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|City||Grand Rapids, Michigan|
|Broadcast area||Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo|
|Slogan||Michigan's #1 For New Country|
|Frequency||93.7 MHz (also on HD Radio)|
|First air date||October 1951|
HD2: Classic Country
|Callsign meaning||World's Biggest Country Transmitter|
|Former callsigns||WJEF-FM (6/25/51-7/24/63)
(CC Licenses, LLC)
|Sister stations||WBFX, WMAX-FM, WOOD, WSNX-FM, WSRW-FM, WTKG|
WBCT's transmitter is at the WWMT TV Tower in Yankee Springs Township near Gun Lake. WBCT has the distinction of broadcasting with the highest power of any North American radio station, at 320,000 watts effective radiated power (ERP). The antenna is approximately 800 feet (240 m) up the 1,100-foot (340 m) structure. The station's signal can be heard as far east as Howell, Michigan, as far south as Rome City, Indiana, and as far north as Reed City, Michigan, far west as Milwaukee, Wisconsin providing a coverage area of 25,000 square miles (65,000 km2) over 20 counties in Michigan. WBCT is a Class B "Superpower Grandfathered" station, meaning its power was granted before the Federal Communications Commission set maximum standards for FM radio stations. The maximum ERP that would be granted today, under FCC rules, using the same antenna height of 238 meters, would be 20,000 watts. Grand Rapids has two other superpower grandfathered stations, 105.7 WSRW-FM at 265,000 watts and 104.1 WVGR at 96,000 watts.
WJEF-FM/The Modern Sound
The station began operations in October 1951 as WJEF-FM, simulcasting its sister station 1230 AM WJEF (now WTKG). In 1960, WJEF-FM broke away from the simulcast and began playing classical music. That year, the station increased its power to 500,000 watts. This was under the ownership of John Fetzer, who also previously owned WKZO-TV (now WWMT), WWTV-FM (now WJZQ) in Cadillac, Michigan, and the Detroit Tigers baseball team. WJEF also owned and operated a Muzak franchise on a subcarrier.
In the mid-1960s, the station, then known as WJFM, switched to a MOR/news/talk/sports format, and in 1967 became more music-intensive, adopting the moniker "The Modern Sound," which Fetzer reportedly soon did away with because he felt the station played too much "rock and roll." From that point and through much of the 1970s, apart from an automated country format in 1971-1972, WJFM was primarily a Beautiful Music station. Despite its strong signal, the station usually hovered near the bottom of the ratings during this time.
Mellow 93/Joy FM/Classic Rock
WJFM changed to an automated Top 40 format in 1977 and then adult contemporary music the following year as "Mellow 93", picking up the format that had been abandoned by WMLW in its switch to WFFX earlier that year. "Mellow 93" proved a moderate ratings success, with the station usually around fifth or sixth place.
The AC format lasted until the station called in a consultant, who attempted a Contemporary hit radio (CHR) format change in 1984. The change on the airwaves not only included the music selection, with most of the staff either quitting or being let go. With the Grand Rapids area flooded with CHR stations at the time, with WGRD, WSNX and WKLQ all playing Top 40 music, WJFM's CHR format lasted only two years before the station went back to Soft AC as "The New Joy FM." The "Joy" format also proved a failure, and in 1988 WJFM became a Classic Hits station. Ratings for the Classic Hits format were initially very good but soon dropped off, and in 1990 the station evolved to Classic rock.
In 1992, John Fetzer sold the station. In June 1992, Billboard magazine reported that a number of key WJFM staffers, including general manager Joel Schaaf, program director and midday host Sean Stevens, and morning man Jeff France, had left the station, and rumors began swirling to the effect that the classic rock station would go country to take on incumbent country powerhouse WCUZ. Sure enough, on July 24, 1992 the classic rock format was dropped for country and WJFM became WBCT as "B93". Lee Cory was the original program director, and Neal Dionne and Reese Rickards were the original B-93 morning show hosts. B-93 became a consistently top five-ranked station in the Grand Rapids market. Despite recent competition in the format from Cumulus Media's "Nash FM 94.5" WTNR, B93 remains consistently one of the top-rated stations in West Michigan.
- http://hdradio.com/station_guides/widget.php?id=66 HD Radio Guide for Grand Rapids
- Broadcasting Yearbook 1977
- Query the FCC's FM station database for WBCT
- Radio-Locator information on WBCT
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for WBCT
- List of "grandfathered superpower" FM radio stations in the U.S.
- B 93.7 on MySpace
- Conrad's Bash Page