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City of license Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Broadcast area Pittsburgh metropolitan area
Branding Radio Disney AM 1250
Slogan Your Music, Your Way
Frequency 1250 kHz
(also on HD Radio)
First air date May 4, 1922
Format Children's radio
Power 5,000 watts
Class B
Facility ID 65691
Transmitter coordinates 40°23′50.00″N 79°57′43.00″W / 40.3972222°N 79.9619444°W / 40.3972222; -79.9619444 (WDDZ)
Callsign meaning DZ = Disney
Former callsigns 1998–2010: WEAE
1966–1998: WTAE
1961–1966: WRYT
1922–1961: WCAE
Former frequencies 1928–1941: 1220 (kHz)
1927-1928: 650 (kHz)
1927: 560 (kHz)
1923–1927: 650 (kHz)
1922–1923: 750 (kHz)
1922: 833 (kHz)
Affiliations Radio Disney
Owner The Walt Disney Company
(Sale pending)
(Sports Radio Group, LLC)
Website www.radiodisney.com

WDDZ is an AM radio station in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, broadcasting at 1250 kHz with a power level of 5,000 watts. The station is an ABC owned and operated station and serves as the Pittsburgh affiliate of Radio Disney. WDDZ resides in the building of former sister station WTAE-TV, at 400 Ardmore Boulevard in Wilkinsburg.


The station is one of the five original Pittsburgh stations, signing on May 4, 1922 as WCAE.[1] It was originally owned by the Pittsburgh department store Kaufmann & Baer's, and operated at 833 kHz (as all stations did at that time);[2] it moved to 750 kHz in December[3] and to 650 in May 1923.[4] Kaufmann and Baer's was purchased in 1925 by Gimbels; this made WCAE the company's third radio station, after WIP in Philadelphia and WGBS in New York City.[5] The station became an affiliate of the NBC Red Network in January 1927.[6] It moved to 560 kHz on June 15, 1927,[7] but in November returned to 650;[8] a year later, WCAE moved to 1220 kHz.[9]

WCAE was acquired by Hearst Corporation in 1931.[2] The North American Radio Broadcasting Agreement moved the station to 1250 kHz on March 29, 1941;[10] on November 1, it became a full-time affiliate of the Mutual Broadcasting System (which previously aired on both WCAE and KQV), with NBC Red moving to KDKA.[11] Another affiliation change took place on June 15, 1945, when WCAE swapped affiliations with KQV and joined the Blue Network,[12] which changed its name to the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) that same day. An FM sister station at 96.1 MHz was started in 1948;[13] WCAE-FM was shut down in 1953,[14] but was restarted August 8, 1960.[15] WCAE lost the ABC affiliation to WJAS on May 21, 1955.[16] The station expanded into television three years later, with the debut of WTAE (channel 4) on September 4, 1958, initially as a joint venture of Hearst and the former owners of KQV;[17] this arrangement had led to the sale of KQV to ABC in 1957 to avoid duopoly concerns.[18]

WCAE began stunting on May 27, 1961, promoting a new format to begin two days later; at that time, the station changed its call letters to WRYT and began playing beautiful music.[19] Another call letter change occurred five years later, when the station became WTAE to match its television sister station (which had become wholly owned by Hearst by this time);[20] soon afterward, the station shifted to a middle-of-the-road format.[6]

WTAE shifted its format again in 1973, this time to an oldies-heavy adult contemporary format under general manager Ted Atkins,[2] who used programming techniques he had learned from Bill Drake at KHJ in Los Angeles.[21] The widely popular morning show, O'Brien & Garry, featured Larry O'Brien and John Garry doing comedy skits, playing music, and other general morning fare. The format proved successful — by 1980, WTAE had become the number-two station in Pittsburgh, trailing only KDKA.[21] The station also had a heavy sports commitment; it became the flagship station of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1969,[2] and around the same time became the home of the Pittsburgh Panthers.[22] WTAE also aired a nightly sports show, hosted for many years by Myron Cope.[21] The station also added an affiliation with ABC's Entertainment Network by 1976.[23] In 1987, as at many AM radio stations, music was abandoned, and WTAE became a talk station.[24] Hosts included Jack Bogut, Lynn Cullen, Doug Hoerth and Phil Musick.

After 66 years of ownership, Hearst sold WTAE, along with what had become WVTY (now WKST-FM), to SFX Broadcasting in 1997.[25] That November, SFX relaunched WTAE as an all-sports station.[26] Chancellor Media bought SFX's Pittsburgh stations a year later,[27] and then traded WTAE to Jacor Communications in exchange for WKNR in Cleveland, Ohio in August 1998.[28] Jacor changed the call letters to WEAE to disassociate the station from WTAE-TV, which remained owned by Hearst-Argyle.[2] Soon afterward, Jacor put the station up for sale, and in 1999 WEAE was acquired by ABC,[29] which affiliated the station with its ESPN Radio network.[2] ESPN programming such as Mike and Mike in the Morning was supplemented by local sports talkers Scott Paulsen,[30] Mike Logan,[30] Chris Mack,[31] Guy Junker,[30] Stan Savran,[30] and Stillers 365 (with Ken Laird).[31] Mark Madden was a host on the station from 1998[29] until his firing in May 2008 for making an on-air remark that he wished that Sen. Edward Kennedy be assassinated.[32] Madden returned to the Pittsburgh airwaves on October 13, 2008, with an afternoon drive show on competitor WXDX, which is otherwise a modern rock station.[33]

WEAE's final logo as "1250 ESPN", used from 2008 until December 31, 2010

Soon after the sale to ABC, WEAE lost the Steelers rights to WDVE (itself formerly owned by ABC) and WWSW (now WBGG) after nearly thirty years;[34] a year earlier, WTAE had lost the Pittsburgh Panthers to KQV.[22] The station subsequently picked up the Penn State Nittany Lions.[31][35]

Although WEAE was generally the top-rated sports station in Pittsburgh, ahead of WBGG, it was a financial failure (at one point losing as much as $2 million)—a problem that only worsened when KDKA-FM was launched as an FM sports station and wooed away some of WEAE's advertisers.[31] After attempts to sell the station ended without a buyer, ABC decided to not renew its lease of WWCS, which it had run as Pittsburgh's Radio Disney affiliate, upon its expiration on December 31, 2010, and move Radio Disney to WEAE,[31] with WBGG assuming the ESPN Radio affiliation[36] and Penn State men's basketball moving to KQV.[37] Local programming was largely canceled on September 25, 2010.[38] When the format change occurred on January 1, 2011, the call letters were changed to the current WDDZ (which were transferred from a former Radio Disney affiliate in Providence, Rhode Island).[39]

On August 13, 2014, Disney put WDDZ and twenty-two other Radio Disney stations up for sale, in order to focus more on digital distribution of the Radio Disney network.[40][41]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "A Chronology of AM Radio Broadcasting 1900-1960". History of American Broadcasting. Retrieved December 24, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Roteman, Jeff. "From 833 to 1250…". Jeff Roteman's WTAE Radio Page. Retrieved December 24, 2010. 
  3. ^ "Radio Service Bulletin". Bureau of Navigation, Department of Commerce. January 2, 1923. p. 6. Retrieved December 24, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Radio Service Bulletin". Department of Commerce Bureau of Navigation. June 1, 1923. p. 10. Retrieved December 24, 2010. 
  5. ^ "Gimbel Growth". Time. December 14, 1925. Retrieved December 25, 2010. 
  6. ^ a b Salamon, Ed (2010). Pittsburgh's Golden Age of Radio. Arcadia Publishing. pp. 8–9. ISBN 0-7385-7223-3. 
  7. ^ "Radio Service Bulletin". United States Department of Commerce Radio Division. May 31, 1927. p. 9. Retrieved December 25, 2010. 
  8. ^ "Radio Service Bulletin". United States Department of Commerce Radio Division. November 30, 1927. p. 8. Retrieved December 25, 2010. 
  9. ^ "Radio Service Bulletin" (PDF). United States Department of Commerce Radio Division. November 30, 1928. p. 9. Retrieved December 25, 2010. 
  10. ^ "Log of U. S. Broadcast Stations Effective March 29, 1941". Supplement to Broadcasting. September 15, 1940. p. 3. Retrieved December 25, 2010. 
  11. ^ "KQV, Pittsburgh, and WCBM, Baltimore, Will Transfer to Blue Network in Fall". Broadcasting. March 17, 1941. p. 9. Retrieved December 25, 2010. 
  12. ^ "WCAE, KQV Switch Networks June 15". Broadcasting. January 22, 1945. p. 49. Retrieved December 25, 2010. 
  13. ^ Broadcasting-Telecasting Yearbook 1950 (PDF). 1950. p. 260. Retrieved December 25, 2010. 
  14. ^ "For The Record". Broadcasting-Telecasting. June 8, 1953. p. 85. Retrieved December 25, 2010. 
  15. ^ Broadcasting Yearbook 1961-62 (PDF). 1961. p. B-111. Retrieved December 25, 2010. 
  16. ^ "WJAS Switches to ABC". Broadcasting-Telecasting. April 25, 1955. p. 9. Retrieved December 25, 2010. 
  17. ^ "Closed Circuit". Broadcasting-Telecasting. July 22, 1957. p. 5. Retrieved December 25, 2010. 
  18. ^ "AB-PT Confirms Buy Of KQV for $700,000". Broadcasting-Telecasting. September 2, 1957. p. 74. Retrieved December 25, 2010. 
  19. ^ "Pitt. Station's Catchy Promotions a Catch-All". Billboard. March 27, 1965. Retrieved December 25, 2010. 
  20. ^ "For The Record". Broadcasting. June 6, 1966. p. 87. Retrieved December 25, 2010. 
  21. ^ a b c Mehno, John (November 8, 1980). "Stumbling WTAE-AM Soars To Deuce Spot". Billboard. Retrieved December 25, 2010. 
  22. ^ a b "The Pederson Years". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. December 21, 2002. Retrieved December 27, 2010. 
  23. ^ Broadcasting Yearbook 1977 (PDF). 1977. p. C-182. Retrieved December 25, 2010. 
  24. ^ Broadcasting/Cablecasting Yearbook 1988 (PDF). 1988. p. B-242. Retrieved December 25, 2010. 
  25. ^ "HEARST TO ACQUIRE WPBF-TV, WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA" (Press release). Hearst Corporation. March 25, 1997. Retrieved December 25, 2010. 
  26. ^ Tascarella, Patty (February 23, 1998). "Live from Green Tree". Pittsburgh Business Times. Retrieved December 25, 2010. 
  27. ^ "Station breakup". Pittsburgh Business Times. March 2, 1998. Retrieved December 25, 2010. 
  28. ^ "Changing stations". Pittsburgh Business Times. June 29, 1998. Retrieved December 25, 2010. 
  29. ^ a b Coleman, Murray (February 8, 1999). "ABC closes in on acquisition of WEAE-AM". Pittsburgh Business Times. Retrieved December 25, 2010. 
  30. ^ a b c d Smizik, Bob (July 28, 2008). "Paulsen, Savran additions highlight changes at 1250 ESPN". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved December 27, 2010. 
  31. ^ a b c d e Smizik, Bob (September 24, 2010). "Major changes next week at 1250 ESPN". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved September 24, 2010. 
  32. ^ "Madden removed from air by ESPN," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 28, 2008
  33. ^ 105.9 The X - Mark Madden page
  34. ^ Finder, Chuck (February 18, 1999). "WDVE-FM secures rights as Steelers flagship station". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved December 25, 2010. 
  35. ^ "PSU Advertisement (1998 affiliate list)". Turnpike Traveller. Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. Retrieved December 27, 2010. 
  36. ^ McCoy, Adrian (November 3, 2010). "WBGG to gain some ESPN sports talk". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved December 27, 2010. 
  37. ^ Smizik, Bob (November 17, 2010). "Penn State basketball to KQV". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved December 27, 2010. 
  38. ^ Smizik, Bob (September 26, 2010). "Shutdown begins at 1250 ESPN". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved September 27, 2010. 
  39. ^ Fybush, Scott (January 3, 2011). "New Year Dawns with Format Changes". NorthEast Radio Watch. Retrieved January 3, 2011. 
  40. ^ Lafayette, Jon (August 13, 2014). "Exclusive: Radio Disney Moving Off Air to Digital". Retrieved August 13, 2014. 
  41. ^ "Radio Disney to Sell the Majority of Its Stations". Billboard. Retrieved 13 August 2014. 

External links[edit]