WLAC was one of the nation's first radio stations, taking the air on November 24th, 1926. Created primarily as a promotional venture and publicity medium for the Life And Casualty Insurance company, WLAC originally operated only part-time and on a non-commercial basis. Beautifully equipped studios, as modern as the day, were constructed on the fifth floor of the insurance company building. Thousands of visitors, attracted by the novelty of the new medium, enjoyed the hospitality of the spacious, palm-shaded reception room.
Accepted from the start with a warm welcome from Nashville residents, WLAC expanded steadily. Known as the "South's Master Station," WLAC adopted the slogan "Health, Thrift, Entertainment, and Education." In 1928, the station affiliated with the Columbia Broadcasting System to become the CBS outlet for Nashville. WLAC remains a CBS affiliate to this day, some 67 years later.
Originally operating with 1,000 watts of AM power, WLAC increased to 5,000 watts in 1928. In March of 1942, WLAC became one of only sixty-four radio stations in America licensed to operate as a Class 1 "Clear Channel," with 50,000 watts of power. This enabled WLAC's programming to reach parts of five states in daylight hours. After dark, WLAC's massive "skywave" signal blanketed twenty-eight states and several foreign countries. Upon achieving clear channel status, the station's top of the hour identification announcement proudly proclaimed, "This is WLAC in Nashville, Tennessee, operating on 50,000 watts at 1510 kilocycles, authorized by the Federal Communications Commission of Washington, D.C."
Through the 1940's, WLAC faithfully cleared the full line-up of the CBS Radio Network. WLAC also produced programs, such as "The Old Dirt Dobber," which were distributed nationally by CBS. The station maintained its own full orchestra, including a Kilgen pipe organ installed right in the studio.
As the infant television industry began to eclipse network radio in the 1950's, WLAC began airing locally produced music programming, with such legendary on-air personalities as John R., Gene Nobles, and Bill "Hossman" Allen. Listeners all across America tuned in nightly to hear the latest rhythm and blues hits, along with ads selling Randy's Record Shop, Royal Crown Hair Dressing, and "live baby chicks."
After shifting to a "Top 40" rock and roll presentation in the 60's and 70's, WLAC adopted a news and talk format in 1980. That format remains today, as WLAC continues to serve Nashville and Middle Tennessee with fast, accurate news reporting and stimulating talk shows.
It's as true today as it was nearly 70 years ago: the station you depend on is News/Talk 1510 WLAC.