play voice Cawood Ledford calling a race at Churchill Downs (1980s) πŸ‡πŸ‡πŸ‡

iHeart Media, owner of 600+ radio stations including WHAS, is making merry with centennial celebrations for the few other 100-years-operating stations that still hold their original call letters.

Charles Booker, activist and candidate for U.S. Senate (2019)

WHAS continues to serve Kentucky (and most of the United States during nighttime hours) as a 24 hour news and information source originating in Louisville.

1984 WHAS morning team: Wayne Perkey, Cawood Ledford, Brian Rublein, Ken Schulz, Paul Harvey, Paul Rogers, Fred Wiche, (helicopter pilot Dick Gilbert)

dad. husband. observer. media personality. pathological flyer.