|City of license||Cayce, South Carolina|
|Broadcast area||Columbia, South Carolina|
|Branding||96.7 Steve FM|
|Slogan||Playing Whatever We Want|
|Frequency||96.7 MHz (also on HD Radio)|
|First air date||July 11, 1974 (as WZLD)|
|Callsign meaning||LiTe (the previous format's moniker) CaYce|
|Former callsigns||WZLD (1974-1988)
|Sister stations||WCOS, WCOS-FM, WNOK, WXBT, WVOC-FM|
WLTY is a variety hits radio station licensed to Cayce, South Carolina and serves the Columbia, South Carolina market. The iHeartMedia, Inc. outlet is licensed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to broadcast at 96.7 MHz with an effective radiated power (ERP) of 9 kW. The station goes by the name 96-7 Steve FM and its current slogan is "Playing Whatever We Want." Its studios are in Columbia (west of the Congaree River) and the transmitter is east of downtown Columbia.
96.7 FM signed on as WZLD on July 11, 1974 with a mixture of top 40 and oldies music. It became the number one rated station in its first book. However, in late 1977, rival AM Top 40 WNOK countered the success of WZLD by flipping its sister FM to Top 40 as "Stereo 105". That move would stunt WZLD's growth in the marketplace and the format was changed to album rock as "Z-96" by 1978. The format was run live-assisted using Drake-Chenault's AOR format.
In 1980, the station changed back to Top 40 and both Z-96 and WNOK-FM went head to head for the next six years for the Columbia Top 40 radio audience. In February 1986, Z-96 made a dramatic format change from Top 40 to adult contemporary, but keeping the name. This move proved disastrous and by early 1987, the station changed back to Top 40. This time, however, the station found itself competing with not only WNOK, but with upstart WMMC (now WOMG) as well.
In February 1988, WZLD became WYYS with the "Yes 97" moniker. The format remained Top 40, this time with a lean toward dance music. The station makeover would eventually pay off as WMMC would become WPRH later in 1988 and would leave the Top 40 format altogether one year later. WNOK, however remained dominate in the Top 40 ratings and despite several attempts, could not be unseated.
In August 1991, after a brief stunt as "Elvis Radio", the format was changed to country as "Kicks 96" with the new call letters of WHKZ. This time, the station targeted longtime country outlet WCOS-FM. Although it had some modest success at first, Kicks 96 was never able to beat WCOS in the ratings. The station was sold in 1994 to Benchmark Communications, which kept the country format as a flanker to protect WCOS, but over time, the station's ratings had started to erode.
By 1998, Benchmark was sold to Capstar Broadcasting. Since there was no need for two country stations under the same ownership as well as declining ratings, the decision was made to change WHKZ to something else. Over Labor Day Weekend 1998, WHKZ dropped the country format for brief simulcasts of Capstar sister stations WCOS and WVOC. After the stunting, the format was changed to adult contemporary with the name "Lite 96.7" and the new call letters of WLTY.
Despite the changes, Lite 96.7 never really took off in the Columbia market. After seven years of mediocre ratings against the dominant adult contemporary station, WTCB, the station flipped on August 16, 2005 to variety hits as "Steve FM" (rumored to be named for then-new University Of South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier, even though he is affiliated with WISW.). After a year, the station was able to finish in the Top 5 in the Arbitron ratings, something that has not been achieved on the signal in over a decade.
- Steve FM's website
- Query the FCC's FM station database for WLTY
- Radio-Locator information on WLTY
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for WLTY