Written by Art Cooley, President & General Manager of WHKP
January 7, 2014 and updated on February 23, 2016.
WHKP RADIO - known as RADIO HENDERSONVILLE, INC. - was truly Hendersonville's 'first media company'.
WHKP was signed on the air on October 24th, 1946 as Hendersonville's FIRST radio station, by a group of local business principles ... assigned a radio 'dial frequency' of 1450 on the AM broadcast dial by the Federal Communication Commission in Washington, D.C., and immediately became recognized as 'Hendersonville's radio station'... continuing until the present day as the station celebrates its 70th year of broadcasting. As normal and usual in those days, every station's call-letters stood for something of importance, notably in their community of license. Thusly, WHKP stood for 'Where the Heavens Kiss the Peaks', promoting one of the most beautiful 'mountain plateau's' in the entire Blue Ridge Mountain Range, just above the South Carolina border.
Over the years, WHKP has featured all broadcast interests of the local area of Henderson County, from local news to sports to participation in community events.
In 1955 Radio Hendersonville signed on another western north carolina radio station with the call letters WWIT, on the AM radio dial at the 970 frequency, in Canton, N.C. a town about 30 miles west on the banks of the Pigeon River. The call letters were chosen to promote 'Where the Wheels of Industry Turn', highlighting the importance of Champion Paper Company in Canton which at that time employed some 3,500 workers. The company became involved in community affairs and operated the station successfully until the late fifties at which time it was sold to a local group of business people and where it continues to operate to this day.
Over the years, RADIO HENDERSONVILLE grew from these two 'start-ups' to include the highest-power FM station in the United States, humbly beginning with the call-letters, WHKP-FM with an initial power of 7,800 watts in 1957. This time-period was not conducive to selling advertising and it wasn't until FM that broadcasting was widely accepted by the public and WHKP-FM applied for a power increase and call-letter change. In the late seventies, the station was awarded 100,000 watts of power (the most power any FM station can receive) and the call letters were changed to WKIT-FM. That station's power was changed to 100,000 watts on petition to the FCC in the early 1980's and became one of the most powerful FM stations in all of North and South Carolina. RADIO HENDERSONVILLE sold the station in 1985 and is now known as MY 102 in Greenville, S.C.
*** In November of 2014, WHKP was once again granted an FM frequency. This time through what the FCC calls a TRANSLATOR. This translator signed on the air in the summer of 2015 at the dial position of 107.7 FM. All programming on the FM band is the same as broadcast on the AM band, as mandated by the FCC. Our company is happy to once again heard on the FM dial.
In 1960, Radio Hendersonville embarked upon the installation of some fifteen (15) Junior-Size (6'x12') Outdoor Billboard frames in the Hendersonville, NC area which were leased to a Congressional Candidate from Waynesville by the name of Heinz Rollman. By the time UNITED SIGNS sold their entire operation to Summey Sign Company in 1985, they had amassed a total of 235 of these Junior Panel Outdoor Billboards and 32 of the large uni-pole billboard giants on I-26 in Hendersonville.
During the same time period as the outdoor billboard business was booming, Radio Hendesonville, Inc. purchased two local custom sign manufacturing companies – Warlick Signs and Ledbetter Signs., which manufactured business signs for hundreds of businesses around town and also painted many of the sign-faces for the outdoor billboard company., and operated under the name of United Signs until the sale of the company in 1985.
In 1990, Radio Hendersonville, Inc. purchased two area AM radio stations and formed a three-station network and appropriately named it – TRIMULCASTING - a new name in the radio industry. What was heard in Hendersonville on WHKP was also heard in Brevard on WPNF and in Tryon on WTYN. This operation continued until the mid-90's and the Brevard station was sold to a WHKP employee and the Tryon station was sold to a religious broadcaster.
In the mid-nineties after the Brevard and Tryon stations were sold, the operators continued to make WHKP the 'heritage' broadcast station not only in Hendersonville, but throughout the mountains with broadcast innovations including the internet and LED outdoor sign products at their company headquarters on Four Season Boulevard in Hendersonville. Today this location features the latest Time-O-Matic LED technology on a 17 x 22 Foot two-sided Electronic Message Center. Promotion for the station is featured on this unit, as well as advertising messages for businesses throughout our area.
WHKP now reaches THOUSANDS of LISTENERS daily – not only from our studios and radio tower on Four Seasons Boulevard and Signal Hill Road in Hendersonville, as well as our FM antenna on the Morris Broadband Tower off Highway 191 but also through the world-wide internet at our web site – www.whkp.com . As modern technology continues to surface, WHKP hopes to always 'be there' utilizing the latest discoveries and advances in communications ....in order to 'reach the people' of the little home town in which WHKP RADIO was founded, way back in 1946....and which since that time has grown to be the 19th largest retail sales market in the 100 counties in the state of North Carolina.