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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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WZMP - 96.5 FM, Philadelphia
In 1944, Dolly Banks, and her brother William Banks, purchased WHAT-AM from the Public Ledger.
The deal included an extremely low-profile FM station at 96.5 FM (originally 105.3), which simulcasted the AM until the mid-1950's.
In 1956, a young man named Sid Mark began hosting an all-night music show, the first "live" programming on the FM station.
Each morning at the conclusion of the show, two patch cords would be plugged back in to simulcast the AM for the rest of the day.
To the surprise of station management, Mark's jazz show quickly gained popularity.
In 1958, the decision was made for WHAT to become the country's first 24 hour, live FM jazz station, a format it would keep for the next 17 years.
In the late 1960's, the call letters were changed to WWDB, representing the owner's initials (William and Dolly Banks).
The name change helped to differentiate the station from its AM sister station.
By the mid-1970's, the jazz format had "run its course", so on March 17, 1975, WWDB became the country's first all-talk FM station.
Sid Mark continued his music show, now devoted entirely to Frank Sinatra, on Fridays and Sundays.
When William Banks died in 1979, his sister Dolly Banks assumed full ownership of the station, and was general manager until her retirement in May 1985.
Also in 1985, WWDB was the target of many lawsuits and complaints filed with government agencies alleging racial and age discrimination in employment practices.
After much litigation, the station was sold for about $6 million to Philadelphia lawyer Ragan A. Henry, who in 1986 became the only local black to own a Philadelphia radio station.
Two months after purchasing the station, Henry sold it to one of his employees, Charles Schwartz, apparently due to attactive changes in the tax laws.
The station ultimately became owned by Pinache Broadcasting, a company formed by Schwartz, in 1986.
In 1989, WWDB moved its studios from their original location at 3930 Conshohocken Ave. to a new building on Levering Mill Rd. in Bala Cynwyd.
Former sister station WHAT-AM remained behind in the old studios.
In January 1996, WWDB was purchased by Mercury Broadcasting for $48 million.
Mercury began to "contemporize" the station by changing the long-standing lineup of hosts and initiating the station's first televison ad campaign.
In early 1997, Mercury sold the station to Beasley Broadcasting for $65 million.
Beasley attempted to attract a younger audience by bringing in hosts and shows, such as Rush Limbaugh and Dr. Laura, and for a time even tried an all-news morning show to compete with KYW.
However, ratings were continuing to slide.
So, on November 6, 2000, the day before probably one of the most interesting election years of our time, WWDB dropped their news and talk programming, and became an all-80's station as "96.5 The Point."
New calls soon followed on November 22: WPTP.
Sid Mark's Sinatra show was dropped, however a few months later, it found a new home on WPHT.
96.5 eventually hired Barsky (ex-WCAU, WPLY, WXXM, WMMR) for mornings.
WPTP evolved into more of a Hot AC station by 2003.
On November 17, 2003, after stunting with Christmas music, 96.5 unveiled a Rhythmic CHR format.
On November 18, "Wild 96.5" was announced as the new name for the station.
Calls changed to WLDW on November 25, 2003.
At this point, Barsky was - once again - let go from his morning duties.
In January 2004, 96.5 was forced to stop using the name "Wild" because of copyright infringement with Clear Channel.
In February 2004, 96.5 changed its calls to WRDW and began using the name, "Wired 96.5".
On April 10, 2015 at 5pm, 96.5 dropped "Wired" and changed to "Amp Radio" with a straight CHR format.
Calls changed to WZMP on April 20, 2015.
(Thanks to Alan Stone for some of this information)
(some of this information, provided by Alan Boris - Philadelphia Radio Archives)
WOGL - 98.1 FM, Philadelphia
This station goes back to 1937 when it signed on with experimental calls of W3XIR.
In 1941, the calls became W69PH on a frequency of 46.9mc.
On May 16, 1944, the station moved to the present FM band at 102.7 FM, with calls of WCAU-FM and was a simulcast of the AM station.
In approximately 1948, the station moved to 98.1.
The AM simulcast arrangement remained in place until the mid-1960's, when the FCC decreed separate programming for a certain portion of the day.
WCAU, along with other CBS FM stations, presented "The Young Sound" format: an instrumental-oriented type of pseudo-rock music.
Although "The Young Sound" evolved into a more contemporary format, WCAU decided to drop it in the autumn of 1970.
The station then debuted an oldies format called "Stereo Solid Gold".
This was an automated system featuring the voice of Jim Nettleton and others.
In 1972, live jocks were added, in addition to the automation.
"Long John" Wade did mornings (suceeded by Joe Niagra), Gene Manning did mid-days, Jim Nettleton covered afternoons and Dan Foley (suceeded by Kevin Fennessey) handled nights.
In 1976, the format was switched to "Fascinatin' Rhythm."; one of the first stations in the country to add R&B to a pop music format.
As the 1970's came to a close, the music became more diversified, as it became more of a precursor to a "Contemporary Hit Radio" format.
Between 1976 and 1980, Diane Blackmon, the first African-American announcer on WCAU, helped acheive the station's highest ratings at the time.
The station also experimented briefly with a format called "Mellow Rhythm" at this time, hosted primarily by Dr. Perri Johnson (now a music therapist in LA.)
In September 1981, WCAU switched to a Top 40 format called "Hot Hits".
This format was developed by program consultant Mike Joseph and was used at a number of CBS FM stations.
WCAU found a great deal of success with this programming for much of the mid-1980's.
Some notable jocks in this period included Paul Barsky, Terry "Motormouth" Young and Christy Springfield (who continued on the station into its oldies format).
Some airchecks from this period can be found here.
By 1987, however, the station found itself in stiff competition with a revitalized "Eagle 106" (see below).
On November 9, 1987, WCAU flipped to an oldies format, citing a desire to appeal to an older, more desirable demographic of 25-54 year olds.
The call letters were soon changed to WOGL (which stood for "Old Gold").
At about the same time, WIOQ (see below) revealed that it too was also planning to change to an oldies format.
For the next two years, the stations engaged in an FM oldies battle, until WIOQ dropped the format in 1989.
WOGL became the city's dominent oldies station, gathering a group of ledgendary Philly jocks including Hy Lit, Don Cannon, Harvey Holiday and Bob Pantano.
(Old "Oldies 98" logos courtesy of Thomas Lawler & Bryan Vargo)
(Thanks to "GospelInsider", Jim Nettleton & Alan Stone for some of this information)
(some of this information provided by Alan Boris - Philadelphia Radio Archives)
WQEW-LP, 98.5 FM, Philadelphia
This station, owned by Greater Philadelphia Asian Culture Center Inc., is part of a timeshare agreement with a station in North Philadelphia.
Hours of operation are as follows:
Sunday thru Saturday: 3am to 3pm
The WQEW-LP calls were assigned on May 10, 2015.
WUSL - 98.9 FM, Philadelphia
98.9 signed on in 1961 as WPBS "Philadelphia's Bulletin Station", named for the newspaper it was owned by.
The station was cross-promoted with the newspaper and featured an easy listening format.
At one point, WPBS was called "Velvet Stereo."
In 1976, the newspaper sold the station to Lin Broadcasting.
Calls changed to WUSL "US-1" and Program Director Jim Nettleton instituted a Soft Adult Contemporary format mixed with standards which had crossed over to the 1960's/1970's pop charts (i.e Englebert Humperdinck, Barbra Striesand, etc.).
The morning man at this time was Jim Gearhart, who is now on NJ 101.5.
On July 3, 1981, the station switched to a "3-in-a-row" country format as "Continuous Country 99 FM".
Two months later, co-onwed WFIL-AM switched to a more personality and information-leaning country station.
Realizing that they were splitting their own audience, WUSL signed off the country format in the early hours of October 9, 1982.
The last country song played was "Get Into Reggae, Cowboy" by The Bellamy Brothers.
The next day, at 6am, the station became Urban as "Kiss 99" (copying New York's WRKS "Kiss FM").
The station even applied for new calls WPKS "Philadelphia's Kiss", however the owners of 100.3 in Media PA, WKSZ (see below), who at the time hadn't put their station on the air yet, said they were signing on as "Kiss 100" and had already copyrighted the name, and had even started legal action against WUSL.
So, WUSL backed off, dropped the "Kiss" name and was simply "99 FM" for a few weeks, until they began using the name "Power 99."
Within months, they had surpassed WDAS-FM in the ratings, and other stations around the country began using the "Power" name.
WUSL continues to be the dominent Urban leader in Philadelphia today.
(Thanks to Mark Fletcher & John Hendricks for some of this information)
(Thanks to Bryan Vargo for an old WUSL logo)
WRNB - 100.3 FM, Media PA
100.3 was put on the air on March 9, 1962 by Brandywine-Main Line Broadcasting Co. with an easy listening format via a tape automation system.
Known as WXUR, it was soon joined by a sister station on 690 AM, also in Media PA.
WXUR AM/FM was then purchased by Rev. Carl McIntyre and changed to a religious format.
In 1973, the FCC revoked the station's license and both frequencies were unoccupied.
McIntyre, however, continued to broadcast for a short time from a pirate ship stationed in international waters off the coast of Cape May NJ, called "Radio Free America".
In the ensuing years, competing applications were submitted for the 100.3 license, which was eventually awarded to a group of investors led by radio veteran Daniel Lerner.
The 690 AM frequency was later re-allocated to Phonenixville PA, with calls of WPHE.
On November 8, 1982, WKSZ "Kiss 100" went on the air from its two-story facility west of Media PA.
The format was "light favorites", a mix of adult contemporary vocals by artists such as Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond, Lionel Ritchie, Billy Joel and Kenny Rogers.
The station was known for its "40 minutes of continuous music" every hour and "love songs" positioner.
The first song played on the new "Kiss 100" was Billy Joel's "Just The Way You Are".
In 1987, "Kiss 100" was ranked first by Arbitron overall in reaching women 25-54, a desirable audience for advertisers.
However, as the adult contemporary race heated up in the early 1990's, "Kiss 100" found its ratings success begin to decline.
By 1992, it had fallen to 17th place, behind the city's other AC stations.
"Kiss" attempted to carve out a new niche with a blend of oldies and contemporary AC called the "50/50 Mix", but the results were disappointing.
In 1993, the station once again turned to love songs, albeit a "contemporary" 90's version with artists such as Luther Vandross, Whitney Houston and Michael Bolton.
A love/sex/talk show debuted weekdays from 9p-midnight, "Love Talk With Dick Summer", in response to the growing popularity of this type of program, such as the more risque "Love Phones" then on "Eagle 106" (see below).
At 6am on March 15, 1993, the struggling AC station switched to Top 40, filling in the void left by "Eagle 106", which had switched to smooth jazz three days earlier.
The new station was called "Z-100", and had a playlist almost identical to the former Eagle.
The new "Z-100" happened to be on the same frequency as New York's WHTZ, which had been calling itself "Z-100" since 1983.
Malrite Communications Group, then-owner of WHTZ, demanded that WKSZ drop the "Z-100" name to avoid listener confusion because the stations were in such close proximity.
After a month of legal wrangling, WKSZ became "Y-100" and quickly replaced its "Z-100" logo and billboards.
On April 19, 1993, calls were changed to WPLY.
WPLY was originally chosen as the call letters because Scott Shannon (of WHTZ fame) was a consultant for the station, and a simulcast of his morning show from New York's WPLJ was planned for WPLY, but never materialized.
In early 1995, WPLY switched to a modern rock format, quickly stealing audience share from Long Island-simulcasted WDRE on 103.9 (see below).
WDRE fought back by hiring a local staff and marketing a hipper image than WPLY.
But, by the time WDRE started catching up, their station was sold and the format scrapped.
Some WDRE staffers initially went over to WPLY for a time.
Soon afterwards, WPLY hired program director Jim McGuinn.
In 2001, WPLY was purchased by Radio One, owners of (ironically enough) 103.9 FM.
On February 25, 2005, at midnight, "Y100" and the alternative format were dumped as WPHI and "The Beat" moved over from 103.9 (see below).
The last song played on Y100 was Pearl Jam's "Alive" (as was the case when 103.9 was WDRE and 106.1 was "Eagle 106").
On September 1, 2011, WRNB 107.9's programming & call letters moved to 100.3.
On April 1, 2013, WRNB debuted an urban "old school" format as "Old School 100.3."
(Thanks to John Hendricks, Matt Naylor, Matthew "L.A." Reid, Xen Scott & Alan Stone for some of this information)
(Thanks to Lance Venta for digging up an old "Y100" logo)
(some of this information, provided by Alan Boris - Philadelphia Radio Archives)
WBEB - 101.1 FM, Philadelphia
On May 13, 1963, Dave Kurtz, then an engineer with Philco Electronics, turned on the master switch of WDVR-FM in the Barker building at 18 W. Chelten Ave. in Germantown.
Within four months, the station's mix of "familiar music" such as Mantovani, Percy Faith and Lawrence Welk made it one of the more popular stations in Philadelphia.
At this time, the world was dominated by AM radio.
Few FM stations had ever shown a profit, nor were they able to compete with AM stations in ratings, advertisers or recognition.
Indeed, few people had FM radios, or ever bothered to listen to FM.
Most car radios, even in new cars, were equipped with "AM only" radios, and sales were slow for FM sets in general.
AM was considered "real broadcasting" and FM was considered "hobby broadcasting."
With few listeners, and even fewer dollars, a small number of FM stations were beginning to experiment with recently approved stereo broadcasting.
Their stereo schedules usually totaled no more than a few hours a week.
WDVR started an industry trend by broadcasting in stereo 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
This was not the only groundbreaking event undertaken by Kurtz and business partner Jerry Lee.
WDVR became the first FM station anywhere to gross $1 million a year.
The station also created the first big money giveaway in radio ($101,000) and the first professional Tv spot to promote radio.
In 1968, WDVR moved its studios to 10 Presidential Blvd. in Bala Cynwyd.
The transmitter had moved earlier from the roof of the Barker building to a tower in Roxborough.
In 1969, United Artists offered $3.3 million for the station.
Although this was a staggering amount of money at the time for a single FM station, the offer was turned down.
In 1980, WDVR changed its call letters to WEAZ and started using the name "Eazy 101."
The first song played was "Nice And Easy" by Frank Sinatra.
The station's TV promotions featured spokesman Patrick O'Neal telling viewers: "Other station's call letters begin with 'W'. Ours begins with an 'E'. E-A-Z-Y".
When easy listening rival WWSH (see below) switched to Top 40 in 1982, "Eazy 101" was the only beautiful music station in Philadelphia.
During the mid and late 1980's, it was often tied for first place in the Arbitron ratings.
Some airchecks from the mid 1980's can be heard here.
In 1986, WEAZ ran a unique promotion.
They spent $1 million and gave away 9000 free tabletop radios to offices and stores, which were built to only tune in 101.1.
Dan Lerner, the owner of rival WKSZ (see above), went on the air at his station and offered a toll-free number to call for free intructions and a "key" to enable listeners to re-tune the radios to any other FM station.
Some of these radios are still in use in businesses today.
In 1987, Jerry Lee arranged an industry study of American listening habits and determined that "people who grew up after the advent of rock n' roll basically do not like instrumental music."
So on February 6, 1988, WEAZ dropped the easy listening format and started on the road towards adult contemporary.
The station was extremely popular at the time of the switch and was inundated for days with angry, distruaght callers.
The new TV spokesman was Robert Urich and the station's name was shortened to "EZ-101".
By the early 1990's, WEAZ had evolved from a very light AC station to a very mainstream AC station, yet was still called "EZ-101."
All of that changed on April 25, 1993 when WEAZ broke its final ties with the old easy listening image and became "B-101.1: More Music With Less Talk."
The call letters changed to WBEB on May 26, 1993 and Robert Urich was dropped from the TV ads in favor of anonymous, attractive thirty-somethings.
Today, Jerry Lee and David Kurtz are still at the helm of 101.1, now a consistently top-rated adult contemporary station.
WBEB remains as one of the last independently-owned stations in a top market, with an estimated value of over $100 million.
On December 26, 2013, 101.1 re-branded itself as "More FM."
(Thanks to Kevin Fennessy & John Hendricks for some of this information)
(provided by Alan Boris - Philadelphia Radio Archives)
WIOQ - 102.1 FM, Philadelphia
In Janaury 1941, the WFIL Broadcasting Company began operating a new 3kW FM station on 45.3mc.
This was the city's first commercial FM station and was located in the Widener building at Broad and Chestnut Sts.
The station, known initially as W53PH, changed its call letters to WFIL-FM in 1943.
During portions of World War II, the station was silent.
Regular programming resumed in January 1946.
On March 1, 1946, WFIL AM & FM were acquired by Walter Annenberg's Triangle Publications for $1,900,000.
Triangle published the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The station's frequency was changed to 99.9 and then by mid-1947, it was changed again to the familiar 102.1 position.
In late July of 1947, a new TV/FM tower was erected on top of the Widener building and TV broadcasts commenced on Channel 6 on September 13, 1947.
During 1948, some experimental facimile broadcasts were undertaken, presumably related to the newspaper operation.
In the summer of 1949, WFIL-FM and WFIL-TV relocated their transmitter to the Roxborough section of Philadelphia.
On October 13, 1952, WFIL moved all of its operations into a new radio/TV building at 46th & Market Sts.
Programming on WFIL-FM was mostly a simulcast of the AM station, with some exceptions.
In 1957, the station inaugurated a full weekend schedule of separate programming.
In February of 1964, WFIL-FM moved to new 4th floor studios in the "WFIL Broadcast Center" located at 4100 City Line Ave.
At this time, the station operated from 7a-1a daily with a "classical/mood/orchestra/Broadway show tunes" format.
By 1968, the format had evolved to "classical and pop standards."
In 1971, Triangle sold WFIL-FM to Richer Communications for $1 million.
The station changed its call letters to WIOQ and moved its studios to 2 Decker Square (now Bala Plaza) in Bala Cynwyd.
The station dubbed itself "W-102" with a slogan of "Stereo Island."
Some of the DJ's at this time included Jere Sullivan (overnights), Jeff Dean, Art Andrews (who later went to WCAU-FM and afterwards became the News Director and a member of the morning team over at WPEN), Alan Drew (who later became a prime-time news anchor at WCAU Channel 10 as "Alan Frio"), Roy Lawrence (who went on to WCAU-FM as "RJ Lawrence") and Earl Goodman (who was a long-time engineer at WFIL).
"W-102" was one of the first stations in the country to put "live jocks" together with an IGM automation system so that the program director would maintain absolute control over the music.
In 1974, the automation was turned off and the format was changed to progressive rock.
One of the first DJ's at the station was John Harvey, known for his popular "Harvey In The Morning" show, which debuted in 1977.
Richer Communications was sold at auction on September 8, 1977 for an undisclosed purchase price.
The corporate name was changed to the Que Broadcasting Company and the station was then known as "Q102."
The Outlet Company, a Providence RI-based group owner, acquired WIOQ from Que on August 21, 1979.
By 1980, the station had moved away from a broad, progressive playlist and added a softer edge to the music.
For example, instead of hearing the Sex Pistols, alongside Styx, or Miles Davis segue into Mike Oldfield, you were now likely to hear Streisand or Diana Ross in the mix.
On November 19, 1987, WIOQ switched to an oldies format, in response to 98.1's switch to oldies just a few days earlier (see above).
On January 18, 1989, 21 employees of WIOQ, including the entire on-air staff, were fired as the station changed ownership and formats.
Virginia-based EZ Communications purchased the station from Outlet for $19,200,000 and immediately switched from oldies to a white-oriented urban contemporary format "loaded with current, up-tempo music."
Over the next few years, that format evolved into a lively rhythm-and-blues/rap mix that appealed strongly to a young, predominantly black audience.
This placed the station in stiff competition with similarly-formatted WUSL (see above).
When WIOQ owner EZ acquired WUSL as a duopoly arrangement in 1994, WIOQ gradually moved back to a more dance-oriented contemporary hits/urban mix aimed for a white audience.
In 1997, WIOQ's license was transferred from EZ to American Radio Systems through a $655 million exchange in stock.
ARS was required to spin off WIOQ and WUSL to new owners in the spring of 1997.
Evergreen Media Corp. became their new licensee in an exchange of other stations.
In September 1997, Evergreen Media merged with Chancellor Broadcasting.
Soon afterwards, a new company formed, AMFM, which combined all the Chancellor stations.
AMFM eventually got merged into Clear Channel.
(Old "Q102" logo courtesy of Bryan Vargo)
(Thanks to Alan Stone & Jere Sullivan for some of this information)
(provided by Alan Boris - Philadelphia Radio Archives)
WMGK - 102.9 FM, Philadelphia
This station signed on in 1942 as WPEN-FM.
The William Penn Broadcasting Company operated the then-mono station as a background music service through 1971, when a shake-up of WPEN-AM resulted in a partial simulcast of their new segmented Adult Contemporary format.
The station "shadow-casted" the WPEN-AM format in hours when the stations were required to operate separately.
This continued until January 1975, when both the AM & FM were shut down temporarily when Greater Media took over the stations.
In March 1975, the station retured to the air in stereo doing a 100% simulcast of the new "95PEN" and their oldies format.
102.9 split from the AM in September 1975 and became WMGK "Magic 103", featuring a texture-driven soft rock format.
WMGK evolved into the 1980's as a more hit/oldies based station, ultimately becoming Philadelphia's top soft rock station.
Between 1987 and 1994, "Harvey" (who also doubled as an announcer on Nickelodeon's "Double Dare" show) did mornings.
And, popular syndicated night-time host Delilah was featured on 102.9 nights from the Fall of 1992 to around 1994, before going back to her previous station in Boston; in 1996, her show would later be syndicated across the country.
In 1993, WMGK's slogan changed slightly to "Magic 102.9".
Also around this time, WMGK experimented with a "70's Show" on Saturday evenings.
The show proved successful and soon they were featuring "All 70's" weekends.
By the summer of 1994, WMGK switched their entire format to "All 70's".
By 1996, with the 70's format wearing thin, they evolved into a "Classic Hits" format and started calling themselves "102.9 MGK".
In the summer of 2001, WMGK started positioning themselves as a "Classic Rock" station, while still playing the "Hits", for the most part.
The station's current slogan is "Classic Rock 102.9"
(Old WPEN logo courtesy of knowston.tripod.com)
(Thanks to Kevin Fennessy, Mark Fletcher & Ed Perkins for some of this information)
(WMGK logo courtesy of Bryan Vargo)
WPHI - 103.9 FM, Jenkintown PA
103.9 signed on November 1, 1960 as WIBF.
The WIBF calls stood for the station's owners, William Irwin and Benjamin Fox.
Their company, Fox Broadcasting (not to be confused with today's Fox TV network) also owned Philadelphia's Channel 29 in the 1960's, known as WIBF-TV.
The station broadcasted from studios in the Benson East Apartments in Jenkintown.
In the 1960's and 1970's, the station featured a format of MOR, big bands and Dixieland jazz, and a local interview show hosted by Buzz Allen during the day, and the area's first FM country music show at night, hosted by station manager Doug Henson and Ruth Slack, "the country girl"; plus religious and ethnic programs.
By the mid-1970's, the station switched to religious and ethnic programming during the day and Spanish music at night.
When 20th Century Fox started their television network in the 1980's and called it "Fox Broadcasting", the owners of like-named WIBF unsuccessfully tried to stop them from using the name.
In 1992, the station was sold to Jarad Broadasting and began a simulcast with alternative rock WDRE in Garden City (Long Island) NY.
On July 1, 1996, the station broke the simulcast and went live and local with the Alternative format, even taking the home station's calls of WDRE (the Garden City station, at that point, reverted back to its old calls of WLIR).
However, less than a year later, the station was sold to Radio One, a company that specializes in urban formats.
The first (and last) song played on WDRE was Pearl Jam's "Alive" (which was also the last song at the demise of "Eagle 106" in 1993.)
On April 18, 1997, calls were changed to WPHI and became "Philly 103.9", going head to head with WUSL (see above).
On April 17, 2002, WPHI became "103.9 The Beat" with a Rhythmic CHR format.
One of the current DJ's on WPHI, "DJ Jayski" got his start on WPRB, 103.3, Princeton.
On February 25, 2005, at midnight, "103.9 The Beat" moved over to 100.3, replacing "Y100".
Beginning on February 27, 103.9 debuted as "Praise 103.9", featuring a black gospel format.
Calls changed to WPPZ on March 3, 2005.
On September 27, 2016, 103.9 and 107.9 in Pennsauken NJ switched formats and call letters, with 103.9 becoming "Boom 103.9".
(Thanks to Jeff Gross, John Hendricks, Tom Mitchell and Matt Naylor for some of this information)
(Thanks to Bryan Vargo for a WPHI logo)
WRFF - 104.5 FM, Philadelphia
104.5 signed on in February 1965 as WRCP-FM, simulcasting the AM station.
Calls stood for owner, Rust Craft, a greeting card company.
On September 7, 1967, both stations switched from MOR to Country.
Shortly after that, WRCP-FM, which had always signed off at midnight, went to 24 hour broadcasting, and later began to broadcast in stereo.
On October 11, 1977, the calls were changed to WSNI and began a unique format called "beautiful country".
This was a mix of instrumental and soft vocal country songs, performed by country and pop artists and customized music by the "Sunny Custom Orchestra" and the "Sunny Custom Strings".
The program director and morning personality was Nels Hobdell from WWSH (see below).
The format was designed to appeal to casual country listeners who also tuned to beautiful music on WDVR (see above) and WWSH.
Within a year, the country songs were phased out and the station had a pop/easy listening format.
In 1980, the format was switched to adult contemporary and began using the "Sunny 104" name, with Jim Nettleton as morning host.
In 1982, they evolved into "Sunny 104 and a half", a gold-based adult contemporary format with Hy Lit replacing Nettleton.
Lit was soon replaced by Don Cannon, who had left WFIL when they switched to country in 1981.
He was soon joined by sportscaster Tony Bruno and sidekick Dennis Malloy, who had replaced Cannon as morning jock on WFIL (as "Dan Malloy"); Malloy is now on "NJ 101.5".
In 1983-1984, the Cannon show and weekend shows were simulcast on WSNI-AM.
The station was known as "Sunny 104.5" by the late 1980's, and dropped most of the oldies from the playlist when both WOGL and WIOQ switched to oldies in 1987.
In 1989, the station dropped Hy Lit's weekend "Hall Of Fame" oldies show, which had run since the early 1980's, and he left WSNI (and sister station WPGR) for WOGL.
In March 1990, Don Cannon was released from his contract and allowed to make a requested move to mornings at WOGL, and Dennis Malloy was also let go.
They were replaced by Kelly Randall, once a WZGO morning jock.
The station dropped the "Sunny" name, but retained the calls of WSNI, playing mainly 80's adult contemporary music.
On December 10, 1990, the calls were changed to WYXR, because research showed the WSNI calls were being associated with older AC music, and the format evolved into Hot AC as "Star 104.5".
In 1996, WYXR experimented by becoming a CHR station, but by the following year, had gone back to Hot AC.
On November 18, 1999, calls were changed to WLCE ("Alice 104.5") and the format was tweaked a bit to include 70's, 80's and some 90's music - a format called "Rock AC".
However, with declining ratings, WLCE phased out the 70's music and is concentrating on 80's, 90's and some current music.
On July 31, 2002, 104.5 dropped the Hot AC format and reverted back to using the "Sunny 104.5" name with an AC Oldies format focusing on the 60's, 70's and 80's.
The heritage calls of WSNI were reinstated on August 6, 2002.
On August 10, 2006, 104.5 began stunting with a simulcast of crosstown newly-flipped 106.1 (see below).
On August 23, 2006, at noon, 104.5 flipped to a Spanish CHR format as "Rumba 104.5".
Call letters officially changed to WUBA on August 29.
On May 16, 2007, 104.5 became "Radio 104.5", featuring a format of rock hits, mixed with indie and local bands.
Calls changed to WRFF on May 23, 2007.
(Thanks to Mark D, Mark Fletcher and John Hendricks for some of this information)
WDAS - 105.3 FM, Philadelphia
WDAS (calls stand for original owners, Dannenbaum & Steppacher) went on the air in August 1959, initially with rock music during the week and classical music on Sundays.
In the mid 1960's, WDAS featured ethnic programs and a classical music show hosted by owner Max Leon.
In April 1968, the format changed to become "Hyski's Underground", an early progressive rock format programmed by WIBG Top 40 jock Hy Lit, featuring a new concept of playing album cuts which were not hit singles.
The station featured young jocks soon to be familiar names: Michael Tearson and Ed Sciaky (who later moved to rival WMMR) and Harvey Holiday (now at WOGL).
The morning DJ was Rod Carson, who later on in the 1980's popularized the "Rock N' Roll Roots" format on WMMR, afterwards moving the show to WIOQ and WSNI.
Rod got his start at WIBG (AM) as a newscaster, later being involved with WIBG-FM's early experiments with AOR.
In March 1971, Lit was replaced by Max Leon's son, Steve, known on the air as "My Father's Son".
Nine days later, he was pulled off the air by his father and fired for playing a song with a drug reference ("Comin' Into Los Angeles" by Arlo Guthrie).
Other jocks quit in protest.
General Manager Robert Klein and new music director Harvey Holiday created a new progressive black music format and Holiday began a Sunday night oldies show.
By 1975, the station evolved into a disco/funk music format and by 1980, played contemporary "urban" R&B.
Amid rumors of a payola scandal, the station was sold in November 1979 to minority-owned Unity Broadcasting Network.
With new competition from "Power 99" in 1982, the station concentrated on urban music and community involvement and public affairs programming aimed at the black community.
Their ad campaign slogan was "WDAS-FM: Say It Loud, We're Black And We're Proud."
Despite these efforts, WUSL, which played primarily black artists geared to both black and white audiences, won the urban ratings battle.
WDAS evolved into a successful, community-oriented adult urban contemporary format, picking up the popular Tom Joyner syndicated morning show.
For a more detailed look at WDAS' history, click here for the WDAS Timeline.
(Thanks to Wynne Alexander/WDASHistory.org, Jim Gray and John Hendricks for some of this information)
WISX - 106.1 FM, Philadelphia
On November 11, 1959, engineer George Voron founded 106.1 FM as an adjunct to his electronics company.
The call letters were WQAL, which stood for "Quality Radio."
Mr. Voron built much of the station's equipment by himself, and owned the 500-foot self-supporting tower located next to the studios at 1230 Mermaid Ln. in Wyndmoor.
The programming consisted of a mix of vocal and instrumental music played from LP's.
At one point, WQAL was the #1 station in Philadelphia.
In 1970, Voron sold the station to United Artists, although he retained ownership of the station's tower until 1989.
In the fall of 1970, United Artists moved the studios to 555 City Line Ave., and changed the name of the station to "Wish", with call letters of WWSH.
Easy listening music was then supplied to the station on over 600 reels of audio tape by the SRP Company.
Nels Hobdell, operations manager of WWSH during much of the 1970's, recalls the idiosyncrasies of this format and its creator, Jim Schulke:
"The system of playback was called 'matched flow', whereby two machines, each loaded with one hour tapes, would alternate 15 minute segments."
"The resulting mix was personally programmed by Schulke, and followed a strict formula."
"For example, there could be no horns playing after 6p or no more than 4 vocals each hour."
"The short pauses between songs, known as 'savor time', were also carefully controlled."
"We were also very conscientious about cleaning the tape heads after each reel, and performing frequent machine adjustments."
"It's not clear whether any of these things made any difference to the audience, but Schulke was quite adamant that his rules should be followed."
"The general manager at the time, Jim Connor, was also very strict about adhering to the Schulke format."
"He would be known to follow along at home with the log and call the program director if the proper song was not being played."
"Schulke felt that my announcing, as well as afternoon host Ted Sohier's, was the best example of how to do this format."
"At one point, my voice was syndicated on over 40 of his easy listening stations nationwide."
"He would fly radio executives into North Jersey for a demonstration and often insist that they wear earplugs to keep their senses 'pure' during the car ride from the airport."
"They would then sit down in a special studio and listen to a live broadcast of WWSH via a gigantic antenna aimed at Philly that he mounted on the roof of the building."
Some WWSH station ID's can be heard here.
In 1977, United Artists sold the station to Cox Broadcasting.
It was around this time that the whole easy listening format began to lose a substantial audience share to more contemporary formats.
In August of 1982, the station announced that it would switch to an adult contemporary format in order to get a "bigger piece of the pie."
On September 6, 1982, WWSH fired its announcing staff and began playing the same format that proved very popular at sister station WSB in Atlanta GA.
Dennis John Cahill did morning drive at this time.
Unlike Atlanta, though, Philadephia already had four adult contemporary stations and the WWSH effort produced disappointing results.
On August 1, 1983, the station switched to a Top 40 format.
The next few years saw a number of name changes and variations on the Top 40 format, while the station continued to report financial losses.
In 1984, the station's name was changed to "Z106" with calls of WZGO and in May 1986, the name was changed again to "Electric 106" and new calls of WTRK were assigned on May 19 of that year.
During the WZGO and WTRK days, the morning personality was Ross Britain, who had previously been heard in New York.
In March 1987, Cleveland-based Malrite Communications bought the station for $13.8 million.
The name was changed to "Eagle 106" with new call letters of WEGX assigned on March 13 of that year.
Malrite brought considerable resources and talent to the struggling station.
By the summer of 1987, "Eagle 106" was back in the ratings race.
The station remained a dominent Top 40 performer for 6 years.
Former child star Danny Bonaduce (from The Partridge Family) was one of the more well-known "Eagle 106" DJ's.
Some of the morning shows in the 80's included, "Welch And Woody," "Rumble And Thrower" and "Rumble And McKenzie."
A popular morning show in the early 1990's featured John Lander and "The Nut Hut."
On March 12, 1993, at 1:06p, "Eagle 106" dumped the Top 40 format and became "smooth jazz", with new calls of WJJZ beng assigned on March 22.
The last song played on "Eagle 106" was Amy Grant's "I Will Remember You."
The station reportedly wanted to appeal to an older, more prosperous audience than the scores of teens and young adults that were attracted to "Eagle 106."
In January 1994, WJJZ was purchased by Pyramid Broadcasting for $20 million.
Since Pyramid already owned 104.5, this became the city's first "duopoly" arrangement, taking advantage of new FCC regulations allowing multiple station ownership in a single market.
In January 1996, both WJJZ and 104.5 were purchased by Evergreen Media.
Evergreen was later purchased by Chancellor Media.
Soon afterwards, a new company formed, AMFM, which evenutally merged into Clear Channel.
On August 10, 2006, 106.1 changed to a Rhythmic AC format as "Philly's 106.1", featuring Whoopi Goldberg in the morning (syndicated from sister WKTU.)
Calls changed to WISX on August 28, 2006.
The station's name was later changed to "My 106.1."
On November 18, 2010, 106.1 re-imaged itself as "Mix 106.1."
(Thanks to Mark Fletcher for some of this information and the "Z-106" logo)
(Thanks to Dennis John Cahill, John Cappo, "CircusY2K", Kevin Fennessy & Robyn Watkins for some of this information)
(some information provided by Alan Boris - Philadelphia Radio Archives)
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