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ON AIR

WONDERFUL
KEY WEST FLORidA

HISTORY

WKWF (1600 AM) is a radio station broadcasting a Sinatra based, jazz standards radio format. WKWF, Wonderful Key West Florida was founded in 1944 by John Maloney Spottswood, who was Sheriff of Monroe County and later State Senator. The station is currently owned by Spottswood Partners II, Ltd.

 

WKWF is a full time 500 watt station. In 1945 this station signed on the air. It featured a variety of programming including variety in the 1950 and 1960's,  country and rock in the 1970's and big band and show tunes in the 1980's.


 

ON THE AIR

(The Miami Daily News)

The voice of Key West was first heard above the mounting winds of the September 1945 hurricane.  It has been heard with increasing volume since.  It may yet swell to a volume which can be heard by the rest of the nation.  It is the voice of young Johnny Spottswood, who believes in the renewed destiny of his native conchland.  It comes over radio station WKWF.  

 

What Key West needed most of all, Spottswood felt, was a voice to tell its story.  So he started radio station WKWF in the building that houses his fathers drug store.   In September 1945 when a Caribbean hurricane aimed its fury at the keys, WKWF was not quite ready to make its debut.  But Spottswood obtained special permission from the FCC to go on the air ahead of schedule.  The new voice of Key West was first heard as it sounded warning to the residents of the keys, where a decade earlier hundreds had perished in an unheralded storm. After the storm, WKWF went off the air.  Six weeks later it resumed operations with its scheduled opening.  And the voice of Key West began demanding restoration of Cayo Huesan glory.  Along with Spottswood and those who believe with him, WKWF demanded: 

 

  • Resumption of ferry service to Cuba

  • Plane service to Cuba

  • Continuation of plane service to Miami

  • Permanent navy establishments

  • Restoration of coast-wise shipping

 

With these things accomplished, Spottswood believes other things will follow.  Navy men are with him in his belief that Key West has permanent value as a Gibraltar to guard the U.S. from the south.  They are also with him in trying to save Key West's air connection with Miami, which CAB is now ordering abandoned after granting National Air Lines an emergency route there during the war.

Unless the commercial concerns interested in ferry service to Cuba act soon, Spottswood believes the city fathers are in a mood to go into the ferry business themselves.  For, while the other essentials to the restoration of Key West are beyond the power of its residents alone to manage, they can themselves see that the flow of commerce through the city to the Antilles and Latin America is restored.

 

The cigar factories for which the town was famous are now gone.  All have moved to Tampa.  The pineapple factory has closed its doors.  The salt industry is a thing of the past. Commercial fishing and turtling is still a half million dollar a year industry and is likely to remain.  In a changing world, the things that are gone from Key West may never come back.  But, during the hurricane, its voice was heard as far away as Australia over the airwaves from WKWF.  So the voice may be heard in nearer America, and other things may come to take the place of the things that are gone.

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Spottswood comes from a family whose history is almost synonymous with that of the keys.  As a lad, he worked with the U.S. lighthouse service.  He learned every reef and channel of his native keys.  He learned to love the many-hued waters which lave the islands, the doughty, patient lighthouse men who guard the lives of sailors from death on the dangerous shoals, the salty fisherman who brought their catches to the wharves.  As a boy, he learned to love Key West as it was.  As a man, he loves it for what it might be again. He hopes  his voice will help to bring his city to its destiny.

 

When World War II threatened, the navy hastened to build up its establishment at Key West.  The curving dagger of the keys sweeps out, guardian like to the South, from where attempted invasion of our shores might come.  Spottswood was 20 years old.  But he somehow sold the navy brass on the idea that abundant energy and a knowledge of the keys, from Key Largo to Dry Tortuga's, should offset a lot of seniority.  He got a job as a civilian procurement officer.  It was there he learned just what navy money meant to the economy of Key West.

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