The Face Behind the Voice

Tyler Sams celebrates 21 years in local radio

Tyler Sams is “that guy from the radio.”
Portrait by Rachel Pressley

Real Country WHKP — “Where the Heavens Kiss the Peaks” — signed on the air in 1946 as Hendersonville’s first radio station. Now, 77 years later, WHKP is still going strong. News Director, Social Media Director, and Online Personality Tyler Sams — the host of the “Afternoon Drive” program each weekday from 3-6pm — has been with WHKP for nearly 14 of his 21 years in radio. By the time he was in 5th grade, Sams decided he wanted to be a television news reporter, chasing the latest scoop and then working his way up to become a TV news anchor. But Sams also loved music, and thought it would be cool to be a radio disc jockey. When he was introduced to radio, he says, “I got the bug and never looked back.”

How did you get started in radio?

My radio career began when I was 17 years old, doing just about anything to get my foot in the door. One of my very first projects that I remember having the pleasure of taking on was alphabetizing a CD shelf — and that took a while because they had a lot.

What makes for good radio?

There’s an old saying: “Produce the kind of radio you would like to listen to.” About once a week, I’ll listen back to my show and kind of critique myself. What I’ve always stood by all these years is, you have to be prepared. I mean, I’ve been around a lot of radio personalities who can just wing it and do their best work. But I need structure in my life — so I do extensive prep work to decipher what news and music and other content would be relevant to keep the audience interested. The audience is the reason we come to work every day, and I love what I do with a passion. 

What’s your favorite part of the job?

There are lots of things that go on behind the scenes, but I get my most gratification when I step behind the mic — and hopefully that comes across on a positive note. There’s enough negativity in the world. I want to try to be encouraging and put a smile on your face and warm somebody’s heart if I can.

What are some of the highlights of your long career?

I love to interview and mix and mingle with the artists. And when I’m off the air, people may not recognize my face, but they hear my voice and say, “Hey, you’re the guy from the radio!” That always feels good — that small-market-radio hometown feeling. 

What are some of your passions outside of work your audience might not know about?

I’m an avid concertgoer and a sports-car fanatic.

What would your dream concert be — and your dream car?

I would love to see Journey and Aerosmith. And my dream car is a Ferrari Testarossa!

Find WHKP at 1450 on the AM dial or at 107.7 FM, or stream it live online. Listen to Tyler Sams weekdays from 3-6pm when he hosts the “Afternoon Drive” program. 

1 Comment

  • I worked with Tyler at WTZQ and grew to love and respect Tyler. He genuinely loves his job and you coiuld not have a better ,more dedicated, person than Tyler…Tyler knows I love Ray Price music and my favorite is “For The Good Times” play it for me Tyler …God Bless You!

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