WSM-FM is an FM
FM broadcasting
FM broadcasting is a broadcasting technology pioneered by Edwin Howard Armstrong which uses frequency modulation to provide high-fidelity sound over broadcast radio. The term "FM band" describes the "frequency band in which FM is used for broadcasting"...

 radio station
Radio station
Radio broadcasting is a one-way wireless transmission over radio waves intended to reach a wide audience. Stations can be linked in radio networks to broadcast a common radio format, either in broadcast syndication or simulcast or both...

 in Nashville
Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville is the capital of the U.S. state of Tennessee and the county seat of Davidson County. It is located on the Cumberland River in Davidson County, in the north-central part of the state. The city is a center for the health care, publishing, banking and transportation industries, and is home...

, Tennessee
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

. The station broadcasts at 95.5 MHz and broadcasts a country music
Country music
Country music is a popular American musical style that began in the rural Southern United States in the 1920s. It takes its roots from Western cowboy and folk music...

 radio format
Radio format
A radio format or programming format not to be confused with broadcast programming describes the overall content broadcast on a radio station. Radio formats are frequently employed as a marketing tool, and constantly evolve...

, with an emphasis upon recordings released since the 1990s.

From 1968 to 2008, WSM-FM was the sister of the legendary clear-channel WSM
WSM is the callsign of a 50,000 watt AM radio station located in Nashville, Tennessee. Operating at 650 kHz, its clear channel signal can reach much of North America and various countries, especially late at night...

. The station is now owned by Cumulus Media
Cumulus Media
Cumulus Media, Inc. is the second largest Owner and Operator of AM and FM radio stations in the United States, behind Clear Channel Communications, operating 570 stations in 150 markets as of September 16, 2011. The company also owns Cumulus Media Networks...

 and no longer has any organizational relation to the AM.

Original WSM-FM, 1941-1951

The National Life and Accident Insurance Company
National Life and Accident Insurance Company
The National Life and Accident Insurance Company is a former life insurance company which was based in Nashville, Tennessee.National Life and Accident began in 1900 as the National Sick and Accident Association, a mutual company...

, owners of WSM, became the first commercial broadcaster in the U.S. to receive an FM license from the Federal Communications Commission
Federal Communications Commission
The Federal Communications Commission is an independent agency of the United States government, created, Congressional statute , and with the majority of its commissioners appointed by the current President. The FCC works towards six goals in the areas of broadband, competition, the spectrum, the...

 in 1941. Originally known as W47NV, the station operated for about 10 years, until NL&AI realized that few area households had FM radio receivers and that its commercial potential was lacking, unlike the company's television station, WSM-TV (now WSMV). NL&AI shut down WSM-FM in 1951 and returned the license to the FCC.

Early 95.5 MHz Operations, 1962-1976

The present-day FM began broadcasting on November 1, 1962 as WLWM-FM, owned by C. Webber Parrish (d/b/a Barlane Broadcasting Corporation), a local Nashville businessman. NL&AI purchased the 95.5 MHz frequency from Parrish in 1968, and after a short period of simulcasting the AM, programmed an easy listening
Easy listening
Easy listening is a broad style of popular music and radio format that emerged in the 1950s, evolving out of big band music, and related to MOR music as played on many AM radio stations. It encompasses the exotica, beautiful music, light music, lounge music, ambient music, and space age pop genres...

 format (probably the format WLWM used) on it from 1969 until early 1976.

SM95, 1976-1983

Afterward, NL&AI allowed a change (despite some management misgivings) to a soft-rock
Rock music
Rock music is a genre of popular music that developed during and after the 1960s, particularly in the United Kingdom and the United States. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, itself heavily influenced by rhythm and blues and country music...

 playlist that was very broad by today's standards; during those years, the station adopted the branding "SM95".

In demographics, the station went after an audience of people in their twenties and thirties who, obviously enough, wanted something more musically interesting than easy listening but disliked the harder and louder rock (or disco
Disco is a genre of dance music. Disco acts charted high during the mid-1970s, and the genre's popularity peaked during the late 1970s. It had its roots in clubs that catered to African American, gay, psychedelic, and other communities in New York City and Philadelphia during the late 1960s and...

) that was becoming popular among teenagers then. SM95 was one of the few outlets in the nation for upcoming singer-songwriters to get airplay without having a smash record elsewhere; some of the artists were in fact Nashville-based, reflecting the growth in non-country artists recording there. One might consider the moderately eclectic format a forerunner of the "adult alternative
Adult album alternative
Adult album alternative is a radio format. A spinoff from the album-oriented rock format, its roots trace to the 1960s and 1970s from the earlier freeform and progressive formats....

" playlists that achieved some success years later, in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Former SM95 disc jockey Nick Archer operated a Live 365 internet-only streaming re-creation of the station's format (featuring the original station IDs and jingles) from November 2001 until February 2008, almost longer than the original broadcast station's run.

Nashville 95/The Wolf/WSM-FM, 1983-present

The ratings of SM95, however, began to decline (and thus advertiser appeal) as its audience began aging in the early 1980s. By 1983, some four years after the conversion of the AM to a full-time country format and after the sale of WSM, Inc. to Gaylord
Gaylord Entertainment Company
The Gaylord Entertainment Company operates a number of hotel, resort, and media companies that were built by Edward Gaylord. It was previously a subsidiary of the Oklahoma City-based Oklahoma Publishing Company, which is owned by the Gaylord family and publishes the Daily Oklahoman newspaper...

 Broadcasting, management decided to bring the FM in line with the AM, and brought in country (with an emphasis on current hits, instead of the AM's emphasis on oldies) full-time. Gaylord moved the studios of both AM and FM to the Opryland Hotel complex at that time, from their 1970s home on Knob Road in west Nashville, where former sister TV station WSMV still operates today. In the 1990s, WSM-FM operated from a studio inside Opryland USA
Opryland USA
Opryland USA was an amusement park located in suburban Nashville, Tennessee. It operated seasonally from 1972 until 1997...

 theme park, which visitors could view through a glass window. Following the theme park's demolition, the station moved into a renovated guestroom at Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center
Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center
Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, formerly known as Opryland Hotel, is a large hotel and convention center located in Nashville, Tennessee and owned by Gaylord Hotels, a division of Gaylord Entertainment Company...

. The station had an auxiliary studio at the Wildhorse Saloon
Wildhorse Saloon
The Wildhorse Saloon is a country/western-themed restaurant, live music venue, and dance club located in downtown Nashville, Tennessee. It is owned by Gaylord Entertainment Company. Originally opened on June 1, 1994 in a converted warehouse, the Wildhorse initially capitalized on the line dancing...

 downtown, and later at Opry Mills
Opry Mills
Opry Mills is a super-regional shopping mall owned by Simon Property Group, formerly by its initial owners Mills Corporation and Gaylord Entertainment...


For most of the 1980s and 1990s, 95.5 FM was a highly-competitive, yet usually #2 (behind rival WSIX-FM
WSIX-FM is an FM radio station broadcasting in Nashville, Tennessee on a frequency of 97.9 MHz. It is owned by Clear Channel Communications...

), country station. For much of the 1980s and 1990s, the station was branded as "Nashville 95". However, upon the arrival of a fourth country station in the market in 1999 (the legendary FM rocker WKDF
WKDF is a Country music radio station broadcasting on a frequency of 103.3 MHz from Nashville, Tennessee. WKDF is owned by Cumulus Media.-History:...

, which shocked longtime Nashvillians by changing formats), WSM-FM fell to a distant third place, and sometimes fell to fourth behind then-sister WSM.

In 2001, WSM-FM attempted to differentiate from the other FM country outlets by shifting to a format consisting mostly of live performances provided by the artists' labels or those within the WSM archives (such as Opry performances and in-studio appearances). The station was known during this era as "Live 95", and also simulcast the Opry live every Friday and Saturday night. After abandoning this approach to return to a traditional method of programming, and until the end of the Gaylord era, the station was called "Back to Back Country 95.5 WSM-FM". Cumulus dropped the "Back to Back Country" tagline when it purchased the station in 2003.

From 2003 to 2008, Cumulus Media operated the sales department of WSM, while Gaylord Entertainment continued to hold the license. Cumulus, however, bought WSM-FM outright (along with FM talk outlet WWTN
WWTN is a 100 kW, Class C0 FM radio station serving the Nashville, Tennessee media market. Its dial position is 99.7 MHz. Home to many local and national talk radio shows, the station is marketed as SuperTalk 99.7 WTN...

) from Gaylord at that time. When the WSM agreement ended, the two stations' 40-year association came to an end also. WSM-FM's offices and studios moved to the Cumulus complex on Music Circle East, in Nashville's Music Row
Music Row
Music Row is an area just to the southwest of Downtown Nashville, Tennessee that is home to hundreds of businesses related to the country music, gospel music, and Contemporary Christian music industries...

 area, while WSM remains at the Opryland Hotel.

In September 2004, the station adopted a revised country format, with the branding "The Wolf." The FM generally has gone after a younger demographic than the AM, whose appeal to older listeners and devotees of traditional styles of country is unique.

On December 16, 2010, the station began to slowly discontinue "The Wolf" moniker and retreat to using its heritage call letters, "95-5 FM WSM".

November 2010 PPM rating: 2.6 (#16)

Grand Ole Opry Schedule Conflicts

In past years, when WSM had the rights to broadcast Vanderbilt Commodore
Vanderbilt Commodores
The Vanderbilt Commodores are the NCAA athletic teams of Vanderbilt University, located in Nashville, Tennessee. The university fields 16 varsity teams , 14 of which compete in the Southeastern Conference...

American football
American football is a sport played between two teams of eleven with the objective of scoring points by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone. Known in the United States simply as football, it may also be referred to informally as gridiron football. The ball can be advanced by...

 and basketball
Basketball is a team sport in which two teams of five players try to score points by throwing or "shooting" a ball through the top of a basketball hoop while following a set of rules...

 games and Atlanta Braves
Atlanta Braves
The Atlanta Braves are a professional baseball club based in Atlanta, Georgia. The Braves are a member of the Eastern Division of Major League Baseball's National League. The Braves have played in Turner Field since 1997....

Baseball is a bat-and-ball sport played between two teams of nine players each. The aim is to score runs by hitting a thrown ball with a bat and touching a series of four bases arranged at the corners of a ninety-foot diamond...

, it had WSM-FM air them whenever they took place on Saturday nights, in order not to preempt the live Grand Ole Opry shows on AM 650. Until the end of the 2003-08 Cumulus operating agreement, WSM-FM also aired NASCAR
The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing is a family-owned and -operated business venture that sanctions and governs multiple auto racing sports events. It was founded by Bill France Sr. in 1947–48. As of 2009, the CEO for the company is Brian France, grandson of the late Bill France Sr...

 broadcasts under the same circumstances.

External links

See also

  • Oldest radio station
    Oldest radio station
    The title of oldest radio station is disputed by several in Europe , and in the United States and Canada.Several potential contenders for the title of "oldest radio station" are listed below, organized by sign-on date:-Stations:...

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