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This page will attempt to showcase the histories of Philadelphia FM radio stations,
past and present.
Please feel free to e-mail me with any information you would like to contribute to this page and
you will be credited.
Some information provided by:
Dave Hughes' NYRTV website (no longer online)
Jeff Miller's History Of American Broadcasting website
Do you, or anyone you know, work in NJ radio, either now or in the past?
is looking for you!
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WPEB - 88.1 FM, Philadelphia
On May 15, 1981, WPEB began to broadcast from its headquarters at Calvary United Methodist Church, 48th St. & Baltimore Ave. in Philadelphia.
The station was founded by a group of civic-minded residents to provide community-oriented services and programs.
As a non-profit station, the original funding was from United Methodist Communications and the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church Commission on Communications.
Proposals were written to various private organizations who supplied the much needed funding.
Instrumental in the origination of the station were the Rev. Hal Tausig and his wife, the Rev. Susan Cole.
Also instrumental in the starting of WPEB was Eastern Pennsylvania Conference Communications chairman Mr. William Thompson of Wharton Wesley United Methodist Church, 54th & Catherine Sts.
Various members of both churches contributed to the programming, along with the students of Penn and Drexel.
The current staff consists entirely of volunteers, and the station is managed and operated by females and minority members.
WPEB airs "over 50 diverse programs weekly", covering a wide range of topics.
The station operates 20 hours a day during the week and 24 hours on the weekends.
In early 2001, WPEB was affiliated with "Radio Volta" for a time.
In September 2005, WPEB went off the air because of interference complaints with WPVI's (Channel 6) audio on 87.7.
In May 2006, WPEB was sold for $70,000 to Scribe Video Center.
The station has also applied to move its transmitter slightly southwest of its present location.
(Thanks to William Carson Jr. for some of this information)
WXPN - 88.5 FM, Philadelphia
The history of radio at the University of Pennsylvania begins during the infancy of radio broadcasting itself.
While experimental radio stations had been in existence in the United States since the early years of the twentieth century (indeed, Guglielmo Marconi had successfully transmitted amplitude-modified, or AM, radio waves across long distances in Europe beginning in the 1890s), radio broadcasting as we know it today can be said to have originated with station KDKA in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The Pittsburgh station was the first to receive a license for commercial broadcast from the federal Department of Commerce, and it initiated a regular daily schedule of transmissions on November 2, 1920.
Throughout the country, entrepreneurs rapidly sought and obtained licenses for other stations and by 1922, Philadelphia had five licensed AM radio stations.
In May 1923, the University of Pennsylvania began to broadcast educational programming from a studio in Houston Hall, transmitting from the facilities of WIP, one of the first AM radio stations in Philadelphia.
A contemporary newspaper described these broadcasts as "the first step by a large university toward utilizing the radio in the dissemination of learning."
These broadcasts continued, intermittently, on both WIP and other local stations, for twenty years.
The programming produced at the University included faculty presentations on literature, psychology, astronomy, history, government, business, archaeology, and other diverse topics; student debates; musical performances by Penn groups; as well as occasional sports contests.
As years passed, an increasing number of American colleges and universities were managing and operating their own radio stations, and several times in the first half of the twentieth century, the University considered, on an administrative level, the possibility of an official Penn station.
All such propositions faltered, however, due partly to the cost and administrative effort that a station would require and partly to the perception that "educational" broadcasting was ineffective.
In 1941, though, students who had grown up listening to the radio attempted to set up their own station in one of the freshman dormitories.
The station, called WUOP (for University of Pennsylvania), was in operation for a brief period of time before its student-operators tired of the chores that broadcasting entailed.
In the spring of 1945, however, a group of engineering students interested in the mechanism of broadcasting and a group of drama and other students interested in the content of broadcasting drew together to establish a new campus radio station.
Consciously avoiding the call letters "WU**," which they considered "phonetically dumb," the students decided to call the station WXPN (for Experimental Pennsylvania Network).
Working through the summer under the leadership of Richard Ridgeway, the students built the necessary equipment and installed it in Houston Hall, Penn's student union building.
A series of test broadcasts beginning in the fall led to the first official broadcast on November 14, 1945, at a frequency of 730 kHz (WQHS, the student-operated AM station at Penn today, still uses the 730 kHz frequency).
As with many other college systems at that time (including that of the earlier WUOP), WXPN's signal was transmitted across University power lines instead of through the air.
Accordingly, its reception was limited theoretically to the Penn campus and practically to only those dormitories and fraternity houses nearest Houston Hall itself.
At first, WXPN broadcast for only a few hours each week, but its schedule gradually increased to several hours every weeknight.
Early programming included live coverage of sporting events (including some "away" meets); campus news; classical music shows; live music; and dramatic presentations.
These latter included works adapted from the stage, as well as a daily soap opera written by Harold (Hal) Prince, who went on to be a preeminent producer of Broadway musicals.
Students were vetoed, however, when they tried to perform Oedipus Rex on the air, for the English translation of Sophocles' masterwork contains the taboo word "damn"!
Commercial messages helped to subsidize the cost of WXPN as it grew.
In 1948, the radio stations at several prestigious colleges and universities in the eastern United States (including Penn) joined to form the Ivy Network.
Programming produced and distributed through the Ivy Network was able to generate a substantial amount of revenue from advertising; the Ford Motor Company, for instance, sponsored a classical music program on the network.
Helped by this increased income, WXPN was able to perform a major upgrade of its facilities in 1950, making the studios soundproof and installing a new control console in addition to partially relieving a problem of cramped quarters.
In 1956, WXPN applied for and received an educational-broadcast license for frequency modulating (FM) radio from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
The FCC assigned the FM frequency of 88.9 MHz to the station, which also retained its on-campus AM broadcasts.
WXPN-FM officially went on the air on April 23, 1957, with an output power of 10 watts.
The first broadcasts extended outwards with a radius of seven to ten miles, reaching areas outside the campus for the first time.
Three years later, in 1960, the station increased its FM power one-hundredfold to 1000 watts and installed a new broadcasting tower on the roof of the Gates Memorial Pavilion of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP).
With these improvements (which required an advance of $10,000 from the University and a crew of volunteers working throughout the summer), WXPN-FM broadcasts could effectively reach areas up to fifty miles away.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, although programming on WXPN-FM was no longer geared mainly toward the University population, it hardly deviated from that on WXPN-AM.
Both stations included educational lectures (though the FM broadcasts emphasized this to a greater extent), news and sports coverage, as well as programs devoted to classical, jazz, and folk music.
The major difference between the two stations was that the AM station aired commercial messages, while the FM did not.
Between 1964 and 1968, Laury Verner & Larry Kramer hosted a two hour classical show on Sundays called, "New Directions In Music."; it was the continuation of a program begun a few years earlier by Jim Loudon.
In February 1965, WXPN-AM began to air separate programming from WXPN-FM every weeknight.
This programming focused on popular (i.e., "rock") music, which WXPN staff had previously excluded, following an unwritten law.
The nightly "four-hour rock chaos" on WXPN-AM - a precursor to "progressive," underground rock radio - proved very popular with Penn's students.
By 1968, WXPN-AM devoted nearly its entire schedule to rock music.
At the same time, WXPN-FM's focus seemed to be shifting from "educational radio" to "community radio."
By the late 1960s, WXPN-FM was broadcasting alongside its traditional programs a daily program entitled "Phase II," which mixed rock with folk, jazz, blues, and even classical musics, and a program entitled "Rafreeba" (Radio Free Black America), which provided a forum for discourse on black nationalism.
In addition, starting in 1969, WXPN-FM continued to broadcast to the community over the summer, when most students (and all University funding) were gone, by raising money from listeners in annual spring "marathons."
Other major changes occurred in this period, as well.
In January 1969, WXPN-FM began to broadcast entirely in stereo, becoming the first non-commercial station in Philadelphia to do so.
After twenty-five years with its headquarters in Houston Hall, moreover, the station was forced to relocate all of its facilities to a brick building at 3905 Spruce Street in the summer of 1970.
(It was discovered that Houston Hall had become dangerously overcrowded, provoking a fire hazard, and that major renovations were necessary there.)
The transition between buildings was far from smooth.
In the summer, rising costs and workers' strikes brought about delays in the necessary renovation of the facilities at 3905 Spruce.
WXPN eventually had to move into the building while work continued so that broadcasts could resume in September.
For several weeks, student-broadcasters faced the "catch-22" of operating with closed windows and oppressive late-summer heat or with open windows and the noise of construction outside.
To add insult to injury, when renovations were nearly complete in the late fall, the Philadelphia Historical Society attempted to halt the work, claiming that the building's interior (designed by Philadelphia architect Frank Furness) must not be altered from its original state.
Fortunately, the renovations had preserved the intricately carved woodwork on the building's staircase, and the Historical Society was eventually appeased.
At last, in January 1971, workers were able to complete the renovations, and WXPN gained control of the upper two floors of the building.
The station was growing increasingly dissatisfied with its FM signal, however.
The University Hospital's Gates building, one of the tallest in West Philadelphia when WXPN placed its antenna there in 1960, stood by 1970 in the shadow of several buildings nearby.
(A prominent example was "Superblock," a series of high-rise dormitories constructed in the late 1960s as part of Penn's great campus expansion.)
These taller buildings obstructed WXPN-FM's transmission, and consequently the signal no longer reached certain areas in the Philadelphia region.
After several years of requests, the station was at last permitted to relocate its antenna from the Gates building to the loftier High Rise South in 1973, regaining a radius of broadcast of about fifty miles.
The year 1973 also witnessed the beginning of an escalating series of troubles for WXPN.
During a soccer broadcast late that year, a station engineer accidentally aired a prank advertisement promoting (in explicit detail) a fake drug for sexual enhancement.
Several listeners complained to the University administration about the phony commercial, considering it obscene.
Around the same time, a group of students active in WXPN accused other staff members of using alcohol, marijuana, and other illegal substances at the station headquarters.
Then in December 1973, the station's business manager was impeached and removed from office for mismanagement of station funds.
In 1974, the University received additional complaints about "obscene" broadcasts from WXPN, such as readings from "erotic" literature, and the FCC began to investigate several allegations of misconduct by the station.
Amid this controversy, in December 1974, a pre-dawn fire of mysterious origins scorched the inside of 3905 Spruce.
Police suspected that it was a case of arson, and WXPN was forced to suspend broadcasts for a few weeks while the building was restored.
The controversy came to a head when WXPN returned to the air in January 1975.
Two broadcasts of an early-evening talk show called "The Vegetable Report" (on which profanity and sexual talk were commonplace) aroused scores of listeners to complain to the University and the FCC.
Within days, the FCC was looking into the matter.
The University finally took action in March 1975 as President Martin Meyerson transferred control of the station to Jerry Condon, Director of Student Affairs, and ordered that a new station constitution be drafted by an ad hoc committee.
To make matters worse, when WXPN's license to broadcast expired in July, the FCC declined to renew it until its own investigations were complete.
In December 1975, the FCC fined the Trustees of the University (who held the station's license) $2,000 for obscenity and other violations at WXPN.
The Trustees paid the fine but vowed to fight for the renewal of the station's license.
After months of investigation, on April 4, 1977, an administrative judge for the FCC ordered WXPN off the air in fifty days because of the University's apparent lack of control.
This marked the first time that the FCC had revoked a non-commercial broadcast license due to obscenity, and the case was soon considered a landmark in broadcasting law.
Penn's Trustees appealed the decision immediately, claiming that more effective management had been set in place, and many listeners wrote to the University and the FCC in support of the station.
One local musician asserted that WXPN's programming was "uniformly excellent, even if not in the mainstream of popular taste" and called the station "the only medium in the area that is truly committed to supporting local artists."
Others argued that the FCC was unfairly penalizing the students currently operating the station for the poor conduct of their predecessors.
During the drawn-out court battle between the Trustees and the FCC, WXPN continued broadcasting without a license through a series of temporary permits.
Finally, in 1980, more than five years after the controversy started, the FCC approved a new license for the station.
Meanwhile, during the years when its license was in limbo, WXPN underwent great internal change.
In January 1976, the Trustees of the University determined that a professional station manager should guide the station.
For this task, they hired Jim Campbell, the former general manager of a college station in New York, in July 1976.
A few months earlier, in March, a Board for Policy and Standards had initiated a series of meetings to examine the development of WXPN's operations from the station's inception to that time, so that it might recommend future improvements to the station.
To the dismay of those working at the station, there were no student representatives on the Board, whose eight members were selected from the University faculty and the communications field at large.
Several persons who served on the Board had worked at WXPN while undergraduates at Penn.
In December 1976, the University's Student Activities Council (SAC) approved a new constitution for the station which declared that only persons affiliated with the University could vote on WXPN's board but set no restrictions on who could work for the FM station.
(The AM station, however, continued to be run exclusively by students at Penn.)
As a result, many former students continued to work at WXPN after their graduation from the University, and an increasing number of community volunteers became involved in the station.
By 1980, undergraduates comprised less than one-third of WXPN-FM's operating staff.
Once "student-run," the station had become "student-participatory."
As student-involvement at WXPN decreased, the SAC, which distributed University money for student activities, began threatening to cut its level of funding for the station.
Of WXPN's $116,000 budget in 1980, $17,000 (or about 15%) came from the SAC.
In April 1981, however, the SAC allotted only $1,000 for the station.
Although it continued to stress its commitment to the student body at Penn, WXPN was forced to rely less on funding from the University and to find alternate sources of support.
In the late 1970s, under the leadership of station manager Peter Cuozzo, WXPN-FM began to take steps toward becoming a public radio station.
In 1979, the station first applied for grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), with the avowed intent of becoming an affiliate of National Public Radio (NPR), a prestigious network of non-commercial stations.
Though the CPB turned down these initial grant proposals, it had become clear that WXPN-FM was moving away from a focus on the University and, thus, away from its AM counterpart.
As if to confirm the separate natures of the two signals, in the late 1970s WXPN-AM officially changed its name to WQHS, taking the new call-letters from the portions of Penn's campus that it principally served: the Quads, Hill House, and Superblock.
In March 1982, at the recommendation of the University Council, the composition of eight-member WXPN's governing body was altered to include representatives from Penn's student body and the listening community, as well as from the University's faculty, trustees, and administration.
The Council, furthermore, encouraged the station to increase its level of student involvement.
By late 1986, approximately half of the station's staff were students at Penn, and another quarter were former students.
The importance of contributions from listeners increased as well, accounting for about two-thirds of WXPN's operating income in 1984.
Throughout the 1980s, however, the station struggled with annual financial deficits and other internal problems.
By 1985, WXPN's governing board, after working with a hired consultant, had resolved that the station should work to meet the qualifications for annual funding from the CPB.
With support from University administration, the station undertook improvements to its physical facilities and added one paid staff position to meet the CPB's minimum requirement of five.
After these changes, WXPN officially qualified for and began receiving CPB funding in June 1986.
Other changes also took place in 1986.
In the fall, the station governing board was renamed the WXPN Policy Board and restructured to include ten members.
In November, the Office for the Vice Provost of University Life led a search which resulted in the hiring of Mark Fuerst as the station's third professional general manager.
WXPN's programming in the mid-1980s had exhibited great diversity, a juxtaposition of classical music with "punk" rock and folk songs with avant-garde electronic music.
Some airchecks from this period can be heard here.
Despite stiff opposition from many listeners and volunteer staff members, Mark Fuerst began as general manager to change the station's schedule, seeking to apply some structure and continuity.
In addition to new local programming, WXPN began to import programs, ranging from news and analysis to "New Wave" music, from national and international public radio networks.
In late December 1987, "Kids America," an acclaimed call-in program for children that WXPN carried in the evenings, was terminated by its station of origination, WNYC in New York, after the CPB discontinued its funding for the program.
With a large, temporary commitment from the University (and, later, a three-year grant from the William Penn Foundation), WXPN was able to hire the host of "Kids America," Kathy O'Connell, and create a local version of the program, all in ten days!
On January 4, 1988, "Kid's Corner" made its debut on WXPN.
The program continues to be one of the most popular on the station.
In May 1989, WXPN astonished the public radio community by winning three of the eleven CPB Public Radio Awards, in children's (for "Kid's Corner"), community service, and public affairs programming.
Two years later, in March 1991, "Kid's Corner" won a prestigious George Foster Peabody Broadcasting Award, an honor which recognizes excellence in broadcast media, commercial or non-commercial.
(Other winners that year included Ken Burns' acclaimed television series "The Civil War" for PBS.)
At the same time, WXPN's listening audience had increased drastically, from an average of 40,500 in spring 1986 to an average of 78,100 in spring 1989.
The station could reach even more listeners beginning in October 1990, when it was able to boost its power from 1.9 kW to 3 kW as a result of a change in frequency from 88.9 MHz to 88.5 MHz.
In the midst of this success, WXPN received a highly competitive $305,000 grant in March 1990 to research and develop a program of contemporary world music for national syndication.
With the help of several consultants, Mark Fuerst and others at the station established the framework of a daily, two-hour program that "reflects and anticipates trends in international popular music."
In January 1991, the CPB approved WXPN's proposal and issued a second grant to begin production.
Trial broadcasts of "The World Café," as the program became known, began on WXPN on August 11, 1991, and on October 14, 1991 the show premiered nationally on five stations.
By the end of 1992, carriage of "The World Café" had increased to fifty-five stations.
Today, over one hundred stations throughout the country carry "The World Café."
In the 1990s, WXPN has extended the scope of its broadcasts even further.
In 1993, WKHS (90.5 MHz FM) in Worton, Maryland, a suburb of Baltimore, began to simulcast WXPN's programming every weeknight and all day on the weekends.
The following year, a similar arrangement began with a station in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
In September 1995, moreover, WXPN began to broadcast remotely twenty-four-hours-a-day through WXPH (88.1 MHz) in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Under the leadership of Vinnie Curren, who succeeded Mark Fuerst as general manager in 1996, the station has continued to grow and thrive.
Today, WXPN streams all of its broadcasts live over the Internet, enabling computer users anywhere in the world to hear its programming.
From its beginning serving Penn's students with programming for a few hours each weeknight to its present status as a national leader in the "Adult, Album, Alternative" (AAA) format of radio, WXPN has fulfilled its creators' intent as a station willing to experiment.
(WXPN profile, courtesy of: http://www.archives.upenn.edu/faids/upf/upf10.html - submitted by Michael K. Wald)
(Thanks to Laury Verner for some of this information)
WRTI - 90.1 FM, Philadelphia
WRTI, "Radio Technology Institute", started off as a carrier current AM station on March 15, 1948.
It moved to the FM band on July 9, 1953.
The AM station was phased out in late 1968.
The station is best known for being primarily a jazz station.
However in September 1997, the classical music library from WFLN (see below) was moved over to WRTI, when that station changed formats.
Since that time, WRTI now features classical during the day and jazz at night.
(Thanks to "Michael Something" and a former GeoCities WRTI History page for some of this information)
WHYY - 90.9 FM, Philadelphia
WHYY began broadcasting on October 20, 1954.
The station was founded by a group of dedicated citizens led by Dr. W. Laurence LePage, then-president of The Franklin Instutute.
LePage and his support group of citizens, corporations and foundations, persuaded Westinghouse Radio, Inc. to donate a fully operational FM radio station at 17th And Sansom Sts.
WHYY, which stood for "Wider Horizons For You And Yours", dedicated its evening broadcasts to providing educational and cultural programming for the citizens in the metropolitan Philadelphia area.
In 1957, WHYY launched a television station on Channel 35, WUHY.
In order to coincide with the TV call letters, the FM station was renamed WUHY.
In 1964, a year after WUHY-TV was switched to Channel 12 and renamed WHYY, the TV and FM studios were moved to 46th & Market Sts.
The new studios were donated by Ambassador Walter Annenberg, who had just moved his WFIL (Channel 6) operations to City Ave.
The FM station, still named WUHY at this point, continued to operate its transmitter from 17th & Sansom until 1972, when it joined most of the region's transmitters in the Roxborough section of the city.
The WUHY broadcast day, which was 5p-11p weekdays and 9a-11p on weekends, programmed mainly classical music and some material obtained from the "Eastern Educational Radio Network."
The station's programming choices were drastically increased in 1977 when National Public Radio set up a satellite-delivered programming network for its member stations.
A 10-meter C Band receiving dish, the first of its kind in Philadelphia, was placed atop the Market St. studios in 1978.
This technological advancement provided enough material to allow the station, now renamed WHYY, to commence full-time operations.
The next year, through a special arrangement with the City of Philadelphia, WHYY moved its headquarters and Channel 12 administration offices to the former Living History Center Museum on Independence Mall.
In August 1980, the radio station moved to the Mall, as well.
By April 1983, all broadcasting, production and corporate activities were housed together on Independence Mall.
One item, however, that remained back at the old location of 46th & Market Sts. was the station's C-Band satellite dish, which could not be moved to center city due to interference problems.
Until a recent switch to a smaller Ku-band system, the signals from the large dish were sent via microwave downtown to WHYY.
During the 1980's, WHYY became one of the nation's premiere NPR affiliates, contributing programming such as "Fresh Air" and "Voices In The Family" to other NPR stations across the country.
In 1987, the station decided to drop its mainly classical format in favor of news and information.
WHYY and NPR are also noted for being on the cutting edge of broadcasting technology through early utilization of fiber-optic distribution and digital audio recording techniques.
Some WUHY & WHYY airchecks can be heard here.
(provided by Alan Boris - Philadelphia Radio Archives)
WKDU - 91.7 FM, Philadelphia
The origins of this station date back to around 1958, when it was known as WMAN, and later as WXDT.
In 1969, Drexel Institute of Technology changed its name to Drexel University.
In 1970, newly-christened WKDU made its debut on 91.7.
During the week, mostly AOR or Progressive Rock was played; Saturdays were devoted to Top 40 and Oldies, and Sundays were set aside for "The Black Experience."
Some personnel at the station in the late 1970's included:
Santo Cannone (PD - 1977-1978)
Al Stretton (PD - 1978-1979)
Al Rovner (Music Director)
Carl Lee (who went on to WPWT - see below)
"Disco Mindy" (also went to WPWT)
KB (Kurt Brenner) & The Naked Man (Saturday afternoons; Kurt also did a solo show)
Mark Silver (did an oldies show on Saturday nights)
Todd Doren (went on to work for Arbitron)
"Supersab" & Bruce Scott (Saturday mornings, then Saturday evenings; "Supersab" also did a solo show; both went on to WPWT)
Mark Grossman (hosted an Israeli rock show, "Sounds Of Jerusalem"; Bruce "Scott" Wartell co-founded & co-hosted the show for the first year and a half; Mark continued the show into the 80's until someone took over for him)
Dave Snyder (did a weekday punk rock show)
Jeff Moore (News Director)
Plus, some fill-ins from WPWT staffers, Bill Barthe and Ken Nelson.
In recent years, the station has featured alternative, hard-core and other "industrial" formats.
(Thanks to Steven Green & "Bruce Scott" for some of this information)
WPWT - 91.7 FM, Philadelphia
WPWT ("Philadelphia Wireless Technical Institute") signed on in January 1950.
I'm not too familiar with the early years of this station, however, by the 1970's, it began sharing time with WKDU (see above).
WPWT's broadcast schedule ran from 2:15p to 9:55p, and for most of the late 1970's, the format was Disco.
Around that time, the station's PD, Bill Barthe - who was 95% blind - hosted a show.
Other DJ's who had shows around that time, included "Disco Mindy" Ochsner, "Sab Michael" (aka "Supersab"; real name: Sabatino Cupelli), "Bruce Scott" (Bruce Wartell), "Ken Nelson" (Neil Rosner), "Demitrius", Vernon Davis, Jim Chambers and Carl "Lee" Lewandowski.
Sab, Bruce, Mindy and Carl all started out on WKDU (see above), before moving over to WPWT.
John Schellante (aka "Doc Nostalgia") hosted an oldies program on WPWT, which ran Friday nights from 6 to 10pm.
Later, that time slot was taken over by Bruce Scott.
Around 1980, WPWT featured a Modern Top 40 format, with about 25% of their playlist devoted to up-and-coming artists from Philly and across the country.
WPWT was the first station in America to play Thomas Dolby's "She Blinded Me With Science" in 1983, and also helped promote the careers of Robert Hazard, Karen Young, The Hooters, and other artists.
The station was phased out by the late 1980's because funding wasn't available for necessary upgrades to its transmitter and other equipment.
(Thanks to Andy Buck, Steven Green, Mike Mezz, "Bruce Scott" & Stacy Zemon for some of this information)
WXTU - 92.5 FM, Philadelphia
92.5 initially signed on in 1942 as KYW-FM; the station was later taken off the air in 1955.
92.5 signed on (again) in September 1958, featuring an MOR/talk format, with calls of WIFI.
In the early 1960's, WIFI experimented with a folk music format.
Starting in the 1960's, WIFI ran some local suburban programming, including Norristown High School football and basketball play-by-play on Friday nights.
The station experimented with early progressive rock programs after the games.
"Giant Gene" Arnold was one of the more popular jocks at this time.
In the mid to late 1960's, Ron Diamond hosted a popular evening Doo-Wop show.
In 1970, the station dropped local programs for a full-time syndicated, jockless MOR format, "Hit Parade '70" and "Hit Parade '71".
In the early 1970's, the station started the area's first high-energy Top 40 format as "WIFI 92, Stereo Rock."
Sam Lit, son of legendary Philly DJ Hy Lit, was a weekend personality on WIFI in the mid to late 1970's.
Other personalities in the late 1970's (under PD Bob Hamilton) included Joey Mitchell (6am - 10am), Bob Travis (10am - 2pm), Bo Weaver (2pm - 6pm), Al Bandiero (6pm - 12mid), Jim Brown (12mid - 6am) and Jim Reid handled 7pm - 12mid on Saturday nights and 10am - 2pm (or 2pm to 6pm) on Sundays.
When Bob Hamilton left for LA, Bob Travis (who was the MD) became the acting PD.
Bill Hennes (from WNDE in Indianapolis) joined as PD briefly, before moving over to WIBG.
Steve Rivers then became the PD, with Byron & Tanaka taking over for mornings and Jeff Robbins handling afternoons.
Geoff Fox (formerly of WPEN) hosted mid-days in 1980, replacing Kelly McCann, who later became the Production Director.
The rest of the lineup in 1980 included Byron & Tanaka (6am - 10am), Liz Kiley (2pm - 6pm), Jay Berman (6pm - 10pm), Ted Hudson (10pm - 2am) and Jim Brown (2am - 6am).
Don Cannon (from WIBG & WFIL, and currently at WOGL) hosted mornings from September 1981 to October 1982.
Some other popular DJ's as part of the "WIFI Crew" were "Machine Gun" Kelly, "Wild Child" Kane and Dennis John Cahill.
By the early 1980's, with Top 40 competition from WCAU, WIFI evolved into an AOR format.
Around 1983, consultant Rick Carroll from Los Angeles was hired, and he switched WIFI to a new Modern Rock format, "I-92 - The Rock Of The 80's", playing music popular on the then-new MTV channel.
Jocks included "Bill E." (Mike Brophey), "Moe Hawk" (Andre Gardner), Mel "Toxic" Taylor, and Lee Paris.
More info on WIFI, including airchecks and jingles, can be found here: WIFI92.com.
Later in 1983, the station was sold to Beasley Broadcasting, who brought in new program director, Doug Weldon, and changed the call letters to WXTU (a variation of New York's popular WKTU) and started up a short-lived urban format as "92X".
Besides Weldon, the jocks were popular WDAS jock Dr. Perri Johnson, Steve Brown, Mike Brophey, Steve Ross and Glen Holtzer.
The station failed to compete with WDAS and WUSL, and concluded the format with a "Sadie Hawkins Day" live dance party on February 29, 1984.
On March 1, 1984 at 1pm, the station switched to country, after a 6 month absence of the format in Philadelphia (abandoned by WFIL the past September).
The first song played was "Are You Ready For The Country" by Waylon Jennings.
The format was initally 3-in-a-row "Continuous Country", but soon became presonality-oriented "Country 92" under new morning host and program director Larry Coates.
Local veteran country jock Leigh Richards (from WRCP, WFIL and WTTM) took over evenings.
The station enrolled listeners in a "Country Club" to reward them with prizes and special offers.
A succession of morning hosts included Bob Burshay, Judy Michaels, Gina Preston, Jeff Collins, Jack Wilensky, Ruth Weisberg, John Lodge, Steve Harmon, Scott Evans and Andie Sommers.
Mike Brophey, a WIFI survivor, hosted afternoons for many years.
The station experimented with Sunday morning shows: bluegrass, hosted by Gene Shay, and country classics, hosted by Bill Quinn.
They started their own country music nightclub, "Club 92.5" in King Of Prussia.
The station eventually changed their identity to "Today's Country 92.5 WXTU", then to the current "92.5XTU".
In March 2002, Pam Merly (formerly of WYSP and WMMR, and a WXTU weekend jock in the 1990's) returned to host "CrossTrax", a weekday evening show mixing country, alt-country, and country-rock songs.
(Thanks to Gene Arnold, Dennis John Cahill, John Hendricks, Jim Reid, Alan Stone, Bruce Wartell & Jim Wambold for some of this information)
(Thanks to Mark Fletcher for the "Philadelphia Country" WXTU logo)
WMMR - 93.3 FM, Philadelphia
This station initially signed on April 20, 1942 on 97.5 FM and as most FM stations were at the time, simulcasted their AM counterpart.
The station was known as WIP-FM and featured WIP-AM's MOR programming.
The station moved to 93.3 in approximately 1948.
Around 1966, calls changed to WMMR, which stood for "MetroMedia Radio", the station's owner.
The format remained the same, but it was no longer a simulcast; WMMR now had its own programming, but announcements were pre-recorded by the AM jocks.
On April 29, 1968, a program called The Marconi Experiment debuted, hosted by Dave Herman, which signaled the beginning of the station's progressive rock format.
Pat McCall also joined the station around this time, and initially hosted the "Sinatra & Company" show, right before Dave Herman started "The Marconi Experiment."
Pat stayed with the station and voicetracked the music tapes during the day, before being switched to mornings.
He also did sales for the station.
For the next couple of years, the station was part of the "underground" FM movement, where the jocks would play whatever they wanted and were generally left alone by management who concentrated on the more profitable AM side.
On Sunday mornings in the early 1970's, the station featured a show that had narrated history on various subjects, intermingled with folk and folk rock music.
However, the situation changed in the mid-to-late 1970's, as the audience for FM grew and the station received more resources, research and attention.
WMMR dominated the ratings during the 1980's, but has slowed down somewhat in recent times.
In 1987, WMMR was sold to Legacy Broadcasting, then to Westinghouse in the early 1990's.
In 1995, CBS and Westinghouse merged.
Then, in 1996, CBS/Westinghouse merged with Infinity, which gave the new company one-too-many stations in the market.
As a result, WMMR was spun off to Greater Media in 1997.
John DeBella did mornings on WMMR for a number of years and Pierre Robert has been with the station for quite some time.
Some other past WMMR jocks included Joe Bonadonna (who went on to become PD), Juan Bonadonna, Earl Bailey (who became news director), Michael Tearson, Ed Sciaky, "Sack" (who went on to WWZK "K-Rock"), "Bubba" John Stevens, Matt Chord, Carol Miller, Helen Leicht-Kennedy, David Race, Elise Brown, Donille Flynn, Matt Davis, Mark Davis, Matt Dylan and Kim Alexander.
Paul Barsky (who previously did stints at WCAU, WPLY and WXXM) handled morning show duties at WMMR for a time.
WMMR is best known for being a Mainstream AOR station, but did lean towards Classic Rock in the early 90's.
WMMR currently programs itself as a Mainstream Rock station, to complement co-owned WMGK's "pop" Classic Rock format.
(Old WMMR logos courtesy of Bryan Vargo)
(Thanks to Mark D, Pat McCall, Albert Seamen, Alan Stone & Dave Vanderslice for some of this information)
WIP - 94.1 FM, Philadelphia
This station began as WIBG-FM in 1948, the sister station of WIBG-AM, and basically simulcast the AM Top 40 station until the mid-1960's.
By the mid-1960's, WIBG-FM experimented with an "underground", pre-recorded type of rock music without announcers.
In 1968, Storer bought the station and shut it down while attempting to get permission for an increase in transmission power.
94.1 was a restricted Class B station at the time, limited in range to avoid interfering with another station in Sunbury PA.
During 1969, the WIBG calls were changed to WPNA, but only on paper, since the station was still dark.
Having been unsuccessful in getting the Sunbury station to agree to an FCC waiver, Storer sold WPNA to SJR Communications.
SJR stood for "San Juan Racing", referring to the company's lone US holding: a racing track in San Juan.
SJR changed the call letters to WYSP, "Your Station In Philadelphia", and quickly made a deal with the Sunbury station that allowed WYSP to increase its power.
The station became a full Class B, with a non-directional 550ft antenna resulting in 39,000 ERP.
On August 23, 1971, the transmitter was turned on and WYSP went on the air.
The format consisted of live announcers playing big band and easy listening music from half-hour long reel-to-reel tapes that were produced in-house.
The WYSP studios were located in the Suburban Station building at 16th & JFK Pkwy. in Philadelphia.
A new RCA transmitter and circular polarized five-bay antenna was installed at the transmitter site.
At 6am on August 6, 1973, WYSP abruptly stopping playing big band music and starting playing album-oriented rock (AOR).
The entire announcing staff was fired (regardless of attempts to unionize) and five new announcers were hired, including Tom Straw and Dean Clark.
Mornings were hosted by "Fox & Leonard" from 1975 to 1979.
The duo even had their own (short-lived) TV show, "Fox & Leonard Go To The Movies."
The music included popular cuts from albums by artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Chicago and Crosby Stills and Nash.
Radio consultant Kent Burkhart was called in and along with Lee Abrams helped to develop and refine the format.
In 1974, WYSP became Philadelphia's "quad" station, piping its audio through a Sony Quad encoder, which provided "ambience" effects to the rear channels of the handful of quad radios in the market.
Due to a combatibility problem with regular mono radios, and a lack of interest from the listening public, the quad encoder was quietly dismantled in 1976.
At the same time, WYSP moved its studios to One Bala Plaza (then called One Decker Square) in Bala Cynwyd, a suburb of Philadelphia.
In 1977, the transmitter site was also moved to its present location in Roxborough.
Around 1980, WYSP began using the term "classic rock" to describe its music mix.
In 1981, the station was sold to Infinity Broadcasting, along with two other SJR stations, WKTU and WJIT in New York.
The price tag of $30 million for all three stations made many in the industry stand up and take notice.
In 1984, there was a brief attempt at a heavy metal focus in the playlist, but it lasted less than a year.
A major station event occurred on September 10, 1986 when Howard Stern debuted in the 6a-10a slot, simulcast from WXRK in New York.
Many industry observers felt that a morning show produced out of town would not be successful in Philadelphia.
However, Stern slowly, steadily and methodically rose past rival WMMR (see above) morning host John DeBella to eventually become the city's top morning personality.
In 1992, Stern accomplished the unthinkable: he beat out all-news KYW for first place overall in morning drive.
Also in 1992, the Philadelphia Eagles football play-by-play moved to WYSP from all-sports WIP.
In the fall of 1995, WYSP, concerned about the "antique" image of classic rock (and its aging listeners), switched to a modern rock format, aimed mainly towards a young male audience.
The 1996 purchase of Infinity by CBS placed CBS over the limit of stations it was allowed to own in Philadelphia.
As a result, WMMR (see above) was sold to Greater Media.
This left empty space at the KYW studios on Independence Mall, so on April 5, 1997, WMMR and WYSP switched studios.
WYSP moved downtown, and WMMR moved out to Bala Cynwyd.
In 2001, Opie & Anthony (heard on Infinity sister station WNEW in New York) started a syndication deal and their show started airing on WYSP.
The show was cancelled in 2002 following the "infamous" St. Patrick's Catherdal stunt, and was replaced by the syndicated Don & Mike show.
Don & Mike were cancelled in mid-2003.
On October 25, 2005, 94.1 re-imaged itself as "94.1 Free FM", aimed towards more talk-oriented programming.
Howard Stern broadcasted his last show on December 16, 2005 - and was replaced by David Lee Roth on January 3, 2006.
In April 2006, David Lee Roth was replaced with (ironically enough) Opie & Anthony.
On September 13, 2007, WYSP went back to playing what they were known for - rock.
On September 2, 2011 at 3pm, almost 40 years of rock ended on WYSP, when 94.1 became sports/talk radio as WIP-FM.
The last song played on 94.1 was Metallica's "Fade To Black."
(Thanks to Bob Leonard & Alan Stone for providing some of this information)
(some of this information, provided by Alan Boris - Philadelphia Radio Archives)
WBEN - 95.7 FM, Philadelphia
95.7 was founded by Philadelphia civic leaders as a fine arts station, which signed on as WFLN at 5p on March 1, 1949.
The WFLN calls stood for original owners, Franklin Broadcasting.
In the early years, programming was heard in the evening hours only.
In 1956, an AM station was added, which mostly simulcasted the FM.
Station leadership was carried out by the Smith and Green families.
Programming consisted of classical music along with a number of short "feature" programs.
Little emphasis was placed on making the station profitable, and most years it simply broke even.
The station continued along in this relaxed atmosphere until 1988, when it was sold to Marlin Broadcasting, a chain of classical music stations led by Woody Tanger.
Tanger decreed that the station would begin to make money with the classical format through a series of drastic changes.
Ten of WFLN's 31 employees, mostly from the sales and office staff, were fired.
A half-hour noon talk show hosted by long-time fixture Ralph Collier was canceled.
Tanger later fired Collier outright due to comments Collier made about the station in "Philadelphia" magazine.
Veteran arts critic Charles Lee was yanked off the air, and Tanger cut back dramatically on the station's news coverage, which included firing long-time newsman Jules Rhind.
Tanger maintained that news programming was readily available on other stations.
The effect of these sweeping changes was a more efficient operation, an increased commercial load and a higher salary for the remaining announcers.
Shadow Traffic reports also began running on the station for the first time.
In 1995, Tanger engineered a complex swap with American Radio Systems, ultimately selling the station for $28 million.
This transaction marked the beginning of the end of WFLN as a classical music station, as four more companies bought and sold the station within the next two years.
Each new owner became less satisfied with the low revenue returns on the classical format, while the price of the station skyrocketed with each transaction.
In June 1996, American traded WFLN to Secret Communications for a station in Sacremento CA.
Secret's president, Frank Wood, announced that he would retain the classical format if marketing and programming modifications could increase the station's market share to 4%.
Based on their research, Secret eliminated some of the station's talk programs, played shorter works and movements of symphonies during prime listening hours and instructed on-air personalities to enliven their delivery.
This was referred to as the "dumbing down" of the station by some insiders.
Two months later, Evergreen Media Corp. agreed to buy WFLN and three Detroit stations from Secret, which received $38 million for WFLN alone.
Technically, Secret never even owned WFLN, since FCC approval of their purchase from American Radio Systems was still months away.
In April 1997, Greater Media, owners of WMGK, WMMR and WPEN announced that they would purchase WFLN for $41.8 million.
At this price, many in the industry beleived that the 50-year-old classical format would soon be changed to one that brought in a higher return on the investment.
The announcement was made on September 4, 1997: in less than 24 hours, WFLN would cease to exist.
The next day, at 6p, Jill Pasternak, a WFLN host for 11 years, read the station ID for the last time.
Following that, Greater Media CEO Tom Milewski gave a brief speech, in which he explained to listeners that WFLN's classical recordings were being donated to Temple University's WRTI (see above), which would be halving its jazz format to accomodate classical music.
Milewski added, "Classical music, is, we feel, best presented in a non-commercial context."
After a brief pause, "Max 95.7" WXXM was born.
The format was Modern AC and the first song was Sheryl Crow's "A Change Will Do You Good."
However, not everybody thought the change was good.
The station was besieged with calls from unhappy listeners.
Some even stopped by the station to personally bid farewell to the departing announcers.
Others formed small groups to figure out a way to bring full-time classical music back to the Philadelphia airwaves.
After a few months, the controversy died down and WXXM began building its new audience.
One of the tactics used by "Max 95.7" to distinguish it from other modern rock stations was to put the most requested songs in very heavy rotation.
The ratings for Max were not that spectacular, but by 1999 they were showing gains in their target demo.
In February 1999, WXXM hired former WCAU and WPLY morning man Barsky to the lineup.
However, on May 13, 1999, in the middle of Sarah McLachlan's song "Building A Mystery", the station unexpectedly switched to an urban oldies format as "Jammin' Gold 95.7"
New calls soon followed on August 30, 1999: WEJM.
95.7 had decided to jump on the bandwagon of the success of the Jammin' Oldies format and as with most stations who had the format - initial ratings results were very favorable.
However, by 2001, ratings were slipping and in June, the station switched to a format somewhat similar to what "Max" was - but with a slightly harder edge.
On July 17, 2001 new calls of WMWX were assigned and the station was called "Mix 95.7" (not to be confused with Max.)
On March 21, 2005, 95.7 dropped the "Mix" name and became "Ben FM", a "variety hits"-type format.
Call letters became WBEN on May 9, 2005.
(Thanks to Doug Douglass for WFLN's call letter origin)
(Thanks to Lance Venta for supplying the "Jammin' Gold 95.7" logo)
(Thanks to Bryan Vargo for an old "Max 95.7" logo)
(some of this information, provided by Alan Boris - Philadelphia Radio Archives)
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