WDAS (AM)

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WDAS
Philly Gambler.png
CityPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania
Frequency1480 kHz
BrandingFox Sports The Gambler
Programming
Language(s)English
FormatSports
AffiliationsFox Sports Radio
Philadelphia Union
Ownership
OwneriHeartMedia
(AMFM Radio Licenses, L.L.C.)
History
First air date
July 1922 (as WIAD at 1200)
Former call signs
WIAD (1922–1929)
WELK (1929–1934)
WDAS (1934–2007)
WUBA (2007–2011)
Former frequencies
1200 kHz (1922-1928)
1370 kHz (1928-1941)
1400 kHz (1941-1956)
Call sign meaning
Dannenbaum (&=And) Steppacher, former owners (1934-1950)
Technical information
Facility ID71315
ClassB
Power5,000 watts (daytime)
1,000 watts (nighttime)
Translator(s)See § Translators
Repeater(s)104.5 WRFF-HD2 (Philadelphia)
Links
WebcastListen live (via iHeartRadio)
Websitefoxphlgambler.iheart.com

WDAS (1480 kHz) is an AM radio station in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Owned and operated by iHeartMedia, the station airs a sports talk format as an affiliate of Fox Sports Radio. WDAS's studios and offices are located in Bala Cynwyd.

WDAS's transmitter is located near Fairmount Park, off West Ford Road.[1] By day, the station is powered at 5,000 watts. But to avoid interfering with other stations on AM 1480, it reduces power to 1,000 watts at night and uses a directional antenna at all times. WDAS programming is also heard on an FM translator station, 102.5 W273DO in Philadelphia.

History[edit]

Early Years[edit]

WIAD in Ocean City, New Jersey, signed on the air in July 1922, originally broadcasting at 1200 kilocycles. The station was owned by Howard R. Miller. WIAD eventually relocated to Philadelphia. In 1928, per order of the Federal Radio Commission, the station moved to 1370 AM. In 1929, the station's studio and transmitter were moved to the Elks Club at Broad and Vine Streets and the call sign changed to WELK.[2]

In 1934, Miller sold the station, and the new owners, silk manufacturers Dannenbaum & Steppacher, adopted the WDAS call sign, with the letters spelling out the company's initials. A.W. Dannenbaum served as the station president. The studios were located at 1211 Chestnut Street.[3]

WDAS broadcast ethnic programming in languages such as Italian, Yiddish and Polish. In 1941, WDAS moved to 1400 AM, then about 15 years later to its current frequency of 1480 AM.

In 1950, candy manufacturer Max Leon purchased the station for $495,000 from William Goldman, a theater chain owner. The programming at the time consisted of big band music, ethnic and cultural shows. Leon, the founder and conductor of the original Philly Pops Orchestra, added an all-night classical music show.

Switch to R&B[edit]

In 1951, Leon promoted his son-in-law, Bob Klein, to general manager. Klein saw an opportunity in the marketplace and adopted programming geared toward the local African-American community. The music consisted of rhythm & blues and jazz. WDAS added a number of young personalities, including Georgie Woods, Jimmy Bishop, Carl Helm, Butterball Tamburro, Jocko Henderson and Hy Lit. The station also added black-oriented public affairs and news programs, and provided coverage of the unfolding civil rights movement, featuring award-winning and groundbreaking journalists Joe Rainey and Jim Klash, along with Walt Sanders, Carl Stubbs, Bill Adams, Dave Colman, Jimmy Carter and reporter Ed Bradley (later of CBS's 60 Minutes).

The station employed many black professionals, in on-air, office and management positions. The station also took on an activist role. WDAS was commended by many in the industry and in the civil rights movement. In 1959, Leon and Klein signed on an FM sister station, 105.3 WDAS-FM. By the early 1970s, the FM station would launch a groundbreaking and influential urban adult contemporary format still heard today.

WDAS 1480 retained its R&B format throughout the 1960s and 70s, while adding gospel music with Louise Williams on Sunday mornings. Many people involved in the civil rights movement, including Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, visited and were heard on the station. Following his return from Mecca, Malcolm X visited the station on December 29, 1964. He was interviewed by Rainey under heavy armed police guard due to assassination threats.[4]

Klein filed a class action lawsuit against the Arbitron rating service in 1972, on behalf of all black radio stations, protesting that black radio listenership was undercounted. Arbitron settled the suit after four days of testimony and amended its methodologies and policies to make a better effort to survey African-American listeners and other minorities.

Changes in ownership[edit]

Leon sold the station in November 1979 to the minority-owned Unity Broadcasting Network. In the 1980s, WDAS added the National Black Network (NBN) for hourly newscasts, and tried a news format in the mornings, anchored locally by Karen Warrington, E. Steven Collins and Wynne Alexander) and afternoons via the NBN feed. With music listening shifting to FM, 1480 WDAS wanted to compete with all-news 1060 KYW. This was unsuccessful, and the station returned with a mix of gospel, R&B and talk shows. In 1988, as more listeners were choosing FM urban contemporary stations, WDAS 1480 switched to a full-time gospel music and religious format.

Beasley Broadcasting purchased WDAS and WDAS-FM in 1994. Two years later, the stations were sold to Evergreen Media, which soon merged with Chancellor Broadcasting, which later became AMFM Inc. In August 2000, after a series of mergers, the two stations would become properties of Clear Channel Communications. Clear Channel changed its name to iHeartMedia after its successful iHeartRadio internet platform in 2014.

Format changes[edit]

On May 16, 2007, WDAS flipped to Spanish Tropical as Rumba 1480, a format and branding displaced by WRFF's flip to modern rock as Radio 104.5. The station's former WUBA calls were also adopted by WDAS.[5] WUBA served as the Spanish language flagship radio station of the Philadelphia Phillies.

On November 22, 2011, the station began redirecting existing listeners to 1340 WHAT, after Clear Channel announced that the Rumba format would be replaced by a new urban oldies format the next day as WDAS, The Soul of Philadelphia. The station soft launched with R&B Christmas music for the holiday season, before officially launching its new format on December 27.[6][7]

Smooth Jazz JJZ[edit]

Logo as Smooth Jazz JJZ.

On June 10, 2013, the station flipped to smooth jazz as Smooth Jazz JJZ, reviving a heritage branding that had historically been used by the current WISX from 1993 to 2006, and from November 17, 2006 to September 5, 2008 by the current WPEN-FM. Despite the use of the JJZ brand, the station retained the WDAS calls.[8]

From September 19–27, 2015, the station temporarily branded as Pope Info Radio — a "pop-up station" covering Pope Francis's first visit to the United States, which concluded in Philadelphia. The station interspersed its smooth jazz programming with live coverage of five masses and speeches throughout the visit, and rolling news, traffic, and weather updates relevant to the events.[9][10][11]

Breakthrough Radio[edit]

Logo as Breakthrough Radio.

On September 11, 2017, the station flipped to Breakthrough Radio. The format was a partnership with the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, featuring an uptempo variety hits format interspersed with health-related features and public service announcements produced by the Hospital. The JJZ format moved to WISX-HD2.[12][13]

Fox Sports The Gambler[edit]

On August 23, 2019, it was announced that WDAS would flip to a sports talk format as part of the Fox Sports Radio network the following Monday, as Fox Sports The Gambler. The new format launched on August 26, 2019, after the station temporarily stunted with a loop of the NFL on Fox theme music over the weekend. W281BI was not included in the flip due to the existing affiliate WNJE.[14]

The station carries local programs geared towards sports betting (taking advantage of the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, which had effectively banned sports betting outside of Nevada);[14] it launched with The Daily Tickets—an afternoon drive program hosted by former WPEN personality Sean Brace. He described The Gambler as the "future" of sports radio, arguing that the betting-oriented positioning of the station would help distinguish itself from WPEN and the market-leading WIP-FM, and promised that the station would feature "no callers" and "just guests that will bring the best information on the games we love to watch".[14] WDAS otherwise carries the full Fox Sports Radio national lineup, including its own betting-related show Straight Outta Vegas.[15]

In October 2019, the station added a new evening program hosted by Eytan Shander, What Are The Odds?—which airs on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday evenings.[16] In February 2020, the station began covering esports and video games through a weekly segment on program director Sean Brace's afternoon show "The Daily Ticket" featuring local Philadelphia video game journalist Jason Fanelli.[17] Fanelli began his own podcast affiliated with the radio station, Cheesesteaks and Controllers, in June 2020, which is now part of the station's Saturday afternoon programming.[18] In July 2020, WDAS became the flagship radio station of the Philadelphia Union of Major League Soccer.[19]

HD Radio[edit]

WDAS formerly broadcast in HD IBOC format. The HD transmission was turned off when WDAS flipped to urban oldies at the end of 2011. As the launch of "The Gambler", the station initially simulcast on WDAS-FM 105.3-HD 2.[20][21] On August 31, 2020, the simulcast shifted to WRFF-HD 2.

Translators[edit]

WDAS (AM) programming is broadcast on the following translators:

Call sign Frequency
(MHz)
City of license Facility
ID
ERP
(W)
Height
(m (ft))
Class Transmitter coordinates FCC info
W273DO 102.5 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 138663 99 114 m (374 ft) D 39°56′58.60″N 75°10′14.40″W / 39.9496111°N 75.1706667°W / 39.9496111; -75.1706667 (W273DO) FCC

References[edit]

  1. ^ Radio-Locator.com/WDAS-AM
  2. ^ FCC History cards for WDAS
  3. ^ Broadcasting Yearbook 1945 page 146
  4. ^ Russ, Valerie (February 21, 2012). "When Malcom Came to Town". Philadelphia Daily News. pp. 6–8.
  5. ^ "Rumba 104.5/Philly Becomes 'Radio 104.5'". All Access. Retrieved 2020-06-03.
  6. ^ "WDAS-AM Returns In Philadelphia". RadioInsight. 2011-11-22. Retrieved 2020-06-03.
  7. ^ "WDAS-A Returns To The Soul Of Philadelphia". All Access. Retrieved 2020-06-03.
  8. ^ "Smooth Jazz Returns To Philadelphia". RadioInsight. 2013-06-09. Retrieved 2019-08-30.
  9. ^ "Philly Gets Pop-Up Pope Station". Insideradio.com. Retrieved 2019-08-30.
  10. ^ "iHeart To Launch Philadelphia Papal Pop-Up Format". RadioInsight. 2015-09-13. Retrieved 2019-08-30.
  11. ^ "Papal Visit Prompts WDAS-A (Smooth Jazz 'JJZ)/Philadelphia To Air 'Pope Info Radio' 9/19-27". All Access. Retrieved 2019-08-30.
  12. ^ "iHeartMedia & Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia Partner For Breakthrough Radio 1480". RadioInsight. 2017-09-11. Retrieved 2019-08-23.
  13. ^ Takiff, Jonathan. "CHOP-backed Breakthrough Radio is a new station". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 2019-08-30.
  14. ^ a b c "Philly's 'Gambler' Declares Itself The 'Future Of Sports Talk Radio.'". Insideradio.com. Retrieved 2019-12-31.
  15. ^ "iHeartMedia Launches Fox Sports The Gambler In Philadelphia". RadioInsight. 2019-08-23. Retrieved 2019-08-23.
  16. ^ "Eytan Shander Adds Show On WDAS-A (Fox Sports The Gambler)/Philadelphia". All Access. Retrieved 2019-12-31.
  17. ^ https://www.iheart.com/podcast/269-the-daily-ticket-with-sean-49409979/episode/jason-fanelli-interview-26-57138390/
  18. ^ https://www.iheart.com/podcast/482-cheesesteaks-controllers-63620305/episode/cheesesteaks-and-controllers-episode-1--63792549/
  19. ^ "MLS Names Philly Broadcast Partner". Radio Ink. 2020-07-09. Retrieved 2020-07-12.
  20. ^ "History of WDAS provided by radio-history.com". Archived from the original on 2007-11-02. Retrieved 2008-01-22.
  21. ^ http://www.hdradio.com/station_guides/widget.php?id=6 HD Radio Guide for Philadelphia

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°59′53″N 75°12′43″W / 39.99806°N 75.21194°W / 39.99806; -75.21194