Reset Your Radio Buttons

With FCC approval, Johnny Pirkle's sale of the 100,000-watt FM station WNOX to Journal Broadcasting is complete, one of the biggest shake-ups in Knoxville radio-land in years.

But Pirkle is not getting out of the radio business. He has entered into a local market agreement to take over (lease) WKVL, AM 850, a 50,000-watt station, and has moved his talk-show format to the new venue. WKVL started broadcasting the talk radio format this week.

The line-up is pretty much the same except morning drive time hosts Ed Brantley and Bob Thomas declined to make the move. They have been replaced by Mike Howard and David Thompson.

Journal Broadcasting has been playing a variety of music on WNOX (FM 100.3) this week, teasing the launch of a new format today (Thursday). The odds are heavy, say local broadcasters, that WNOX will become a country music station to compete with WIVK (107.7), the FM station that has dominated the Knoxville market for decades.

The irony is that Cumulus Broadcasting, which owns WIVK, used to have control of WNOX by leasing it from Pirkle. But the company did not renew the lease when it ran out and moved its talk radio line up to a lower-wattage station. This has allowed Journal to buy the 100,000-watt station to compete with WIVK.