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WROY Radio Turns 70, Old Enough to Retire; Has No Plans To

Happy Birthday to us!  WROY 92.1 fm and AM 1460 is officially 7 decades old.  WROY AM 1460 first signed on the air with 1,000 watts December 13th, 1948.  The studios were located at the southeast corner of Main and Walnut in downtown Carmi.  WROY was named for Roy Clippinger, the original President of Carmi Broadcasting Company.

Roy Clippinger

The first recorded minutes of the Carmi Broadcasting Company were October 22, 1947 and the first annual stockholders meeting held on December 15th of the same year.  Owners were listed as:  Herbert G. Bayley, Herman Becker, Earl Clippinger, Roy Clippinger, Donald Downen, J.G. Endicott, Ivan A. Elliott, Thomas L. Land, Jennings F. Marlin, Ivan McCallister, Ross Norman, J.M. Pomeroy, John E. Puckett, Ralph F. Ragsdale, Ernest Roser, J. Robert Smith, and Walter L. Veatch.

In 1951, WROY-FM (now WRUL) was added to the broadcast operation.  In 1955, the stations moved into new studios at the tower site on Route 14, a mile west of town.  Pre-sunrise operation with 500 watts began in 1967 on WROY.  In 1968, the studios were then moved into the refurbished facilities of The National Bank at the corner of Main and Church Streets (where they remain) in downtown Carmi.

The initial slogan of WROY was “the neighborly voice of the Tri-State”.  The first ever rate card was by words, not time necessarily, and was for 35 words.  To buy 30 of those “time signals”, the cost was $1.50 per pack, $1.40 each for 180, and $1.25 each for 360 or more.

From a news report on August 12th, 1948, we know that the directors empowered Clippinger to proceed with the purchase of the transmitter and tower site.  Original broadcasting equipment was purchased from Collins Radio Company out of Cedar Rapids, Iowa and the architect of the transmitter/tower was Walter Scott Robers of Owensboro, Kentucky.  By then, there were additional stockholders in the $50,000 company, which included: Clarence Rice, Fred J. Reinwald, Homer Lee, Jesse Schoemann, Ross Norman, H.C. White, Ralph Ragsdale, Paul Mallette, Ronald E. Graham, A.J. Brandt, C.F. Rebstock, Dr. A.E. Stocke, Herman Becker, S.V. Bayley, Earl Clippinger, Franklin Leathers, and Sam A. Gilpin.

It is written (3 years after WROY’s initial broadcast on December 13th, 1948) by John F. Miller, who was Roy Clippinger’s secretary as a U.S. Representative, that it was his idea to name the station after his boss.  An Idaho attorney, Miller also served as secretary to his brother, U.S. Senator Bert Miller and practiced before the Supreme Court of the United States.  He writes:

“In the days when a radio station was but an idea in the minds of some of the citizens of Carmi, one of which was Roy Cliipinger, then Congressman for the 24th District of Illinois, I was serving as his congressional secretary.  Inasmuch as a permit for a radio station must be granted by the Federal Communications Commission, Washington D.C., it was only natural that the petition for such permit was sponsored through the office of the Congressman and he instructed me to look after the details in Washington related to the project.

Miller and Schroeder, specialists in radio law, were retained to handle the legal side of the case.  Mr. Neville Miller, senior member of the firm, once mayor of Lousiville, Kentucky, and prominent in judicial and political circles of the state, took personal charge of the legal matters.  Much of the success in securing the permit is due Mr. Miller, and incidentally, he is not related to the writer.

Mr. Lynn C. Smeby, Consulting Radio Engineer, Washington D.C., was employed as engineer and technical advisor.  The first request was for a “round the clock” station of 1,000 watt caliber.  Then came the problem of finding a frequency that would not interfere with other stations and here a real difficulty developed.  The engineer reported that if the power were reduced it might be possible to secure the round the clock station, but it seemed impossible to secure such a station with the power indicated.  Mr. Clippinger insisted on a station of sufficient power to really produce.  An effort was made to solve the problem by erecting  three, four or even five control towers but even then interference was apparent from stations in Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and other neighboring states.

In connection with this phase of the promotion of the station, Mr. Thomas S. Land made visits to Washington in an effort to help find a channel through which the new station could enjoy a clear field.  He was a worthy assistant to the Congressman.  Eventually a solution was offered by accepting an AM station of 1000 watts that would go off the air at sundown and from that time forward resort to an FM facility.  This solution was finally adopted and from all reports it has met requirements satisfactorily as station WROY is functioning admirably.

Mr. Clippinger was not only the moving force in securing the permit for the station but he was likewise the leader in formulating and executing the plans for organizing the corporation, financing and undertaking and naming the directors to carry on the functions of the station.

When plans had developed to a point that the station was assured, the Congressman called me by telephone and directed me to secure appropriate “call letters” for identifying the station.  He gave no indication as to what letters he desired, in fact, I am sure that he had no letters in mind.  After giving the matter considerable study it struck me that there would be no better way of recognizing his efforts in making the station a reality as to name it after hi first name as the call letters.

All station east of the Mississippi River are required by law to use “W” as the first call letter.  West of the River “K” is the initial letter required.  Thus I made application for the letters “WROY” as the official identification letters.  The Federal Communications Commissioner advised, by telephone, that the application could not be granted because those letters had been previously assigned to another station.  When I told him I was greatly disappointed, he asked the reason, so it gave me a good opportunity to explain.  He though the idea a good one and said he would do what he could to help adjust matters.  Later the same day he called again to say that the letters desired were held by a forest service line in the State of Connecticut, that the line was used infrequently, and that I might persuade the Chief Forester of Connecticut to relinquish those letters and replace them with others.

Pursuant to the Commissioner’s suggestion, I called the Chief Forester of Connecticut by telephone and laid my proposition before him.  He was very sympathetic, thereto, but informed me that any relinquishment would have to be authorized by the Governor of the State.  Having gone that far there was no place to turn around, so I called Governor James L. McConaughy, at Hartford and acquainted him with my problem.  Governor McConaughy was most cooperative.  He told me to write him a letter outlining what was wanted and upon its receipt he would see what could be done.  He thought it a splendid way to honor the Congressman from Illinois and promised to do his best to make the request possible.

Before writing to the Governor, I talked with the Commissioner and informed him of the progress made.  At that time he assured me that he would make the necessary change in letters for the Connecticut station if the Governor would accept the letters the Commission could offer.  That information was included in my letter to Governor McConaughy.  Two days later I received a reply from the Governor with enclosure of copy of a letter he had written to the Commissioner in which he suggested a change in his station letters and advising that any letters available would be acceptable to him.

The next day the Commissioner called to say that the call letters for the new station in Carmi were W-R-O-Y.  Thsu the new station received its name in honor of the man most responsible for its establishment, Roy Clippinger.”

Many of the individuals who have played a part in WROY Radio over the years

In more recent years, WROY has gone through modernization in its delivery to consumers.  Aside from upgrading to computer software from reel to reel, carts, cassettes and CDs, WROY is now also available to listeners through the technology of an FM translator.  The technology basically allows WROY’s signal to be heard on the fm band at 92.1 fm.  This is most helpful in the evening hours when WROY powers down to 85 watts keeping the signal going strong, through FM, at all hours of the night and giving consumers coverage west to McLeansboro, east to Crossville, south to Gallatin County and north to Wayne County.

The strength of WROY Radio has always been in people.  70 years worth of individuals and their ideas, commitment, hard work and dedication to delivering content that matters to the communities we serve have come and gone.  Those that remain currently to this day are keeping Clippinger’s dream of serving the community alive.  Throughout the digital revolution we’re in, one thing remains true: we’re proud to be the voice of our community. We take the job seriously and respect our responsibility to keep consumers entertained and informed with music, news, sports and more.  While it may be our birthday, we thank you for the gift of listening.

– Jc Tinsley

General Manager


The Original Company