NewsRadio 630 WLAP logo.png
Broadcast areaLexington Metro Area
Central Kentucky
Frequency630 kHz
BrandingNewsradio 630 WLAP
FormatTalk radio
AffiliationsPremiere Networks
Compass Media Networks
Fox News Radio
UK Sports Network
First air date
September 15, 1922; 99 years ago (1922-09-15) (in Louisville, moved to Lexington on March 17, 1934)
Technical information
Facility ID68209
Power5,000 watts day
1,000 watts night
Transmitter coordinates
38°7′25″N 84°26′45″W / 38.12361°N 84.44583°W / 38.12361; -84.44583
WebcastListen Live

WLAP (630 kHz) is a commercial AM radio station in Lexington, Kentucky, serving the Central Kentucky region. It airs a talk radio format and is owned by iHeartMedia, Inc.[1] The studios and offices are on Nicolasville Road in Lexington.[2]

By day, WLAP transmits with 5,000 watts. But to protect other stations on AM 630 at night when radio waves travel further, WLAP reduces power to 1,000 watts. A directional antenna is used at all times. The transmitter is on Russell Cave Road in Lexington.[3] WLAP has a four-tower array.


Most programs on WLAP are nationally syndicated conservative talk shows. Weekdays begin with This Morning, America's First News with Gordon Deal. Also heard are "The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show," Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, "Ground Zero with Clyde Lewis" and "Coast to Coast AM with George Noory." On weekends, shows on money, health, home repair and law are heard. Hosts include Bill Handel, Gary Sullivan, Joe Pags and Bill Cunningham. Most hours begin with an update from Fox News Radio.

Three sports shows are heard on weekdays, "The Leach Report" and "Kentucky Sports Radio" in late mornings and "Big Blue Insider" in early evenings. Sports also makes up part of the Sunday schedule. WLAP serves as the flagship station of the UK Sports Network, which carries University of Kentucky Wildcats football and basketball. To make up for shortfalls in WLAP's coverage, some games are simulcast on FM sister station 98.1 WBUL-FM.


Early Years

WLAP's first broadcast occurred on September 15, 1922. The station was founded by William Virgil Jordan of Louisville, who had become involved in amateur radio. By 1920, he was operating an amateur station with the call sign 9LK.[4] Jordan reportedly started broadcasting phonograph records to patients at Waverly Hills Hospital in 1921.[5]

Initially there were no restrictions on amateur stations making broadcasts intended for the general public. However, effective December 1, 1921, the United States Department of Commerce, which regulated radio communication at this time, adopted regulations to formally establish two broadcasting frequencies. It set aside the wavelength of 360 meters (833 kHz) for "entertainment" broadcasting, and 485 meters (619 kHz) for "market and weather reports".[6] On September 15, 1922,[7] Jordan was granted a broadcasting station license with the sequentially issued call letters of WLAP, for operation on 360 meters. The station was originally located at Jordan's "Big Six Auto Repair Shop" at 306 West Breckenridge Street.[8] WLAP was the fourth Kentucky radio station licensed under the new broadcasting station regulations, preceded in July by WHAS in Louisville and WIAR in Paducah[9] and in August by WKAG, Louisville.[10]

CBS Affiliation

In 1926, Rev. Lloyd Benedict arranged for the Virginia Avenue Baptist Church to purchase WLAP, and the station and transmitter were relocated to 2600 Virginia Avenue.[11] In 1929 the station was sold to the American Broadcasting Company of Kentucky.[12] It was headed by Denwidie Lampton, Sr., who funded major upgrades as the studios were moved to the Inter Southern Life Building at 1st and Ormsby Avenue. New transmitting facilities were built at Phillips Lane.

WLAP became a network affiliate of the Columbia Broadcasting System (later CBS). It carried the network's dramas, comedies, news, sports, soap operas, game shows and big band broadcasts. The station was noted for its remote broadcasts, including the 1929 Kentucky State Fair, the dedication of War Memorial Auditorium, and the opening of the Municipal Bridge, where President Herbert Hoover spoke.[5]

Ownership Changes

Rival station WHAS desired an affiliation with CBS, and arranged for WBBM Chicago owner Ralph Atlass to purchase WLAP from Lampton, who had had many battles with the Bingham family over their desire to own two stations in the Louisville market. Atlass then sold the station to George Norton, Jr., with the provision that WLAP would be operated without network affiliation.[13]

WLAP studios were relocated to the Speed Building, where many future stars performed. They including Lonesome Luke and the Farm boys, Cliff and Bill Carsile, The Atcher Family Band, which included Bob and Randall, and the Stewart Brothers.

Move to Lexington

In 1931, WFIW (now WGTK) in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, applied to move to Louisville. This was contested by WLAP owner George Norton, Jr., who sought not only to block the move, but also filed a competing application requesting that the Federal Radio Commission (FRC) delete WFIW and reassign its then vacated frequency to WLAP. The FRC approved WFIW's move to Louisville and denied WLAP's deletion request, so WLAP appealed this decision to District Court. Ultimately a settlement was worked out.[14] George Norton purchased WFIW, changing its call letters to WAVE, and had his engineer, Wilbur Hudson, move the station to Louisville in late November 1933. WAVE signed on in Louisville on December 30, 1933. Meanwhile, Norton sold WLAP to Turner C. Rush and Alvin L. Witt, who planned to move that station to Lexington. WLAP had signed off for the last time from Louisville on December 23, 1933, after the FRC granted preliminary approval for the move. Final permission was granted on January 5, 1934, and WLAP went back on the air in Lexington with Program Tests on March 17, 1934.[5]

On March 5, 1948, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved WLAP's application to move from 1450 kHz to 630 kHz, along with a power increase from 250 watts (full-time) to 5,000 watts (daytime) and 1,000 watts (night).[15] In January 1957, the FCC approved the sale of the radio station, along with the construction permit for a TV station to the Community Broadcasting Company, whose principals were Frederick Gregg Jr., Harry Feingold and Charles Wright.[16]

Top 40 to AC to Talk

WLAP aired a Top 40 music format during the 1960s and 1970s. Then as contemporary music listening moved to FM, WLAP switched to a full service, Adult Contemporary direction by the late 1970s. The Top 40 format had shifted to its sister station 94.5 WLAP-FM (now WMXL).

WLAP was the first station in the Lexington area to utilize a generator for emergency broadcasting purposes, which served the station well during the Super Outbreak of April 3, 1974, when tornadoes disrupted electrical service to much of the state of Kentucky and WLAP was the only radio station in Lexington able to stay on the air thanks to its generator.[17]

As listening to music declined on AM radio, WLAP added more talk shows to its schedule in the 1990s, eventually making the transition to a full-time talk outlet.


  1. ^ "WLAP Facility Record". United States Federal Communications Commission, audio division.
  2. ^ WLAP.iheart.com/contact
  3. ^ Radio-Locator.com/WLAP
  4. ^ "Ninth District", Amateur Stations of the United States, edition June 30, 1920, page 100. The "9" in 9LK's call sign indicated that the station was located in the ninth Radio Inspection district, while the fact that "L" fell in the range of A-W meant that the station was operating under a standard amateur station license.
  5. ^ a b c "WLAP - Through Sixty Years: 1922-1980 by Lewis M. Owens, 1982 (lkyradio.com) Owens thought that Jordan had been issued the license for 9LK as early as 1915, but official station lists do not have an entry for William V. Jordan before 1920, and in the 1915 and 1916 lists the call sign 9LK was assigned to Major P. Harrison, Jr. of Indianapolis.
  6. ^ "Amendments to Regulations", Radio Service Bulletin, January 3, 1922, page 10.
  7. ^ "AM Query Results: WLAP: First license granted" (FCC.gov)
  8. ^ "New Stations", Radio Service Bulletin, October 2, 1922, page 3.
  9. ^ "New Stations", Radio Service Bulletin, August 1, 1922, page 3.
  10. ^ "New Stations", Radio Service Bulletin, September 1, 1922, page 3.
  11. ^ "Alterations and Corrections", Radio Service Bulletin, July 31, 1926, page 6.
  12. ^ "Alterations and Corrections", Radio Service Bulletin, January 31, 1929, page 7.
  13. ^ "WLAP Sold by Atlass; To Operate as Local Unit", Broadcasting, May 1, 1932, page 26.
  14. ^ "American Broadcasting Corporation of Kentucky (WLAP) v. Federal Radio Comm." (App. D.C. No. 6009), Injunctions in Cases Involving Acts of Congress (1937), page 3.
  15. ^ "Scripps-Howard Radio, Inc. (WCPO) et al.", Federal Communications Commission Reports (Volume 12: July 1, 1947 to June 30, 1948), pages 701-706.
  16. ^ "FCC Approves 14 Sales; WLAP Sells for $346,000", Broadcasting, January 21, 1957, page 92.
  17. ^ "WLAP-AM History" by Scott Wills (lkyradio.com)