WGTA Radio Station in Summerville
According to Robert Baker's book, radio station WGTA-AM went on the air in 1950 with the construction of a studio, office, and 250-foot tower on Bolling Road. The station was owned by Tri-State Broadcasting Company, with call letters reflecting the station's broadcast coverage in parts of Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama. E.C. Pesterfield was president and Bill Farrar served as secretary-treasurer and general manager.
An unidentified announcer sits at the controls of WGTA, date unknown.
After some disagreements on business matters, including the establishment of a newspaper, the Chattooga Democrat, that had to be shuttered before its second anniversary, Pesterfield and Farrar parted ways. The station went into voluntary receivership and was sold at public auction in 1961 with Bill Farrar submitting the winning bid of $60,000 (over $460,000 in today's dollars).
WGTA was the only radio station in Chattooga County for many years, and the exclusive conduit for breaking local news. Many families tuned into the station as they ate breakfast to hear the weather report, the obituaries, and who had been locked up in the local jailhouse. The station's mix of music included rock n' roll for the teens, country and gospel for the oldsters. Many a boomer remembers swimming at the Summerville Recreation Center pool and watching a "live" WGTA remote broadcast set up near the kiddie pool.
Several years ago, the company was sold to an outside group and became a Spanish language station. Afterward, it went off the air completely. A few years ago, the Summerville News tried unsuccessfully to contact the owners to ask about the lack of an aircraft warning beacon atop the tower.
It may be hard to imagine that, "once upon a time," the little radio station on Bolling Road was an important part of everyday life in Chattooga County.
Radio Station WGTA, apparently abandoned, as pictured in February 2013.
Top photograph courtesy of Chattooga Chamber of Commerce. Second photograph by T. Emmett Nunn. Courtesy of Chattooga Library.
Information about the early history of the radio station was taken from Chattooga: The Story of A County And Its People by Robert S. Baker.