WGST (640 kHz) is a commercial AM radio station licensed to Atlanta, Georgia. It is owned by iHeartMedia, Inc., through its subsidiary Citicasters Licenses. It serves the Atlanta metropolitan area with a talk radio format.
|Broadcast area||Atlanta metropolitan area|
|Branding||Talk 640 WGST|
|Slogan||The Talk of Atlanta|
50,000 watts days |
1,000 watts nights
|Callsign meaning||Georgia School of Technology (former owner)|
|Former callsigns||WPBD (1988-1989)|
Premiere Radio Networks|
NBC News Radio
Georgia News Network
Motor Racing Network
Performance Racing Network
Crimson Tide Sports Network
iHeartMedia, Inc. |
(Citicasters Licenses, Inc.)
|Sister stations||WBZY, WWPW, WRDG, WUBL, WRDA|
WGST is a Class B station broadcasting on a clear channel frequency. By day, it runs 50,000 watts, the maximum power permitted for U.S. AM stations. Because it must protect other stations on AM 640, including Class A KFI Los Angeles, WGST reduces power to 1,000 watts during nighttime hours. A two-tower directional antenna is used, with differing patterns daytime and nighttime, from the transmitter site off Joseph E. Boone Boulevard Northwest in the Center Hill neighborhood of Atlanta. The station's studios and offices located at the Peachtree Palisades Building in the Brookwood Hills district.
Most of the programs are syndicated from Premiere Networks, also an iHeart subsidiary, or from other iHeart-owned stations. Shows include Glenn Beck, Dave Ramsey, Michael Berry (from KTRH), Todd Schnitt (from WFLA), "Ground Zero with Clyde Lewis," "Coast to Coast AM with George Noory" and "This Morning, America's First News with Gordon Deal." On weekends, WGST features Leo Laporte, Bill Cunningham, Joe Pags, "Somewhere in Time with Art Bell" and "The Jesus Christ Show with Neil Saavedra," along with some paid brokered programming. NBC News Radio is heard at the top of most hours. In May 2018, Local Programming was added once again with Local Personality Dana Barrett on from 12:00 - 2:00 p.m. Weekdays.
The station was first licensed, as WPBD, in 1988 to the Phoenix City Broadcasting company, headed by Michael Hollins, under a Federal Communications Commission program promoting minority ownership. However, Hollins immediately began making arrangements to sell the station. A proposed purchase by Jefferson-Pilot Communications, owners of WQXI and WQXI-FM, fell through, however, in October 1988 it was announced that Jacor Communications, Inc. was buying the station.
At this time Jacor was operating a station on 920 kHz with the call letters WGST (now WGKA). However, WPBD had a better signal than WGST: it operated at 50,000 watts during the daytime and 1,000 watts at night, a substantial increase in daytime power and signal coverage area compared to WGST's 920 kHz facilities. Effective June 30, 1989, WPBD's call letters were changed to WGST, and the programming previously on 920 kHz was transferred to 640 kHz.
In 1992, Neal Boortz asked WGST management for a raise but was turned down. Talk radio rival 750 WSB hired Boortz. WGST then hired Sean Hannity to replacing Boortz, after a few other hosts were tried out in his time slot. Hannity was brought in from a Huntsville, Alabama, radio station where he previously worked. He stayed at WGST until Roger Ailes offered Hannity a position on the soon-to-debut Fox News Channel in 1996. During his time at WGST, he was given the nickname "Hanni-Pie, The Tin Man" by fellow host Kim Peterson (now on 106.7 WYAY). WGST was also the home for Atlanta Braves baseball broadcasts, from 1992-1994. WGST was the station that carried Sid Bream's winning slide in Game Seven of the 1992 NLCS. In May 1994 the station was outbid for Braves broadcast rights by WSB, which had carried the games from 1966 until 1991. WGST was also the home of the Atlanta Hawks basketball team until 1995, after which the Hawks followed the Braves to WSB. WGST carried NASCAR races in 1996 and 1997. It was the home of Atlanta Falcons football in 1998 when the team made its first Super Bowl appearance.
From 1993 until 2000, WGST programming was simulcast on 105.7 WGST-FM (now WRDA). In 1999, Clear Channel Communications bought out Jacor, including WGST. Clear Channel was the forerunner to iHeartMedia, the present-day owner of WGST.
2005 marked a year of change for WGST. The station won the rights to once again carry Atlanta Braves baseball. The station changed its moniker to "Braves Radio 640 GST." Many Braves fans who lived outside Atlanta and its close-in suburbs complained about the change from WSB, noting WGST's signal was much weaker at night than that of WSB's 50,000 watt clear channel broadcasts. To remedy the situation, WGST sister station 96 Rock WKLS-FM (now WWPW) began simulcasting Braves games. WKLS was powered at 100,000 watts, covering Atlanta and its growing suburbs.
From the 1950s, WGST had been an ABC Radio Network affiliate. But in 2005, as part of a Clear Channel corporate change, WGST switched to Fox News Radio as its national news provider. No longer affiliated with ABC, in March 2005, WGST dropped Paul Harvey's syndicated ABC news commentaries from its line-up.
On March 20, 2006, WGST's moniker became "Atlanta. Talk. Radio." On November 21, 2006, WGST announced that morning drive time host Tom Hughes had resigned, and that midday host Denny Schaffer, and afternoon drive talk host Kim Peterson (The Kimmer) and their staffs had been fired. On February 5, 2007, WGST announced that veteran Atlanta morning show hosts Randy Cook and Spiff Carner would be joining the station for a new live and local morning show.
On September 27, 2007, the syndicated Glenn Beck Program returned to WGST in the 9am to noon slot. Beck was previously heard on WGST from 2001 to 2005. Beck took over Mike McConnell's weekday spot, though McConnell was still heard on weekends.
On October 9, 2007, morning co-host Spiff Carner was fired by WGST, after 8 months on the air. Randy Cook remained on the newly named "The Morning Drive with Randy Cook." Spiff was later hired to co-host the "Spiff and Fred" show on 106.7 WYAY. Clear Channel management did not renew Randy Cook's contract in July 2009. "The Morning Drive" was briefly hosted by comedian Mike Stiles from July 13 to July 24, 2009, before being replaced by syndicated programming.
From July 27, 2009 to November 12, 2010, the weekday lineup consisted of all syndicated programming: "The Wall Street Journal This Morning" at 5 a.m., Michael Smerconish (syndicated from WPHT Philadelphia) at 6 a.m., Glenn Beck at 9 a.m., The Rush Limbaugh Show at noon, Dave Ramsey at 3 p.m., Mark Levin from 7 to 9 p.m. (11 to midnight during baseball season) and "Coast to Coast AM with George Noory" during the overnight hours. At the end of the 2009 baseball season, WGST gave up the rights to carry the Atlanta Braves. 750 WSB picked up the Braves' broadcasts the following season.
On November 15, 2010, Atlanta radio personality Rob Johnson became the new morning host. On January 11, 2011, WGST said it would pick up "The Savage Nation," a syndicated show from San Francisco hosted by Michael Savage. That was one day after it was cut by WSB in a schedule change. Beginning in early 2012, Atlanta local Dave Merlino joined Rob Johnson's morning show, re-billed as "The Rob and Dave Show." The weekday lineup was The Rob & Dave Show at 6 a.m., Glenn Beck at 9 a.m., Rush Limbaugh at noon, a local version of The Rusty Humphries Show at 3 p.m., Mark Levin at 6 p.m., Michael Savage at 9 p.m., George Noory at midnight and The Wall Street Journal report at 5 a.m.
Brief switch to Spanish-language SportsEdit
On September 26, 2012, several Atlanta news outlets reported that WGST would be changing its format. Johnson, Merlino, and Humphries were terminated, Limbaugh's show switched to 750 WSB and Glenn Beck's show was picked up by AM 1160 WCFO. Coincidentally, Michael Savage suspended the broadcast of his show around the same time. On September 28, 2012, at 3 p.m., following Rush Limbaugh's program, WGST switched to a Spanish-language sports radio format, carrying the syndicated ESPN Deportes Radio Network.
Return to Talk RadioEdit
On April 23, 2013, less than eight months after switching to Spanish-language sports, WGST announced it would return to an English-language talk format beginning June 3, 2013. The station would bring back the syndicated financial advice show from Dave Ramsey. Due to contractual reasons, Glenn Beck would return a few weeks later, starting July 22. In turn, "ESPN Deportes" programming moved to low power FM translator station W222AF at 92.3 MHz, replacing an all-comedy format from 24/7 Comedy.
In the early 2010s, WGST was simulcast on an HD Radio digital subchannel of sister station WUBL FM 94.9, along with FM translator station W222AF. WGST also was carried on the audio-only digital subchannel 32.21 of low-powered digital television station WANN-CD, as Clear Channel's other Atlanta holdings are. When WGST switched to Spanish Sports, these three stations aired "Comedy 92-3." WUBL HD-3 and WANN-CA returned to running WGST after ESPN Deportes was cancelled on AM 640.
Former WGST on-air staffEdit
- Skinny Bobby Harper. One of the nation's top jocks during the 1960s and 70s, and heard on WGST during 1971-72.
- Bert Parks. Parks won a singing contest and became an overnight sensation on WGST. Later he became famous as emcee of the Miss America Pageant.
- Don Naylor, producer, announcer, singer, actor, and director (1936–1950)
- Sean Hannity, who hosted a local midday show in the early 1990s before joining Fox News Channel and having his WABC show picked up for syndication.
- Tom "The King" Hughes, former morning show host, now retired.
- Kim Peterson, "The Kimmer," former afternoon host, later moving to WYAY 106.7 in Atlanta with a weekday talk show.
- Wayne No Offense, Kimmer's sidekick until 2006, was Morning Show Producer for the Rhubarb Jones and Dallas McCade morning show on 106.7 WYAY in Atlanta.
- Jim Gossett is now with the Kimmer on 106.7 WYAY Atlanta.
- Jennifer Perry, former news anchor for The Kimmer and Rusty Humphries shows, now with WYAY 106.7 in Atlanta.
- Freddy Mertz, former afternoon host, brought in from sister station WFLA by former Jacor programming head Randy Michaels.
- Denny Schaffer, former midday host. Moved to WRNO-FM in New Orleans.
- Sam Memmolo, former weekend host of "The Car Show." Currently hosts the nationally syndicated "Sam's Garage" on radio and "Motor Head Garage" television program on Velocity.
- Neal Boortz, now retired, was syndicated nationally by Cox Radio and the Jones Radio Networks, while heard late mornings on 750 WSB
- Steve Getty is now selling cars in metro Atlanta and doing voice overs.
- Kari Dean, former morning news anchor, is now a writer and weekend news producer at Fox 5 WAGA-TV in Atlanta.
- Denis O'Hayer is now on 90.1 WABE in Atlanta.
- The Regular Guys were fired from WKLS in 2006.
- Stu Klitenic freelances.
- Wade Medlock, former news director, is now retired.
- Jim O'Neill (Jim Atkinson) is now a television engineer at WAGA-TV Fox 5 in Atlanta.
- Bill Edge is now spokesman for Georgia Public Service Commission.
- Bill Caiaccio is now with 750 WSB Atlanta.
- Jack Kennedy, former sports show host.
- John Lisk, former WGST news reporter and CNN radio news anchor, now a news anchor at WYAY 106.7 in Atlanta.
- Keith Kalland, traffic reporter during the 1980s and 1990s, died in 2002.
- Michael King (weekend morning anchor 1997-1999) is now a producer and reporter at WXIA-TV 11 Atlanta.
- Sam Lake has returned to WGST and is doing traffic and news.
- Connie Cummings, former WGST reporter, now a reporter at WYAY 106.7 in Atlanta.
- Brad Nessler, former sports reporter, is now an analyst on ESPN's college football coverage.
- Kirk Dorn, former morning anchor at the Georgia News Network and weekend anchor at WGST.
- Spiff Carner, retired.
- David Hull, former AM Atlanta news anchor, does fill-in work at WYAY 106.7 in Atlanta.
- Andy Rose, former AM Atlanta news anchor, is morning anchor at WYAY 106.7 in Atlanta.
- Matt Stewart, former sports reporter, is now on Comcast Sports in Atlanta.
- Steve Holman, play by play for the Atlanta Hawks.
- Clark Howard, consumer adviser, is now syndicated nationally and is heard on rival AM 750 WSB.
- Matt McClure, former morning show producer, now with NY1 in New York City and CBS Radio traffic.
- Wendi Grossman, former morning reporter, is now with WIOD in Miami.
- Andy Rose, former morning anchor, is now with WYAY 106.7 in Atlanta.
- Dave McBride, former co-host of "The Car Show," died in April 2007 from complications due to cancer.
- Mike Rose, former producer and program director, is now a Retail Sales Manager with Bank of America.
- Dave Michaels, anchored at CNN & WXIA-TV 11 Atlanta.
- Brennan Price (occasional reporter and anchor, 1997–2000) was Chief Technology Officer of the American Radio Relay League and later EchoStar.
- Burke Brennan, former reporter and anchor 1996-2003, now works for DeKalb County, Georgia, in the Department of Watershed Management.
- Mike Jones is now a country/bluegrass songwriter.
- Matt Cook was news director of WGST and the Georgia News Network from 2006-2014. He continues as news director of the Georgia News Network.
- Nathan Roberts, former morning DJ and newscaster-sportscaster 1965-68.
- Pete Konenkamp, former anchor and news director, Georgia News Network.
- Maria Boynton, Georgia News Network, reporter 1987-1994; former freelance writer WCBS New York; former anchor WOR New York, CNN Radio Network and WYAY Atlanta.
- Weather reports from the late 70s through the early 90s from the Weather Services Corporation of Massachusetts included Joe Zona, Bonnie Cameron, and Todd Glickman.
- "Predicted Nighttime Coverage Area for WGST 640 AM, Atlanta, GA" (radio-locator.com)
- "WGST Contact Information" (640wgst.iheart.com)
- "Deal OK'd For Hollis's New Station" by L. Eric Elie, The Atlanta Constitution, October 4, 1988, Business section, page 1.
- Lovel, Jim (2004-04-05). "Braves' shift stuns WSB radio execs". Atlanta Business Chronicle. Retrieved 2018-06-13.
- "WGST Atlanta to Return to Talk" by Lance Venta, April 24, 2013 (radioinsight.com)