WBEJ .......70 years of service to carter county
In 1945, the Federal Communications Commission granted a construction permit for a new Elizabethton, Tennessee AM broadcast station to the Elizabethton Broadcasting Company (Robert W. Rounsaville, 51 percent interest; George M. Clark, 49 percent interest) for operation on 1240 kilocycles with 250 watts of power, unlimited hours. Mr. Rounsaville, until entering the service in 1943, was manager of WGAA, Cedartown, Georgia. In early 1945, he obtained a grant to build his own station in Cleveland, Tennessee; the Elizabethton station, granted WBEJ as its call letters, was to be his second. Co-owner George M. Clark was Mr. Rounsaville's Chattanooga banker.
From its studio on East Elk Avenue, Elizabethton, WBEJ first went on the air as an affiliate of the Mutual Broadcasting System Network, Thursday, July 18, 1946. Robert W. Rounsaville was President of the new station, while General Manager was A.D. Smith Jr. Mr. Rounsaville became both President and General Manager in 1947. Also, in 1947, Thad F. Fitch was named to the newly-appointed post of Station Manager of WBEJ. Mr. Rounsaville obtained his third AM station permit in October 1947 in Buckhead, Georgia.
Thad f. Fitch became General Manager of WBEJ in 1948. Its studio, on East Elk Avenue, was dubbed ''radio center'' in 1948. When Mr. Fitch was transferred to co-owned WBAC in Cleveland in 1949, William R. Wagner was his replacement as WBEJ's General Manager . Frazier Cochrane became Station Manager in 1950. In 1955, Mr. Cochrane rose to General Manager of WBEJ.
On February 18, 1956, WBEJ was acquired by WBEJ Inc. (Raymond C. Turrentine Jr, President) for $85,000. FCC approval came on February 15th. After assuming control , Mr. Turrentine named William E. Hale to become General Manager of the 250 watt station. In 1959, WBEJ dropped its Mutual Broadcasting System Network liaison to become an independent outlet.
The FCC granted WBEJ a construction permit in 1963 to raise daytime power from 250 to 1000 watts. Mack M. Morriss replaced Bill Hale as General Manager in 1963. Day power rose to 1000 watts in early 1964. By mid-1964, WBEJ aired a ''middle of the road'' music format from 6am till midnight.
James P. Austin was named General Manager in 1976. In 1977, Anne T. Hazen replaced R.C. Turrentine Jr. as President of the company. J. Drake Turrentine became President of the company in 1978. In 1981, WBEJ became a full-time ''oldies'' format.
In 1982, Millie Turrentine Jenkins became President of WBEJ Inc., and Ruth Ritche was General Manager . That firm sold WBEJ in the fall of 1982 to CB Radio Inc. (Darrell Bryan, president ) for $335,000. The new ownership was composed of Darrell Bryan and Don A. Crisp. FCC approval took place September 24, 1982. In late 1982, WBEJ adopted a full-time ''modern country music'' format.
Early in 1983, Clyde T. Roberts Sr. became General Manager . Co-owner Don Crisp succeeded Mr. Bryan as President of the corporation in 1985. In 1986, WBEJ raised night time power from 250 to 1000 watts. In 1988 , it began broadcasting a syndicated ''country music'' format supplied via satellite from SMN. This changed in 1991 when WBEJ began airing Unistar's country format 24 hours a day. Cleo Reed succeeded Clyde Roberts as General Manager in 1992.
After 60 years in the same Elk Ave. location , in early 2006, WBEJ moved its operation to new studios, in its own building, at 510 Broad Street. Six years later, in March of 2012, WBEJ FM was granted by the FCC, and began simulcasting the AM signal at 107.9.
Today, as WBEJ looks forward to its 70th birthday on the 18th of July 2016, both stations continue to broadcast modern country music, 24 hours a day. WBEJ, Tennessee’s 22nd oldest continuously licensed broadcast station is owned by CB Radio Inc. President of the corporation is Don Crisp, and Cleo Reed is General Manager .