|City of license||Atlanta, Georgia|
|Broadcast area||Atlanta metropolitan area|
|Slogan||Atlanta's New Hit Music Station|
(also on HD Radio)
|Repeaters||WANN-CD 29 (DTV 32.23)|
|First air date||1960|
|Format||Top 40 (CHR) (Analog/HD1)
Rhythmic CHR (HD2)
|HAAT||300 m (984 ft)|
|Callsign meaning||W / W / PoWer
|Former callsigns||WGAA-FM (1960)
|Owner||Clear Channel Media and Entertainment
(Citicasters Licenses, Inc.)
|Sister stations||WBZY, WGST, WRDA, WRDG, WUBL|
WWPW FM 96.1 — branded Power 96-1 — is a commercial top-40 (CHR) radio station licensed to Atlanta, Georgia. Owned by Clear Channel Media and Entertainment, the station serves the Atlanta metropolitan area. Besides a standard analog transmission, WWPW broadcasts over three HD Radio channels, and is available online via iHeartRadio.
The station transmits from the west tower at the North Druid Hills site along Briarcliff Road, just west of Emory University and Clifton Road. According to FCC records for coordinates and height, it shares its main radio antenna with WUBL FM 94.9, and WWPW's low-power backup antenna about 25 meters (82 ft) lower is also the backup for WYAY FM 106.7 (all three stations are now co-owned). The main WWPW/WUBL antenna has a permit to move to the east tower. There are also several other stations on these towers.
The 96.1 frequency was originally WGAA-FM in Cedartown, Georgia, the FM counterpart to WGAA AM 1340. WKLS' callsign stands for the initials of the founding owners: Don Kennedy, James Lathom, and Arthur Swan ("K", "L", and "S"). They formed the station in 1960 with a $25,000 investment, selling it ten years later for $750,000.
In its first 12 years or so, the station played an easy listening format; in its first five or six years, all voice-tracking was recorded by Kennedy (who now hosts and syndicates "Big Band Jump" nationwide). By 1972, WKLS was more of a then-AM-style middle of the road outlet with live DJs; its main slogan by then was "96...That's 'Klass'". WKLS changed to a rock music format in 1974 and was renamed "96 Rock", the branding it retained until November 2006.
WKLS also had an AM daytimer from 1977 well into the mid-1980s, on the station that is now WNIV AM 970. While that station was WKLS, the FM side had callsign WKLS-FM until May 1988. The following year, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) database shows it as having callsign WEOA for a month from November to December, however this may be a mistake.
96 Rock (1974–2006)
Between 1974 and 2012, WKLS featured rock music, though the focus has changed somewhat over time. In the 1970s, the station played what was then known as AOR; songs from that period are known in the radio business as classic rock today. For a time in 1977, disc jockey "Skinny" Bobby Harper, who was the inspiration for Dr. Johnny Fever of the television sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati, graced WKLS.
In the early 1980s, 96 Rock cultivated a somewhat macho image. The station often mocked competing stations which played top 40 hits as "wimp rock". WKLS began to play more and more heavy metal, which was increasing in popularity, especially among teenaged boys. However, a backlash began to develop among the station's more mature listeners. In 1985, the station modified its playlist to a mix of older and new rock.
96 Rock continued to play a mixture of classic rock and new rock for the next 19 years. WKLS finally became exclusively a classic rock station in 2004. The 2004 change occurred when competing Atlanta station Z-93 (WZGC FM 92.9) became "Dave FM", switching from classic rock to a broader rock-pop-alternative format. This did not cause a dramatic change in 96 Rock's playlist, however. Even before officially declaring itself a classic rock station, most of its songs in fact fit that category already; only a few new songs were played an hour.
WKLS's longevity as 96 Rock allowed it to claim to have the longest-running format on an FM station in the Atlanta media market. The station has honored its history and tradition on several occasions. In 1984, the station recognized its 10th anniversary by airing a Labor Day countdown of the top 296 songs from 1974 to 1984. The station's 30th anniversary was recognized in 2004 with several promotions; one such promotion encouraged listeners to write to the station and reminisce about events in their lives, in which 96 Rock played a memorable role. Some of this correspondence was read on the air and posted on the station's website.
In April 2004, long-time morning show hosts the Regular Guys (Larry Wachs and Eric Von Haessler) were fired for airing graphic sexual language with porn star Devin Lane as the content bled through a Honda commercial. That content, which aired the previous month, was intended to be played backwards, to mock the FCC indecency crackdown, when they came back from the break. Regular Guys sidekick "Southside" Steve Rickman and former midday host Tim Rhodes took the morning time slot temporarily. A permanent replacement came in the form of the syndicated Bob & Tom Show, as Rhodes and Rickman moved to the afternoon slot. However, WKLS rehired the Regular Guys, who returned to the airwaves on March 21, 2005 and came back to 96 Rock in May, after a brief stint on sister AM talk station WGST.
On October 23, 2006, however, Clear Channel Radio terminated the Regular Guys for good following an incident in which Wachs recorded bathroom conversations between the two morning show hosts on WWVA-FM (Viva 105.7, part of the same station group), while all three men were using the bathroom. The recording was played on the air a couple of days later. The WWVA hosts (known as "Yogi and Panda") complained to management and subsequently sued Clear Channel and The Regular Guys. Wachs said, "A case of a humorous prank has turned into a culture clash, a suppression of First Amendment rights, and a ridiculous smear campaign against me as well as termination of my income without due process."
Project 9-6-1 (2006–12)
On November 17, 2006, at 9 AM, Clear Channel dropped the station's 32-year "96 Rock" branding in favor of "Project 9-6-1", a more active rock format. This action made WVEE FM 103.3 the new longest-running format in the city. At the same time, 105.3 The Buzz (WBZY-FM) ceased independent operations and began simulcasting the new format for several days, until a regional Mexican music format began. The new format was intended to be somewhat of a merger between 96 Rock and The Buzz, although more personalities from The Buzz were on the new station than ones from 96 Rock.
On July 7, 2007, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that the new morning show host for Project 9-6-1 would be "Giant" Brian Carothers, morning producer and sidekick for John DeBella at WMGK in Philadelphia. Carothers was joined by co-host Shaffee, former radio personality from WRIF in Detroit and The Giant Show debuted on October 1, 2007.
On October 2, 2009, it was announced that "Giant" Brian Carothers would no longer be a part of the morning show and The Giant Show would be replaced by a show hosted by Shaffee and El Jefe (who would later be replaced by Klinger).
On May 21, 2011, it was revealed that Shaffee and Klinger would no longer be a part of the morning show. Kidd Chris announced on May 24, 2011 that he will be joining the morning show, of which he aired until the station's discontinuation.
Power 96.1 (2012–present)
On August 29, 2012, at 7 PM, without warning, Project 9-6-1 signed off following a farewell message from program director Chris "The OC" Williams, ending the station with "Free Bird" by Lynyrd Skynyrd. After stunting with an hour of jockless pop songs and the opening chorus to "Ready or Not" by The Fugees, the station flipped to Top 40, branded as "Power 96.1." The station launched the new format with 9,600 songs commercial free. The first song on "Power" was "Party Rock Anthem" by LMFAO.
Because of the flip and the amount of protest associated with it, Cumulus Media flipped W255CJ FM 98.9 (formerly the home of the second incarnation of 99X) to active rock three days after. In February 2013, Cumulus merged that format into the existing classic rock format of WNNX FM "Rock 100.5", just as WKLS had done previously.
On September 11, 2012, WKLS changed call letters to WWPW to match their new "Power" branding.
Project 9-6-1 returned to the air on HD radio via digital subchannel HD-2 a few days after the flip, and was heard online via iHeartRadio. It was also heard via DTV radio on WANN-CD (physical TV channel 29, virtual channel 32.23, with Power 96-1 on 32.24). The new incarnation of Project 9-6-1 ran with disc jockeys, though apparently through voice-tracking and broadcast automation using iheartradio's "Rock Nation" feed. However, in April 2013, the HD-2 channel changed formats to rhythmic CHR, and became the new home of "WiLD" after WWVA/WWLG's flip to alternative rock.
The station's HD-3 channel now carries ESPN Deportes Radio since WGST AM 640 flipped back to English-language programming in early June 2013; however, this is primarily a legal fiction which allows it to be transmitted on "translator" station W222AF FM 92.3, circumventing caps on excessive concentration of media ownership in a single media market. That station transmits from the current WWPW/WUBL tower, despite the fact that translator stations are intended to rebroadcast the primary audio to areas where terrain shielding blocks the main signal to distant areas. Although now identifying hourly as WWPW HD-3, the FCC database still shows W222AF as retransmitting WUBL HD-3 (which now simulcasts WGST), from when it aired 24/7 Comedy as "Comedy 92-3". It does not air its own broadcast callsign at all. For unknown reasons, the station still airs at least as many public-service announcements as it does radio commercials, and mostly if not entirely in English, despite now airing all Spanish-language radio programming.
In 2005 and 2006, in addition to broadcasting music, WKLS carried broadcasts of Atlanta Braves baseball games, along with sister station WGST AM 640. When the new format changed, sister station WUBL FM ("94.9 The Bull") took over the broadcasts effective with the 2007 season. The broadcast contract ran through the 2009 season, and on March 2 that year, it was announced that the Braves games would return to WKLS.
WKLS broadcasts in IBOC digital radio, using the HD Radio system from iBiquity. On January 30, 2006, the station added a separate HD-2 channel, known under the branding "The Incubator", which featured an adult album alternative format. It had changed names to "The Alternative Project" or "Project 9-6-1".
In late March 2010, low-power digital TV station WANN-LD (also located in Atlanta), started carrying the audio of WKLS on one of its multiplexed, audio-only digital subchannels. Originally on virtual channel 32.13, it was then moved to 32.103, with 32.101 to 32.106 reserved for other Clear Channel stations in Atlanta. As of 7 April 2010[update], it is now on 32.23, with "Project 9-6-1" on 32.25.
- Ho, Rodney (May 24, 2011). "Radio & TV Talk Howard Stern contributor Kidd Chris joining Project 9-6-1". Access Atlanta. Retrieved 25 May 2011.
- Official website
- Query the FCC's FM station database for WWPW
- Radio-Locator information on WWPW
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for WWPW