Former frequencies 1922-1936: 740 (kHz)
City of license Atlanta
Branding News 95-5 and AM 750 WSB
|Facility ID 73977|
Frequency 750 kHz
Owner Cox Enterprises
|Broadcast area Atlanta metro area (day)
Southeast U.S. (night)|
Power 50,000 watts (day and night)
Callsign meaning "Welcome South, Brother" (popular meaning but call letters were randomly assigned)
Format Talk radio, All-news radio
Area Atlanta metropolitan area, Southeastern United States
Slogan Atlanta's news, weather, and traffic station: Depend On It!
WSB (750 AM) — branded News 95.5 and AM750, WSB — is a commercial radio station licensed to Atlanta, Georgia broadcasting a news/talk format. The station transmits with 50,000 watts of nondirectional power day and night, the highest power permitted for AM stations by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). WSB is a clear-channel Class A station, according to the North American Regional Broadcasting Agreement (NARBA), signed by the U.S., Canada and Mexico. This enables WSB to be heard across a wide coverage area during nighttime hours, sometimes extending across the East Coast and Midwestern United States.
It uses the slogan "Atlanta's news, weather, traffic, and Georgia Bulldogs station." The station is owned by, and is the AM flagship station for Cox Radio. WSB AM is the sister station to WSBB-FM 95.5, WSB-FM (B98.5FM), WALR-FM (Kiss 104.1), WSRV FM, (97-1 the River) and WSB-TV 2, all owned by Cox, which also owns the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper.
Although WSB is licensed to use the technology, it is not currently broadcasting in HD Radio. The digital radio system has apparently been turned off due to listener complaints of RF interference. WSB programming has been simulcast on sister station WSBB-FM 95.5 since August 2010, giving listeners the opportunity to hear the station either on FM or AM.
The station's studios and offices are located at the WSB Television and Radio Group building on West Peachtree Street in Midtown Atlanta, which is shared with its television and radio partners. The AM transmitter and radiating tower are located in Tucker, Georgia, seven miles northeast of Atlanta in the Northlake Tower Festival Shopping Center.
The call sign "WSB" carried an infamous history before it was assigned to a land-based broadcaster in Atlanta. In the early days of radio licensing, ship-to-shore radio operations were included in the call sign assignment system. The first licensee of the call sign "WSB" was the SS Francis H. Leggett. After sinking off the Oregon coast on September 18, 1914, taking a toll of all but two of the 62 lives aboard, the call sign "WSB" was reassigned to the Firewood, the name of which forms a grim coincidence with its fate: the ship burned off the coast of Peru on December 18, 1919, with 28 persons on board, all of whom were saved. Because superstitious seafarers objected to being issued a call sign previously used by a ship that suffered a bad fate, "tainted" calls like "WSB" were quietly issued to unsinkable land stations. Over time, station management would say the call letters stood for "Welcome South, Brother," but were randomly assigned once they were no longer used by a ship.
Originally on 740 kHz until the 1936 FCC bandplan, WSB was the fourth radio station in the South, behind the first AM station, WBT in Charlotte, North Carolina; WNOX in Knoxville, Tennessee; and WWL in New Orleans, Louisiana. Founded by the Atlanta Journal newspaper (once a competitor of the Atlanta Constitution, now merged), the station signed on the air on March 15, 1922, just a few days prior to Constitution-owned WGM AM 710 (eventually swapped to WGST AM 640). The station was only authorized to broadcast weather bulletins at first, receiving its full broadcast license later that year.
WSB smoothed the way for the radio spread of southern gospel music, through regular programming hosted by Charles Davis Tillman. The Shelby Star newspaper (November 1985 issue) wrote that the talented Dan Hornsby, after the national disaster crash of the stock market, found himself working no longer for Columbia Records but for radio stations like WGST, WATL, and WCON along with being the first wake-up DJ for WSB radio in Atlanta. Lambdin Kay, the first general manager, called Hornsby "90% of the local talent on WSB."
In February 1924, Lambdin Kay called Art Gillham "The Whispering Pianist" while performing on WSB, a name he used in billing on Columbia Records, radio and theatre. Gillham returned to WSB in 1937 for regular programs. In 1927, WSB became an NBC Radio Network affiliate. The trademark three-tone NBC chimes were first played in the WSB studios. In 1939, the Journal newspaper and WSB radio station were sold to James Middleton Cox, the founder of what would become Cox Enterprises.
Wright Bryan, a WSB news reporter as well as managing editor of the Atlanta Journal, was also a stringer for NBC during World War II. He was the first war correspondent to broadcast an eyewitness account of the D-Day invasion from London in the early hours of June 6, 1944.
Elmo Ellis, who programmed WSB in the 1950s and 1960s, is remembered as an innovator among Southern broadcasters. He provided the on-air editorials for the station, and in the 1960s, consistently supported civil rights.
From 1925 to 1956, WSB radio, along with sisters WSB-FM 104.5 (now 98.5) and WSB-TV 8 (later 2), operated out of the top floor of the Atlanta Biltmore Hotel in lower Midtown. Afterward, the WSB stations broadcast from a Colonial-style mansion specially built for broadcasting, informally known as White Columns, also located in midtown, where Peachtree Street crosses West Peachtree Street near Ansley Park. In 1998, all of the Cox Radio stations located in the Atlanta radio market, as well as WSB-TV, moved into "Digital White Columns" on the same property, the original one being demolished afterward.
WSB formerly broadcast in AM stereo using the Motorola C-QUAM system during the 1980s, a period when music could still be heard on the station. The on-air talent in this era included morning hosts Russ Spooner and Dick Hamby, playing "middle of the road" music, and Skip Caray presenting morning sportscasts. As WSB's format progressed to a full-time news/talk radio format by 1987, the AM stereo system was turned off.
On August 16, 2010, WSB programming began to be simulcast on then-WBTS 95.5 FM, replacing the former rhythmic CHR format "95.5 The Beat." On October 1, 2010, WBTS-FM changed its call letters to WSBB-FM. The extra "B" was added to the FM call letters because Cox already owns a station with the WSB-FM call sign on 98.5.
WSB AM has long served as the flagship radio station for the University of Georgia Bulldog Radio Network, carrying all Bulldogs football and basketball games. WSB has also served as the flagship station for Atlanta Braves Major League Baseball, Atlanta Falcons NFL Football, and Atlanta Hawks NBA basketball. WSB carried Braves baseball coverage from 1966, when the Braves moved from Milwaukee, until 1991. In 1992, the Atlanta Braves game coverage moved to rival WGST until 1994. In 1995, the Braves coverage returned to WSB, the year the Braves won their only Atlanta World Series title to date. That same year the Atlanta Hawks game coverage was also picked up by the station. From 1995 until 2004, WSB was branded as the "Sports Voice of the South", carrying play-by-play game coverage of Braves baseball, Hawks basketball, and UGA football and basketball.
WSB won a 1946 Special Citation of Honor Peabody Award for its program, "The Harbor We Seek."