Radio stations?

How do radio stations get the letters for their names? Like when the announcer comes on and says, "this is K-I-N-K fm" or whatever. Do they choose the letters, or is it random, and why do they almost always start with K or W?


10 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    I work at a small station in Celina, OH called WKKI. I've been working in radio for almost 20 years. Here is what I know about call letters.

    Beginning in 1912, every country approved of and received designated letters to begin radio station call letters with.

    In the United States, the letters "W" and "K" were to be used.

    At first, it didn't matter what part of the country a station was located in to use either letter. Then, in 1923, The Federal Communications Commission ordained that all new radio stations east of the Mississippi River would use "W" as the first letter and stations west of the Mississippi would use "K".

    Certain stations were "grandfathered" and allowed to keep their call letters for various reasons, even if they did not conform to the new edict. (Like KDKA in Pittsburgh, PA)

    By the way, Canadian stations begin with "C" and Mexican stations begin with "X".

  • 1 decade ago

    A few answered the question perfectly...

    Conventional wisdom of the FCC is west of the Mississippi the callsign can only start with a "K" and east of the Mississippi can only start with a "W" and that the callsign will be 4 letters long with the station getting a chance to pick their own calls or be issued the next in a list by the FCC.

    Some old stations and some on the Mississippi River area however are weird.

    There are some midwestern stations with a W as the first letter which is allowed as the FCC issued the call years ago when the line was different than it is today (WOAI,WOW,and WFAA come to mind) . You will also see some in W land with a K call and some other stations only have 3 letters (these are stations that have held the same callsign for 75+ years as the FCC no longer issues 3 letter callsigns. Examples of this is KHJ,WSM,WGN,WWL)

  • 1 decade ago

    All radio stations east of the Mississippi river have the call letter w all radio stations west of the Mississippi are dedicated letter k and the Canadian broadcast stations are a letter C

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    In the U.S., stations east of the Mississippi have call letters that start with W. Stations west of the Mississippi have call letters that start with K. (There may be a few notable exceptions to this.)

    The stations can request certain call letters, but they are subject to availability. Or, the FCC can choose for them.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Radio stations that are west of the mississippi river start with K. the radio stations that are east of the mississippi river start with W

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    KDKA was the first licensed station in the USA.

    Stations can request unused callsigns to fit thier format

    USA stations, east of the Mississippi are W - except for KDKA

    USA stations west of the Mississippi are K - except WWV, WWVH and WWVB.

    Canadian are C

    Mexican are X

    Everyone else follows the ITU protocols.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Most US stations begin with "W" but maybe a few being with K? I don't know.

    Canadian stations begin with C. I think it's all about codes not yet used.

    My guess is one of the first stations ever registered was 770AM in New York Plain ole...... WABC

  • Duh
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    The K or W part has been covered - not only for this question but many times in the past. Gearbox, as always has it right. Don't forget my old alma mater KWK, licensed to East St. Louis - East of the Miss AND a three letter call, scarcer than hen's teeth.

    As to the call letters, you get to choose them if they are available. When you apply to the FCC for your license, you select a set of call letters that haven't been taken (they have a list of those that are) and include that with the application - and lots of money!

    -a guy named duh

  • 1 decade ago

    ask the radio station your self .

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