|City of license||Easton, Pennsylvania|
|Broadcast area||Lehigh Valley|
|Branding||99-9 The Hawk|
|Slogan||"Classic Rock of the 70s,80s and More"|
|First air date||1948 (as WEEX-FM)|
|Callsign meaning||OlDiEs (Reference to when the station had an oldies format.)|
|Former callsigns||WEEX-FM (1948-early 1970s)
WQQQ (early 1970s-1989)
|Former frequencies||98.7 MHz (1948-1950s)|
(Connoisseur Media Licenses, LLC)
|Sister stations||WBYN, WEEX, WTKZ, WWYY|
The station is owned by Connoisseur Media, through licensee Connoisseur Media Licenses, LLC, and offers a Classic Rock format, playing rock hits from the 1960s into the early 1990s, and is consistently at the top of the ratings in the Allentown-Easton-Bethlehem market.
WEEX began operations on 98.7 FM as a stand-alone FM in 1948. Its call-letters stood for Easton Express, Easton's newspaper as well as the station's then-owner.
WEEX then moved to 99.9 FM as WEEX-FM in the 1950s while putting an AM station on the air at 1230 AM under the WEEX call sign. WEEX eventually switched to Top 40 during that time and used their FM to simulcast much of their programming to areas where the AM could not be heard.
In the early 1970s, WEEX-FM's simulcast with the AM was broken off under Federal Communications Commission (FCC) changes which forbid full-time AM/FM simulcasts. The station switched to beautiful music under the WQQQ call-letters. The calls were chosen because the lower-case Q closely resembled the number 9, hence the station's frequency 99.9. The station offered an instrumental-based easy listening format, playing instrumental cover versions of pop songs. A few times per hour a soft vocalist was mixed in.
1983: Contemporary hit radio format
In late 1982, longtime station owner Easton Express acquired The Globe Times, a newspaper in nearby Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. To satisfy media ownership rules, both WQQQ and WEEX were sold off to Wilkes-Schwartz Broadcasting.
On April 4, 1983, WQQQ swapped formats with its AM sister station, WEEX 1230. WEEX had evolved by 1981 from Top 40 into more of an adult contemporary format. WEEX's airstaff and intellectual unit was moved to 99.9 FM. WQQQ's easy listening format was moved to 1230 WEEX but would be more vocally-oriented than on FM.
The former WEEX format was modified on FM into Mainstream CHR/Top 40. The station kept the WQQQ call letters but became known as "Q 100". Initially, the station focused on current pop music, but also played a moderate amount of 60s and 70s oldies until about 1985. Still throughout the 80s, they played oldies on Saturday evenings from the mid 60s mostly. But by 1986, their regular rotation was mostly current and recent product.
Q100 was at the time the only Top 40/CHR in the Allentown/Easton/Bethlehem radio market, competing with then-dominate Album Rocker WZZO for first place in the ratings. However, on January 26, 1987, former country outlet WXKW switched to CHR as "Laser 104.1". While the change didn't have an immediate impact on Q100's ratings, a burnt-out transmission line in the summer of 1988 forced the station to broadcast on low-power for a period of 2 weeks. This caused Q100's ratings to slip, allowing WAEB-FM to beat them in the ratings.
In 1989, Roth Broadcasting acquired WQQQ (and sister WEEX) from Wilkes-Schwartz. That September, Q100 switched to a Dance-Leaning CHR format as "Hot 99.9" under the WHXT call letters. The format lasted about a year before evolving to Mainstream CHR.
After an uphill ratings battle with its rival WAEB-FM that lasted over a period of almost 2 years, Hot 99.9 was unable to make any significant gains due to budget and signal issues. However, in its final ratings trend as a CHR, WHXT had beat WAEB-FM by two-tenths of a point.
1991-2001: Oldies format
On August 23, 1991, WHXT dropped its CHR format for oldies. The format played the hits of the 1950s, 1960s, and a few from the very early 1970s. The call letters became WODE and the station became known as "Oldies 99" under programing consultant Pete Salant.
The station was sold to Patterson Broadcasting and became "Oldies 99.9" in the mid 1990s. In 1997, Capstar would buy WODE and WEEX but would spin the stations off to Clear Channel Communications. They had to do this because the Lehigh Valley has only five FM stations and no one company can own more than half. As a result, a company can only have 2 FM stations in the market. Capstar was already buying WZZO and WAEB-FM. Under Clear Channel ownership, WODE continued its oldies format.
2001-2013: Classic Hits
In 2000, however, Clear Channel announced a major merger with AM/FM Broadcasters (this company was created as a result of a merger with Capstar and Chancellor). AM/FM already had WZZO and WAEB FM. Clear Channel would not be allowed to keep all three stations upon the merger, so they decided to sell WODE and WEEX to Nassau Broadcasting Partners. Nassau was given cash plus WODE and WEEX. Clear Channel though would obtain stations in New Jersey, including WNNJ, WNNJ-FM, WSUS, WHCY, and management agreements for WDLC and WTSX. Clear Channel also kept the former Capstar/AM-FM stations.
In September 2001, the station switched names and formats, debuting in the Fall 2001 Arbitrons as the #1 station in the Allentown market. The station was originally called "99-9 The River" but was forced to change its name because Clear Channel owned the rights to the name "The River." The station is now known as "99-9 The Hawk," and plays classic rock hits. Its slogan is "The Valley's Classic Hits Station." The station's ratings generally lead the market with the key 25-54 audience.
The station's transmitter is located north of Easton.
The station, along with nine other Nassau stations in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, was purchased at bankruptcy auction by NB Broadcasting in May 2012. NB Broadcasting is controlled by Nassau's creditors — Goldman Sachs, Pluss Enterprises, and P.E. Capital. WODE-FM was included in the deal after Goldman Sachs rejected a bid from Cumulus Media for the station. In November, NB Broadcasting filed a motion to assign its rights to the stations to Connoisseur Media. The sale to Connoisseur Media, at a price of $38.7 million, was consummated on May 29, 2013.
2013: Classic Rock
With the sale complete in July of 2013, Connoisseur Media tweaked the format, giving it more of a rock focus and changing the slogan to "Classic Rock of the 70s, 80s and More".
5:30-9am: The HAWK Morning Show with Rick Michaels 9am-3pm: Kara Curry / Commercial-free "99 at 9" and "1 O'Clock Back to Work Perk" 3pm-6pm: Bill Sheridan / "4:45 Movie Clip Challenge" 6pm-9pm: Mitch
Bill Marvin Mitch Dave Savage Dan Donatelli
- "10 Nassau Stations Go To NB Broadcasting LLC". All Access. May 30, 2012. Retrieved November 10, 2012.
- Pierce, David (June 12, 2012). "Pocono radio stations now in the hands of creditors". Pocono Record. Retrieved November 10, 2012.
- "Connoisseur Moves To Assume Debtor's Bid To Buy 10 Nassau Stations, Including WPST". All Access. November 21, 2012. Retrieved November 21, 2012.
- 99.9 The Hawk Official Web Site
- Listen Online
- Query the FCC's FM station database for WODE
- Radio-Locator information on WODE
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for WODE
- History of 99.9 during the WEEX-FM and WQQQ era.