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|City of license||Jenkintown, Pennsylvania|
|Broadcast area||Greater Philadelphia (Delaware Valley)|
|Slogan||Philadelphia's Inspiration Station|
|First air date||November 1, 1960|
|HAAT||338 meters (1,109 ft)|
|Callsign meaning||Philadelphia PraiZe (play on the word Praise)|
|Former callsigns||WPHI-FM (1997–2005)
WDRE (July 1996–April 1997)
WIBF-FM (1960–1979, 1979–1996)
WIBF (January–September 1979)
(Radio One Licenses, LLC)
|Sister stations||WPHI-FM, WRNB|
WPPZ-FM, also known as "Praise 103.9 FM", is a Radio One-owned Philadelphia-area radio station licensed to Jenkintown, Pennsylvania and featuring a Gospel Music format. It has studios located in Bala Cynwyd and broadcasts from a transmitter site in Philadelphia's Roxborough section (it has one of the weakest signals of all radio and TV stations transmitting here).
103.9 originally started out on November 1, 1960 as WIBF-FM, which was owned by Fox Broadcasting, not related to the more recent Fox Broadcasting Company television network. The call letters stood for the station's owners — William, Irwin, and Benjamin Fox.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the station featured a format of MOR, big bands, Dixieland jazz and the area's first FM country music show, plus religious and ethnic programs. By the mid-1970s, the station switched to religious and ethnic programming during the day and Spanish music at night. The Barry Reisman Show, featuring Jewish music and programming, was broadcast during the afternoon drive time from 1969 through the station's sale in 1992. In 1965, the station picked up a television sister in WIBF-TV, channel 29 (now WTXF-TV).
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The station was bought in October 1992 by Jarad Broadcasting, and on November 9, 1992, at Midnight, 92.7 WDRE from Garden City, New York started simulcasting its programming with WIBF-FM, and shortly after the simulcast began, WIBF's branding was changed to "103.9 WDRE" to match the New York station. The simulcasting was part of a large effort by Jarad called "The Underground Network", a network consisting of 7 stations from across the country simulcasting WDRE. In 1995, the network ceased operations, WDRE in New York would change its call letters back to WLIR, and made WDRE in Philadelphia an independent, local modern rock station; WIBF-FM then changed its own callsign to WDRE - "We DaRE to be Different" to match its branding.
The station helped launch the careers of many famous disc jockeys and local personalities. They include Preston Elliot and Steve Morrison of the Preston and Steve morning show on 93.3 WMMR Philadelphia, Bret Hamilton of WCAU-TV, Marilyn Russell (formerly of Y100, WXPN, WMGK), Jim McGuinn (also known as Rumour Boy), the former Program Director of WPLY Y100 Philadelphia - currently programming 89.3 The Current in Minneapolis / St. Paul, and Mel "Toxic" Taylor who went on to WYSP/Philadelphia.
Veteran Philadelphia DJ Mel "Toxic" Taylor (WPST, WIFI), was the first DJ hired for the only 2 local shows that would be live from Philadelphia each week.
When WDRE Philadelphia became a local radio station in 1995, talent was hired from within the city (e.g. Bret Hamilton, formerly of WIOQ) and outside of the city. While WDRE never became a true mainstream radio station in the Philadelphia radio market, the station gained a cult status in the Philadelphia area, and as a result, events like the station's music festival held in (known as "DREfest") sold out to a crowd of over 25,000 people.
Due to the informed notice of the station's flip, the staff at WDRE were able to organize a concert called "Bitterfest", which was to be held at The Electric Factory. The concert featured local acts G Love and the Fun Lovin' Criminals, and was created to celebrate the life of WDRE as a local institution for modern rock. On February 7, 1997, "Bitterfest" was held to a sold out crowd of over 3,000 people, with all of the WDRE staff present at the event. At midnight on February 8, 1997, a lucky (or unlucky) listener was selected to "pull the plug" on WDRE, with the station ending with the first song that started the format: Pearl Jam's "Alive". Two of the WDRE disc jockeys (Preston Eliot, Bret Hamilton) went to local radio station WPLY (Y100), as did the DRE Program Director, Jim McGuinn and midday and Sunday night DJ, Marilyn Russell (as Promotions Director for Y100). WPLY was itself also bought out by Radio One (in 2000), and later flipped in 2005 to a Hip Hop/R&B format itself.
WDRE on-air schedule
- Mornings — January '96 — September '96 The WDRE Morning Show with Sarah, Spike and Brian/ September '96 — February '97 The WDRE Morning Show with Sarah, Spike and Vinnie
- Middays — Bret Hamilton
- Afternoons — Preston Elliot
- Evenings — John Castino
- Overnights — Leigh Taylor
- Sunday Evenings — Marilyn Russell
- Sunday Overnights — Dan Fein
- Various Shifts — Brian Robbins
- Various Shifts — Debbie Mann (formerly of WXPN 88.5 and WRNR 103.1 Annapolis, MD)
- Various Shifts — Gil Edwards
- Various Shifts — Rumour Boy (Jim McGuinn)
- Various Shifts — Chris Martin
On February 7, 1997, under new ownership, the format became Urban Contemporary and the call letters WPHI. When the station rebranded as The Beat in 2002, it shifted to rhythmic top 40. By 2006, Radio & Records/Nielsen BDS moved it to the urban contemporary panel, but Mediabase followed suit in 2011, completing the rhythmic to urban shift.
On February 27, 2005, Radio One moved the "Beat" format to the 100.3 frequency, which was formerly WPLY (Y100). 103.9 then flipped to urban gospel as "Praise 103.9". The callsign was changed to WPPZ-FM on March 3.
Except for The Yolanda Adams Morning Show and CeCe McGhee weekdays afternoon, the station ran jockless throughout the day until August 2007. In late August, the addition of performer Lonnie Hunter from Chicago was made to be the mid-day personality along with Sheik Meah. Famous Speaker Les Brown was also added to be on Sunday nights from 7–9pm. In September, Pastor Alan E Waller joined the staff to do a Saturday morning show from 10–11am and two more weekend shows were added. The Holy Hip-Hop show was added on Saturday nights from 7–9pm and a Christian dating show was added on Sundays frm 9–11pm. Its transmitter is located in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia.
WPPZ has DJs Lonnie Hunter, Brother Marcus, and CeCe Magee. Former DJs include Church Lady (2007–2008), Ed Long (2005–2007), CoCo Brother (2011–013) and Les Brown and B.I.G. C.I.T.Y. (2008–2009; 2009–present)
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- PraisePhilly — official WPPZ-FM website
- Query the FCC's FM station database for WPPZ
- Radio-Locator information on WPPZ
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for WPPZ
- "103.9 WDRE Philadelphia, The Birth 1992" — studio footage of "WIBF" format to "WDRE" format switch at midnight; press parties, including a press event with Joey Ramone; photos of staff and guests
- WDRE Reunion — articles and footage about WDRE on the University of Pennsylvania WXPN website
- WDRE 103.9 FM — archived copy of the original WDRE website
- Lewis, Frank (January 15–22, 1998). "Mourning Show". Philadelphia City Paper (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania). — follow-up on WDRE popularity after end of format
- Kalavritinos, Katherine (January 30–February 6, 1997). "Rock On, Please". Philadelphia City Paper. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. — short letter to the editor with WDRE end date given
- Philadelphia FM Radio History — timeline of 103.9
- 103.9 WDRE...Philly's Modern Rock — page on Angelfire, with DJ locations