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The Great AM 138 WLCY Remembered!



Welcome to my brief tribute to WLCY. Why the page? Because, when I began Tampa Bay Radio Broadcasting on the Web, I immediately got e-mail from people everywhere, wanting to remember Tampa's radio past. These call letters were among the four or five mentioned most often. Yes, it's true, WLCY has achieved "classic" status, so far as Tampa radio is concerned. Obviously, your stories and rememberances are welcome here, too.

The station WLCY, actually signed on the air December 11, 1939, as WTSP. The calls WLCY weren't assigned until July 15, 1959. And they stayed put for almost 22 years, being retired from radio on August 26, 1981. It was at that point, 1380 went all news with WNSI calls. The station is now WRBQ-AM and simulcasts The Touch satellite format.

I remember as a young boy in 1972, the high school kids would gather around their VW Bugs, turn on the AM radio, and listen to WALT, WFSO, or the hip sounds of AM-138 WLCY. Below, a mid-1970's vintage photo of late afternoon/evening DJ, Ron Parker. (Are those actual cart machines? Is that a record he's cueing in the corner?)

Ron plays "stacks of wax..."
A WLCY music survey.

Here's what a few people have said:

Ross Eggers writes: "Just cruised through your page. It sure brought back some memories of vacations down in the Bay Area. I am an aircheck collector, and one of the first that I recorded was WLCY in 1971. Do you know anyone that could help me with my 'LCY collection? It was my favorite station in the world when I was a kid..."

From Doug Hanbury in Des Moines: "I like your home page! I stumbled upon it while doing a search for WLCY. I used to live in St. Pete as a kid, and remember (and miss) WLCY..."

Tom Stoeckle in Topeka says: "Was browsing the net and came across your site. Great job. I grew up in Dunedin and remember WLCY and WLCY-FM when it first came on the air in 1970 (hit parade)...great site...brings back a lot of memories. Thank you."

From Tampa Bay broadcaster Tedd Webb: "The first talk show, per se, was Open Mike on the old WLCY, Marshall Cleaver was the host, followed by a host of others, Herb Hunt, and Harvey something or other..."

"The first chick DJ in town was Dotty Grovan who worked overnights on WLCY as "Lolita." She was the ex-wife of one of their newsmen, J. Paul Robinson. There was once a DJ named Rick Morgan in town. He came here in 1963 and worked at WALT using the name Rick Shaw, and at WLCY as "Swinging Sweeney," at the same time."

From Steve Tuten: "I was so excited to find this site dedicated to the memory of WLCY! I grew up in St. Pete and I guess you could say my formative years were the late sixties and early seventies. But how well I remember so many of the DJ's from back then! I saw Lolita and George Nix mentioned on your site, but also Jack E. Rabbitt, Mark Wheeler, "Shy Guy" Nilsson, Johnny Rebel, etc! When I attended Dixie Hollins High, George Nix deejayed a dance of ours in early 1974.

I also remember that WLCY did a great job of informing listeners of the "streak alerts" that was all the rage for a few weeks in 1974. I had moved back to the Tallahassee area in early 1981 and I was driving back to St. Pete one weekend that fall, and discovered that 1380 AM was no longer WLCY. I remember feeling a part of my youth had been spirited away forever.

Want more great WLCY stories? Check out: The WLCY Water Cooler...

It's WLCY Versus the Phone Company!

The April Fool's Joke That Went Wrong!

WLCY and the Bay of Pigs Invasion!

Another WLCY music survey.
Ron digs those 45's!

The Station Named for a Cow! I always had a feeling there was a meaning behind the WLCY calls, but never knew the real story until receiving a note from engineer Donald Kimberlin, who is now in North Carolina: "In the early days, after the Rahalls took over, Marshall Cleaver dumped all the network programming and started playing polkas and waltzes, because they were big back in Allentown, PA. Needless to say (then) WTSP lost its audience in a trice. Then, Marshall announced to me one day that he'd had a brainstorm. Changing the callsign was going to get an audience back. He was thrilled with finding out Borden's Milk had never copyright Elsie the Cow, so he applied for the WLCY sign (it sounds like "Elsie"). Yes, there were Elsie the Cow billboards around Tampa Bay, with 1380 on them..."

An anecdote from colleague George Nix: "I worked at AM-138, doing afternoon drive, from 1970 through 1976. At that time, the studios were located in the same building as WTSP-TV, on Gandy Boulevard in St. Pete. We shared our area with the news staff there. I remember a guy by the name of Al Stockmeyer, who delivered the news during my shift. He was quite dignified, almost British-like, and had the deep pipes to match."

"Al was always very serious, except during my shift. Maybe, listeners remember Al losing it every day, after he'd finish the news and go to the weather. And up until now, nobody ever knew why. Well, the reason is simple: I decided I'd do anything I could to break Al, to get him to crack up on the air. If this involved climbing on the console and pressing my face against the window and making faces, that's what I'd do."

"After awhile, it got to be a game. Al was determined not to lose it, and I decided to find new ways to get him to crack up. of course, I always won. Management didn't care, either. They got a kick out of this and felt we came across as real people." (George works part-time at WSJT 94.1 in Tampa.)

Giving credit where it's due: As you may have guessed, the pictures were used with the permission of Ron Parker, who is at KFRC in San Francisco. Pictures may not be reproduced elsewhere without his permission. Thanks also to George Nix for his support and anecdotes.

Want even more? Okay, I can oblige. Check out my Overview of Tampa Bay Radio History. You'll be able to hear (in .wav format) a WLCY-FM "Hit Parade '70" legal ID/jingle.


TBRB