WNAX (570 AM) is a radio station in Yankton, South Dakota, currently owned by Saga Communications, Inc., which broadcasts a News/Talk format. Due to the flat landscape of the upper Great Plains and the high ground conductivity of the terrain, plus WNAX's low frequency compared to most other AM stations, the station's 5,000-watt signal covers large portions of South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri and North Dakota. Among U.S. stations its daytime land coverage is exceeded only by KFYR in Bismarck, North Dakota. In addition to its home markets of Sioux City and Sioux Falls, WNAX provides a strong grade B signal to Omaha and Lincoln. During the day, it provides at least secondary coverage to most of the eastern half of South Dakota, most of the densely populated portion of Nebraska and much of western Iowa. Under the right conditions, its daytime signal penetrates as far south as Kansas City, as far north as Fargo and well east of Des Moines with a good radio.
|City||Yankton, South Dakota|
|Broadcast area||Sioux City, Iowa|
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
|Branding||WNAX Radio 570|
|Slogan||The Voice of the Midwest|
|Translator(s)||96.9 K245DA (Yankton)|
|First air date||1922|
|Callsign meaning||None (sequentially assigned)|
|Owner||Saga Communications Inc. |
(Saga Communications of South Dakota, LLC)
WNAX was first licensed on November 7, 1922, to the Dakota Radio Apparatus company, and is the oldest surviving radio station in the state of South Dakota. The call-letters came from a sequentially assigned list, and WNAX was the last station in the state to receive a callsign starting with a W instead of K (other than sister station WNAX-FM), as additional stations in the state were established after the January, 1923 shift that moved the K/W call letter boundary from the western border of South Dakota to the Mississippi River. WNAX was purchased by Gurney's Seed and Nursery Company in 1926 and became known as "WNAX—Voice of the House of Gurney in Yankton". The station was used to promote Gurney products and services, making Gurney's a household name. In 1957, Cowles Broadcasting Corporation sold the station to Peoples Broadcasting Corporation, a subsidiary of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co., which, in turn, was an affiliate of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. Peoples Broadcasting was then the owner of KVTV-TV (now KCAU-TV).
On February 10, 1933, the Federal Radio Commission authorized an increase in daytime power from 1,000 watts to 2,500 watts. Less than two years later, December 18, 1934, the new Federal Communications Commission authorized another increase in power, to 5,000 watts.
The radio station launched the careers of many stars, both local and national. Starting in the late 1920s, Lawrence Welk spent a decade performing daily without pay on WNAX. In 1939, Wynn Hubler Speece started her radio program and became known regionally as "Your Neighbor Lady". Speece was still continuing to do her Marconi Award-winning broadcast more than sixty years later when WNAX celebrated its eightieth anniversary in 2002. Other well-known regional radio personalities from WNAX have included Norm Hilson, Whitney Larson, "Happy" Jack O'Malley, Bob Hill, Ed Nelson, Steve (Mike) Wallick, George B. German, Roland "Pete" Peterson and the hillbilly performers on the WNAX Missouri Valley Barn Dance show.
In October 2005 Speece announced her retirement after almost 66 years of continuous broadcasting. She died on October 22, 2007, at 90 years of age.
In 1983 a fire destroyed the main WNAX building. All of the station's historic live recordings as well as thousands of records were destroyed. The staff of WNAX went to the station's transmitter site and continued broadcasting. Eventually, the station recovered when a new building was constructed on Highway 50 in Yankton.
In 1942 the station built a tower at Yankton at 929 feet (283 m), which was the tallest radio broadcasting tower at the time.
The current tower is 911 feet (278 m) tall.
Today WNAX continues many of the traditions started in 1922 with frequent news, sports, weather and farm market updates. The station continues to be affiliated with CBS Radio, an association that began in the late 1920s.
Honors and awardsEdit
In May 2006, WNAX won one first place in the commercial radio division of the South Dakota Associated Press Broadcasters Association news contest.
- Radio Service Bulletin, December 1, 1922, "New Stations" section, page 3. Other new stations granted during the month of November, 1922 included WNAQ, Charleston, SC, WNAV, Knoxville, TN, WNAW, Fort Monroe, VA, and WNAY, Baltimore, MD. (A fanciful Folk etymology later developed that WNAX's call letters stood for "North American radio eXperiment".)
- Predicted Daytime Coverage Area for WNAX 570 AM, Yankton, SD, radio-locator.com. Accessed December 28, 2015
- Radio Service Bulletin, December 1, 1922, "New Stations" section, page 3.
- Gurney Seed and Nursery Company, Victory Horticultural Library.
- "WNAX Power Increase" (PDF). Broadcasting. February 15, 1933. Retrieved 7 October 2014.
- "Four Stations Get 5 kw" (PDF). Broadcasting. January 1, 1935. Retrieved 12 October 2014.
- "WNAX Missouri Valley Barn Dance". hillbilly-music.com. Retrieved June 22, 2017.
- Fybush, Scott (October 10–17, 2001). "Tower Site of the Week; The Big Travelogue: Part Seven". fybush.com. Retrieved June 22, 2017.
- "SDPB, Yankton Stations Lauded". Yankton Press & Dakotan. 2006-05-08.[permanent dead link]
- WNAX website
- WNAX: From 1922 to Today
- Article on the eightieth anniversary of WNAX by Minnesota Public Radio.
- Query the FCC's AM station database for WNAX
- Radio-Locator Information on WNAX
- Query Nielsen Audio's AM station database for WNAX
- Query the FCC's FM station database for K245DA
- Radio-Locator information on K245DA
- FCC History Cards for WNAX