Flashback: North Fulton once had its own local radio station

3 mins read

Did you know that North Fulton had its own radio station in the 1980s and that some iteration of that station still broadcasts today? More on the station’s present day status later, but this is the story of when the station was local to the North Fulton area.

The Time: In this Flashback, we will be going back 40 years to November and December of 1981. It was a time when AM radio still ruled the airwaves, though FM stations were beginning their meteoric rise to prominence. Cable television was new and was available, but not widely adopted yet. In fact, the city of Alpharetta was just getting its first cable franchise — Cable America — that December.

Another emerging technology was the video game. Video arcades were popping up all around the country in December of 1981, and the same held true in the North Fulton area. Media reports from the time reported concerns in Roswell that kids were skipping school to go to a local arcade there.

Video tapes and VCRs were also gaining prominence in the market place and metro Atlanta resident Ursula Knaeusel was selling Holiday Cooking lessons by video tape.

Nationally, Ronald Reagan was spending his first Christmas in the White House having been inaugurated that January. George Busby was governor of Georgia at the time.

The Radio Station: It was amid this backdrop that North Fulton’s first — and only — local radio station launched. The effort to launch the station actually took about seven years, but the station finally launched in late November of 1981.

The station was owned by a radio mogul named Moe Negrin — a name that would be associated with this radio station multiple times throughout its complicated history. Negrin named the station after himself and the station was known as WMOE-AM 1400.

The station focused primarily on local news, traffic and high school sports. It didn’t take long for the station to start riding the wave of emerging technology. In April of 1982, the station struck a deal with Roswell’s cable provider to broadcast on an FM signal through the cable company in addition to the 1400-AM signal.

By September of 1982, WMOE had secured the right to broadcast the Atlanta Falcons through a partnership with WGST.

But in the summer of 1983, the station would be off the air. According to media reports at that time, Negrin’s two business partners offered to buy him out. Negrin agreed with the stipulation that if the station was ever put up for sale again he would have an opportunity to buy it.

Less than one year later, that opportunity presented itself and Negrin took the helm at the new WVNF 14000, The Voice of North Fulton. The station still focused on local news, sports and talk, but this time it was affiliated with ABC Talk radio. The station was located in Roswell with a transmitter in Alpharetta.

The station had its pulse on the issues of the day and conducted a high-profile poll on whether or not North Fulton should secede from Fulton County, a discussion that still takes place to this day. The station broadcast local high school sports and city news throughout the area.

At some point prior to being sold again, WVNF switched its format to Christian music.

In 1986, the station went off the air for two months while it was being sold to Ann and Tom Dobrient, two real estate investors in Connecticut who reportedly saw an ad to buy the station in The New York Times. The couple bought the station and boned up on running a radio station before launching the next iteration of 1400-AM, now called WQRZ.

The couple put significant work into repairing and upgrading the station, which now had an adult-contemporary music format, along with some jazz.

The station continued to cover high school sports and added talk shows here and there. WQRZ continued to broadcast from 1986 until 1989 when a familiar face would reappear.

In February of 1989, Moe Negrin would once again take the helm of 1400-AM, this time relaunching with the call letters WWXX.

This was the end of the local era for the station. This time around 1400 was a financial news station affiliated with Money Radio in California.

WWXX didn’t last long and by 1991 1400 AM was replaced by Radio Exitos, a Spanish-language radio station broadcasting as WAZX, which lasted until 1993.

What is it now?: By 1994, 1400-AM was being used as a simulcast for Christian talk station WNIV, owned by Salem Communications. The station still exists today, owned by Salem. It is still a Christian talk simulcast and its call letters are officially WLTA.