|Broadcast area||Merrimack Valley|
|Slogan||"The Voice of the Valley"
"Everybody Gets It!"
|First air date||June 10, 1951|
|Format||Full service (Talk/Oldies)|
|Affiliations||ABC News Radio|
|Owner||Merrimack Valley Radio, LLC|
WCAP began commercial broadcasting in 1951 after a five year licensing odyssey that saw the station's city of license, proposed hours of operation, output power and call letters changed at various points during the proceedings.
Originally, station head Israel "Ike" Cohen sought a license at 1210 kHz in Lawrence and was granted the call letters WABW. However, when the call letters WCAP became available, Cohen took those calls, and later won approval to amend his application to seek 980 kHz, which was ultimately granted a construction permit in the spring of 1949 as part of a regional arrangement under which the Brockton Enterprise won approval to increase the power of its WBET from 250 to 1000 watts at 990 kHz (the station later moved to 1460 to add nighttime service), and a mutually exclusive application for 980 in Newport, Rhode Island was denied and dismissed for reasons including lack of candor on the part of that applicant. When the family that owned the Lawrence Daily Eagle and Evening Tribune newspapers appeared poised to win approval for an upgrade of its station, WLAW, to 50 kW on 680 kHz (now occupied by WRKO), Cohen sought and received approval to move the station license from Lawrence to Lowell, which at the time was home to only a 250-watt station, WLLH.
The original investors in WCAP were Cohen and his brothers Theodore and Maurice, each with 20%, Ray Goulding, of Bob and Ray fame, and his brother Philip, an announcer at WMGM in New York City, where Israel Cohen worked as an engineer, each with 5% and engineer Ralph Floyd, 30%. Ray Goulding was station manager and Phillip Goulding served as program director. Ray hosted occasional afternoon programs. Ray Goulding was active in working to get the station on the air, appearing at a meeting of the Lowell Planning Board to advance an argument in favor of a transmitter and studio location that was rejected. The Gouldings were ousted from their positions in a stockholders meeting on September 10, 1951, three months after the station went on the air. Phillip Goulding was quoted by the Lowell Sun newspaper of Sept. 11, 1951 as saying the ousters came as a shock, and the brothers planned to contest it, however they sold their interest in the station to the Cohen brothers. The newspaper reported that the day following the firing of the Gouldings, the daytime-only station signed on two hours late as employees staged a sick-out. Ray, who had been born in Lowell, pulled the first air shift on WCAP, and Ike Cohen kept a signed copy of the program log in his office for the rest of his life. It was Goulding's first on-air appearance on a Lowell station under his real name; he had previously worked at WLLH as Dennis Howard, taking the air name to avoid confusion with Phillip, who was an established news announcer in Boston at the time.
The station was the third to bear the call letters WCAP, the original sign-on for both of the others, in Asbury Park, New Jersey (now WADB) and in Washington D.C. (now defunct) were voiced by sportscaster Ted Husing. Israel Cohen, at the time a broadcast engineer at WMGM in New York, secured Husing's services for the third WCAP sign-on.
Israel Cohen ran the station until his death in 1998 and was succeeded by his brother Maurice. A deal to sell the station was made in August 2007, approved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on September 25, 2007, and the transaction was consummated on November 21, 2007. The station is now owned by Merrimack Valley Radio, LLC.
In early 2011, the two primary partners in the station, Clark Smidt and Sam Poulten, were involved in a legal dispute over operation of the station, with both claiming that the other partner put WCAP in financial danger. The dispute ended on June 28, when Poulten agreed to purchase Smidt's 55-percent stake in the station, giving him full ownership.
During the week, WCAP broadcasts a news/talk radio format including both local and national talk programs. WCAP's seasonal programming also includes live broadcasts of Lowell Spinners baseball, high school football and basketball matchups, and UMass Lowell River Hawks hockey. From January to June 2015, the station broadcast The Howie Carr Show weekdays from 3 to 6 p.m. the station dropped the show in favor of progressive talk radio host Jeff Santos. As of 2016, The Jeff Santos Show no longer airs on WCAP. Nights and weekends, the station broadcasts an oldies format called Beatles & Before.
- "Application Search Details (BAL-20070810AAL)". FCC Media Bureau. November 21, 2007.
- Savard, Rita (February 4, 2011). "WCAP partners take station battle to court". The Sun. Retrieved February 7, 2011.
- Myers, Jennifer (August 11, 2011). "WCAP to get new owner: Sam Poulten". The Sun. Retrieved August 11, 2011.
- "Station Information Profile". Arbitron.