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In the Summer of 1993, WSM Nashville had a distinctive sound that seemed to hit all the bases as far as formatics go. As a community-oriented station, WSM had a substantial news commitment; with good coverage of local news and NBC Network News covering national stories. In this respect, it was a full-service radio station. The personalities on-air approach was similar to that at many other former music AM stations of 10 years prior, with the jocks being real personalities and talking in-depth about the music and the community. Where WSM stood above the rest was that it did this format playing Country music.
In many respects, WSM in this period sounded very much like a CHR Country station, only softer. The jingle package was one on-air at WLS Chicago in the mid-1980s, sung for WSM (and they sound GREAT in context here!). The music was a gold-based Top 40 Country mix. While they didn’t simulcast, the FM side, WSM-FM “Nashville 95” was playing all the hot new country, so 650 WSM stuck mainly to its roots, and heavily promoted its Grand Ole Opry program.
This aircheck features Mike Terry (SiriusXM / Prime Country) on the Afternoon Drive show. Since I had to scope out the music for those pesky royalty police, you only get to hear enough of the songs to know what they are. Garth Brooks is in there (and where wasn’t he in the 1990s?) along with Travis Tritt and some old Classics. Then, just past the midway point of this recording, we get a full newscast. WSM local news and then NBC Network news at the top of the hour. Top story? Severe Thunderstorm warning after a spotter reported a funnel cloud. Well, yea. The Mid-South was used to tornadoes. WSM was broadcasting live from the Opry House, as it was FanFare week and the station always did a heavy amount of promotions with it.
This is where the geeky side of your founder comes out. From 1980 – 2000 (officially), WSM broadcast in C-Quam AM Stereo, although I know for a fact that it was still in stereo, at least some of the time, as late as 2005, as I had an AM stereo in my car and heard it driving through Nashville on I-40. This aircheck is in Stereo, although here, the stereo separation could have been a little better. Still, it sounds really good. There is just a bit of white noise on the signal, and that is to be expected on AM Stereo recordings, as in Stereo, a signal has to be very strong in order to *not* have that white noise. Its kinda like FM. Both bands in mono have a much cleaner sound when the signal isn’t city-grade strength. But again, the amount of noise is very light. The recording is in very good shape. The source tape had only one or two small dropouts on the right channel, but not enough to really be noticeable to the average listener.
For exhibition here, I performed a bit of light processing to bring the overall audio up a bit and slightly increase the treble response. Much as one would do on a respectable Delco car AM Stereo receiver.
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ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR
He lives with his wife, his son, and two cats in Shelton, Connecticut.