WTLA-FM (We're The Listener Alternative) 105.3, Lexington, KY
In October of 1982, WTLA-FM (We're The Listener Alternative) Radio was founded by Lexington-Fayette County Urban League. At the time, the Lexington-Fayette County Urban League was the only one in the United States that owned a radio station. The station was on the air 24 hours a day on the TeleCable FM frequency 105.3. The station was located at the Black and Williams Center on Georgetown Street in Lexington [see Evelyn Jones Black entry]. The radio format was Black programming and music. WTLA was one of the 29 FM radio stations offered via the cable service, and it was granted to the Urban League for community broadcasting.
Porter G. Peeples was the executive director of the Lexington-Fayette County Urban League; Toni Sweat was the program director at WTLA; Jodi "Lady Bee" Berry was the music director and a disc jockey; and James E. "Mellow Man" Bradley Jr. (1949-1986) was one of the 20 disc jockeys. The entire operation depended on volunteers. WTLA was not a free radio service: the cost to customers who already had cable service was a one-time cost of $10 for adding FM radio and a $1.50 per month subscription fee. The cost was even higher for those who did not already have cable; there was a one-time installation cost of $15 and the monthly subscription was $5.50.
WTLA was still on the air in 1995 when TCI of Lexington (Technology Consulting, Inc.) did away with most of its FM radio stations and used the space for its new Sega channel. TCI had a franchise agreement with Lexington, KY, that required the company to keep the Urban League radio station WTLA-FM. In 1995, the WTLA-FM was free due to the passing of the Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992 [.pdf at transition.fcc.gov]. Meanwhile, in addition to the radio programing at WTLA-FM, the station produced a weekly show called Steppin' Out which was the local version of Soul Train. [Soul Train was a national television program of music and dancing that was broadcast via cable to mainly African American households]. Steppin' Out was broadcast three times a week on local cable channel 9.
In 1983, the WTLA Gospel Radio Ensemble was formed by Reggie Gay and Isaac Williams, and the group celebrated its first anniversary at Philips Memorial C.M.E. Church on August 5, 1984. The group continued performing over the years and along the way the name was changed to WTLA Gospel Ensemble. One of the groups last performances was at Transylvania University's MLK Unity Celebration in January of 2000. The WTLA-FM that was owned by the Lexington-Fayette County Urban League no longer exists.
For more see K. Million, "Local Black radio station observing first anniversary WTLA airs its pride on anniversary," Lexington Herald-Leader, 10/27/1983, p.D1; V. Honeycutt, "Success of Urban League celebrated," Lexington Herald-Leader, 10/26/1984, p.B1; R. Bailey, "Centenary to celebrate 118th anniversary," Lexington Herald-Leader, 07/28/1984, p.D2; M. Foley, "Despite uncertainty about concert, Jackson's fans still adore their idol," Lexington Herald-Leader, 06/09/1984, p.A1; N. Crane, "WNVL-1250 DJ leaving for Chicago," Lexington Herald-Leader, 06/27/1995, p.3; and see "WTLA Radio" and "James Bradley, Jr." in Urban League, Lexington-Fayette County, Annual Report 1985-1986, pp.16-17.