What Is the Longest Running Radio Station in Nashville?
The longest-running radio station in Nashville is WSM 650 AM. It’s a 50,000-watt station that continues broadcasting in a full-time country music format—a great highlight among Nashville’s many historic businesses and sites. You’ll hear plenty of Americana in the rotation, along with some classic songs.
WSM 650 AM is also known for being the home of The Grand Ole Opry. That’s the world’s longest-running radio program.
Since it is a clear channel station that broadcasts at 50,000 watts, it reaches most of North America. Late at night, several nearby countries can also pick up the broadcast. Although most of the programming remains music, the overnight staffing was eventually eliminated in February 2020.
WSM Came on the Air in 1925
WSM 650 AM was founded by the National Life and Accident Insurance Company. The stationed signed on in 1925, with its initial programming dedicated to country music with the weekly Saturday night program for The Grand Ole Opry.
The first Opry broadcast happened in November 1925. Uncle Jimmy Thompson was the first performer, and it is still going strong nearly a century later.
WSM 650 AM has been broadcasting at 50,000 watts since 1932.
During the daytime hours, the radio station broadcast a mix of local and national news, NBC network events, and other long-form radio. It also adopted a middle-of-the-road music format to reserve the country music for the overnight hours.
In 1980, WSM 650 AM adopted a 24-hour country format.
Without the efforts of this radio station, Nashville might not have become a capital for the recording industry. Since it could reach so much of the country, many early performers dreamed of having their music played here.
In 2018, WSM launched Opry Nashville Radio to be a full-time streaming station based on Nashville’s lifestyle. It focuses primarily on contemporary country songs.