Since 1967, radio station WMCT 1390 AM has been serving Mountain City and Johnson County as a dedicated provider of community service and information. Founder Thomas Atkinson applied with the FCC for service that year and his legacy continues to grow and thrive to this day.
When Thomas passed away in 1969, his wife, Fran, took over operations, becoming one of the first women of the time to own a radio station. Fran was well known for her charity and generosity. For nearly 40 years she maintained operations at WMCT and during that time was responsible for the establishment of several community programs to help those in need, including opening the first battered women’s shelter and safe haven in the county. Fran loved her community and dedicated most of her adult life to the radio station.
Following her death in May of 2008, her daughter, Janice Russell, took over operations and began the process of updating and renovating. Dedicated to spreading the gospel as well as to serving the community, Russell, along with the friends and staff of WMCT, has initiated some changes to better serve the interests of all.
The first phase of this project was the installation of a new radio transmitter. Tim Neese with the Multi-Tech company of Swannanoah, NC was essential in installing the new technology, which provides better coverage and sound quality. WMCT now has one of the best sound qualities for such a station in the entire region.
The second phase of the project involved moving the actual facility to a new location. Formerly located along Church Street at the edge of town, WMCT was moved to downtown directly across from the Food County grocery store. The intent of the move was to give easier access and better quality programming to the station’s listeners, while at the same time establishing a facility with more opportunity for expansion.
One of the great benefits to the station’s new home is the creation of a recording studio. Known as Studio A, the facility is one of the most state-of –the-art operations available, and will provide a valuable asset to the station in being able to host live performance programs, while at the same time recording the tracks onto a variety of formats, including CDs, DVDs, or digital format. Nearing completion, Studio A will be a professional recording studio with a 32-track board and the capability to record 24 tracks simultaneously.
Along with the new facilities has came other changes, such as a change in affiliates from ABC to CBS and the inclusion of new programs such as Market Watch. New local programs have also been added such as a prayer meeting and Bible study program hosted by the First Baptist Church of Mountain City every Wednesday night. Intending to promote Christian fellowship and spirit, the segment has seen great success and an outpouring of prayer requests by those who may not be able to attend their regular church services due to the bad weather or medical issues.
In attempting to utilize more religious programs the station now also features live ministers, including pastor Billy Jones who voices a ten-minute program each morning Monday through Friday. According to Russell, WMCT firmly believes in family-oriented programming where parents don’t have to worry about what their children might hear.
Now employing eight people, Russell attributes the station’s success to its hardworking staff and contributors. Jim Gilley, who has been the voice of WMCT’s morning program off and on again over the last 30 years is now able to pursue other ventures as the station’s sales director, a position he enjoys and that gives him a much-needed break.
Taking over the programming director position is Ben Foy, who has been a Godsend for the station in helping them with their new technology and new location. Gilley still hosts the ever popular Swap Shop, which is now live and held each day from 11-11:30 a.m. Following that program is public affairs, which relates community events and concerns through information from the various county agencies such as the Sheriff’s Department.
For complete details please pick up your copy of The Tomahawk, available at local newsstands today!