|Broadcast area||Nashville, Tennessee|
|Branding||104.5 The Zone|
|Affiliations||Fox Sports Radio |
Tennessee Titans Radio Network
Tennessee Volunteers Vol Network
CBS Sports Radio (one-minute hourly updates)
|Owner||Cumulus Media |
(Radio License Holding CBC, LLC)
|WKDF, WQQK, WSM-FM, WWTN|
First air date
|December 1, 1960 (as WFMG)|
Former call signs
Call sign meaning
|Gallatin’s FoX (from its former incarnation as Classic rock 104.5 The Fox)|
|HAAT||368 meters (1,207 ft)|
WGFX is a radio station broadcasting on the FM band at 104.5 MHz licensed to the city of Gallatin, Tennessee, but serving the Nashville market as a whole. It is currently branded as 104.5 The Zone, broadcasting a sports format. It is owned by Cumulus Media and operates out of studios in Nashville's Music Row district. Its transmitter is located just north of downtown Nashville.
The station signed on as WFMG-FM on December 1, 1960 in Gallatin, Tennessee, about 30 miles (47 km) northeast of Nashville, with a big band format. In 1971, Sumner Country Broadcasting Co., which owned WHIN in Gallatin, purchased WFMG and changed call letters to WHIN-FM. During the early years of WHIN-FM, the format was easy listening. In 1974, the station switched to an all oldies format. In July 1978, WHIN-FM switched formats to contemporary hit radio (CHR). Just over one month later, the call letters were changed to WWKX using the moniker KX 104 FM.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the station was very popular and featured morning DJ Coyote McCloud. Its 100,000 watt signal broadcasting from "Music Mountain", one of the highest points on the northern Highland Rim north of Gallatin and the site of several broadcasting facilities, boomed far into the rural areas of northern Tennessee and southern Kentucky. By the mid-1980s, KX 104 was faced with competition from two new area CHRs, "96 Kiss" (WZKS, now WCJK) and "Y107" (WYHY, now WRVW). Additionally, McCloud defected to WYHY in 1985 to host its morning show. To try to differentiate itself, WWKX segued into a rock-leaning Top 40 format calling itself Rock Hits 104, Kicks FM. This move proved unfruitful, and the station returned to mainstream CHR a year later in 1986. Faced with the success of Y107, this would not last.
In the summer of 1987, WWKX moved its tower from Music Mountain into Nashville and downgraded power, noticeably affecting signal strength in rural areas north of the city. The call letters changed to WGFX on August 13, 1987 and the moniker became 104.5 The Fox with a classic rock format.
In the late 1980s, Dick Broadcasting Company (DBC) took over operations of the station through a local marketing agreement, and paired it with its popular rock and roll station WKDF to form "Nashville's Rock Network". In the early 1990s, the station became known as "Arrow 104.5" (with Arrow originally standing for "All Rock n' Roll Oldies"). This format was somewhat successful and endured until the late 1990s.
The station was purchased outright by Dick Broadcasting Company following the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which, in part, loosened broadcast ownership rules.
Shortly after the acquisition, Dick Broadcasting entered into an agreement with SFX Broadcasting, the then-owner of WLAC-FM, to trade the intellectual property of the stations. The trade, to have taken place February 2, 1998, would have moved WLAC-FM's adult contemporary format to 104.5 FM, and moved WGFX's classic rock format to 105.9 under SFX ownership. However, when the agreement fell apart, SFX converted WLAC-FM to a classic rock format of its own, changed the call letters to WNRQ, and began to compete directly with WGFX.
Responding to the early ratings success of WNRQ, WGFX reformatted to rhythmic oldies as "Jammin' Oldies 104.5", on December 11, 1998, but quickly changed its name to "Groovin' Hits 104.5" after a brief trademark dispute.
In early 1999, WGFX was slated to convert to a country music outlet built around local air personality Carl P. Mayfield. Dick Broadcasting purchased advertising in other media promoting Mayfield's impending debut on 104.5 WGFX. However, the company ultimately succumbed to Mayfield's repeated demands that the format be installed on the stronger-signalled WKDF, leaving WGFX to continue broadcasting rhythmic oldies.
In January 2000, the station reverted to a classic hits format, focusing mainly on 1970s music. First known as simply "The New 104 — That '70s Station", it became "The New 104 — The Core" a few months later, and was positioned as a lighter alternative to WNRQ.
Citadel Broadcasting purchased the station (along with all of DBC's assets outside the Greenville, South Carolina market) in September 2000.
In the summer of 2002, the station broadened its playlist to include music from 1980s, and changed its name to "Rockin' Hits 104.5 WGFX", marking the only time the station has used those call letters in its branding.
Its current format, "104.5 The Zone" (sports talk), began its life on August 11, 2003 after hiring popular personalities George Plaster, Willy Daunic and Darren McFarland away from Cumulus Media station WWTN (99.7 FM). However, because of litigation surrounding a contract dispute, Plaster did not appear on the station until two months after its launch.
In the early days of the Zone's existence, the station had a heavy focus on local news, and featured general-interest talk on weekdays from 6am-Noon, with sports in all other dayparts. For the first three weeks of the talk format, the station broadcast "The Rick and Bubba Show" (a holdover from the previous "Rockin' Hits" format). It then brought over Mayfield's "Carl P. & The P-Team" show from WKDF, where it had been replaced in morning drive. Following Mayfield's exit in December 2003, the station began broadcasting "The Wake-Up Zone" in early mornings, featuring Mayfield's supporting cast, but led by Nashville music industry executive Charlie Monk. Popular Knoxville morning talk personality Hallerin Hilton Hill also hosted a 2-hour version of his show for the Nashville market in the late morning slot.
Over the course of 18 months, the station migrated to 24/7 sports talk. Hill's show was canceled, and "The Wake-Up Zone" was converted to a sports-focused show, replacing Charlie Monk & Mike Donegan with Kevin Ingram and retired Titans tight end Frank Wycheck. They joined Mark Howard, who continued with the show from its previous iteration. The trio of Ingram, Howard and Wycheck continued on the show until 2017, when Wycheck left the show and was replaced with another former Titans star, Blaine Bishop.
WGFX was the flagship station for the Tennessee Oilers/Titans of the National Football League from 1997 until the completion of the 2001 season, when the rights were shifted to WGFX's sister station, WKDF. (WGFX returned as an "affiliate" station of the team's network for the 2004 season only). WGFX also aired the franchise's games in 1996, the final year the team was located in Houston, Texas. WGFX returned as the full-time flagship station of the Titans Radio Network in 2010.
WGFX is the major Nashville-area affiliate for the University of Tennessee Volunteers football and men's basketball, and also broadcasts selected Belmont Bruins men's basketball games which do not conflict with the aforementioned teams. Coverage of NASCAR can now be heard on WGFX, from both Performance Racing Network and the Motor Racing Network.
In the past, WGFX has served as the flagship station for the Nashville Predators (NHL, 2005–2010), Vanderbilt Commodores (SEC, 2004–2009), and Nashville Sounds (PCL, 2010–2011).
WGFX has previously served as the Nashville affiliate for The Jim Rome Show, The Dan Patrick Show, Sporting News Radio and ESPN Radio, and is currently on its second stint as an affiliate of Fox Sports Radio. It was announced that in 2013 the station would once again drop its Fox affiliation to be an affiliate of the upstart CBS Sports Radio network, but never did actually did so. Shortly afterwards, the CBS Sports Radio affiliation went to a competitor, WNSR, as WGFX retained the Fox Sports Radio affiliation; however, WGFX also retains the hourly minute-long commentaries by CBSSR personalities such as Boomer Esiason and Doug Gottlieb.
Following a bankruptcy, Citadel was acquired by Cumulus Media on September 16, 2011. Shortly after the merger, WGFX and WKDF moved their studios from Rutledge Hill to Cumulus' existing cluster at Music Row, where they broadcast alongside WWTN, WSM-FM, and WQQK. WRQQ and WNFN also briefly shared studio space with WGFX until they were each sold to separate buyers.
Plaster, Daunic and McFarland left WGFX immediately after Cumulus acquired the station in September 2011, and the trio was instrumental in launching its primary competitor, WPRT-FM.
In 2017, WGFX removed all network programming during its weekday prime dayparts, focusing entirely on locally-produced shows.
The station also broadcasts an hour block of public affairs programming on Sunday morning in accordance with FCC regulations.