|City||Catskill, New York|
|Broadcast area||Upper Hudson Valley, lower Capital District|
|Branding||98.5 The Cat|
|First air date||September 6, 1990|
|Callsign meaning||W CaT W|
|Former callsigns||WQKZ (1990-92)|
(CC Licenses, LLC)
WCTW ("98.5 The Cat") is a hot adult contemporary music formatted radio station licensed to Catskill, New York, and serving Columbia and Greene counties as well as the upper Hudson Valley, the southern Capital District, and Berkshire County, Massachusetts. The station is owned by iHeartMedia, Inc. and broadcasts at 4.7 kW ERP from the center tower of the three tower array used by former sister station WCKL, on Route 9-G in Greenport, NY. WCTW's signal can be received as far north as Albany and as far south as Poughkeepsie; however, the station begins to mix with co-channel WCKM and WTRY-FM (on 98.3) north of Albany.
The 98.5 frequency, the first FM station in Greene County, first came into being in early 1988 as a construction permit bearing the WCKL-FM calls as a sister to WCKL. Originally, the plans for the station were to simulcast the popular standards format of WCKL but at some point in 1990 these plans were changed for the 98.5 frequency to go on its own under the WQKZ calls. With those calls, the station would begin testing late that August and on September 6 would sign on with a CHR format as Z98.5. Being an all-local station outside of signing off overnights and some weekend programming, Z98.5 did well but given its position as a station in a small, unrated market going against established rivals such as WSPK, WBPM, and WFLY the station began to lose money.
In late 1991, Straus Media (owner of WELV and WWWK in Ellenville) purchased WCKL and WQKZ. Looking to make the pairing of stations more attractive to advertisers and wanting to cut costs, Straus flipped WQKZ to a hot adult contemporary format as WCTW (The Cat) in February 1992 with the station going to satellite-fed programming outside of mornings which retained Z98.5 morning host Bob Johnson. Straus would later buy the cross-river rivals of WCKL and WCTW, Hudson-based WRVW and WHUC, in early 1995 giving Straus a practical monopoly on radio between Kingston and Albany. This would be followed in July 1996 by Johnson getting a move to afternoons (with the studios moving from Catskill to Poughkeepsie alongside Straus' stations there) with the syndicated Bob & Sheri morning show coming to the station; in fact, WCTW was their first affiliate in syndication.
In 1998, Poughkeepsie based translator W292CM (106.3 MHz) signed on with a simulcast of WCTW's programming. With nearly no promotion, WCTW showed in the Poughkeepsie ratings in the spring of 1999, nearly tying the full-power WTND, itself a Straus station. Seeing an opportunity, Straus decided to flip WTND to a variation of WCTW under the WCTJ calls that August. W292CM would soon switch to simulcasting sister station WTHN and now relays WDST.
The presence of WCTJ was both a blessing and a curse for WCTW. The addition of an audience in a rated market allowed the WCTW end of the Cat stations to work with a larger budget and allowed WCTW to phase out satellite programming given the ability to use such tools as voicetracking. However, the attempt to try to run one station as two became a strain given the distance and differences between the two areas and that air talent was doing double the work with staggered breaks between the two stations. A general glut of Hot AC music in the mid-Hudson Valley did not help matters as well and with Straus's sale to Clear Channel in 2000 the days of the WCTJ part of the simulcast were numbered.
With the Clear Channel purchase of Straus came the later sale of the Catskill stations (and WBPM) to Concord Media, a front company with ties to Clear Channel that existed to warehouse additional stations controlled by Clear Channel. The Clear Channel/Concord combination moved the studios of those stations to a new location in Hudson and, with it, WCTW returned to a mostly-satellite fed format which would remain for the next several years.
In April 2005, WCTW would change its format to adult contemporary with the Lite FM branding as part of an expansion of the brand throughout the Hudson Valley in an attempt to compete with Pamal Broadcasting-owned rivals WHUD and WYJB.
In May 2009, WCTW reverted to hot adult contemporary, once again under the Cat branding. In February 2010, an unrelated radio station, WZMR, flipped to a country format as 104.9 The Cat resulting in confusion between the two stations; however, a resolution has not occurred between the two stations.
- Query the FCC's FM station database for WCTW
- Radio-Locator information on WCTW
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for WCTW