Bart Walker Talks History of WGNS Radio Station

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by Mike Sparks – Dec 20, 2019

WGNS Radio host Bryan Barrett and I had an exciting Rutherford Issues “Smyrna Edition” show yesterday.

Our guest was the one and only Bart Walker, owner of WGNS radio in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. We may have made some history while we were at it.

Ironically, the interview may have been the first time that Bart has sat down at his own station for an interview. 

Bart and Leeann Walker

I arrived at WGNS Radio 100.5 FM,101.9 FM and 1450 AM studio a few minutes late. I had just left a breakfast meeting with Tennessee Mental Health Cooperative, TDOC’s Day Reporting Center, a representative with probation services and a few others to discuss an upcoming opioid and mental health conference we would like to do possibly at New Vision Church on Thompson Lane in the Boro. Our hope is to have Governor Bill Lee, Freedom Works, Men of Valor, Americans for Prosperity, Rutherford County District Attorney Jennings Jones, Judge Barry Tidwell, Project Return, Tn Mental Health Cooperative and others to be in attendance and hopefully “connect” folks who are trying to make a difference in this often “disconnected” world we live in.

I see many groups who are working hard to positively impact the drug and mental health crisis, but, in my opinion, could do a better job communicating with one another —  maybe this conference could help connect those dots. If anyone wants to help please let me know. We are planning for the month of May, depending on the governor’s schedule.

 

 

Bart Walker discusses WGNS Radio history

Mike Sparks and Bart Walker attend the 2018 Tennessee Broadcasters Hall of Fame

…Well, let me get back on topic. Arriving a little late worked out fine since Bart was recording a radio spot. The day before the show WGNS had their Christmas Party. While there I asked Bart, “Has anyone ever interviewed you on air?” He had a confused look on his face and he asked, “interview me, for what?” I said, “Man! just the stories you’re sharing with me now, there’s so much history just right here in this building, in this community and WGNS has been a huge part of that.”

If you have never had the opportunity to meet Bart, he is a very kind mild-mannered gentleman who does care deeply for his fellow man and his community. He is one of those guys who would rarely lose his temper. If he did use profanity I would imagine the curse words would be: Fiddlesticks, Jiminy Cricket or Heavens to Betsy – just to name a few.

Bart has a great sense of humor and always seems to be in a good mood —even while battling the challenges of losing their daughter-in-law, Angie Walker, in the Christiana tornado last year. Angie Walker was one very sweet lady, a caring mother who had a beautiful infectious smile.

Bart Walker interviews Journalism Dan Whittle who was an Inductee into the 2018 Journalism Hall of Fame

 

Bart Walker Talks WGNS Radio History at Rutherford County Historical Society

Bart Walker speaks to Rutherford County Historical Society Monday, May 20, 2019, Rutherford County Archive Building
Bart discusses the time Country Music Star Patsy Cline visited Murfreesboro.

Earlier in May of this year, Bart shared the history of WGNS  Radio 100.5 FM, 101.9 FM and 1450 AM with the Rutherford County Historical Society. Bart talked about the history of the station, “WGNS rang-in the New Year of 1947, a time when there were no TV stations in Middle Tennessee and just a few radio stations in Nashville.”

WGNS announcer Bart Walker and guest.

Bart noted that Murfreesboro’s population was between 9,000 and 10,000 persons; the first electric clothes dryer went on the market that year; the average cost of a new house was $5,600; a gallon of gas was 15-cents; the average annual income was $2,500; the cost of a new car was $2,500; Murfreesboro’s first planning commission was formed with Jennings A. Jones as chairman; Jim McCord was Tennessee’s governor, and President Harry Truman proclaimed the end of World War II.

The evening was like a local time machine with the actual voices of the late Mayor Joe B. Jackson, coverage of tornadoes and hearing comments from victims, conversations with John Hood, Jennings Jones, Ray Duffey, Dennis Rainier, Judge Don Ash, Mike Liles, Hollis Harris, Bill Barry and many others from past WGNS radio broadcasts.

Bart Walker Inducted into 2016 Radio Hall of Fame

Bart Walker speaks at the 2016 Radio Show Hall of Fame

 
Radio broadcasters from across Tennessee honored twelve persons this past Saturday night (5/14/2016) by inducting them into the Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame. One was from Murfreesboro. That one… Bart Walker of WGNS.
This was the fifth consecutive year that this celebration was held in Murfreesboro at the Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center.

Hall of Fame Week
Organization President Gary Beaty said that the State of Tennessee as well as the Federal Government have both proclaimed this entire week at TENNESSEE RADIO HALL OF FAME WEEK.
Hall of Fame Treasurer Skip Woolwine told NewsRadio WGNS that once again the Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame was a complete sell-out. He noted that Murfreesboro City TV taped the event and will feature it throughout the coming month on the city’s cable access channel. A video of the evening is also be posted on the Hall of Fame website.
Thank you, Bart and Leeann Walker, for all you have done, are doing and will continue to do in our community. Thank you for welcoming the idea of doing Smyrna Issues show roughly 15 years ago (Wow, times flies when you’re having fun). The idea was for a show that would discuss issues facing Smyrna, La Vergne, and north Rutherford County. With Smyrna Issues, Bryan Barrett and I have brought attention to many issues from economic development, tourism, education and many often lack voices. Issues such as drug addiction, the fatherless epidemic, mental health, PCC probation lawsuit of $14.3 million which allegedly extorted fees and fines from 30,000 residents) and more.
Rep. Mike Sparks presents a Tennessee House Resolution honoring Rutherford County Historian Greg Tucker, Smyrna Historian Toby Francis, County Commissioner Pettus Reed, Mrs.Tucker, Greg Tucker, Greg’s grandson, WGNS Bart Walker, Smyrna Historian Marty Luffman, Murfreesboro Councilman Eddie Smotherman, County Commissioner Joe Gourley and Murfreesboro Attorney (name coming soon)
A few of our guests, sadly, many of them has passed away. Guests such as former Smyrna Mayor Bob Spivey, Smyrna Airport Director Steve Fitzhugh, Rutherford County Historian Ernie Johns, Smyrna resident and retired WW11 veteran Denny Taylor, former La Vergne and founding father of La Vergne AC Puckett and others.