WTIK-AM 1310 History

Today's WTIK is actually a tale of two Durham radio stations. On June 10th, 1946, Harmon Duncan signed on WDUK at 1310 on the dial with 1,000 watts non-directional daytime and 500 watts directional at night. Only Durham's second radio station, WDUK's studios were located on Corcoran Street downtown and its two-tower transmitter site in northern Durham's Glendale Heights neighborhood, at the end of Leon Street. Less than a month later on July 4th, 1946, the Bull City's third radio station, WTIK signed on under the ownership of James Floyd Fletcher. Fletcher's father, Alfred James "A.J." Fletcher, was the founder/owner of Capitol Broadcasting Company, which had put WRAL, 1240 AM, on the air in Raleigh in 1939. At its sign-on, WTIK operated at 730 on the dial from studios downtown and an antenna on Ellis Road just south of the present-day Durham Freeway (NC 147) crossing. In 1950, the two stations merged operations: Fletcher's WTIK call letters were married to Duncan's 1310 spot on the dial. In 1952, the two broadcasters applied to build a TV station in Durham on the city's newly alloted VHF channel, channel 11. The Herald-Sun Newspapers, the owners of WDNC, 620 AM and 105.1 FM filed a competing application for channel 11. The competing groups joined forces as Durham Broadcasting Enterprises and won approval from the FCC to build the television station in 1953. On September 2nd, 1954, WTVD, signed on. (During this same time, Floyd Fletcher's father, A.J., owner of WRAL AM and FM in Raleigh, was competing with Durham Life Broadcasting's WPTF to build a television station on the newly alloted VHF channel in that community, channel 5, which he won in 1956). Fletcher and Harmon sold WTIK to Salisbury, NC-based W & W Broadcasting in 1956. In 1964, WTIK added a third tower, at the northwest corner of their site, to their then-two antenna array, boosted their daytime power to 5,000 watts and nighttime power to 1,000 watts. Later in that decade, their Glendale Heights antenna site was targeted by a vandal, who clipped the guy wires supporting the new tower, bringing it down. An ABC affiliate during the days of network radio, WTIK has, musically, run the gamut from MOR to country, as one of the first stations in the state to embrace the format full-time. Co-owner and general manager Harry Lee Welch, Jr., set a Guinness World Record for fingertip push-ups at the station in 1986. The record stood for several years. In 1988, the station became a footnote in a not-so-pleasant chapter of Durham history when Russ Stager, a popular baseball coach at the former Durham High School, was murdered by his wife, Barbara, who worked for a time as a salesperson at WTIK. The case garnered national media attention and was the subject of a book by author Jerry Bledsoe, "Before He Wakes". A CBS made-for-television movie based on the book aired in December of 1998, though all names were changed and WTIK was portrayed as a TV station with different call letters. Increased competition in that format from FM outlets forced WTIK to flip to the satellite-delivered Sports Entertainment Network in 1993, making the station the Triangle's first sports station. While W & W were trying to sell WTIK in 1994, the station went mostly dark for a time, but signed on again the next year with a mix of ministry with Christian contemporary music during the day and positive country at night. In 1997, "La Ke Buena" (The Great One) took to WTIK's airwaves, bringing another Spanish voice to the local radio scene. In 2004, "Mi Gente" (My People) became the new handle for the Spanish programming heard on AM 1310, soon to be followed by the handle "La Rumba" in the summer of the same year. The station was owned by Blacksburg, Virginia-based Baker Communications until 2004, when a sale to New York-based Davidson Media Group was finalized. In 2005, plans were announced for Spanish broadcaster Que Pasa to lease WTIK's air time for a contemporary Latin format to complement the regional Mexican moving from former sister station WDRU, 1030 AM, to WLLQ, WRTG and WGSB In the summer of 2005, the contemporary format debuted as "Que Pasa Mixx". On April 1st, 2006, WTIK's black gospel programming moved to new sister station, WRJD, 1410 AM, allowing WTIK to air 24-hour Spanish language programming. WTIK was under a local marketing agreement with Prieto Broadcasting and simulcasted the company's WETC, 540 AM. However, this ended in July 2008, when the station adopted another Spanish format as "La Mega."

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