|City of license||New York City, New York|
|Broadcast area||New York City area|
|Branding||Radio Disney New York|
|Slogan||Your Music, Your Way|
|Frequency||1560 (kHz) (also on HD Radio)|
|First air date||March 26, 1929|
|Power||50,000 watts day and night|
|Callsign meaning||combination of former call signs WQXR and WNEW|
|Former callsigns||W2XR (1929-1936)
|Affiliations||Radio Disney (1996-)|
|Owner||ABC, Inc. (Disney)
(Radio Disney New York, LLC)
|Sister stations||WABC-TV, WEPN, WEPN-FM|
WQEW (1560 kHz) is a Radio Disney affiliate licensed to New York City. Its transmitter is located in Maspeth, Queens. WQEW has a transmitter power of 50,000 watts and is listed as a Clear-channel station. On some nights, WQEW can be picked up loud and clear as far West as Cleveland, Ohio, where it out performs WWMK AM 1260 in its distance areas, and as far North as Ottawa, Canada.
WQEW began its life as W2XR, an experimental television station, owned by inventor John V. L. Hogan, operating at 2100 kHz, which went on the air on March 26, 1929. Hogan was a radio engineer who owned many patents, and wanted a permit for an experimental station. To avoid interference, the frequency granted in 1934 by the Federal Radio Commission was considerably above the normal broadcasting range, which at that time ended at 1500 kHz. Hogan's permit was one of four construction permits W2XR was licensed as an "experimental broadcast station" on June 29, 1934. But Hogan was also a connoisseur of music, and he drew on his own record collection to provide the sound for his experiments, which typically lasted for an hour in the evening. W2XR began to broadcast classical music recordings on 1550 kHz. His television broadcasts came to naught, but Hogan began to hear from unknown individuals who encouraged him to continue broadcasting music.
In 1936, Hogan and Elliott Sanger formed the Interstate Broadcasting Company, with the intention of turning W2XR into a commercial station at at time when there were already about twenty-five radio stations in New York. The transmitter, which used a homemade antenna mounted on a wooden pole, was located in a garage in Long Island City, near the Queensborough Bridge, and its 250 watts provided just enough power to reach midtown Manhattan and parts of Queens. On December 3, 1936, W2XR became WQXR—the cursive form of the letter "Q" mimics the number "2". An FM service, W2XQR, was added in 1939. The North American Radio Broadcasting Agreement of 1941 formally extended the AM band to 1600 kHz, ending the "high-fidelity" service but keeping all four original stations near their existing dial positions. WQXR was originally slated to move to 1600 kHz as a five-kilowatt class III-A regional station, but was able to persuade the FCC to make it a class I-B station on 1560 kHz instead.
The New York Post approached the company in the early 1940s about purchasing the stations. Sanger said publicly that he would have preferred to sell to The New York Times, and in early 1944, the Times agreed to pay just over $1 million for ownership of Interstate Broadcasting Company. A transfer application was filed with the FCC on March 1, 1944, including a financial statement showing that the stations had made over $22,000 in profits the previous year, on revenues of $411,000; after FCC approval, the sale was completed on July 25, 1944. (The Times continued to operate its radio stations under the Interstate Broadcasting name for many years, maintaining what its president called "basic good-music policies," but now uses the name The New York Times Radio Company.) It broadcast classical music full time. In the 1960s, there was controversy when its 11 PM program "Nightcap" was sponsored by Schenley Liquors. Advertising hard liquor was considered a violation of the voluntary NAB standards.
In 1971, the Times put WQXR up for sale. Many offers were received for the FM station, but none of the bids for 1560 AM were satisfactory to management. When the FCC agreed to waive rules prohibiting stations from simulcasting if they were broadcasting classical music, the Times took WQXR off the market. Simulcasting was also allowed, for example, for WGMS and WGMS-FM in Washington.
In 1992 the station broke away from the FM simulcast for good, changing to a pop standards format, which was inaugurated by a live studio performance by Tony Bennett. The change followed close on the heels of WNEW's switch from standards to business information, and to reflect that heritage, WQXR changed callsign to WQEW. Although successful, the station's advertising revenues were not spectacular, and on December 28, 1998, the Times pulled the plug and affiliated with Radio Disney after entering an 8-year local marketing agreement with Disney. At the end of this agreement in late 2006, Disney had the option to purchase the station from the Times or to extend the arrangement with the Times maintaining ownership. ABC/Disney exercised the option to purchase in early January 2007. Disney/ABC officially became the owner of the station on May 24, 2007.
WQEW does carry a live sports slate through arrangements with Disney's WEPN and CBS Radio's WFAN. The broadcasts air when the two all-sports stations have multiple games of local New York area sports teams to air simultaneously. Broadcasts of St. John's and Seton Hall men's basketball and New York Red Bulls MLS team are most common, and there have been some New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils hockey games in the past.
Each Radio Disney station has different and unique legal IDs for identifying itself. Extended IDs vary from market to market and usually last about eight seconds.
- The mouse is in the house, AM 1560, Radio Disney.
- New York is all ears, AM 1560, Radio Disney.
- The station just for New York, AM 1560 Radio Disney.
- The station cooked up for New York, AM 1560, Radio Disney.
- Hey New York, the mouse is in the house, AM 1560 Radio Disney.
- It's a party everyday, New York, AM 1560, Radio Disney.
- ; the others, all granted on the same day, were W1XBS Waterbury and W9XBY Kansas City, both on 1530 kHz, and W6XAI Bakersfield, which shared 1550 kHz with W2XR.
- Radio Service Bulletin (222). Federal Communications Commission. July 1, 1934.
- Radio Service Bulletin (219). Federal Radio Commission. May 15, 1934.
- Ivan Veit, preface to Howard Taubman, The New York Times Guide to Listening Pleasure (NY: Macmillan and London: Collier-Macmillan, 1968), pp. ix-x.
- Ivan Veit, preface to Howard Taubman, The New York Times Guide to Listening Pleasure (NY: Macmillan and London: Collier-Macmillan, 1968), p. x.
- "Actions of the Federal Communications Commission". Broadcasting and Broadcast Advertising (Washington, D.C.: Broadcasting Publications, Inc.) 26 (10): 60. March 6, 1944.
- "N. Y. Times Files Petition for WQXR". Broadcasting and Broadcast Advertising 26 (10): 18. March 6, 1944.
- Ivan Veit, preface to Howard Taubman, The New York Times Guide to Listening Pleasure (NY: Macmillan and London: Collier-Macmillan, 1968), p. xi. Veit defined good music as "any music that has lasting value . . . symphonies, concertos, chamber works, opera, of course; but also the best of the lighter forms, including operettas, Broadway show tunes, fold music, and the world of jazz."
- Jaker, Bill; Frank Sulek and Peter Kanze (1998). The Airwaves of New York: Illustrated Histories of 156 AM Stations in the Metropolitan Area, 1921–1996. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland and Company. pp. 169–172. ISBN 0-7864-0343-8. LCC TK6548.U6J35.
- Radio Disney's website
- Query the FCC's AM station database for WQEW
- Radio-Locator Information on WQEW
- Query Nielsen Audio's AM station database for WQEW
- Photos of the WQEW AM 1560 Transmitter site -- Maspeth, Queens NYC