- This article is about the AM radio station in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
|City||Ann Arbor, Michigan|
|Broadcast area|| (Daytime)
|Branding||WAAM Talk 1600, WAAM Radio|
|First air date||October 1948|
|Callsign meaning||Ann Arbor Michigan|
|Former callsigns||WHRV (1948–1963)|
|Owner||Coolarity A2, LLC|
WAAM's current schedule features nationally syndicated conservative talk show hosts Glenn Beck, Laura Ingraham, Joe Pags and Alex Jones as well as Coast-to-Coast AM overnights. In addition, the weekday lineup features local host Thayrone's On the Edge with Thayrone afternoon drive.
WAAM's weekend lineup is one of the most eclectic and informative on American radio. Local hosts include but are not limited to favorites like Trigger Talk with Dick Cupka, The Abolitionist Roundtable, The American Dream, The Drift with Gary Wellings, Operation Freedom with Dr. Dave Janda and the Clarkcast with Matt Clark. The Saturday night music lineup features two hour program segments by show hosts covering blues, rhythm and blues, rock, doo wop, country, oldies, rockabilly and the British invasion. The British Invasion show is called London Calling, and airs at 10pm Saturday, featuring a wide variety of music from the U.K.
Whitehall Broadcasting sold WAAM to Big D Broadcasting in August 2003. WAAM was purchased by Coolarity A2, LLC. in May 2011. WAAM also streams all local and national show content worldwide off its website.
Early history: WHRV
The station signed on as WHRV in October 1947, and originally served as the Ann Arbor market's ABC Radio affiliate. WHRV was a typical full-service radio station of its day, with a wide variety of music ranging from pop vocals to rock and roll to Southern gospel, and a heavy commitment to local news and sports play-by-play. Ollie McLaughlin, a black DJ on WHRV, is credited for helping to discover early 1960s rocker and Michigan native Del Shannon, and, after he left the station in 1961, helped launch the careers of several other Michigan artists, including Barbara Lewis, The Capitols, and Deon Jackson.
WAAM in the 1960s
The station was sold in 1963 and that fall changed its calls to WAAM, which during the late 1940s and 1950s had been assigned to a television station (Channel 13) in Baltimore, Maryland, which had taken the call sign of WJZ, an also previously historic set of call letters in radio broadcasting. The now reorganized Michigan station's DJs on occasion pronounced the call sign like the word "Wham," and WAAM radio was affectionately known as "Wham" to many in the Ann Arbor community for years afterward, even after the station stopped using the "Wham" name on the air (the "Wham" pronunciation has recently been revived recently for the station's current talk format). Throughout the 1960s, WAAM featured chiefly middle of the road music during the day and played the new, increasingly popular "Top 40" rock n' roll music hits at night. WAAM was also one of the first AM radio stations to feature what came to be known as progressive rock, with a Sunday-night show called "Strobe" and later "Spectrum." WAAM developed a reputation for spotting potential hits before famous Canadian station CKLW in Windsor, Ontario and other Detroit-area competitors got a hold of them, including "Cherry, Cherry" by Neil Diamond and "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man" by Bob Seger.
The WAAM studios were almost completely destroyed by a fire in September 1968, forcing the station to broadcast from a trailer in its parking lot for over a year. The station moved into new studios in 1969 and at that time dropped all rock programming to become a full-time MOR ("middle-of-the-road") station. It took several years, however, for the station to fully recover from the fire, as it did not return to its full licensed power of 5,000 watts until early 1973, broadcasting with only 250 watts non-directional in the meantime.
Top 40 era (1972–76): Super WAAM
By early 1972, WAAM was being operated by a trust following the 1970 death of owner Frank Babcock (also a prominent voiceover artist), and the station's music had become more contemporary. Immediately upon the sale of the station in May 1972, WAAM began to transition to a full-time "Top 40" format, adding new jingles and shortening the length of newscasts. The transition was complete within a year. Known variously as "Super WAAM" (pronounced "Super Wham") and "Super 16", the station featured a high-energy presentation and a continued news and sports play-by-play commitment as well as Casey Kasem's increasingly popular "American Top 40" countdown show (added in 1975). Among WAAM's "Top 40" jocks were some who went on to greater success in the Detroit market, including Jim Harper (WDRQ, WNIC, WMGC-FM; known on WAAM as "Tom Michaels"), Don Riley (WDRQ; known on WAAM as "Jerry Riley"); Jim Michaels (on WDRQ, WWKR, WNIC, WTWR, WABX, WJOI, WYST, and as "The Electrifyin' Mojo" (on WGPR, WJLB, WHYT, and WMXD). (Other notable WHRV/WAAM station alumni, in addition to Ollie McLaughlin, include Ralph Binge, "Sleepyhead Ted" Johnson, Ted Heusel, and Greg Siefker, who later owned station WMLM in Alma, Michigan.)
The 1980s and 1990s: more changes
In 1976, WAAM was sold again and transitioned from ""Top 40" to a personality - oriented "Adult Contemporary" sound, eventually adding more call-in talk shows to its schedule. In 1982, the station affiliated with Satellite Music Network's (now known as Citadel Media / ABC Radio) carrying their. "Star Station" AC format.
Lloyd Johnson (d/b/a Whitehall Broadcasting) acquired the station in 1983 and switched the station's music back to a more Middle of the Road presentation soon afterward. The format shift accompanied Ann Arbor radio legend's Ted Heusel moving to WAAM from 1050 WPAG-AM (which had switched from standards to country music). Over the years, WAAM was affiliated with both Satellite Music Network/ABC Radio's "Timeless Favorites/Stardust" format and another radio network Westwood One's "America's Best Music/ AM Only" format. Eventually WAAM transitioned to airing chiefly news and talk programming during the week with music programming (including the Westwood One "standards" format and specialty-interest syndicated shows such as "Broadway's Biggest Hits" and "The Sounds of Sinatra" with Sid Mark) available mostly on weekends. Some weekend music shows, specializing largely in "oldies" and other vintage rock- and blues-based music, remain on WAAM as of May 2015.
- Michiguide.com - WAAM History
- WAAM: 50 Golden Years, a documentary put together in 1997 to celebrate the station's 50th anniversary; narrated by Jim Heddle