EDMOND — A reunion this month will celebrate the heritage and history of former radio station KWHP, FM 97.7.
On June 28, 1962, Bill Payne had a vision. He was 22 and a recent graduate of Oklahoma City University with a degree in electronic engineering when he started the station in his garage at 1305 S Boulevard.
It was a humble beginning, but the station, as well as the FM band of the radio airwaves, would draw increasing numbers of listeners. Eventually it moved from his house and by 1979, Payne and his wife, Gail, sold KWHP.
Bill Payne's career in broadcasting continues and the station he created is now WWLS, the Sports Animal.
The legacy of KWHP will bring former employees, their families and past advertisers to Edmond on June 29-30.
“I am looking forward to the 50th reunion of KWHP and seeing many old friends,” Bill Payne said. “I feel privileged and blessed to have been a mentor and springboard for some really famous people and to have had the opportunity to serve the great city of Edmond.”
The reunion starts at 7 p.m. June 29 with a meet-and-greet at the Holiday Inn Express. At 11 a.m. the next day, there will be a tour of the old station location, 700 S Kelly.
The building now is home to a real estate appraisal business owned by Scott and Anne McGarry. Anne is the Paynes' daughter.
“The building is nothing great, just the old KWHP where many hours and memories of radio were spent and made,” Anne McGarry said.
There will be a lunch that day at the American Legion at Fifth and Littler. Red's at Kelly and Danforth will be the site for dinner that night.
“I'm expecting between 50 and 75 people at least,” Gail Payne said. “We really want people to bring their families.”
KWHP covered what are now the University of Central Oklahoma and Oklahoma Christian University, as well as prep sports. The enterprise was far from a sure thing 50 years ago, former program director Jim Wood said.