|This article needs additional citations for verification. (December 2011)|
|City of license||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania|
|Broadcast area||Delaware Valley|
|Slogan||Everything That Rocks|
(also on HD Radio)
|First air date||April 20, 1942|
HD2: Live rock
|Callsign meaning||MetroMedia Radio|
|Former callsigns||WIP-FM (1942–66)|
|Affiliations||United Stations Radio Networks|
|Owner||Greater Media, Inc.
(Greater Boston Radio, Inc.)
|Sister stations||WBEN-FM, WMGK, WPEN|
WMMR (93.3 FM) – branded 93.3 WMMR – is a commercial active rock radio station licensed to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, serving the Delaware Valley. Owned by Greater Media, WMMR is the home of Preston and Steve and radio personality Pierre Robert, and currently serves as the Philadelphia affiliate for The House of Hair with Dee Snider. The WMMR studios are located in Bala Cynwyd, while the station transmitter resides atop One Liberty Place. Besides a standard analog transmission, WMMR broadcasts over two HD Radio channels, and is available online.
WMMR tag line
WMMR's tag line, which appears on station advertising and is mentioned periodically by station DJs, is: "93.3 WMMR: Everything That Rocks" and, sometimes, "Philly's First Rock Station", or "MMR Rocks". In the past they have used: "WMMR, the home of rock and roll." as well as "MMR Means More Rock!" They used to go by the slogan "The Big Murmur in the Heartbeat of Philadelphia.". In the 1970s, during its early years as a free form "progressive rock" station the dominant slogan was simply "At 93 point 3 FM, You're listening to WMMR, Philadelphia...The Radio Station." Vintage station IDs with "The Radio Station" slogan can still be heard from time to time on WMMR. This series, along with the overnight hours of programmed music known as "OPUS" (2 a.m. - 6 a.m.), was produced by then Production Director, Paul Messing.
The station changed its call letters to WMMR sometime around 1966; they signified the station's owner, MetroMedia Radio. The WMMR call sign had previously belonged to a student radio station at the University of Minnesota. The MOR format was still being used, but with different programming than the AM side, although the AM disc jockeys' announcements were used for both stations.
Beginning in 1968, WMMR began adopting a progressive rock format, similar to that of several Metromedia-owned stations including New York's WNEW-FM (these two stations had a close relationship, ran the similar promotions, and sometimes featured each other's disc jockeys on the air) and Cleveland's WMMS. KMET in Los Angeles and KSAN in San Francisco were also part of the Metromedia chain and followed similar paths in the 1960s.
Dave Herman was WMMR's first rock DJ. His show, dubbed The Marconi Experiment, debuted on April 29, 1968. Before Herman's arrival WMMR ran an automated "beautiful music" format during the day featuring programs like Sinatra and Company. The Marconi Experiment was very much an experiment for the station, one that succeeded. The first song played on the show was "Flying" by The Beatles over the intro of which Herman recited these words: "Arise my heart, and fill your voice with music. For he who shares not dawn with his song, is one of the sons of ever darkness". This was known as the incantation and continued as the regular show open for The Marconi Experiment on WMMR.
Michael Cuscuna, from University of Pennsylvania's WXPN, replaced Herman in 1970, but was quickly hired away by WABC-FM (now WPLJ) in New York. Michael Tearson, also from WXPN, replaced Cuscuna and remained a mainstay at WMMR for over 20 years. Herman went on to WABC-FM and then to WNEW (now WWFS) where he remained for over 30 years. Tearson worked at WMGK, also in Philadelphia, April 2002 until January 2013. He currently works on Sirius XM Deep Tracks and does various online radio programs.
WMMR's major Philadelphia area competitors in the late 1960s were WIFI at 92.5 and WDAS-FM. Neither station stayed with the rock format. WIFI later became Top-40 and then changed to country music and is now known as WXTU. WDAS-FM switched to urban contemporary in the early 1970s.
Later in the 1970s, two other Philadelphia radio stations became competitors: WYSP (formerly WIBG-FM) and WIOQ. WYSP later became classic rock before it flipped to sports and changed call letters to WIP-FM in fall, 2012, while WIOQ is now considered to be a Pop music radio station.
One of WMMR's most influential disc jockeys during the 1970s was Ed Sciaky, who was known for playing and boosting the careers of new artists such as Billy Joel and Yes. Most of all, he introduced Bruce Springsteen to Philadelphia, and decades later, the city remains one of Springsteen's strongest fan bases and the scenes of many of his best-received concerts. Other alumni include two National Public Radio hosts: David Dye, still a local radio personality and host of the syndicated World Cafe, and Nick Spitzer, now a New Orleans resident and host of American Routes. John DeBella was the morning drive disc jockey of most note, alongside news man and sidekick Mark "The Shark" Drucker (later of KYW AM), while some WMMR jocks such as Dave Herman and Carol Miller would later became more famous on New York stations. Late 1970s morning and midday personality Dick Hungate would in 1981 create and implement the nation's first classic rock format at WYSP, another Philadelphia station.
Most notable in WMMR's current lineup is midday (10:30 a.m.-3 p.m.) host Pierre Robert (pronounced 'row-bear'), one of the nation's most influential rock disc jockeys. In November 2011 Robert celebrated his 30th anniversary at the station. He has held the midday airshift for about 25 of those years, starting his stint at WMMR with a brief stay on the overnight shift and spending March 1993 through June 1996 as host of the morning show.
A breakthrough station
Throughout its existence, WMMR has broadcast live rock music shows and interviewed leading rock music stars. In addition to the role it played in expanding the mainstream audience of Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel and Yes, the station has helped elevate many other leading rock bands. It was one of the first East Coast stations to play acts such as Grateful Dead, U2, and Van Halen. The station also has featured local, Philadelphia-area rock music acts, such as The Hooters and George Thorogood, helping promote them to national status within the music industry. The station also has heavily promoted the grunge rock band Pearl Jam; at 10pm every night during the week it played a set of Pearl Jam songs in what the station called "The Ten Club." While Pearl Jam is known as a Seattle band, WMMR was one of the stations that gave it broad, East Coast exposure and played a role in the band's breakthrough popularity. It was a very popular WMMR segment among listeners.
The station also is closely associated with the band The Grateful Dead. Routinely, before playing a Grateful Dead song, WMMR disc jockeys will say "God Bless the Grateful Dead," a station saying that has endured over two decades. Most major rock bands and musicians have recorded tag lines for the station, including Mick Jagger and others. Springsteen once recorded a version of his song "Growin' Up", intermixing the lyrics "Growin' up in Philadelphia," and referencing WMMR in the song.
As with most rock radio stations, over time, WMMR morphed into an album-oriented rock format, and in the early 1990s leaned towards classic rock. WMMR's current format is simply called Rock, which is a blend of energetic classic rock and up-tempo current rock. Though more oriented toward the heavier end of the music spectrum today than in its earlier days, WMMR remains true to its heritage, playing new and old music, exposing local music, broadcasting with live, local personalities 24 hours a day and staying heavily involved in the community. As of today, WMMR is an active rock station since January 2007 because of Mediabase and Nielsen BDS moving them to the active rock panel, and forcing existing active rock competitor WYSP to go all-talk. This is due to most of the classic rock disappearing from the station as its sister station is classic rocker WMGK. WYSP returned to active rock later that year, although WMMR was still an active rock station. WMMR became the only active rock station in Philadelphia again when WYSP went to classic rock in 2008.
WMMR holds annual events and concerts, including:
- Preston and Steve’s Camp Out for Hunger - Started in 1998, Preston and Steve brought the event with them from Y100 when they made the move to WMMR. Preston and Steve spend a week living in a RV broadcasting their show and collecting food and money for Philabundance, a hunger relief organization serving the Delaware Valley.
- MMRBQ - Annual concert started in 2007 to kick off the summer concert series at the Susquehanna Bank Center (formerly known as The Tweeter Center). Inaugural 2007 show featured Velvet Revolver, Evanescence, and Buckcherry among others. The 2008 show, which served as the station's 40th birthday party, featured a reformed Stone Temple Pilots, Staind, Everclear, The Hooters, Ashes Divide, Airbourne, and Silvertide. The third MMRBQ in 2009 featured The Offspring, Papa Roach, ZZ Top, Puddle of Mudd, Saliva, Halestorm and Duff McKagan's Loaded. On February 8, it was announced that the 2010 MMRBQ would be held on Sunday May 23, 2010 and would feature Skillet, Fuel, Three Days Grace, and a double-headlining set of Stone Temple Pilots and Alice in Chains.
- MMRBQII - Annual concert started following MMRBQ to close out the summer concert series at the Susquehanna Bank Center (formerly known as The Tweeter Center). This second 2007 show featured Three Days Grace, Seether, Breaking Benjamin, Collective Soul, Live, Silvertide and Jealousy Curve
- Local Shots Live - Hosted by Jaxon on Tuesday nights at The Grape Room in Philadelphia to showcase local bands. Previously known as Thursday Night Rock Show and Tuesday Night Rock Show at Grape Street
- MMR's Mini Masters - The first ever Mini Masters was held in 2007 at Philly's Electric Factory. A huge mini golf course was set up on the floor of the building and the winning golfer was awarded a new Mini Cooper with $2,500.
Because the Philadelphia marketplace is the seventh largest in total population in the U.S., and also because the city and its suburbs comprise one of the largest and most passionate rock music regions in the nation, WMMR has typically reported exceptional ratings in its core demographic audience, but several other successful rock and contemporary rap stations also thrive in Philadelphia and its surrounding areas.
The Philadelphia rock radio landscape changed drastically in the year 2005, when most of the stations that competed with WMMR for listeners changed formats. One of WMMR's primary competitors was WYSP, which broadcasts at 94.1 MHz FM. WYSP played slightly more heavy metal music than WMMR, while WMMR prominently featured leading rock, grunge acoustic and heavy metal. With the departure of Howard Stern in 2006, WYSP then changed to the hot talk-based Free FM format by parent company CBS Radio, making it less of a head-to-head competitor with WMMR. This made WYSP an all-talk station during the week, although the station still played rock on the weekends. Though the stations still tended to attract from the same demographic, WYSP's format meant it could no longer properly be considered a competitor of WMMR. WYSP dropped its talk format and became a rock music station yet again. Still, at some times, especially during the evening and weekend listening hours, there was a sense of competition. WYSP, for instance featured its "Mandatory Metallica" broadcast each weekday evening at 10:00 p.m., while WMMR has countered with its "Ten Club" broadcast at the same time, which is a Pearl Jam set, with listeners at that hour forced to choose between a series of popular grunge songs on WMMR and a series of heavy metal music songs on WYSP by two very popular rock bands.
As of September 2, 2011, WYSP's parent company CBS ended WYSP's existence and the frequency is now WIP-FM, a sports radio station.
The station also competes in the Philadelphia marketplace with sister station WMGK, which broadcasts at 102.9 MHz FM. WMGK plays classic rock, though its listening demographic tends to be older than that of WMMR.
WMMR can be heard with a reliable signal as far as Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania to the north, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, to the west, New Jersey Shore to the east, and well into Delaware and Maryland to the south.
In 2007, the station was nominated for the Radio & Records magazine Active Rock station of the year in a top 25 market award. Other nominees included WIYY in Baltimore, WAAF in Boston, KBPI in Denver, WRIF in Detroit, and KISW in Seattle. In 2010, the station was honored by the National Association of Broadcasters with the Marconi award for Rock Station of the Year. They have also been honored as the major market radio station of the year by the rock community RadioContraband in both 2011 and 2012. In the late 1980s, WMMR was recognized as one of Rolling Stone's best rock stations in America.
- "2007 Industry Achievement Awards". Radio and Records. September 28, 2008.
- "2010 Marconi Awards". FMQB.
- WMMR Website
- Listen live to WMMR's streaming audio broadcast.
- Preston & Steve Website (WMMR morning DJs).
- Query the FCC's FM station database for WMMR
- Radio-Locator information on WMMR
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for WMMR