WSM is the call letters of a 50,000 watt AM radio station (and its associated FM station) located in Nashville, Tennessee. Operating at 650 kHz, its clear channel signal can reach much of North America, especially late at night.
It first signed on in 1923 and is primarily associated with the popularization of country music through its weekly Saturday night program the Grand Ole Opry, the longest-running radio program in history. Its original and unusual diamond-shaped antenna, visible off Interstate 65 just south of Nashville, is one of the city's landmarks, and one of the few such devices in operation anywhere. As a tribute to the station's centrality in country music history, the diamond antenna design was incorporated into the new Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in the 1990s.
WSM's companion station, WSM-FM, was the first to broadcast on the FM band in the United States.
Until 1982, the radio stations, an associated television station, and the Grand Old Opry were owned by the former National Life and Accident Insurance Company and the call letters derived from the company's motto, "We Shield Millions". Since being sold to Gaylord Entertainment, the operations have been reorganized, with first the television division and recently WSM-FM having been sold, the latter to Cumulus Media (http://www.cumulus.com).
The Opry, WSM-AM, and its hotel division are now the company's core holdings. A rumor circulated in the press in 2003 indicating that WSM-AM might convert to a talk format, as has been done at many AM stations. This caused a serious outcry and the company eventually reaffirmed its commitment to keeping the station devoted to country music. Most recently, the station has become a choice on Sirius Satellite Radio, and has experimented with making its programming available on the internet.
- WSM online (http://www.wsmonline.com)
- WSM music player (http://22.214.171.124/Player.asp?STA=WSM&SPD=LO)
- Station history from oldradio.com (http://www.oldradio.com/archives/stations/ccs/wsmtwr.htm)
- WSM's train signal signature (http://www.tennessean.com/learn-nashville/archives/04/06/31346829.shtml)
- A visit to WSM (http://www.bostonradio.org/radio/digicam/atlanta2002/wsm/)
- Gaylord notes WSM's role in creating the Opry (http://www.gaylordentertainment.com/PC/press/OpryTrademarkName10-12-01.htm)
- Country Music Hall of Fame (http://www.countrymusichalloffame.com/visitor.info)
- Traditional Country Hall of Fame (http://www.countryhall.com/)-particularly strong on early WSM history