History of
WSAG/WCBK/WKBJ, St. Petersburg

Here is an extremely incomplete (and confusing) timeline on WSAG, St. Petersburg, Florida, the first licensed radio station in St. Petersburg, and the perhaps related WCBK and WKBJ. It is based on the monthly Radio Service Bulletins, issued by the Department of Commerce and describing events of each month.

July 2, 1923. The Radio Service Bulletin shows WSAG as a new station licensed to "City of St. Petersburg (Loren V. Davis)," operating on 1230 kHz with 10 watts.

Dec. 21, 1923. The Radio Service Bulletin reports the following change: WSAG is now operated and controlled by "Loren V. Davis and George Prestman Sr."

Apr. 1, 1924. The Radio Service Bulletin shows WCBK as a new station at 2801 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg, licensed to E. Richard Hall, authorized for 500 watts on 1130 kHz.

July 1, 1924. The Radio Service Bulletin has "strike out all particulars" for WSAG. Thus the license had expired.

Feb. 2, 1925. The Radio Service Bulletin shows the new station WSAG, St. Petersburg, licensed to the Gospel Tabernacle, on 1130 kHz with 500 watts. It also has "strike out all particulars" for WCBK; thus the WCBK license had expired.

Sept. 1, 1925. The Radio Service Bulletin has "strike out all particulars" for WSAG. Thus the license had expired.

Aug. 31, 1926. The Radio Service Bulletin shows WKBJ St. Petersburg as a newly authorized station, at 5th Avenue and 10th Street South, licensed to the Gospel Tabernacle.

April 30, 1927. A listing of stations does not include WKBJ St. Petersburg. Thus the license had expired by this date, although I have not seen the actual RSB showing the deletion of WKBJ. According to a source, the Gospel Tabernacle donated its station to the Toccoa Falls Institute.

Aug. 31, 1927. The Radio Service Bulletin shows WKBJ as a new station in Toccoa, Georgia, licensed to Toccoa Falls Institute, with 250 watts on 1070 kHz.

1927. A web page on the history of WLET, Toccoa Falls College, has:

In 1927, Dr. R. A. Forrest and the Toccoa Falls Institute established a 200-watt radio station in the basement of the Presbyterian Church in Toccoa, Georgia. First called WBIT, it was soon changed to WTFI (representing Toccoa Falls Institute). It was the second radio station to be established in North Georgia. In 1928, power was increased to 500 watts, and the station was granted unlimited airtime. Kelly Barnes served as announcer and manager of WTFI. In 1930, the power was raised to 1,000 watts and studios were moved to the Albemarle Hotel, now the Alexander Apartments. The station was rated as the second most popular station in Georgia. In 1931, the station was sold and moved to Athens, Georgia, and later it was bought by the Bulova Watch Co. and changed calls to WGAU (Georgia University); later it was moved, again, to Atlanta, where it became WAGA (representing Atlanta, GA).
[I am reasonably certain that the WBIT call was not officially issued in the 1920s and that the Radio Service Bulletins show the Toccoa Falls station only as WKBJ and then WTFI. -jm]

1934. A 1934 list of stations shows WTFI Athens, Ga., with 500 watts, licensed to Liberty Broadcasting Co.

1942. A 1942 list of stations shows WGAU in Athens, Ga., on 1340 kHz.

In his personal history, Dr. William T. Watson, pastor of the old St. Petersburg Gospel Tabernacle and the founder of Trinity College wrote:

Some will remember the first radio station in St. Petersburg, WSAG. It was located in the Gospel Tabernacle and the towers were on the roof. There was no advertising in those days on radio. It was a novelty or hobby by many. (In those days WSUN and WFLA shared time on the same station and wave length being located in Clearwater.) After more than a year, and in those days no tapes and even records had to be played and sound picked up and considering the expense, the church gave the station to Toccoa Falls (College) in Georgia. It eventually became an outlet for N.B.C. in Atlanta.
Thanks to Dr. Bill W. Lanpher, President of Trinity College in Trinity, Florida, for providing the above excerpt.

I am somewhat confused by the statements that WGAU in Athens moved to Atlanta and that it became an NBC outlet in Atlanta because the 1950 Broadcasting Yearbook shows both a WGAU in Athens and a WAGA in Atlanta (CBS).

I welcome improvements for this page.
Jeff Miller

Return to front page