|City||Davidson, North Carolina|
|Broadcast area||Charlotte, North Carolina|
|Branding||"Classical Public Radio"|
|First air date||1973 (originally carrier current 1969-73)|
|Format||Classical music and public radio|
|Callsign meaning||W DAVidson|
WDAV "Classical 89.9" is a non-commercial public radio station located in Davidson, North Carolina and serving the Charlotte, North Carolina market. The station, owned by Davidson College, airs classical music and fine arts programming.
WDAV programming originates locally for 22 hours each day, and the tempo of the music is based on the time of day, with "upbeat, inspirational" in the morning and "relaxing, kick-back" late in the day. As of 2018, music director Ted Weiner, who recorded the overnight show instead of doing it live, had been a full-time personality since 1986, the longest of anyone there. General manager Frank Dominguez, an employee for 25 years, hosted Concierto on the HD-2 channel, with composers and musicians from Latin America and Spain, and on 45 public stations. Station personalities included Mike McKay, Myelita Melton, Matt Rogers, Rachel Stewart and Joe Brant.
WDAV signed on in 1973 as a student-run college radio station, taking over from a carrier current station that had been on the air since 1969. The format included jazz, rock music and educational programs. In 1978, it was upgraded to a full-service professional operation. However, student volunteers quit because they did not want the station to go all classical, and it took three months to return to the air. WDAV became "Your station for the arts" and played mostly classical music.
The students asked for another carrier current station, and WALT came on the air, but operated off and on for years. WDAV began offering alternative rock for two hours a night on weeknights starting at 11:00. Flipsides, hosted by students, featured music from over 2000 albums and artists such as Hüsker Dü, Meat Puppets, Fetchin Bones, The Replacements, P.I.L., Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper. In February 1996, WALT became a permanent station at 1610 AM, later adding a webcast.
In 1985, WDAV made plans to increase its signal from 20,000 to 100,000 watts using a directional antenna to prevent interference with WEPR. The station was also moving from a small space in the college's union building to a new building. The power boost, approved in August 1988 and completed in mid-1989, would increase the listening area from 1702 to 2402 square miles, with as many as 850,755 listeners. On October 1, 1988, WDAV began broadcasting 24 hours a day. That same month, the station became an affiliate of American Public Radio, with Radio Kronos and High Performance with André Previn.
On April 19, 1995, WDAV moved from a 350-foot tower two miles south of Cornelius to an 815-foot one in Huntersville, improving its signal in some areas and increasing its signal range to 22 counties. Also in 1995, WDAV ended Metropolitan Opera broadcasts because they had to be live and WDAV felt not enough listeners liked opera.
In January 2015, after 20 years, WDAV decided to no longer run NPR news updates at the top of each hour, since listeners tended to change stations if they did not want news, and those who did want news listened to other stations. The size of the audience increased.
In August 2016, WDAV was the number one classical station in the country according to Nielsen Media Research. Half of listeners were over 55, but a fourth were less than 35 years old.
As of 2018, 21 percent of the audience was 18 to 34. The station had three podcasts already and planned two more.
- Washburn, Mark (April 20, 2017). "What's put WDAV among nation's top classical stations?". The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved May 3, 2017.
- Washburn, Mark (December 12, 2018). "WDAV turns 40, still aiming to prove classic(al music) is cool". The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved January 3, 2019.
- "A Brief History of WALT Radio". Retrieved 2012-11-08.
- Natalie Shelpuk, "A Symphony in Your Car", The Charlotte Observer, October 12, 1988, p. 1D.
- Jeff Borden, "Davidson Students Enjoy Alternative Rock on WDAV's 'Flipside'," The Charlotte Observer, August 26, 1986, p. 13A.
- Tim Funk, "'Moesha' Writer from Charlotte," The Charlotte Observer, February 13, 1996, p. 6E.
- Zona Lai, "WDAV to Aim Signal to South," The Charlotte Observer, July 9, 1985.
- Jeff Borden, WDAV's Power Boost OKd", The Charlotte Observer, August 20, 1988, p. 19A.
- Jeff Borden, "WDAV Off Air Temporarily to Install New Equipment, The Charlotte Observer, May 27, 1989, p. 19A.
- Tim Funk, "New Tower Will Bring WDAV Through Louder and Clearer," The Charlotte Observer, April 19, 1995, p. 6C.
- Mark Washburn, "WDAV Off Air As Tower Is Repaired," The Charlotte Observer, April 9, 2002, p. 4B.
- Steven Brown, "WDAV: Filling a Need, Not Just a Niche," The Charlotte Observer, December 14, 2003, p. 4H.
- "Ask SAM", Winston-Salem Journal, April 11, 2013, p. A2.
- Lawrence Toppman, "I can hear clearly now," The Charlotte Observer, June 20, 2013, p. 1D.