By Mac McLeod,
Livingston radio station WLIV, a fixture in the community since 1946 and owned for the past 50 years by J.J. and Millard V. Oakley, has been sold to Stonecom, a privately owned company in Cookeville.
In a statement Thursday afternoon, Millard Oakley stated, “It’s just time to move on. I bought the station around 1970, with Dick Gillespie, when I was in the Legislature, and some of my colleagues laughingly accused me of buying it to help with my campaign. That was not the case; it just came available and I thought it would be a good venture.”
Oakley confessed he had very little to do with the day-to-day operations and that station manager Joel Upton had done an outstanding job of running the station and keeping it on top of the community activities.
“I did want it to be a local station,” Oakley continued, “and Joel and our sales manager, Carolyn Peterman, have both done an outstanding job at doing that. I sincerely thank them for the job they have done here in addition to our longtime employees who, as well, kept our goal of a local radio station running smoothly.”
Around 1946, two men, Freeman Crowder and Reuben McCoin, started WLIV and it passed through several hands until Oakley bought it. Upton and Peterman both came to work at the station shortly before or at the time Oakley purchased it and have remained with it the entire time.
“Working for Mr. Oakley has been a pure pleasure,” Upton stated. “He owned it, but let me run it without much interference, and I appreciate all he did here. Being a local station meant a lot to him, and to me, so it wasn’t hard to meet his goal.
“Now it’s time for me to move on to other things, and I will. I’m not ‘retiring’ just slowing down a little,” Upton added. “Working here has been so rewarding that I don’t think I’ll just walk away but try to stay involved in Livingston, just at a slower pace.”
Peterman had similar feelings expressing her thanks to Mr. Oakley and the station.
“It has been such a big part of my life, and I’ve enjoyed it so much,” Peterman added, “but I have some other things I want to do and this was a good time to step aside.”
The station’s new owner, Larry Stone, added that the two will be missed, but understood the feelings and the situation.
Stonecom owns four radio stations in the Cookeville area – Light Rock 95.9, Kicks Station 106.9, Rock 93.7, and NewsTalk 94.1.
“We’re excited about this purchase,” Stone stated. “We plan to keep it local, but as is always the case, there will be a few changes. Mr. Oakley checked us out thoroughly as to who we were and what we tried to do. We will do our best to maintain his desires and his dedication to this community.”
Stone has a long background in radio, including sports, going back some 19 years to starting the Tennessee Titans Network.
“WLIV has a reputation of good local sports and we certainly want to continue that,” he stated. “Local sports is vital to a close knit community like Livingston and we certainly want to continue it as well as other programming related to things going on here locally.”
Most of the paperwork for the ownership change was signed Thursday afternoon, Oct. 1.