60th Anniversary: Radio’s WBIP earns its ‘old media’ title

By M. Scott Morris / NEMS Daily Journal

BOONEVILLE – In these days of digital revolution, radio station WBIP in Booneville already fits the definition of “old media.” And if you judge such things by a calendar, rather than the latest Internet sensation, the station still earns the “old” title.
On Sept. 1, 1950, WBIP started operation. The staff is preparing for a 60th anniversary celebration from 2 to 6 p.m. Sept. 1, and everyone’s invited, especially people who’ve worked in the two-story studio over the years.
“It started out reel-to-reel. Everything was reel-to-reel then,” said Debbie Williams, office manger. “It went from reel-to-reel to vinyl to cassette to CD.”
The station on the south side of Booneville still uses CDs, as well as a computer hard drive plus downloads from a satellite, so WBIP is part of that digital revolution.
But it’s not what you might call “all in.”
“We still have a turntable and we still use it,” said Marty Williams, station manager and DJ. “It hung up in a groove one day. I went on the air and said, ‘Folks, you heard it here, and you probably haven’t heard it in a long time. That was a wax record hung up.’”
Mixing it up
When it started, WBIP did block programming, playing big band, gospel, rock ‘n’ roll, country and more, depending on the hour of the day.
Over the years, it’s been a rock station and a sports station. You’ll still find Prentiss County football, baseball and basketball games on the air.
Back in 1955, Elvis Presley stopped by. The station has hosted Marty Stuart, Kitty Wells, Vern Gosdin, Gerald Smith, Jerry “The King” Lawler and others.
If you’re in range, you’ll find WBIP at 1400 on the AM dial, or visit www.wbipam1400.com. Mostly, you’ll hear classic country music, but there are blocks of gospel music.
On Thursday afternoons, D.E. Wilson goes on air to talk politics, philosophy and whatever else is on his mind. “When you’re doing it live, I don’t think there is a bigger rush than getting on a radio and knowing people are listening and being able to say what you want to say,” Wilson said. “Of course, nothing that would get us in trouble with the FCC.”
Contact M. Scott Morris at (662) 678-1589 or
scott.morris@djournal.com.