WWJ (AM)

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WWJ
Wwj-new.jpg
City of license Detroit, Michigan
Broadcast area Metro Detroit
[1] (daytime)
[2] (nighttime)
Branding NewsRadio 950, WWJ
Slogan All News All the Time
Live, Local, and Committed to Detroit
Frequency 950 kHz (also on HD Radio) 97.1 FM (WXYT-FM) HD-2
First air date August 31, 1920
Format News
Power 50,000 watts
Class B (Regional)
Facility ID 9621
Transmitter coordinates 42°01′9″N 83°14′23″W / 42.01917°N 83.23972°W / 42.01917; -83.23972
Callsign meaning W "W"illiam "J". Scripps (former owner of The Detroit News)
Former callsigns 8MK (1920–1921)
WBL (1921–1922)
Affiliations CBS Radio News
Detroit Pistons (co-flagship)
Michigan Wolverines football (flagship)
Owner CBS Radio
Sister stations WWJ-TV, WKBD-TV, WDZH, WOMC, WXYT, WXYT-FM, WYCD
Webcast Listen Live
Website Detroit.CBSLocal.com

WWJ, 950 AM (a regional broadcast frequency), is an all-news radio station located in Detroit, Michigan, United States. The station is owned by the CBS Radio subsidiary of CBS Corporation. The station maintains studios located at the Panasonic Building in Southfield, and its transmitter is located near Newport.

Although WWJ is the only commercial all-news radio station in Michigan, ironically, co-owned television station WWJ-TV (channel 62) is the only CBS owned-and-operated station without any local news presence (the television station previously carried news programming from 1997 to 2002 through present-day sister station WKBD-TV and a morning news program that ran from 2009 to 2012).

WWJ has the highest field strength in a single direction of any AM station in the United States (7,980 mV/m at a distance of 1 km).1 With this powerful signal pointed due north, it can be heard in every part of the state of Michigan during the nighttime hours, and much of southern Lower Michigan during the day. WWJ's signal can even be heard in the Upper Peninsula and Mackinac area at night, while often unlistenable just 40 minutes west of Detroit in the Ann Arbor area due to interference from co-channel WNTD in Chicago. WWJ's nighttime signal to the east is also impeded by WKDN in Philadelphia. WWJ uses a five-tower directional antenna during daytime hours, and a six-tower directional antenna during nighttime hours.

History

WWJ first signed on the air on August 20, 1920 under the call sign 8MK, and was founded by The Detroit News; the mixed letter/number calls were assigned to the station by the United States Department of Commerce Bureau of Navigation, the government bureau responsible for radio regulation at the time. The 8 in the call sign referred to its location in the 8th Radio Inspection District, while the M in the call sign identified that the station operated under an amateur license.2 It is not clear why the Detroit News applied for an amateur license instead of an experimental license. As an amateur station, it broadcast at 200 meters (the equivalent of 1500 AM).3

8MK was initially licensed to Michael DeLisle Lyons, a teenager, and radio pioneer. He assembled the station in the Detroit News Building but the Scripps family asked him to register the station in his name, because they were worried this new technology might only be a fad, and wanted to keep some distance. Later that year, Michael and his brother Frank, also assembled the first radio in a police car in Toledo, Ohio (with Ed Clark who started WJR, 760 AM, in Detroit). They captured a prowler using the radio, making national headlines. RCA got the contract to install radios in police cars across the country.

The Scripps family were also worried radio might replace newspapers if the medium caught on, so the family financially supported Michael. In fact, most early radio stations were built, for the same reason, by families who owned newspapers – out of concern that radio would put them out of business, on the basis that newspaper readers would find it more timelier to tune to listen to the headlines on radio at any given time than wait to read them in a daily newspaper the next day. Michael DeLisle Lyons was a descendant of Francois Bienvenu DeLisle, who served as Cadillac's lieutenant on the founding voyage of Detroit. Francois was also Detroit's first tavernkeeper.4

On October 13, 1921, the station was granted a limited commercial license and was assigned the call letters WBL. With the new license, the station began broadcasting at 360 meters (833 AM), with weather reports and other government reports broadcast at 485 meters (619 AM).35

On March 3, 1922, for reasons that are not known, the call letters, 'WWJ, were assigned to the station. Some believe the new call letters are an abbreviation for stockholders William and John Scripps, but on page 82 of a book published by the Detroit News in 1922, WWJ-The Detroit News, it stated that "WWJ is not the initials of any name. It is a symbol. It was issued to the Detroit News by the government in connection with the licensing of this broadcasting plant."6

In 1923, the Commerce Department realized that as more and more stations were applying for commercial licenses, it was not practical to have every station broadcast on the same two wavelengths. It was decided to set aside 81 frequencies, in 10 AM steps, from 550 AM to 1350 AM, and each station would be assigned one frequency, no longer having to broadcast weather and government reports on a different frequency than entertainment. As a result, WWJ was moved to 517 meters (580 AM) on February 1, 1924.3 The station moved its frequency to 352.7 meters (850 AM) on February 2, 1925, and then to 374.8 meters (800 AM) on May 31, 1927.3 It was later re-assigned, during a realignment of stations by the new Federal Radio Commission in 1927-28, to full-time operation on 920 AM on February 28, 1929,3 and allowed to increase its transmitter power in stages, eventually reaching 5,000 watts by 1937.

On March 29, 1941 as part of the NARBA frequency reassignment, WWJ moved to 950 AM where it remains to this day. The programming throughout this time was focused on variety. That same year, WWJ initiated Michigan's first FM broadcasts via W8XWJ; this station later became known as W45D, undergoing five callsign changes afterward – as WENA, WWJ-FM, WJOI, WYST and WKRK – before becoming the current WXYT-FM. During the 1940s it transmitted most of the NBC Red Network schedule, as well as locally produced news, entertainment and music programming. After World War II, especially as television grew in household reach and popularity, music and regularly scheduled local news would make up a larger portion of its format as television eroded support for variety programming on radio and the Golden Age of Radio gradually ended.

With the advent of FM radio and FM stereo broadcasting, WWJ phased out its daytime Middle of the Road music programming in May 1971 and became a strictly news and talk station during the daytime hours (although for the first several years of the all-news format, the station simulcast the beautiful music format of WWJ-FM, 97.1, during the overnight hours). The all-news format on WWJ has remained for more than 3½ decades, enabling it to rank consistently among the Detroit area's most popular stations with adult listeners, occasionally finishing in first place in recent surveys of overall listenership.

In 1987, the Federal Broadcasting Corporation, run by David Herriman, purchased WWJ and WJOI (now WXYT-FM) from the new owner of The Detroit News, the Gannett Company (now the owner of the Detroit Free Press), which was required to sell the stations immediately by the Federal Communications Commission because of crossownership rules in effect at that time. On March 9, 1989, CBS bought the station, with its ownership being transferred to Infinity Broadcasting after CBS's 1996 acquisition of that group – although further corporate reorganization has put the station directly under the CBS corporate brand name once again in recent years.

WWJ (AM) Transmitter Relocation and Signal Upgrade

When CBS acquired WWJ-TV (channel 62) in 1995 and needed a site for a new transmission tower for improving the UHF television station's signal coverage, the WWJ radio transmitter site in Oak Park was partially dismantled (the taller north tower was razed) to make room for the television tower. The AM transmitter facility was replaced in late 1998 by a new six-tower array in Monroe County, near Newport. The new site allowed WWJ to upgrade to 50,000 watts, greatly improving its nighttime signal in the Downriver communities, where WWJ had a weak signal, as it had been using a directional antenna to protect established stations in Denver, Houston and Philadelphia. Even though WWJ broadcasts with 50,000 watts, it is still considered a Regional station because 950 AM is a Regional frequency, on which only Class B and Class D stations may be assigned (however, Class A stations may be assigned outside of North America, in those countries which observe the 10 kHz frequency rules.) The move was not without its disadvantages, as the sheer distance of the new site from commercially important Oakland County meant the new signal, though adequate for home and outdoor listening, had trouble inside office buildings. The northeastern reaches of Metro Detroit only receive a fair signal, for the protection of a station in Barrie, Ontario, Canada despite the fact that the station there shut down its AM transmitter years earlier.

In 2013, all CBS-owned radio stations in Detroit moved their operations to the former Panasonic Building in Southfield.7

Programming

WWJ is believed to be the first station to broadcast news reports regularly as well as the first regularly scheduled religious broadcast and play-by-play sports broadcast.8

WWJ provides "Traffic and Weather on the 8s" (featuring traffic reports and weather forecasts in ten-minute intervals beginning at :08 minutes past the hour), with traffic coverage provided by Detroit Traffic Reporters and forecasts by AccuWeather. In recent years, WWJ has started to shy away from their moniker "All news, all the time", due to the station's occasional broadcasts of sporting events. However, it retains a news radio format as a whole, using the new slogan, "Live, Local, and committed to Detroit". Along with sister station WXYT-FM, WWJ is the flagship station of the Detroit Pistons.9 WWJ is also the flagship station of Michigan Wolverines football.10

In March of 2005, WWJ began streaming its programming on the internet; in August of 2005, the station began offering podcasts of newsmakers, interviews, and some of the station's feature programming. WWJ also began broadcasting its signal in the HD Radio format in August of 2006.

On-air staff

Current on-air staff11

Anchors
  • Jayne Bower
  • Greg Bowman
  • Mike Campbell
  • Michael Collins
  • Jeff DeFran
  • Roberta Jasina
  • Rob Mason
  • Marie Osborne
  • Rob Sanford
  • Paul Snider
  • Alan Vance
  • Pat Vitale
Weather
  • Carl Babinski
  • Dave Bowers
  • Carl Erickson
  • John Feerick
  • Dean DeVore
  • Bob Larson
  • Kerry Schwindenhemmer
  • Dr. Joe Sobel
  • Brian Thompson
  • Heather Zehr
Sports
  • Jeff Lesson
  • Tony Ortiz
  • Ryan Wooley
Studio traffic reporters
  • John Bailey
  • Terry T. Brown
  • Tony Bruscotto - Sunday mornings
  • Marty Bufalini
  • Jim Daniels
  • Lance Howard
  • Mike Lindeman
  • Jo-Jo Shutty-MacGregor
  • Chuck Roberts
  • Lorna Stephens
Chopper 950 reporters
  • Bill Szumanski
  • Lance Howard
Specialty reporters
  • Ed Coury - Wall Street Journal Report
  • Ron Dewey
  • Murray Feldman - consumer reporter
  • Beth Fisher
  • Jeff Gilbert - automotive reporter
  • Jon Hewett
  • John McElroy - AutoBeat reporter/auto analyst
  • Matt Roush - Great Lakes I.T. Report
  • Tim Skubick - Lansing bureau chief
  • Vickie Thomas - CityBeat reporter
  • Pat Sweeting

Notable alumni

See also

Sources

Notes

  1. ^ http://transition.fcc.gov/fcc-bin/amq?list=0&facid=9621
  2. ^ Radio Inspection Districts
  3. ^ a b c d e Radio Service Bulletins, Nos. 1 to 183 (January 1915 to June 1932), from the Bureau of Navigation, Department of Commerce Audio Division (FCC) USA
  4. ^ "WWJ, a Jesuit and the Bomb" Story of a young radio pioneer, who became a Jesuit priest and supplied the final piece of our first Atomic Bomb, by Jeffrey A. McQueen
  5. ^ Building the Broadcast Band
  6. ^ Other contemporary accounts state that the callsign was chosen because it was believed more easily pronounced by announcers and more readily heard and remembered by listeners.Internet Archive: Details: "WWJ-The Detroit news"; the history of Radiophone broadcasting by the earliest and foremost of newspaper stations; together with information on radio for amateur and expert
  7. ^ Marcucci, Carl (September 6, 2012). "CBS Radio consolidating ops in Detroit". RBR.com TVBR.com. Retrieved December 30, 2012. 
  8. ^ wwj America's oldest radio station.
  9. ^ "Detroit Pistons Radio Network". Retrieved 2009-10-11. 
  10. ^ "Michigan Signs Five-Year Extension With CBS Radio". MGoBlue.com. CBS Interactive. 2011-08-08. Retrieved 2011-08-08. 
  11. ^ About WWJ Newsradio 950

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