Kelly Epperson, owner of WSYD 1300 AM radio station, announced Thursday that the station, which has been playing rock and roll since the early 1970s, will start playing oldies next week. For a number of years, the station has been broadcasting mostly contemporary country and classic country. The change will happen on Wednesday just after the 8 a.m. news.
“We are going to launch an oldies format, that will feature music from the 50s, 60s, 70s, some 80s and beach music. We conducted our own survey and our listeners have responded overwhelmingly in favor of changing. It’s a five-to-one ratio,” said Epperson.
One of the things that makes the changeover exciting, Epperson said, is that the station is having a contest for listeners to try to guess which song will be played first when the format changes. The winner will receive a four-day, three-night vacation at a Myrtle Beach, S.C., resort.
He said if more than one person picks the correct song, there will be a drawing to decide who the winner will be.
“We are encouraging folks to phone in their guess. They need to leave what they think the song will be, their name and phone number,” said Epperson.
He said he still is undecided on a logo for the new format. Some of the employees made suggestions such as “Pure Gold 1300,” “Flashback Radio WSYD,” and “Daddy-O Radio WSYD,” but Epperson said he would be happy to receive input from the public on what the new logo should be.
The new format will be played from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday and 7:30 a.m. until noon on Saturday. Debbie Cochran will remain the morning personality. She has been with the station now more than 30 years. Brack Llewellyn and Bob King will be deejaying in the afternoons, and Todd Jessup will continue his oldies programming on Saturday. The “Elvis Only” program will still be broadcast on Fridays from 9 to 10 a.m.
Cochran said she grew up watching “American Bandstand” and “Soul Train” on TV and listening to AM radio, so this format will be fun for her.
“We are just turning back the hands of time and reliving the glory days,” said Cochran. “In the days before we had the Internet and FM, satellite radio and iPods, we had some powerful disc jockeys like ‘Sugar Bear’ Robert Woodson, ‘Harpo’ Bruce Hull who were playing the kind of music that we are going to be playing and people still talk about them today.”
Cochran also said she is a fan of TJ the DJ (Todd Jessup), who has a popular oldies show on Saturday mornings.
The station still will broadcast southern gospel music from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.
The change came after the station’s program director, Mark Brown, teased the audience one day with a news story asking them what kind of music would they like to listen to on WSYD, Epperson said. From there, listeners started chiming in and the decision was made to change the format.
“You’ll hear the greatest songs ever recorded and aired on radio during those times I mentioned, the ’50s through the ’80s. You’ll hear Elvis, the Four Seasons, the Beach Boys, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Motown Classics, the Drifters and many more. What we want to do is keep it real and keep it classic. We want our listeners to regain those special moments like when you picked up your prom date in your dad’s old car,” said Epperson.
He hopes that listeners will be reminded of their glory days as they hear the oldies being played.
“‘Just give me old time rock and roll that kind of music really soothes my soul.’ Well, this is our answer to Bob Seger’s request. If you came of age during the decades of flower power and bell bottoms, WSYD is apt to bring back memories.”
He said the format change makes good business sense. WSYD listeners are more loyal to AM radio, Epperson said.
“We want to reach out to the demographic that spends money,” said Epperson. “We will be fulfilling a need. There is not really a true oldies station in the area, so why sound like the 25 other stations on the dial when we can do something unique and different,” said Epperson.
Epperson said he is in the process of having a Web site built for the station and hopes to have live streaming broadcasts on there in the near future.
To vote for which song will be the first to be played on the new format, call 786-2147 or 786-6111. If there is no answer, leave a message with the required information. Epperson said only one vote per person is allowed. A complete set of contest rules are available at the radio station, located inside WPAQ between Springs and Jackson roads.