|City of license||Silver Spring, Maryland|
|Broadcast area||Washington, D.C.
|Branding||La Mera Mera 1050|
|First air date||December 7, 1946 (as WGAY)|
|Power||10,000 watts (day)
44 watts (night)
|Former callsigns||WTOP (2010)
WGAY (c. 1973–1984)
WQMR (1960–c. 1973)
(operated by United Media Group)
|Sister stations||WFED/WWFD, WTOP-FM|
The station signed on December 7, 1946 as WGAY, airing a beautiful music format. It was believed that WGAY was named for one-time owner, Connie B. Gay, though it was merely coincidental; at the time, "beautiful music" connoted a "bright and gay" happy sound. However, Gay bought the station in the late 1950s/early 1960s. It was later purported that the station initially broadcast government job openings, and that WGAY stood for "Government And You."
The original owners and operators, Ed Winton and Bob Chandler, are credited with creating the beautiful music format, which was mostly instrumental music, with orchestral covers of showtunes, soundtrack excerpts, and standard popular songs. Chandler was known to arrange for recording of music that he did not have in the station's library. In addition, on Sunday afternoons at 1:00 p.m., Matinee at One played a complete Broadway show soundtrack with an explanation of the plot.
Despite its sobriquet of "elevator music", WGAY was popular, and was soon sold to Connie B. Gay. On February 1, 1960, the WGAY calls were moved to the FM band at 99.5 MHz, while the AM station became WQMR, for "Washington's Quality Music Radio." WGAY initially operated as an experimental country music station (Gay was a country and western music promoter) but started simulcasting WQMR full-time around 1961.
These simulcasts would usually end nightly at sunset when WQMR had to sign off as required by the FCC, and WGAY was rarely mentioned on the air or in advertisements. WQMR soon increased in power from 1000 watts on the AM band, while WGAY would upgrade from 20 kilowatts monophonic on the low power FM band to a 50 kilowatt stereo signal. Both WQMR and WGAY moved to the World Building, located on Georgia Avenue, just north of the intersection of Maryland Route 410 (East-West-Highway) in Silver Spring, in 1966.
This simulcast arrangement continued well into the 1980s, as WQMR reverted to WGAY. Winton and Chandler sold the station on September 1, 1984 to Greater Media, which in turn ended the simulcast and changed the call letters to WNTR. (The WGAY calls and format afterward were maintained on the FM band on 99.5 MHz, which is now WIHT.) Greater Media subsequently bought WRC (now WTEM) from NBC Radio and sold WNTR to TM Productions.
Later, WNTR was sold to Pat Robertson, the televangelist and founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network, who used WNTR as the anchor of a conservative talk radio network dubbed "The News Talk Radio Network". WNTR was also the first station to carry Rush Limbaugh in Washington, before he moved to WMAL. This ended when the World Building studios caught on fire. However, Robertson's company continued to run the station from another building in Silver Spring for a time, initially as part of his network and later in a brokered-program format. In the early 1990s, it became one of two Washington, DC area affiliates of the Radio Aahs network for children. (The WNTR call letters are now in use by an FM station in Indianapolis.)
As Radio Aahs, the station's call letters became WKDL (in a simulcast with WKDV in Manassas, Virginia). The concept was not successful at the time, and Metro Radio then bought the station, and switched WKDL to a Spanish language format. When that did not succeed, it briefly carried first the Genesis Radio Network of conservative talk, and then a business radio format under the WPLC callsign. Bonneville International then bought the station in 2004, at which point the station became WFED, carrying "Federal News Radio", a news/talk format oriented to government employees that Bonneville had launched as an Internet-only station on February 22, 2000.
Initially, WFED aired the Associated Press' All News Radio service during the overnight hours, as a complement to WTOP. When AP All News Radio was terminated, the station began an affiliation with CNN Headline News, which itself was phased out in 2007 by provider Westwood One. In November 2007, the 1050 frequency increased its daytime power from 1 kW to 3.5 kW in order to better reach the government office workers in Washington, D.C. who comprise Federal News Radio's core audience.
In August 2008, WFED was moved to 1500 AM, following the discontinuation of that frequency's previous occupant, WWWT. After a month-long transition period, 1050 was switched to a simulcast of WTOP-FM, under the WTOP call letters. From June 17, 2009 until January 25, 2010, the station aired a news, talk and information format, mostly provided by Air America, which leased the station from Bonneville; the call letters were then changed to WZAA. Air America announced its closure and ended live programming on January 21, 2010, and went off-the-air on January 25; as a result, WZAA reverted to the WTOP-FM simulcast, and changed its call letters back to WTOP on February 1. That June, the simulcast again ceased, and 1050 was leased out to United Media Group, who launched the current regional Mexican format and WBQH callsign.
- Broadcasting/Cable Yearbook 1989 (PDF). 1989. p. B-138. Retrieved June 24, 2010.
- http://earlyradiohistory.us/hist-dc.htm - This came from an e-mail that stated, at a field trip to the station: "...[the e-mailer was] told that the station started out broadcasting gov't. job openings, and that the call letters meant: 'Government And You.'"
- The Washington Post, February 2, 2007
- launches tonight
- "Bonneville leases out its Washington, D.C.-market 1050, which goes regional Mexican". Radio-Info.com. June 24, 2010. Retrieved June 24, 2010.
- "$505M sale: Bonneville sells Chicago, D.C., St. Louis and Cincinnati to Hubbard". Radio-Info.com. January 19, 2011. Retrieved January 19, 2011.
- "Hubbard deal to purchase Bonneville stations closes". Radio Ink. May 2, 2011. Retrieved May 2, 2011.
- Query the FCC's AM station database for WBQH
- Radio-Locator Information on WBQH
- Query Nielsen Audio's AM station database for WBQH