WEZB

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WEZB
WEZB logo 2012.jpeg
City of license New Orleans, Louisiana
Broadcast area Southeast Louisiana & Southern Mississippi
Branding B-97 FM
Slogan "All The Hits"
Frequency 97.1 MHz (CHR-Contemporary Hit Radio) (also on HD Radio)
97.1 HD-2 (B-97 HD-2 The Beat of New Orleans) for Rhythmic Contemporary
First air date September 1, 1945 (as WRCM)
Format Top 40 (CHR)
ERP 100,000 watts
HAAT 300 meters
Class C0
Facility ID 20346
Callsign meaning W (East side of the Mississippi River), EZ (EZ Communications; former owner), B (for their former format, Beautiful music)
Former callsigns WRCM (1945-1967)
WNNR-FM (1967-1972)
Owner Entercom
Webcast Listen Live
Website b97.com

WEZB, aka B-97 today, is a mainstream Contemporary hit radio (CHR or "Top 40") radio station in New Orleans, Louisiana. The station is owned by Entercom and they broadcast their format at 97.1 MHz with an effective radiated power (ERP) of 100,000 watts. The station broadcasts in high definition through two stations, HD-1 (WEZB-HD, New Orleans) and HD-2 Rhythmic Contemporary. The station's studios are located at the 400 Poydras Tower in New Orleans' downtown area, and the transmitter site is in the city's Algiers district.

History[edit]

According to the broadcasting yearbooks, on September 1, 1945, 97.1 signed on the air. This was WRCM, the FM simulcast of WJMR-AM 990 and sister to WJMR-TV 12 (now WVUE channel 8), all owned by George J. Mayoral. Then, around 1966/67 after the TV station had already been sold, Supreme Broadcasting Company bought the two radio stations and changed the call letters to WNNR AM & FM. At the time, the station was located in the Jung Hotel at 1500 Canal Street in downtown New Orleans. It broadcast a forward power of only 20,500 watts from an antenna 310 feet atop the building.

On January 2, 1972, EZ Communications acquired the FM station and this is when it became WEZB, part of a chain of Beautiful Music stations (WEZC Charlotte, WEZR Washington, et al.) owned by EZ. It was never very successful against formidable competition in that format. Briefly in the 1970s when disco became a popular genre, it became "Disco 97 FM" on Thursday, February 8, 1979, but failed shortly after. "We had a big party in the Atrium at the Hyatt (Regency Hotel)" says Jim Roberts, B-97's first Bee Jock (disc jockey). "Baby New Year was dropped from the ceiling and we switched over from "FM97, The Rhythm Of The City" to the new "B-97 FM"".[1] According to Jackson "Jack Da Wack" Tally, who was also one of B-97's first Bee Jocks, in early November 1979, the station slowly started to work more and more Top 40 music into rotation. By the end of that year, the staff was ready for the format change to B-97FM. This station would be a popular Top 40 outlet for years to come; much like "The Mighty 690, WTIX-AM" was in the 1960s and 1970s.

Kent Burkhart, consultant to EZ Communications at the time, states on his website [2] that Dan Vallie was hired on by the company to change the ailing format of WEZB from disco/dance to Top 40. Over the years, the name went through minor changes (i.e. "The New B-97 FM", "B-97", "97.1 The New B-97 FM" etc.), the transmitting power was increased, and the antenna was moved to a taller location. Currently, many New Orleanians know B-97 as a well-known and established radio station playing the hits.

To note, WEZB has been a prominent Top 40 radio broadcast station in the New Orleans, LA metropolitan area for a little over 30 years, except for two brief, failed experiments. The first format change was a decision by now defunct EZ Communications, in which the station changed to a News/Hot Talk format in the summer of 1994. The decision to return to a music format came in June 1996, in which the station played Billy Ray Cyrus' "Achy Breaky Heart" repeatedly for one hour. After that hour ended, the station returned as an Adult Top 40/Hot AC format using the same name "B-97", and kicking it off with Hootie and the Blowfish "Only Wanna Be With You." Finally, on July 26, 1998, B-97 fully evolved back to its heritage Top 40/CHR format. To add, the station became more Rhythmic in its musical approach before making the shift in 2002, back to its current, true Top 40 approach.

Hurricane Katrina[edit]

WEZB was also a member of the United Radio Broadcasters of New Orleans, an alliance of broadcast stations formed by the joint ventures of WEZB's parent company, Entercom Communications with Clear Channel Communications, during Hurricane Katrina in September 2005.

Current programming and hosts[edit]

Programming[edit]

  • Syndicated The Kidd Kraddick Morning Show (morning show airing 5am-10am Monday - Friday)
  • The iPod Shuffle (midday show, noon-1 pm playing music from the late 1980s - 1990s and current music, including requests) (live & local)
  • Corey B's Woot Woot (Monday-Friday nights beginning at 7pm) (live & local)
  • Friday Five O'Clock Free-For-All (old school tunes airing Friday afternoons at quitting time, 5 pm) (live & local)
  • Open House Party (hosted live by host John Garabedian, syndicated show, Saturday nights from 6pm-11pm)
  • Hollywood Hamilton's Weekend Top 30 (countdown show airing Sunday mornings 9 am-noon)
  • Saturday Night Big Easy Block Party (all request/party dedication show airing Saturday nights 6 pm-11pm) (live & local)

Past programming and staff[edit]

Past programming[edit]

  • The Howard Stern Show
  • Scott Shannon's Rockin' America Top 30 Countdown
  • Countdown USA with Dave Sholin
  • American Top 40 (AT 40) with Casey Kasem
  • Casey's Top 40 with Casey Kasem
  • American Top 40 (AT 40) with Ryan Seacrest
  • Rick Dees & The Weekly Top 40
  • Hollywood Hamilton's Rhythm Countdown
  • BackTrax USA with Kid Kelly (1980s & 1990s versions)
  • Friday Five O'Clock Whistle (circa 1986) (party music; upbeat, high energy songs from the 80's & 70's)
  • Friday Five O'Clock Free-For-All (1980s show from 5 pm-7 pm; later evolved into "Fat City Friday Night's")
  • Fat City Friday Night's (live from Kenny's Key West, Metairie, LA)
  • Saturday Night Throwdown (mix show; aired on Saturday nights)
  • Sunday Night Dedication Party (aired live from Bart's on the Lake, New Orleans, LA)
  • Totally On Demand B (all request show; aired Saturday nights 8 pm-midnight)
  • RadioMixes Crossover (mixshow)

Former Bee Jocks[edit]

  • David "Kidd Kraddick" Cradick (1987-2013 Kidd Kraddick In The Morning)
  • Cami McCormick (news director & host of the "B-97's 60-Second News Update;" worked alongside "Cajun" Ken Cooper in the mornings, and later "Walton & Johnson". Left for Moscow in 1991 to do an all-English radio show until its end in 1994, then became a CNN reporter. Now a dedicated journalist with CBS news. Received three Edward R. Murrow awards, as well as two Gracie Allen Awards, among others)
  • Scott "Shadow Stevens" Wright(VP/PD, 1987-1989 & 1993-1995) (previously from Z-100 (WHTZ-FM) in New York and KQLZ a.k.a. "Pirate Radio 100.3 FM" in Los Angeles)
  • Elvis Duran (doing the Z-100 Morning Zoo at Z-100 (WHTZ-FM) in New York, NY)
  • Jason Peavy

References[edit]

  1. ^ B-97's Alumni page on Facebook.com
  2. ^ http://www.kentburkhart.com/kentburkhart49.htm Kent Burkhart.com

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 29°55′12″N 90°01′30″W / 29.920°N 90.025°W / 29.920; -90.025