WAKE  1340kc   Atlanta, Georgia
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GENERAL HISTORY and PROGRAMMING  (1)
                                                       A BRIEF TIMELINE


October 12, 1955       Assignment of license of WBGE  1340 to BARTELL Broadcasters, Inc.

December 1, 1955      Call letters changed from WBGE to WAKE

October 13, 1956        First WAKE music survey

ca. August, 1958        BILL DRAKE begins his 'gig' at WAKE

ca. Spring, 1959         DRAKE becomes Program Director at WAKE

ca. July, 1961              PAUL DREW is enticed by DRAKE to come to WAKE from WGST

October, 1961             BILL DRAKE and Station Manager JAYNE SWAIN transferred by Bartell to KYA

November, 1961         WAKE boosts daytime output power to 1000 watts

Early 1962                  WAKE sold by Bartell to BASIC COMMUNICATIONS, INC. 

November 1, 1963      Last WAKE music survey

Late 1963/                   The end of top-40 days and beginning of "The New Sound of WAKE" ('middle of the road'   Early 1964                   format); WAKE becomes a CBS affiliate

1965                             WAKE becomes WIGO, an 'urban' music station         
(note:  ALL images on this page will open to larger views by clicking over them; in addition, some may be enlarged even further after browser window opens)
Before WAKE, there was WBGE which was granted a license in 1946 to operate on 1340kc.  In October 1955, the Bartell organization bought the station, and the calls were changed to WAKE in December of that year (prior to this time, the WAKE call letters belonged to a station in Greenville, South Carolina).  Included in the deal also was a license for operating on the FM band, but WBGE allowed the frequency to remain 'dark', as did WAKE, so that license eventually either lapsed or was transferred to another party or voluntarily turned back in.       
Just prior to the end of World War II in 1945, Washington opened up the FM band (for the most part, as we know it today) with many new available frequencies for "the future of radio".  During the next few years, there seemed to be a rush by broadcasters to obtain these new licenses in order to ensure themselves spots on this new dial.  But there was no reason for a stampede, as it turned out--there just wasn't any demand for FM at the time, and as a result, many stations holding these new licenses never really did anything towards their planned FM endeavors.  But the rules said:  "Use it or lose it".  It is thought that many such licenses were surrendered or called back in for non-use, not that it mattered much at the time, because it would be some years before FM would become a real factor in broadcasting.  So, the case of WAKE-FM is not unique.
Rather than build a new facility, the Bartells took over the space at The Georgian Terrace Hotel which had been occupied by WBGE.  This grande lady of a hotel was opened in 1911 and was for many years Atlanta's premier and resort hotel.  Arthur Murray taught dancing there in one of the hotel's dining rooms ca. 1920 while paying his way through a course at nearby Georgia Tech.  That experience was the real beginning of his famous dance studios.  In 1939, the premiere reception party for Gone With the Wind was held at The Georgian Terrace.  Half of Hollywood was there (and probably half of Atlanta, as well).  Other guests through the years included Calvin Coolidge, Warren G. Harding, Charles Lindbergh, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tallulah Bankhead, Rudolph Valentino, and Enrico Caruso.  During the late 1940's and on through the '50's and '60's, the hotel remained very convenient and no doubt suitable for the visiting Metropolitan Opera which came to Atlanta once a year and performed at The Fox Theatre, directly across Peachtree Street.  Truth be known, however, The Georgian Terrace had seen its better days by the beginning of the '60's--it just wasn't what it had been.
The Georgian Terrace Hotel located at the mythical (and mystical) corner of Peachtree Street and Ponce de Leon Avenue, N.E.  The Peachtree entrance to the hotel is shown on the left side of this vintage post card.  Also, notice the very large neon sign atop the right wing of the building ("Hotel Georgian Terrace").
Great minds think alike:  the top photo on the left was made by Robert Read in 1959--the high-rise building behind the canopy is The Howell House Apartments, across Peachtree Street and to the north of The Georgian Terrace.  The bottom photo on the left was made by Paul Allen in 1962--The Howell House is on the left (across and up the street), and The Cox-Carlton Hotel (now goes by another name) is seen behind the canopy and next-door to The Georgian Terrace.   Of interest here is the high-profile WAKE 'billing' at the main hotel entrance on Peachtree Street; also, notice that the hotel is 'AAA Approved'. 
In 1981 the hotel decided to call it a day and closed its doors.  It stood vacant for several years and came very close to an encounter with the wrecking ball.  But thanks to a community effort, The Georgian Terrace was declared a national historic landmark.  In 1989, renovation was begun to turn the hotel into luxury apartments.  But, during the latter part of the 90's, it would once again became a respectable hotel.  In 2001, The Georgian Terrace underwent yet another renovation (at a cost of ten million dollars) which further upgraded and restored the hotel to the grandeur of its earlier era.  

This grande palace is a big part of WAKE's rich legacy.  By the same token, WAKE is a big part of The Georgian Terrace's rich legacy.  Many radio stations traditionally used to be housed inside hotels. The difference here is that The Georgian Terrace was (is) no ordinary hotel, and WAKE was no ordinary radio station.  
Photos above  by Paul Allen. The top one shows The Georgian Terrace in the midst of a renovation, 1991.  The bottom picture is of the completed inside open atrium as it looked in June, 2000.     
Almost there!  The Ponce de Leon Avenue entrance to the basement level of The Georgian Terrace and WAKE is across the street and directly behind the pedestrian. 
Cross Ponce and there you are!  By the way, down here we pronounce it "Pontz-duh-LEE-ahn", not
"Pawnchay-day-lee-own" (or some such).  Mainly, we just call it
"Pontz".

The two photos above, 1962,  courtesy of
Paul Allen.
The brief history of The Georgian Terrace is adapted from information on the hotel's website.  Re-live the splendor by taking a peek at the new Georgian Terrace Hotel .

Vintage color postcard of The Georgian Terrace Hotel courtesy of Paul Allen.

WBGE image above is an ad from Broadcasting, early 1950's, and is courtesy of Robby Delius.  Thanks to Robby, also, for researching in Broadcasting some of the early dates for the Brief TimeLine.

Thanks to Barry Mishkind at Old Radio for assistance with  research of the 1340 frequency in Atlanta; some   information from FCC files has been taken into consideration, and some is from White's Log, 1953.

Thanks to Jeff Miller at The History of American Broadcasting for much of the insight into the advent of early FM radio. 

Some dates in the Brief TimeLine above may be approximate (as indicated).  I have endeavored to  corroborate as much of the information on this page as possible through various sources, such as FCC documents (which are often incomplete and extremely misleading), oral and written remembrances, extant WAKE airchecks, and WAKE music survey sheets.

I have tried to keep pure opinion/speculation and other assorted 'sidebars' italicized.

Please contact me if you find errors which need correction.  Thank you!
To continue on the WAKE tour, please cross "Pontz"
           General History and Programming  1  2    | DJ's and  Personnel |   Surveys   |   Jingles

Ads and Collectibles  |   Memories and Stories  |   Other Bartell Stations    |     Acknowledgments            
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page created 19 April 2003
SF