Sam Adair and John Schilling signed WHB on the air in 1922 from Kansas City. Cook Paint and Varnish Company purchased the station in 1930. It was an independent station until becoming a Mutual Network affiliate in 1936.
WHB operated as a daytime-only station until the FCC granted it full-time status in 1946.
Cook signed on WHB-FM in 1948 as a simulcast, but ended the FM service in 1950.
In 1953, Cook struck an agreement with Midland Broadcasting to share the new TV Channel 9 frequency. Under the arrangement, Cook would operate as WHB-TV for 90 minutes, followed by 90 minutes of Midland-owned KMBC-TV.
Cook sold WHB-AM to Omaha entrepreneur Todd Storz in 1954. He enjoyed success with a Top 40 pop format on his stations in Omaha and New Orleans. Storz flipped WHB to the nation’s first 24-hour Top 40 format. It became Kansas City’s most popular station by the end of the year.
WHB-AM’s 10,000-watt signal made the station one of the most powerful Top 40 stations in the country. It became a model for many stations around the nation seeking to copy the success of the Top 40 format. Here’s a sample of what WHB sounded like in 1960:
Storz built attention with elaborate promotions and contests. One treasure hunt led to traffic tie-ups as listeners searched for a turtle with the WHB logo painted on the back. In 1956, Kansas City’s police chief suggested Storz end his treasure hunts over WHB, but the station continued with its contests.
WHB called itself the “World’s Happiest Broadcasters,” airing a mix of Top 40 music, local news and even a late-night talk program which took calls from listeners across the Midwest.
In the 1970s, listeners began abandoning AM music stations for the crisper sound of FM. WHB’s AM competition had acquired FM licenses, but after WHB-FM failed in the 1950s, the station never acquired an FM sister. WHB’s ratings declined, but the station remained strong into the early 1980s.
Storz Broadcasting sold WHB to Shamrock Broadcasting in 1985. The new owner dropped Top 40 for a oldies. In 1989, KCMO-FM flipped to oldies, drawing away WHB-AM’s listeners.
WHB began simulcasting a farm/country music format in 1993. It swapped frequencies with KCMO-AM in 1998, giving the station a larger daytime coverage area.
Union Broadcasting purchased WHB and flipped the station to its current sports format in 1999.
Source: Wikipedia (WHB-AM) , Route56.com (WHB History)