1927 - Charles Carrell was a pioneer theatrical and radio entrepreneur. He
owned a theatrical booking agency in Chicago and in New York. Once he heard his
first radio broadcast, he was hooked. He applied for and was granted licenses
for ten portable stations, and arranged their financing. WBBZ was not one of the
original group, but Carrell acquired it while it was located in Indianapolis.
The call letters, WBBZ, were derived from a slogan used to identify
Indianapolis—World's Busiest Business Zone. All stations in the U.S. at that
time began with letter "W".
For a time, WBBZ toured the country with the Redpath Chautauqua circuit,
presenting programs of professional talent. Frequently, local talent was
highlighted along with the professional groups.
Harry Kyler managed one of the original ten stations for Carrell, WIBW in
From Indianapolis, he took WBBZ to the Broadview Hotel in Wichita. Then, in
1927, Kyler brought the station to Ponca City for a week long test run at the
Poncan Theatre. Kyler, impressed by Ponca City, suggested to Carrell that a
station be located here permanently.
1928 - The Federal Communications Commission ruled that traveling radio stations
must choose a permanent location, so Carrell’s Management Company decided to
locate in Ponca City permanently. The first broadcast was at 7:00 p.m. on
January 30, 1928, and originated on the stage of the Poncan Theater.
The programming was local talent and records…sort of a vaudeville show. George
Warren, vocal soloist, did most of the heavy work. In fact, he was forced to
pull off his necktie as the program continued and requests kept coming in. Of
course, listeners didn't realize he had removed his tie.
Vera Byerhoff played several organ numbers and then Harry Kyler, the station's
first manager, suggested that Bennie Butler might play the piano. The station
signed off at exactly 13 minutes till 1:00 o'clock a.m.
From time to time, the station would stop the live broadcasts so listeners could
hear national broadcasts.
1930 - WBBZ moved their studio to the Majestic Theater, 315 E. Grand. The
transmitter and tower were relocated to 407 W. South Ave. at the American Legion
Hut. Morton Harvey was the General Manager.
Starting in the 1930-31 school year, WBBZ broadcast the weekly football games at
Northern Oklahoma Junior College - NOJC.
1931 - Station Manager Morton Harvey and his wife, Betty, had a live program,
"Old Rolling Stone and Aunt Betty," that consisted of spur-of-the-moment humor
and old fashioned "Sing-along’s."
1933 - Station owner Charles Carrell died. His widow, Adelaide Carrell, became
managing director and owner.
1934 - One of the most popular entertainment groups on WBBZ was Delia's Range
Ramblers. Early members were Delia Daniels, Jerry Daniels, and Arkansas Wilbur
(that is the only name anyone ever knew) and Leon Eberhard. One of the early day
members was Al Duroy.
1937 - WBBZ joined the Mutual Broadcasting System, the largest national radio
network. They aired a variety of news reports and entertainment while continuing
with local and state news. Sports, both as news and as entertainment, had a big
place in the programming, and continued to expand.
1945 - Gene Marshall, the station's 1st class engineer who was also a ham
operator, returned from service in World War II.
1947 – The Ponca City Publishing Co. began negotiations with Adelaide Carrell to
purchase the station.
1948 - On September 1, Mrs. Adelaide Carrell, owner and managing director of
WBBZ, announced the sale of the stations and its facilities to the Ponca City
Publishing Company, subject to approval of the transfer by the Federal
In August, Ponca City Publishing filed with the FCC to purchase the station;
their new ownership was approved in September.
Don Putnam returned to his hometown of Ponca City from Great Falls, Montana. He
became the early morning DJ...calling himself the "getter-upper." Don was also
licensed by the FCC as a 1st class engineer.
1949 - The Oklahoma State Symphony under the direction of Victor Alessandro
began broadcasting every Wednesday from 9:30 to 10:00 p.m. The series of 20
programs featured lighter classical music. A program was dedicated to a
different town in Oklahoma each week. The first program included the musical
"Oklahoma" in honor of the state of Oklahoma and Ardmore. Gov. Roy J. Turner
made the intermission speech.
Paul Buenning, general manager, announced that several new sports broadcasts
were being added to the programming, particularly for football fans. "Football
Scoreboard" was a 15-minute summary of gridiron scores at 5:30 on Saturday, with
announcer Stub Bonnewell.
Sportscaster Bill Platt presented a predictions and comments show at 7:00 p.m.
on Fridays. Platt had an outstanding record of accuracy in his predictions. The
station already was broadcasting Ponca City Wildcat and OU football games.
WBBZ got its first Magnecorder in 1949, less than a year after tape recording
began on a large scale commercially. The station was also affiliated with
WBBZ coined a new slogan - The Voice of North Central Oklahoma...1230 on your
1950 - The 1950 census reported that 97.9% of homes in Ponca City have radios.
A new general manager joined the station...Cy Casper. He came from KTOK and WKY
in Oklahoma City. Casper started his radio career as a Sportscaster.
Monday through Saturday, at 5:15 p.m., Ponca City students sang on the radio
Don Putnam, of the Putt and Jiggs morning show, started a two week contest,
challenging listeners to guess his weight. Judges were Herman "Smitty" Smith,
Edwyn Suggs, M/Sgt James J. Vessels, Jay Paris, Lawrence Northcutt, and Homer
Three lucky contestants came closest to the correct amount ~ Nancy Lee Skillman
was 1st and won a table model radio; Jack Snider was second winning an automatic
toaster, and John Youngblood came in third and got a casting rod. There were
also five consolation winners. More than 1,000 entries were received with
entries coming from as far away as Guthrie, Manchester, Stillwater, Winfield,
and Oxford, Kansas.
1952 - On May 25, in the dark of night, the station moved its studios from 615
W. Grand to its new location at the east end of East Oklahoma Avenue. They went
off the air earlier than usual so that engineering personnel could move the
transmitter and other equipment to their new home. A completely new tower and
ground system would now extend WBBZ's signal further into Osage County and
Station engineers buried more than ten miles of wire in the
four-acre ground system surrounding the new tower.
The new modernistic buff brick building housed two studios, business offices,
and a new broadcast console for the announcers and the broadcast transmission
equipment on the ground floor. A full basement in the hillside overlooking the
Arkansas River bottomland provided storage and a complete engineering workshop.
Oklahoma A&M College was added to the football game broadcasts. Glenn Paris &
Sons entered their 13th year of sponsoring broadcasts of the Wildcats games over
WBBZ. Other sports sponsors were Red Stimson Paint & Wallpaper, Conner Sheet
Metal & Roofing; Albright Title & Trust, Boggess Lumber, and Broaddus-Goff
1953 - On February 1, WBBZ celebrated its 25th Anniversary by inviting the
public to visit the new building. Staff members welcomed more than 5,000
visitors to the open house.
Employees included Manager Cy Casper, Sports Announcer Bill Platt, Early morning
announcer Don Putnam (Putt), Top Salesman Bill Beck, Program Director Bill
Maugans, Maureen McBride, director of Women's programs; Announcers Bob Dale and
Stan Weinberg; Mary Stuever, secretary; Chief Engineer Carroll Blewster, and his
staff- Gene Marshall, Joe Overall, Norman Glover, and R.A. (Shorty) Goddard.
Also among the hosts were Clyde E. Muchmore, Gareth and Allan Muchmore, partners
in Ponca City Publishing and owners of WBBZ.
1954 - A new tornado warning system was established by a committee of Civil
Defense workers in cooperation with the CAA weather station, police and fire
departments and WBBZ Radio. The warning was to be one long blast of the fire
station siren and several short ones to signal the all clear. Fifteen qualified
tornado observers were appointed. The system was first activated in June from
the basement at WBBZ, and was used four times that month.
1955 - On May 25, a tornado at Blackwell destroyed the northeast part of town,
leaving 70 reported dead and more than 500 injured. WBBZ was the site for the
local tornado warning center. The station stayed on the air to keep listeners
informed of damage and casualties, and to warn citizens of any dangers.
On May 27, two days later, the new sirens in Ponca City were set off for the
first time, due to a tornado alert. The alert lasted more than ten hours.
In June, President Eisenhower declared Kay County a disaster area, and granted
$125,000 for tornado damage. Directors of city civil defense reappraised the
tornado warning system and determined that, in the future, sirens and whistles
would be blown intermittently instead of continually, and the all-clear signal
would be three short blasts repeated at intervals.
Shortly thereafter, Bill Maugans received word that Ponca City would receive a $50,000 radar storm
1956 - The station observed the first anniversary of the Blackwell tornado with
a special broadcast. Several families whose homes were destroyed were
interviewed on the air.
Forrest Coffelt, Blackwell police chief, explained the new disaster plan for
Blackwell and the storm warning system that had been installed. Over 1000
volunteers were involved in the disaster planning.
For four hours daily in late summer, the station broadcast the Democrat and
Republican political conventions via Mutual Broadcasting.
1957 - The Ponca City Federated Music Club observed National Music Club Week and
presented a series of broadcasts over WBBZ Radio.
Emergency Warning and Weather Bureau agents from Washington, D.C. visited Ponca
City's Civil Defense Tornado Warning Center, located in the basement of WBBZ
The dignitaries felt that the local center could serve as a pilot station for
similar severe warning systems throughout the country.
The station began a new series of daily farm programs.
In May, Leo Morris was named manager of WBBZ.
In November, disc jockey Mac Starkey banned Elvis Presley on his "Homework" show
on WBBZ, but still made a hit with the youth of Ponca City.
1958 - WBBZ joined more than 50 other radio stations across the state in Traffic
Watch," a concentrated effort to promote deathless weekends on Oklahoma
The city purchased a 400-horsepower diesel generator to be used on a stand-by
basis in case of disaster such as tornado, bombing or raging fire.
Daily broadcasts of the St. Louis Cardinals games began.
1960 - As the only Conelrad station in north central Oklahoma, WBBZ furnished
area residents with Civil Defense information for 30 minutes when all other
local AM and FM radio stations and television stations were off the air.
Four hour-long debates between presidential candidates Nixon and Kennedy were
broadcast in September and October. The program was a combination debate and
news panel question-and-answer session, with veteran CBS reporter Howard K.
Smith as moderator.
1961 - An anonymous phone call to the station resulted in the recovery of 120
sticks of dynamite.
The badly decomposed explosives were pulled from rock crevices near a quarry
about a mile from Uncas. The dynamite was believed to have been stolen about a
A jazz music program became a regular weekly feature each Thursday night, hosted
by Tom Soulsby. The first program included random jazz selections with brief
sketches of each performer. Future programs promised the history of jazz, an
explanation of the change in tempo and styles of artists. Some programs featured
specific artists, such as Louis Armstrong, Stan Kenton, Duke Ellington and Ella
Fitzgerald. Soulsby had a fairly extensive personal collection of jazz albums,
which he shared with the listening audience.
1963 - Mrs. Adelaide Carrell, former owner and manager, died. She was the widow
of Charles Carrell, original owner of the radio station. At his death in 1933,
Adelaide had taken over management of the station, and had sold it in 1949 to
the Ponca City Publishing Co.
On November 11, friends and business associates surprised Don Putnam with brief
speeches, band music, and a new suit as an expression of appreciation for "long
and faithful" service to Ponca Citians as the station's early morning man for
the last 15 years.
1965 - In honor of National Music Week, special musical programs featuring local
musicians were broadcast each evening. Presentations included the Ann Yeary
Memorial Handbell Choir, directed by Mrs. Alien Robson; Boys Choir of First
Methodist Church, directed by Mrs. James Billings and featuring Travis Gordy on
the autoharp; Ponca City High School orchestra, directed by A. H. Long, and
Po-Hi choral groups, directed by Leslie Rardin.
Other presenters were Schubert Music Club, the elementary sixth grade chorus
directed by Mrs. Harold Cogman, cellist Mrs. William Martin, soprano Jane
Parker, Mary and Carol Crowder, pianists, and a duo-piano number by Mrs. Kaye
Motz and Mrs. Richard Anderson.
In November, the theme for American Education Week was "Invest in Learning."
WBBZ invited several people to go on the air each evening at 6:15 that week.
Allen Robson superintendent of schools, Arthur Young, minister at First
Presbyterian church, and Milford Lee, a member of the Board of Education each
brought a special message. Seven Social Studies students from West had a
discussion on the radio about Developing Good Citizenship. Carl Flippin, Po-Hi
Social Studies Instructor, moderated a panel of Ponca City citizens, who were
originally from London, India, Chile, Japan, as well as the United States. They
discussed How to Deepen International Understanding.
1968 - At 6:45 p.m., a special broadcast aired, commemorating 40 years of being
on the air. The 15 minute special program featured historic records of
significant news events of the early days. Bill Maugans, station manager,
commented that "the quality was not so good, but then, there was not the quality
of equipment then." Included in some of the recordings was the first "on the
spot" news, which originated over KDKA in Pittsburgh. Will Rogers told what
Oklahomans thought of Republicans in those days.
There was a replay of the long count on the Dempsey-Tunney fight with Graham
McNamee as the announcer. Bing Crosby, and Amos and Andy also aired.
Mayor C. D. Hull greeted the radio audience, as had Mayor H. C. Mulroy in 1928.
1971 - For six days, the station featured a 15-minute program twice daily
concerning drugs and drug abuse, aired at 10:15 a.m. and again at 6:45 p.m. A
recording left by a 19-year old youth, taped just before his suicide while under
the influence of LSD, was the opening program for the series.
The rest of the series was taped discussions with local citizens concerning the
local drug problem. Station manager Bill Maugans, interviewed Rev. Bill Gandy,
Bi-State Mental Health Clinic; Dr. Joan Leavitt, director, Kay County Health
Dept; Detective Marion Van Hoesen, Ponca City Police Department; Kent Phipps,
attorney; Judge David Garrison, Ponca City Municipal Court; and Fred Boettcher,
State House of Representatives.
1972 - Nov. 16, Oklahoma Statehood Day, the station aired a taped program
concerning local history, recorded by Gareth Muchmore, editor of the Ponca City
News. In conjunction with the statewide observance of Oklahoma Heritage Week,
WBBZ played the complete recording of the Broadway show, "Oklahoma."
1978 - The station expanded its sports coverage of the Po-Hi athletic program.
The Sports Voice of Northern Oklahoma carried the entire Wildcat football
season. Steve Hill did play-by-play and Jim Waddelow did the color commentary.
Later in the fall, Po-Hi boys and girls basketball games were broadcast. As a
bonus, WBBZ carried ten wrestling matches. The station continued their
commitment to sports with OSU sports, Cardinal baseball and several auto races.
1979 - Gov. George Nigh presented the "Radio of the Year Award" to Tom Muchmore,
news director. The award was part of the Governor's Committee on Employment of
Handicapped, and the station was honored for its outstanding support of all
programs involving the handicapped.
1980 - Steve Lamb joined WBBZ as sports director. He had been sports director at
KGOU, the FM station at University of Oklahoma as well as an associate producer
for KWTV - Channel 9 sports.
1981 - Jim Waddelow was named sales manager for the radio station. He had been a
sales representative for WBBZ since 1977.
1984 - Phil Turney joined WBBZ as Sports Director and DJ.
1987 - 1987 was the 60th Anniversary of WBBZ Radio. Allan Muchmore was the
owner, Tom Muchmore was Business Manager and licensed first class engineer, and
Don Putnam was General Manager.
Don Putnam retired after 40 years of service. He had started his career as
morning announcer and engineer.
Kathy Adams was hired as the new general manager. She came from Wichita, Kansas
where she had owned an advertising agency, and had worked in radio sales.
Jean Barnes was News Director, Phil Turney, Sports Director, and Cris
Klinger was the morning DJ and Chief Engineer. Other announcers were Jim Morgan,
Mike Butt, and Darren Hadley. Dave May was a new announcer who also wrote the
copy for commercials,
Jim Waddelow and Nala Watkins were the sales people who sold all the
commercials, and Kelli Stewart was secretary and receptionist.
1990 - Phil Turney was promoted to news and sports director. He had been the
sports director since 1984. Having worked at WBBZ for six years, he was able to
step in and take over the reins of the news department. He was already
acquainted with the city and county officials and understood the importance of
constant contact with these people.
1992 - WBBZ broadcast continued its live coverage of the Indianapolis 500 in
May. Conoco was the official lubricant and fuel sponsor of the Budweiser True
Sports racing team, headed by champion driver Scott Pruett, who was at the wheel
of car No. 10.
Pioneer Rotary Club broadcast their annual Charity Auction in May.
1993 – The Poncan Theatre hosted a community telethon as a fund raiser, and
involved many city organizations and talent. On February 13, from 10:00 a.m. to
10:00 p.m., the telethon was broadcast on Channel 2, Post Newsweek Cable, and
simulcast on WBBZ, who also hosted the first two hours of the program. Jerry
Webber, Channel 2 TV newsman, former Ponca Citian and WBBZ announcer, was the
master of ceremonies. Other emcees throughout the day were Mark Jordan, Sam
Murray, Phil Bandy, and Foster Johnson.
WBBZ employees commemorated the station's first broadcast in 1927 from the
Poncan Theatre stage. Dave May and Joe Anderson were emcees for the morning
events. KPNC, KLOR, and KIXR radio stations also participated.
The First Christian Church choir was first on the program, followed by the
library Children's Story, an Old Fashioned Radio Show featuring WBBZ employees,
ventriloquists, woodwind ensemble, puppeteer, and a drill team. The Chamber of
Commerce presented a tourism video at noon. That afternoon included the Zen
Okies acoustic band; St. John's Baptist Church choir, a video of the Po-Hi
Highsteppers, Ponca Tribal dancing, Les Gilliam, and the high school speech
department presenting a reenactment of the Lincoln/Douglas debates. Spectators
and viewers at home also heard Cynthia Crowe, country singer, followed by Lyda
Maze clog dancing. Po Hi string quartet and also the Civic Orchestra Brass
Ensemble performed. The Sweet Adelines, Ponca Playhouse with a tap dance number
from "Nunsense, and square dancers wrapped up the afternoon. The River Rats Jazz
and Comedy Concert took to the stage that evening.
Listeners in the community called in pledges on the air. Many people came to the
theatre and enjoyed the acts in person, and made pledges. The telethon raised
Conoco announced a grant of $150,000 to the Poncan restoration fund drive. The
theater also received a $150,000 grant from the Mabee Foundation in Tulsa, which
the Poncan matched with incoming pledges and "in kind" volunteer labor.
The Oklahoma Assn. of Broadcasters presented three prestigious awards to the
station at their annual banquet. Phil Turney, news and sports director was
honored for Outstanding Newscast Production manager Dave May and general manager
Kathy Adams accepted awards for best radio station image promotion and best
public service announcement.
The station image promotion was in recognition of WBBZ's 65th anniversary
celebration that included special announcements by dignitaries, national radio
personalities, and past WBBZ announcers. May and Adams had also produced the
program "Then and Now," that highlighted the past 65 years of Ponca City and the
The best PSA award was for the Angel Tree promotion that aired during the
holidays. It featured the talent of Audie Walker, a local 7-year-old, and
promoted the Salvation Army's program to buy gifts for the needy. WBBZ received
the most awards of any small market station in the state.
1996 - Phil Turney, News and Sports Director, was promoted to Station Manager,
plus he kept all his current duties. Turney had graduated from OSU in 1981 with
a degree in broadcast journalism, and had joined WBBZ in 1984.
1999 - More than 50 local merchants set up their displays at the Hutchins
Memorial Auditorium for the Annual Northern Oklahoma Spring Home and Garden
Expo. This was the sixth expo for WBBZ, and this year, was co-sponsored with the
Ponca City News. A feature of the expo was a 4' x 4' reproduction of the
"American Gothic" painting, made of thousands of Jelly Belly candies. From lawn
care and gardening to finance and the internet, almost every aspect of home
products and services were featured. More than $1500 in door prizes were
awarded, and the grand prize was an 8-x-io Cavett portable building.
2000 - Phil Turney and Horst Kannenwischer of First Lutheran School coached a
Benefit Celebrity/Alumni Basketball game at First Lutheran on Nov. 16. Half-time
activities included blindfolded free throws, a crawl for cash and half-court
shots for prizes. A chili supper was held prior to the game. Admission was $2
plus a canned good. Proceeds from the supper and the game went to needy