Country WWKY is
in 790-AM name game
By Tom Dorsey - TV/Radio
Courier-Journal - June 8, 1989
For years it was WAKY radio. Later
the station at 790-AM became a WVEZ-FM clone. Monday it gets a new
identify all its own again as WWKY, a country oldies outlet.
"It was a shame to clone VEZ," says Frank Iorio Jr., WVEZ's co-owner
and general manager who took over last month. "That's not what AM
radio should be."
Country music from the 1950s and '60s is what Iorio thinks it should
"We're after listeners who want to hear Tammy Wynette and George
Jones," says Iorio. "I Love My Country" is the station's slogan, but
WWKY isn't kidding itself about taking on WAMZ-FM for the country
AMZ has been sitting atop the Louisville radio ratings as a
country-western station for years with WTMT as its only other
"AMZ is a big, 100,000-watt, classy pop-country operation and we
don't think we could dent their audience," says Iorio. He isn't
above slipping in a little indirect criticism though. "WAMZ is so
slick and up-tempo that sometimes you don't even know you're
listening to country."
Several other Louisville stations have flirted with country over the
years, including WAKY, which later became WVEZ. Iorio wishes the
former owners hadn't dumped the WAKY call letters, good will and
national reputation. The WAKY name was immediately scooped up by a
Greensburg, Kentucky station.
WWKY was as close as management wanted to get to reclaiming WAKY's
reputation. Research indicates that it might not have been a good
idea to try and resurrect the old image anyway.
"It would have been a two-edge sword," Iorio says. "While it might
help with some listeners, others would resent it and say we could
never be what WAKY was to them. We'll be happy if I can get a small,
but solid, rating with WWKY."
While the big news is the AM switch, WVEZ-FM has been quietly making
some changes in WVEZ 107-FM. About $50,000 worth of new equipment
has been installed to update the stereo sound and add compact disc
"We've had lots of calls already telling us how great it sounds,"
Iorio says. He's also been busy "smoothing out" the highs and lows
in the station's easy-listening music.
"The former manager had let it get a bit rockish, so we've sanded
off the rough edges so that people will hear the same easy-listening
music whatever time they tune in," Iorio explains.
Dick Clark's weekend countdown show was a casualty of that polishing
process. "Too much new music," Iorio says. "We aren't into playing
new songs, only classic hits."
He also has put the VEZ spotlight on DJ Connie Willis. He changed
her shift to 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., which is VEZ's prime time because
its biggest audience is in offices.
"Connie is very talented," Iorio says. "We're building our day
around her because she comes across as very friendly and both men
and women like her."
Before being assigned to 790-AM in
Louisville in 1989, the WWKY call letters
belonged to 1380-AM in Winchester, Kentucky.