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Public Notices

April 17, 2014

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Before Two WSMG Stations' Transfer To Radio Greeneville, Staffers Reminisce

Originally published:
Last modified: 2009-08-03 17:05:06

Greeneville radio stations WSMG -AM (1450 AM) and WSMG-FM (103.1 FM) suspended broadcasting at noon on Monday.

And while one former staffer likened the wait to "a death watch," the mood inside the stations' small offices on Snapps Ferry Road late Monday morning was more that of an Irish wake.

A mound of food sat on a small table, and a stream of current and former staffers, friends and other well-wishers moved about the building, talking quietly with one another.

WSMG-AM had operated here since 1961, while WSMG- FM had gone on the air in 1996.

As staffers attempted to come to grips with the stations' "passing," the atmosphere was tinged with both sadness and memories of happy times.

WSMG-AM and WSMG-FM stopped broadcasting at noon Monday to give the new owner, Radio Greeneville Inc., which also operates WGRV-AM, time to make the technical changes necessary to resume transmitting with revised program formats today. (Please see accompanying article.)

Staff Members Reminisce

As reminiscing went on in other parts of the studio, and last-minute packing continued, G-103 on-air personalities Brian Stayton and Taylor (whose real name is Danny Greene) carried on with the stations' final programming. On their last day, the same programming was being carried on WSMG's AM and FM stations.

Using recorded music, as well as live and taped commentary and comedy bits, Stayton and Greene provided a generally light-hearted backdrop to the twin radio stations' last hours of life.

But the show had a bit of a bite to it as the pair poked fun at people who had phoned the stations on days when snow was falling and at callers to the AM station's long-running "Trading Post" show in which callers listed used items for sale.

Both Stayton, a full-time employee who had spent four and a half years with 1450 WSMG, and Greene, a part-timer who has worked at the stations for two years during his most recent stint, will continue working for the new owners.

Upstairs, in the stations' former business offices, Kathy Knight, sales and public relations manager, a veteran of 14 years with the radio stations, worked to pack a few final boxes. "I've been alternating between laughing and crying," she said.

At his desk just outside the stations' production studio, News Director Brian Cutshall, who has spent 13 years with the two WSMG stations, spent their last hours of broadcasting under the ownership of Darrell Bryan packing personal items, fielding phone calls and checking late-arriving electronic-mail messages.

Cutshall said he did not yet know what he would do next. Earlier Monday, Cutshall had done morning newscasts for the last time, leading at 6 a.m. with an announcement that WSMG-AM and WSMG-FM would sign off the air at noon.

His report explained that the two stations had been sold to Radio Greeneville, operators of rival WGRV-AM and WIKQ-FM, and that Radio Greeneville soon would begin broadcasting from the WSMG-AM and -FM frequencies.

"I'm really going to miss everyone at WSMG," Cutshall said of his more than a decade with the two Greeneville radio stations. "When you work in a small organization, you often see your coworkers more than your family."

Cutshall also said that he wished the Radio Greeneville organization well in its future operations here. "I wish them much success in serving Greeneville and Greene County," he said.

Meanwhile, in owner and general manager Darrell Bryan's office, which already had been cleared of most personal belongings, Bryan fielded last-minute telephone calls and spoke with Radio Greeneville representative Ron Metcalfe, who already was working on the post-sale transition.

Bryan, who had been general manager of WSMG since 1981 and owner since 1988, said his primary concern in selling the stations had been what would happen to the employees.

He noted on Monday that all but two of the employees had found employment - either with the new owners or elsewhere. The two employees who had not done so both had "options," Bryan said.

A Family Business

Bryan, a Knox County native, said operating the two stations had been a family affair. His eldest son, Micky, who now works in radio in Nashville, got his start in the business while working at WSMG-AM and WSMG-FM.

Since then, Bryan's younger sons, Matthew and Mark, have worked at the station.

Only when the clock ticked down to about 11:55 a.m. and Bryan, his wife, Naomi, and sons Matthew and Mark entered the tiny FM studio, did the mood among those in the station take on a somber note.

In a taped statement played minutes before the two stations signed off the air at noon Monday, Bryan thanked the stations' advertisers and listeners for their support over the years.

Then, as his family stood and sat with him in the cramped WSMG control room, a tape of the song "Memories" played as the clock ticked down the last moments until the stations went off the air.

During those moments there appeared to be few dry eyes in the house.

Afterward, recorded messages transmitted on both 1450 AM and 103.1 FM told listeners that the licenses of WSMG-AM and WSMG-FM had been transferred to Radio Greeneville.

But Radio Greeneville's Ron Metcalfe said the stations planned to resume broadcasting at noon on Tuesday with revised formats.
For more information and stories, see The Greeneville Sun.

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