Scan the dial at the top of any hour and you're certain to get a taste of the aural alphabet soup known as radio call letters. In the United States, AM and FM stations, with a few notable exceptions, begin with a "K" west of the Mississippi River and a "W" to the east. The other letters are up to the individual stations. Similar to personalized license plates, stations can pay the FCC for a call sign of their choosing. Here's the story behind some of the region's call signs, past and present. Many serve as subtle reminders of past formats, ownership or even a city of license's history.
WAFR,Africa-Call letters of NCCU's first radio station, which was also the first black public radio station in the United States.
WAKS,We Are in the King's Service-Hint at a Christian format that once aired on the now-deleted AM 1460 in Fuquay-Varina.
WARR,Warrenton-Represents the first four letters of the station's location and city of license.
WAUG,St. Augustines College-Partial acronym of the school which owns the station.
WAZZ,Easy-Fuquay-Varina's 103.9 FM was known as "Easy 103.9" with an easy listening format under these calls in the late 1980s. These calls now reside at the 1490 AM dial position in Faetteville, NC, which airs a standards format.
WBAG,Burlington and Graham-The city of license and nearby Alamance County seat, both of which are served by the station.
WBBB,We're Building a Better Burlington-These call letters once belonged to Burlington's first radio station, now WPCM 920 AM. Raleigh's WBBB, at 96.1, has no connection with the city 45 miles west of Raleigh. Owner Curtis Media moved this call sign on 96.1 FM when they shuffled several of their radio stations' formats around in 1998.
WBIG,We Believe In Greensboro-These call letters belonged to Greensboro's first radio station which signed on in 1925. When the station went off the air in 1986, 102.1 FM out of Redisville briefly assumed them under a country format. The letters now reside north of here in the District of Columbia.
WBOB,Bob-For one week in April 2004, 93.3 FM in Washington, NC, had these calls which represented their handle, before reverting back to WERO.
WBTM,World's Best Tobacco Market, World's Biggest Textile Mill-These call letters represent both Danville, Virginia's one-time tobacco supremacy and formerly Danville-based Dan River Fabrics.
WCAS,Class -Handle of an AC station which used to operate here, now known as WFXK.
WCCE,We're Campbell for Christian Education -Acronym to describe the mission of Campbell University, which founded this station and owned it until 2007.
WCEC,We Cover East Carolina-An acronym describing the coverage of a now-defunct Rocky Mount AM station, whose FM side is today's WTRG "Oldies 100.7".
WCHL,Where Chapel Hill Listens-Acronym representing a former slogan for the station that also incorporates its city of license.
WCKB,Where Carolina Keeps Building, Where Christians Keep Believing-The former was used when the Dunn station signed on in 1946; the latter, following its shift to a Southern gospel format.
WCMC,Country Music Carolina-Represents the station's format.
WCOG,Wonderful City Of Greensboro-Meaning behild call letters of Greensboro's AM 1320.
WCPE,(trick question!)-Though many think this classical station's call letters represent composer Carl Phillip Emmanuel Bach, they actually stand for nothing. The station didn't have the extra money to apply for specific call letters.
WCPS,Coastal Plains Station-Refers to the region in which city of license Tarboro is located.
WDBS,Duke Broadcasting Service-Former sponsor of the station when Duke University operated it. WDBS is now known as WFXC.
WDCC,Department of Commuity Colleges -Represents state agency overseeing community colleges. This station, based at Central Carolina Community College in Sanford, was the first to operate from a North Carolina community college campus.
WDCG,Durham's Country Giant-When WDNC-FM became a country station in 1974, it assumed these call letters. The station is today CHR G-105, but the calls remain, reminding radio enthusiasts of this station's past.
WDNZ, WDNC-When the station, now WDOX, simulcast Durham's WDNC and adapted call letters to roughly match.
WDOX, Docs-A reference to this talk station being the "Home of the Doc's", as in Dr. Joy Brown and Dr. Laura Schlessinger.
WDRU,WTRU-letters that sound similar to sister station WTRU, who's letters stand for "The Truth".
WDTF,Dedicated To Family -Described the format of this former Christian station. Also bore a striking resemblance to owner Curtis Media's flagship AM WPTF. The station is now WDNZ.
WDUR and WDNC,Durham, North Carolina-The city of license for both stations.
WDWG,Dog-The handle of this conutry station.
WERO,Arrow -This station once had an "all rock and roll oldies" (A.R.R.O) format, and was called "Arrow 93.3".
WESQ,Wesleyan -Derivation of North Carolina Wesleyan College, which once owned the station at 90.9 FM, now known as WRQM.
WETC,We Entertain Tobacco Country-Reference to the prominent cash crop of North Carolina at the time.
WEWO,Wonderful Environment, Wonderful Opportunity-Interesting slogan for the current WFLB while a Laurinburg FM.
WFJA,Frank James Abbott-The late founder/owner of this Sanford station.
WFMA,FM-Reference to the FM radio band on which the station, now known as WRVA-FM, was found.
WFTC,World's Finest Tobacco City-Another set of tobacco-era call letters, these referring to Kinston, NC's chief industry.
WFTK,Working For The King, Fifty Thousand (K) Watts -Described both the format and the daytime power of this Christian station, now known as WDRU
WFVG,Watch Fuquay Varina Grow-Represented the communities of Fuquay Springs and Varina that this station, at AM 1460, served. The two towns merged as Fuquay-Varina in the 1960s. The station was later known as WAKS, WNBR and WCRY before being permenantly deleted by the FCC in 2004.
WFXC and WFXK,Foxy-Variations on the handle of this station.
WFXF,Fox-Former handle of High Point's 100.3 FM.
WFXQ,Fox-Former handle of this station, now known as WCMC.
WGBR,Goldsboro-Describes the station's city of license.
WGPL,Witnessing God's Precious Love-Call letters of Winston-Salem's 93.1 when it aired a Southern gospel format.
WGTM,World's Greatest Tobacco Market-Call letters of a Wilson station that evoke the city's former preeminence as a major tobacco market.
WHEV,Henry E. Vail-former owner of the Garner station now known as WRTG.
WHHT,H. H. Toms -Former owner of a Durham station once heard at 1580 and later 1590 AM before signing off the air in 1951.
WHLF,Halifax-The station is located in Halifax County, Virginia.
WHNC,Henderson, North Carolina -The station's city of license.
WHPE,High Point Enterprise, Where His Praises Echo-Station was once owned by the High Point Enterprise newspaper, but is now owned by the Bible Broadcasting Network, which found a more- format appropriate meaning for the call sign.
WHSL,Whistle-Former handle of High Point's 100.3 station, when it played country as "Whistle 100". The call sign also saw use in Wilmington, NC
WICE,Ice-"Cool" is the handle of the station, and ice definitely fits that description.
WITN,Washington -Variation of the station's city of license, Washington, NC. The call letters are still in use on TV channel 7 in Eastern North Carolina.
WJLC,JLC Properties-The former owner of these stations, founded by the late James L. Cole, Jr., thus the letters "JLC" (WJLC has occupied three spots on the dial, 97.5, 95.3 and 98.3).
WKIX and WKXU,Kicks -Slogan associated with a legendary Top 40 outlet, later associated with the country format. The call sign WKIX has been at six separate spots on the dial since its inception to the area in 1959: Raleigh's 850 AM from 1959-1994, Raleigh's 96.1 FM from 1959-1974 and 1994-1998, Goldsboro's 96.9 FM from 1998-2001, Goldsboro's 102.3 FM from 2001-2007, Kinston's 97.7 FM from 2006-2008 and now back at Goldsboro's 102.3 again in 2008. WKXU found a a new home on the dial at Louisburg's 102.5 FM when 101.1 FM became talk WZTK.
WKNC,Wolfpack-North Carolina-Derivative of the university's mascot.
WKNS,Kinston, North Carolina-Represents this station's city of license.
WKRX and WRXO, Roxboro, North Carolina-The stations' city of license.
WKSI,"Kiss"-Former call letters of Greensboro's 98.7 FM, which was once known as "98.7 Kiss FM", and later "98.7 Kiss Country". Now known as WSMW-FM
WKSL,"Kiss"-Call letters of Raleigh's 93.9 FM, which is known as "93.9 Kiss FM".
WKTC,Katie Country -Handle of a station which used to operate here, now known as WYMY.
WKVE,K-Love-This Semora-licensed station is an affiliate of K-Love Christian Music Network, and the WKVE calls are a derivation of the network's name.
WLHC,Life in the Heart of Carolina-Acronym for the station's slogan.
WLLE,Willie-Handle of this R&B; station now known as WDOX.
WLLY,We Love Loving You-Gospel station in Wilson at 1350 AM.
WLUS,"U.S."-Handle of this country station. The "L" might possibly stand for owner Lakes Media.
WMAG,Magic-This station once went by the handle "Magic 99.5".
WMFR,We Make Furniture Right-Was located in High Point, the furniture capital of the world.
WNAO,News and Observer-Represented the newspaper which founded and owned the stations now known as WBBB and WRBZ.
WNBR,News and Business Radio-Now permenantly silent AM 1460 in Fuquay-Varina was known by these call letters briefly when they aired a business news format.
WNOH,N.O. Harris-The founder of the station, which is now known as WCLY. The same family which owns present-day Harris Beer Distributors in Raleigh.
WNCT,North Carolina Television-Once co-owned with WNCT-TV, one of the state's earliest TV stations.
WNCU,North Carolina Central University -Represents the station's owner, North Carolina Central University. The station had also unsuccessfully applied for WNCC.
WNND and WWND,The Wind -The "wind" handle originated in this area with Fuquay-Varina's 103.9 FM, which brought the smooth jazz format to the Raleigh area. The station dropped the handle and call letters in 1995 before dropping the jazz format the next year. Curtis Media copied the smooth jazz format and the "wind" handle at 102.9 FM in 1998 under the calls WWND. They gave the handle, format and call sign up in early 2001.
WOXF,Oxford-The station's city of license and location. Now known as WCBQ.
WOZN,"Zone"-The station's handle was "98-7 The Zone". They're now known as WSMW "98-7 Simon".
WPCM,We Play Country Music, We Play Carolina's Music -Former call letters of the country station now known as WKXU. These call letters, now on Burlington's 920 AM, currently give reference to the beach music heard here and made popular along the Carolina coast.
WPJL,We Proclaim Jesus Lord -Represents the mission of this Christian station.
WPTF,We Protect The Family-The slogan of the former Durham Life Insurance Company, which owned the station from 1925-1991. The station shared the call letters with the current WQDR from 1947-1973 and with WRDC-TV 28 from 1977-1991.
WPWZ,Power-The handle of this urban station.
WPXX,Picks-Referenced the handle of this station before it became WKVE.
WPYB,We Promote Your Business-The station's slogan.
WQDR,Quadrophonic Rock -An unsuccessful sound transmission system used by this former rock outlet which employed four channels of audio instead of the two used with stereo. When the station switched from its critically acclaimed album rock format to country in 1984, rock fans said the call letters really stood for "We Quit Doing Rock".
WQMG,Quality Music for Greensboro-Apparently a former slogan.
WRAL and WRNC,Raleigh or Raleigh, North Carolina-The stations' city of license. The WRNC calls now belong to an expanded band AM station in Warner-Robbins, Georgia.
WRBX,WKBX-Original owner Stuart Epperson owned WKBX 1500 AM in Winston-Salem and wanted similar calls for his new station. WRBX is now WRTP-AM.
WRBZ,Raleigh's Buzz-Represents the handle of this station.
WRCO,Wynne Radio Company-In 1924, William A. Wynne's Raleigh-based radio company started what is now WPTF and adopted call letters to reflect the company name.
WRDT,Raleigh Durham's Talk-Represented a short-lived Christian talk format at this dial position, now known as WDNZ.
WRDU,Raleigh-Durham-Reference the radio market served by the station and the FAA code for the local airport, Raleigh-Durham International. These call letters once belonged to local television station WRDC, channel 28, from its sign on in 1968 through 1977.
WREV, The Reidsville Review-Though it appears these call letters represent the station's city of license at first glance, they actually represent the first three letters of the Review, the name of the newspaper which once owned the station , now WJMH.
WRJD,Rejoice Durham-The Durham station has an inspirational/black gospel format.
WRQM and WRMT,Rocky Mount-Derivation of the station's city of license.
WRSN,Raleigh's Sunny-Represented the station's handle, adopted in 1996 when the former WZZU dumped classic rock for soft adult contemporary. Often criticized when they played classic rock, they format change to soft rock didn't make any long-time listeners happy, especially when the popular syndicated "John Boy and Billy" was without a local outlet for a short time after the switch. Former listeners said derisively that the new letters stood for "We Really Stink Now".
WRTP and WRTG,Research Triangle Park -Refers to area served by these stations
WRVA,River-Represents the handle of 100.7 FM's new Triple-A/Hot AC hybrid format. These call letters are also used by Virginia's first radio station, the 50,000-watt AM 1140 WRVA in Richmond. Both are owned by Clear Channel. Due to the Richmond station, the suffix "-FM" is added to the local one.
WSAY,Say-Represented the slogan of this station, now WDWG.
WSGH,Winston-Salem, Greensboro, High Point-Represented the three cities served by Winston-Salem's 107.5 FM.
WSHA,Shaw University -Represents the station's owner, Shaw University.
WSJS,Winston-Salem Journal Sentinel-Acronym for the newspaper founder and former owner of this station.
WSML,Smiles-This Graham station, now a repeater of Winston-Salem's WSJS, was once known as "Radio Smiles".
WSMW,Simon-A loose reflection of the station's handle.
WSSB,Whisbee-Handle this station used in the Top 40 days of memorable call letters, though it's unclear whether the call letters or the handle came first.
WSTS,Winning Souls Through Song-The meaning of the call letters for the Southern Gospel station, though it is doubtful if this acronym was in use during the station's Laurinburg days.
WTIK,Where Tobacco Is King-Reference to Durham's former status as a major tobacco center.
WTCD,Triangle's CD-Represented the handle of this NAC/Smooth Jazz station, when it was CD-103.9. This was a fidelity-intensive format, so the handle made reference to compact discs, known for their exact replication of audio. WTCD is now black gospel WNNL.
WTEB,Dr. Thurman Elias Brock-The parent station of Public Radio East is located on the campus of Craven Community College, which was founded by Dr. Brock. Dr. Brock was also a big proponent of bringing public radio to eastern North Carolina. The acronym, "Where Tomorrow's Education Begins" has also been associated with the station.
WTRG,Triangle or Triangle Radio Gold-The first refers to the region served by the station, now known as WRVA-FM; the second is a reported acroynm which may have also been used.
WTSB,Where Tobacco Sells Best, then Triangle Sports Broadcasters and now Where The Stories Break-Named for the former licensee of this Selma station. New owners Lamm Broadcasting use the call letters as an acronym promoting the station's commitment to local news. These same call letters originally belonged to a now silent station in Lumberton, NC at 580 AM, where they stood for "Where Tobacco Sells Best".
WUNC,University of North Carolina-Station is owned by the University of North Carolina Board of Governors.
WVBZ,Buzzard-High Point station is known as "The Buzzard 100.3".
WVOT,Voice of Tobacco-The current WRDU-FM began life as WVOT-FM in Wilson, a major tobacco market in eastern North Carolina to this day.
WVTF,Virginia Tech Foundation-Name of the non-profit group running Virginia Tech's public radio outlet.
WWMO,William Manson Oliver-Initials of the station's co-founder and owner. This station is now known as WJMH.
WXJC,The "Cross" of Jesus Christ-Nifty set of call letters that belonged to Calvary Satellite Radio's Raleigh station from 2001-2002; the "X" represents the cross. The station is now known as WAJC.
WYFL,Where You'll Find Love-References the station's Christian format. According to a 25th anniversary publication, the founders of the station's parent network, the Bible Broadcasting Network, bought a Norfolk station, WYFI, unaware that call letters could be changed. With the exception of High Point affiliate WHPE and former Atlanta-area affiliate WAVO, the network has requested call letters in the WYF_ and KYF_ format, later assigning meanings to them.
WYLT,Lite-Described the format of this station when it was lite A/C.
WYRN,We're Your Radio Neighbor-An acronym reflecting a former slogan.
WYYD,Wide-Chosen to describe the sound quality available with quadraphonic sound, an unsuccessful form of FM stereo using four channels instead of two. Now known as WBBB
WXDU and WDUK,Duke University -Both acronyms epresent the school in Durham. WDUK, a commercial station not affiliated with Duke, merged with WTIK in 1951. WXDU is Duke's Campus station.
WZTK,The New Zeitgeist of Talk-Don't know if this is the official meaning of this new talker's call letters, but on day one of "FM Talk 101.1", one of the morning personalities said this is the meaning behind "ZTK". Zeitgeist is a German word that means the spirit of the time or the spirit characteristic of an age or generation.
WZZU,Zoo-This station went under the handle 94-Z and pioneered the Morning Zoo personality and entertainment driven morning show format in this market.