"WMBL - Where Morehead and Beaufort Link, 740 on the dial."




If you "ain't from around here", you might wonder how this little island got it's name "Radio Island". Radio Island is a man-made island created in the 1930's as a result of the Morehead State Port project. During the construction of the State Port at Morehead City, dredging spoils were used to raise the land on which the port was constructed, and other spoils were deposited on what was then marshland across from the port. The island created on that marsh was given the name "Inlet Island". During World War II, the State Port at Morehead City played a major role in naval operations along the North Carolina coast. The ship channels around the island were charted as being 36 feet deep from the State Port to the open ocean in 1939. In 1943, the U.S. Navy leased the entire port facilities including Inlet Island for the war effort, and built servicing facilities as well as loading ramps on the island.

After the war, the island was sold to private coastal investors. In 1947, investors, operating as "Carteret Broadcasting Company, Inc.", constructed a 280-foot radio tower on the island. During July 1947, the radio station commenced operation and began broadcasting on 740 kilohertz with the call sign WMBL. It was during this time that the Inlet Island came to be called "Radio Island". The launch of WMBL, the first radio station in Carteret County, was a landmark event in the lives of the local population, which probably included those on Bogue Banks. Having a local station provided a strong signal and clear reception. This station opening was the lead headline for the July 17, 1947, issue of the The Beaufort News.

In the “golden age” of radio—1930s and 1940s, call letters originally had meaning. The Carteret Broadcasting Company owners named their station WMBL after the initials of their first names. However, the station’s marketing manager quickly changed that to “WMBL - Where Morehead and Beaufort Link, 740 on the dial.” Even though WMBL only had a small 1000-watt transmitter, it had listeners up and down the east coast since Radio Island was conducive to sending a good signal. Initially as a promotional gimmick, the Radio Station manager began calling the island "Radio Island". The name eventually took hold with the locals. The station on Radio Island remained in operation at the island location through the 1960s. It was sold and eventually moved to a location on Little Nine Road in Morehead City. The station was bought by a subsidiary of Clear Channel Worldwide and was permanently taken silent in February 2000 to allow WSCC, 730, in Charleston, SC, to make an upgrade. The building on Radio Island that housed the office, studio and transmitter was torn down, and in the mid 1970s, the broadcast tower was dismantled and removed.


WMBL Radio Station, Radio Island, 1957


Today, the western half of Radio Island is currently leased to a LP Gas company, and there are mooring areas for ships carrying LP gas as well as large LP gas storage tanks. The eastern part of Radio Island is partly managed by the County as a public beach access, and some is privately owned and is home to condos and a marina. The southern tip of Radio Island is leased by the U.S. Navy and used as a dock to load and unload ships. If you happen to be there at the right time you might see huge Navy ships returning from deployments overseas docked there, busy offloading vehicles and equipment coming back home to MCAS Cherry Point. The rock jetty at Radio Island lies on the south eastern tip of the island and extends along the edge of the island and into the inlet for about 70 yards. If fishing on a boat, at low tide, you can barely see the top of the rock jetty a foot or so under the water in the inlet.