A little history was made in St Augustine this morning, and Historic City News editor Michael Gold was there to help our broadcast news partner, WFOY News Radio, celebrate a few moments of nostalgia.
After 75-years-service to St Augustine residents, the voice of St Augustine at 1240 AM launched its new space at 102.3 FM, where it will be known as “The voice of St Johns County” and on the Internet at 1023newsradio.com.
“I’ve owned WFOY for seven years now, and I want to thank each of you,” said Phillips Broadcasting President Kris Phillips, choking back tears. “We came to St Augustine under difficult circumstances; and, the community opened its arms, and allowed me to raise my kids, and share the wonderful new beginning that we are celebrating today.”
Phillips played a recorded introduction before the ceremonial ribbon cutting; reminding the crowd of a few AM broadcast moments that happened in St Augustine that some of them were too young to remember — like Billy Graham broadcasting his sermons on 1240 AM, and Ray Charles performing live when the studios were in the shadow of the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, where he was a student.
Phillips is proud of what she has built; crediting much of her success to many prayers and the support of her children, who attended, and, her parents, who were listening to the launch party live over the Internet at their home in Chicago.
Pete Melfi manned the board, broadcasting the events as they happened to the WFOY audience; as well as the audience of their sister station, WAOC, 1420 AM. Phillips joined her son and daughter and their dog, the station mascot, in “throwing the switch” symbolizing the new simulcast of WFOY AM programing — over the FM band. Station Manager, Matt Kraycinovich, was on hand to greet those attending, and assist with the broadcast.
WFOY and WAOC were purchased by Phillips Broadcasting from Shull Broadcasting. Former station owner, Doug Shull, returned to the Fountain of Youth grounds for today’s celebration; held only feet away from the site of the original WFOY studios on Radio Road.
Also attending, John Fraser, whose grandfather, Senator Walter B. Fraser, is credited with getting WFOY off the ground — a convenient next-door location to promote his Fountain of Youth attraction, which the family still operates.
The radio tower used to be at the end of a dock that extended into the saltmarshes bordering the historic tabby building. Today, WFOY is broadcast from the tallest tower in St Johns County, located at the original WAOC studio at 567 Lewis Point Road Extension.
Ambassadors of the St Johns County Chamber of Commerce, including President Kirk Wendland, were on hand for the ribbon cutting. Congressman Ron DeSantis’ district office representative Roy Alaimo, County Commission Vice Chairman Bill McClure, Commissioners Cyndi Stevenson and Rachael Bennett, were among the crowd of about fifty in attendance.
Photo credits: © 2013 Historic City News staff photographer