Knoxville radio station 'feels good' about James Brown ties

WJBE stands for “Just the Best Everyday.” Back in the 1970s, however, those call letters stood for something — or someone — else.

People who enter WJBE’s studios in East Knoxville’s Five Points Neighborhood will notice the many photos of legendary singer James Brown.

In the late ’60s, Brown bought a radio station in Knoxville, changing its name to WJBE.

“That’s what the call letters are from, is James Brown Enterprises,” current WJBE CEO Joe Armstrong said.

Armstrong, also a Democratic state representative from Knoxville, bought the station in 2012.

“At that time it was WWAM, and so we brought back the call letters of WJBE,” Armstrong said.

As a UT student in the late 70s, Armstrong worked as a salesman for James Brown’s WJBE, before Brown sold the station.

Alyce Andrews is administrative assistant at the new WJBE. She also worked as traffic director at the original James Brown station.

“To bring life back into it once again, it’s a pleasure,” Andrews said. “Me and Joe are the only two originals at this station that was at the real, original station.”

“It’s almost like the ghost of James Brown coming back and being in the community again,” WJBE news director Gene Thomas Jr. said. “It’s special.”

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