Fisk’s radio station celebrates 50th anniversary

WSMV's Justina Latimer reports.
Published: Feb. 13, 2023 at 9:17 PM CST
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - The WFSK radio station at Fisk University is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

“We are Nashville’s Jazz station 88.1 FM WFSK Fisk University Nashville,” Sharon Kay said.

Kay is the general manager at Jazzy 88 WFSK. But many know her as the host of “What’s the 411? With Sharon Kay.”

She said Fisk University sought her out in 2005.

“I saw it as a blessing, a gift. Nobody saw what I saw here,” she said.

She sees the history in every microphone and how far the station has come.

“This was a cool place, and it was cool for so many reasons because how many other places can you go and hangout at a radio station and get a date, be cool, and be the talk of the city,” Kay said.

The radio station was the brainchild of students back in the 1970s. It was licensed by the FCC in 1973 as WRFN and was later changed to WFSK.

“When the students started to play jazz in the 70s, we were the first station to play jazz,” Kay said.

But if you tuned in back then, jazz music wasn’t the only thing you would hear.

“That was an era of a lot of civil rights movements and a lot of things happening in the Black community. They needed to be able to feel comfortable in saying what they wanted to say. If it was a speaker coming to town, they could use the station,” Kay said.

They even used it to broadcast the university’s basketball games.

“You didn’t hear Black basketball on any radio station in Nashville. Come on! That was in the 70s. You were lucky to hear a song,” Kay said.

As the first African American FM owned and operated radio station in Nashville, today listeners not only hear smooth and contemporary jazz, but also empowerment.

“The station’s impact on Nashville, to me, has been tremendous and I want Nashville to understand that,” Kay said. “That is why I am going to blow the horn as loud as I can during our 50th anniversary.”