Logos for WMAL-FM, and the now defunct Smooth Jazz 105.9 HD-2.
|City of license||Woodbridge, Virginia|
|Broadcast area||Washington, D.C.|
|Branding||"105.9 FM & AM 630 WMAL"|
|Slogan||Where Washington Comes To Talk|
105.9 HD-2 for "Smooth Jazz"
|First air date||1962|
|ERP||Horizontal: 28,000 watts
Vertical: 25,000 watts
|Callsign meaning||W-"Martin A. Leese"
(founder of AM simulcast WMAL)
|Former callsigns||2009–2011: WVRX
|Affiliations||ABC News Radio
Premiere Radio Networks
(Radio License Holding VII, LLC)
|Sister stations||WMAL, WRQX|
|Webcast||WMAL-FM Live Feed|
Before the current station was founded, an earlier station, called WHIP, existed on 105.9 FM in the Washington area. The station was founded between 1948 and 1950 and licensed to Silver Spring; therefore it is unrelated to the current station, which is licensed to Woodbridge.
1962–1994: Early years
The station that would become WMAL-FM was founded in August 1962. This station was then known as WXRA, and during most of its early history it ran a mix of country and gospel daily from 6 pm until midnight. Beginning in September 1967 it simulcasted with WPIK, a co-owned station on 730 AM. Although WXRA was run from the same Alexandria studios as WPIK, WXRA's city of license has always been Woodbridge. On December 31, 1967, WXRA began to run a full-time country format in response to a flood of listener requests.
The station was assigned the call letters WPKX-FM on December 9, 1981, and kept the country format but changed names to "Kix 106". On January 27, 1986, the station changed its call sign to WCXR-FM and instituted its first classic rock format, known as "Classic Rock 105.9". The classic rock format, which was just beginning to take hold in 1986, was considered experimental and debuted to high interest and ratings before eventually falling to more normal levels. The simulcast with 730 AM, now known as WCXR, was broken off around this time.
In 1989, WCXR's owners, the Metropolitan Broadcasting Corporation, sold ten stations including WCXR to Group W. Just four years later, in mid-1993, Group W sold WCXR to Viacom. This fueled rumors of a format change. Viacom elected to keep the format but fired the station's entire airstaff; the company officially took control on November 1, 1993.
A new smooth jazz format, called "Smooth Jazz 105.9," finally debuted on September 30, 1994. This was spurred on, at least in part, by the format changes of WLTT (now WIAD) to classic rock and of WJZE (now WBIG-FM) to oldies. The call letters became WJZW on October 17.
In February 1997, Viacom sold 10 stations, including WJZW, to Chancellor Broadcasting. To comply with FCC limits on the amount of radio stations that can be owned by one company, Chancellor sold WJZW to ABC Radio, which was part of the Walt Disney Company, on April 14 of the same year. Citadel Broadcasting bought ABC Radio from Disney in 2007.
At 3:00 pm on February 29, 2008, Citadel Broadcasting changed the format of WJZW to oldies. All on-air employees were fired as a part of the format shift. The smooth jazz format now exists on the station's HD Radio subchannel, and at SmoothJazzAmerica.com, launched by WJZW host Jay Lang on July 12, 2008. The first song on the new format was "Respect" by Aretha Franklin and, at least initially, no local live on-air talent was utilized, with the station instead relying on Scott Shannon's The True Oldies Channel. Before the change, a brief statement was read thanking the staff and listeners of Smooth Jazz 105.9. Imus in the Morning was added as the new morning show. However, the ratings for True Oldies were not satisfactory enough to justify continuing the format.
On August 26, 2009, WJZW changed its format to classic rock (the second time the station had a classic rock format- the first time was the aforementioned WCXR-FM.) This time, the station was branded as "105.9 The Edge". The last song played on "True Oldies" was "Windy" by The Association. The first song on "The Edge" was "Livin' on the Edge" by Aerosmith. The format shift marked the station the only one in the DC market to broadcast classic rock, though WBIG-FM broadcast a lighter "classic hits". Just after midnight on September 17, 2009, the station changed its call letters to WVRX. On July 7, 2010, WVRX added a local morning drive program with Washington/Baltimore radio veterans Kirk McEwen and Mike O'Meara called "Kirk and Mike".
Citadel merged with Cumulus Media on September 16, 2011. On September 19, 2011, at 12:00 pm, the station flipped to a simulcast of talk sister station WMAL. The last songs on "105.9 The Edge" were The Song Is Over by The Who and Hello, Goodbye by The Beatles. The station filed a request to change its call sign to WMAL-FM, which became official on September 26, 2011.
Since September 19, 2011, the station has operated as a full-time simulcast of sister station WMAL, one of the oldest surviving AM stations in the Washington, D.C. market. WMAL AM and FM are also the market's primary ABC News Radio affiliate, and carry programming from Cumulus Media Networks and Premiere Radio Networks.
- "WMAL Facility Record". Federal Communications Commission, audio division.
- Cosper, Alex. "Washington, DC-Baltimore Area Radio History". Playlist Research. Retrieved June 8, 2010.
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- "U.S. FM Stations, Summer 1958". Retrieved June 8, 2010.
- "WXRA-FM on Full". Billboard: 26. January 7, 1967. Retrieved June 7, 2010.
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- Yorke, Jeffrey (October 26, 1993). "Staff Wipeout at WCXR-FM". Washington Post. Retrieved February 3, 2010.
- Yorke, Jeffrey (January 17, 1995). "WJZW-FM: A Jump for Jazz". Washington Post. Retrieved February 3, 2010.
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- Venta, Lance (February 29, 2008). "WJZW Washington Becomes True Oldies 105.9". radioINSIGHT. Retrieved February 4, 2010.
- "Radio Stations". Scott Shannon's True Oldies Channel. Archived from the original on July 28, 2008. Retrieved December 19, 2008.
- Farhi, Paul (March 1, 2008). "Strapped Owner Fires WMAL Host Chris Core". Washington Post. Retrieved March 1, 2008.
- "105.9 The Edge – Classic Rock That Rocks!". theedge1059.com. Retrieved January 12, 2011.
- "Cumulus now owns Citadel Broadcasting". Atlanta Business Journal. September 16, 2011. Retrieved September 16, 2011.
- http://www.dcrtv.org Edge To Die, WMAL To 105.9 Monday
- Call Sign – Query – FCC (accessed September 20, 2011)
- WMAL Online
- Smooth Jazz 105.9 HD2
- Query the FCC's FM station database for WMAL
- Radio-Locator information on WMAL
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for WMAL