In 1954, a Class D daytime-only AM radio station signed on the air at 1380 Kilocycles, with 1,000 watts of power. In the days before FM radio, it was one of few stations that could be easily heard locally before sundown.
Then, FM radio drew listeners from AM, and signals from nearby markets captured what was a small South Carolina town’s lone voice on the dial.
Now, this station has died at the age of 64, with its obituary offered Feb. 28 by the owner — who has put out a call for a “white knight” to breathe new life in a station destined for eternal silence.
At sundown on Feb. 28, WAGS-AM 1380 signed off the air for its broadcast day, as it is required to as a daytimer.
But, it didn’t sign on at sunrise the next day, nor is it expected to in the future.
WAGS has concluded its run as a radio station.
In a message to listeners and the local community of some 3,300 residents, owner Jim Jenkins said that his age — and the modern age — led him to reach the difficult situation to shut down the station and surrender its license to the FCC.
“It’s been a great run,” he said. “[It] seems like it was only yesterday [that] I assumed the stewardship of WAGS radio, returning the style to live and for real, like at its founding in 1954. That was November 2000. I was 53 and proverbially full of spit and vinegar. Now we’re at February 2018. It’s been 17 years now, 64 since WAGS was founded and life changes. It’s time to step aside.”
Jenkins saluted the founders of WAGS, the Ginsberg family, in noting, “As I step aside there seems to be no one to step in and assume stewardship of WAGS radio.”
Therefore, he adds, “It’s with heavy heart that I must take WAGS radio off air at the end of the broadcast day, Wednesday, February 28. Soon the license will have to be surrendered and at that point WAGS-AM will be gone for good.”
But, he notes, “There is always hope for a last-minute miracle, a ‘White Knight,’ so we can pass the baton. I hope so.”
Bishopville is home to the South Carolina Cotton Museum and is bisected by U.S. 15, just to the north of I-20. It’s equidistant to Florence, S.C., to the east, and Columbia, S.C., to the west. FM signals from these cities can be heard in Bishopville, which contributed to the decline of Bishopville.
However, Jenkins was not one of the many broadcasters to apply for an FM translator.