WYNY (defunct)

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WYNY was the call sign of radio stations on three different FM frequencies in or around New York City. The stations on the first two frequencies, 97.1 and 103.5, were closely related while the last one, 107.1 on an FM Quadcast, was not.

The WYNY call letters are popularly associated with country music radio stations in New York, although for the first ten years WYNY was an adult contemporary station.

97.1 WYNY[edit]

For more details on the history of WYNY at 97.1 FM, see the WYNY section of WQHT article.

This frequency had been WNBC-FM for many years. For several years in the 1970s the station used the call letters, WNWS, and served as the flagship station of NBC Radio's all-news, News and Information Service. The WYNY call letters were adopted in 1977 with an adult contemporary format. With various tweaks this format continued until July 1987, when it changed to country music.

103.5 WYNY[edit]

For more details on the history of WYNY at 103.5 FM, see the WYNY section of WKTU article.

In September 1988, as part of a complex transaction, 103.5 WQHT and 97.1 WYNY switched frequencies. WYNY continued to play country music at the new frequency until February 1996. Then the station was sold, the format changed to dance-based CHR, and the call letters changed to WKTU.

Y-107: WWXY, WWYY and WWZY[edit]

The third WYNY was born in December 1996. A broadcast group called Big City Radio bought three class A FM stations, each located about 45 miles from New York City.

Big City Radio shut down local operations for two of the stations and began programming country music out of their Westchester County station, licensed to Briarcliff Manor, New York and located north of New York City, first under the call letters WWXY and soon after as WYNY. As WYNY barely reached New York City and had no signal to the south or east, Big City simulcast the programming on a station on the New Jersey Shore, licensed to Long Branch which was named WWZY and was also on the 107.1 frequency. The same scenario occurred at their Hampton Bays, New York-licensed 107.1, located on Long Island, which was named WWVY but became WWXY when the Briarcliff Manor signal became WYNY. The entire trimulcast was labeled and branded as "New Country Y-107".

In 1998, Big City Radio acquired 107.1 WRNJ-FM, located in Belvidere, New Jersey, which served the Lehigh Valley to the far west. Unlike the other Y-107 stations, WRNJ had been a country station prior to its acquisition by Big City. Renamed WWYY, its addition formed a quadcast.

Y-107 quadcast
Call sign in 1998 Frequency City of license Current Call sign
WWXY 107.1 FM Hampton Bays, New York WLIR-FM
WWYY 107.1 FM Belvidere, New Jersey WWYY
WWZY 107.1 FM Long Branch, New Jersey WWZY
WYNY 107.1 FM Briarcliff Manor, New York WXPK

The intent of this scheme was to reach the New York City market with a grade B signal and bring country music to a city without such a station. In addition, the communities surrounding New York City received a good signal, given three stations were located in suburban areas and one station was rural. This was not unique to New York; Big City Radio had a trimulcast in Los Angeles and multiple simulcasts in Chicago, and Phoenix. Luckily for Big City, the suburban coverage worked fairly well in New York City as country listeners were more apt to live in suburbs, the area covered better by Y-107, than in New York City itself.

The country music format usually pulled low ratings in the actual New York City market, but in embedded markets like Long Island, the ratings were fair. On the Jersey Shore, as well as in north-central Jersey, Westchester County, and the Lehigh Valley, Y-107 pulled from fair to very good ratings. The station was profitable.

In 1998, Hispanic investors bought into Big City Radio. They flipped the company's low-rated trimulcast in Los Angeles, also called Y107 (but airing a rock format), to a tropical Spanish-language format. This move sparked rumors that the Y-107 quadcast in New York could change format. Denials were made while simulcast networks in other markets went to Spanish-language formats; Phoenix, on KMYL in 2000, and Chicago, on WXXY-FM in 2001.

Still Y-107 held on to the country format. In 2001, rumors began to heat up again that a change was in the air. At the start of 2002, Big City Radio announced that indeed the rumors would now be true, but not until May. As with 103.5 WYNY, the air personalities all were given the opportunity to say goodbye, but they did this less melodramatically than in 1996. In its last week as a country format, Y-107 was automated except for mornings; finally, on May 7, Garth Brooks' "The Dance" closed out the country format on Y-107.

Big City Radio flipped the quadcast to Spanish contemporary hits under the branding "Rumba 107.1", but leaving the WYNY call letters in place. The format did horribly. A major reason for this, and many of Big City Radio's other Spanish conversions, was that the signal combinations worked together to serve metropolitan areas, but failed to hit the urban areas which typically have Hispanic populations. Regardless of programming, while suburban residents (and rural farmers in the case of one 107.1) were able to pick up the 107.1 signals, urban-dwelling Hispanics were unable to pick up the signals. In not only New York but also Chicago, former-Big City Radio stations adopted English-language formats once they were resold.

At about the same time, Big City Radio was in debt and filed for bankruptcy. They sold their stations as units in many cases to Hispanic-based companies including Spanish Broadcast System, Hispanic Broadcasting Company, and Entravision. The New York area quadcast, however, was sold to Nassau Broadcasting. Nassau initially considered returning the country format to the quadcast, but instead opted to break up the quadcast, selling three of the four stations in April 2003.

WWZY was sold to Press Broadcasting, which retained the call letters and began broadcasting a soft oldies format under the moniker "The Breeze"; later, two equally-small New Jersey stations began simulcasting WWZY to form a new trimulcast. WWXY on Long Island was sold to The Morey Organization/Jarad Broadcasting, which initially simulcasted WLIR; by early 2004 it was superseded by a relocated WLIR-FM, then adopted a "NeoBreeze" format in late 2005. From 2007 to 2011, WLIR simulcast WEPN ("1050 ESPN," now branded as "ESPN 98.7," in a local marketing agreement. That agreement is no longer in place, and WLIR is now a religious station. In Westchester County, WYNY was sold to Pamal Broadcasting and initially simulcast WSPK "K104", a CHR station in Poughkeepsie, New York, as WXPK, but adopted an AAA format as "The Peak", retaining the same call letters. Nassau retained the Lehigh Valley station, WWYY, which kept those call letters and launched an adult contemporary format as "Lite 107", though it has since announced the sale of its Lehigh Valley cluster.

Subsequent events[edit]

The WYNY call sign has not been used since the end of the quadcast. In addition, the New York City market would go nearly 17 years without a full-time commercial country music station on a regular radio frequency until the launch of "Nash 94.7" (WNSH) in January 2013. (Two stations with other formats on their regular frequencies, WLTW in the city and WVIP in New Rochelle, have country formats on HD2 and HD3, respectively. In addition, WLTW was a country music station in the late 1970s and early 1980s as WKHK, Kick 106, before it adopted its current format in 1984.)

In June 2011, the newly formed Merlin Media bought classic rock outlet WRXP from Emmis Communications. On June 22, Merlin Media registered 1019wyny.com with GoDaddy.com as it was deciding what the station's new format and call letters were going to be. However, Merlin chose WEMP for the new call sign instead and it took effect on July 21. After a brief stunt as an adult contemporary station, WEMP premiered an all-news format on July 31. The rock format later returned as WRXP, but has since been sold to CBS Radio and is now the FM simulcast of sports talk radio station WFAN.

See also[edit]

  • WKTU — the current New York City radio station at 103.5 FM
  • WQHT — the current New York City radio station at 97.1 FM