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|Broadcast area||Cincinnati, Ohio|
|Slogan||The Soul of Cincy|
|Translator(s)||101.5 W268CM (Cincinnati)|
|First air date||1924 (as WFBE at 1290)|
|Callsign meaning||W D BuZz (former branding)|
|Former callsigns||WFBE (1924-1935)
|Former frequencies||1290 kHz (1924-1928)
1220 kHz (1928)
1200 kHz (1928-1941)
(Blue Chip Broadcasting Licenses, Ltd)
|Sister stations||WIZF, WOSL|
WDBZ is an urban oldies-formatted radio station serving Cincinnati, Ohio broadcasting on 1230 AM. The station plays urban oldies music except for weekdays between 10am and Noon, during which time talk show "The Lincoln Ware Show" airs. Saturday mornings and afternoons also feature talk shows. Owned by Radio One, its studios are located at Centennial Plaza in Downtown Cincinnati and the transmitter site is in Eden Park.
WDBZ broadcasts on one of the oldest radio frequencies in Cincinnati. The AM license was originally granted in 1924 and broadcast as WFBE 1290, later moving to 1230. It was the weakest of five AM stations in Cincinnati. Scripps-Howard Newspapers purchased the station in October 1935, renaming it WCPO after The Cincinnati Post. (Scripps-Howard Broadcasting would later launch sister stations WCPO-TV and WCPO-FM.) WCPO-AM was Cincinnati's first Top 40 Rock station, and was in the format from 1956 until it was sold in 1966. WCPO encountered serious competition from the stronger WSAI 1360 when that station entered the Top 40 format in July 1961. WSAI broadcast with 5,000 watts day and night, while WCPO broadcast with 1,000 watts during the day and only 250 watts at night. Some of the DJs on WCPO in the 1960s, included Shad O'Shea, Mike Gavin, Bob Keith, Mark Edwards, Gary Allyn, Steve Young, "Big Al" Law, Wayne Shayne, "Bwana" Johnny, Mike Scott, Johnny Hall and Gary Cory. Morton Downey, Jr. was even there in 1964-65. Scripps-Howard sold the station to Kaye-Smith Broadcasting whose principals were Danny Kaye (the entertainer) and business associate Lester Smith, in January 1966. Starting on January 15, 1966 the station call letters were changed to WUBE, and almost the entire air staff was replaced. After another three-year run as a Top-40 station, under the direction of legendary programmer Bill Drake; known as 1-2-3-W-B it became a country music formatted station in April, 1969. They operated the station along with a sister FM at 105.1 MHz until the late 1970s when they sold all their radio properties to Plough Broadcasting, then a part of the pharmaceutical company, Schering-Plough.
After partially simulcasting with its FM sister station WUBE-FM (105.1) for years, the station changed from its long-running country format to a Big Band/Nostalgia format in 1981 using Al Hamm's syndicated "Music of Your Life" service and changed the call letters to WMLX. (WMLX was rumored to mean "MUSIC of your LIFE and TIMES.")
In 1984, Schering-Plough divested its radio division and sold the 1230 AM and 105.1 FM signals (along with its other 7 stations around the country) to DKM Broadcasting headed by former Cox Radio executive, James Wesley, and formed with the backing of investment firm DKM (Dyson Kissner-Moran), for the initial purpose of acquiring the Plough Broadcasting radio properties.
Until December 15, 1984, the 1230 AM frequency broadcast at 1,000 watts during the day and 250 watts at night, which made its nighttime audience reach extremely limited. On this date, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted DKM the ability to broadcast the 1230 frequency at 1,000 watts 24 hours a day. Incidentally, for many years the 1230 frequency broadcast from a tower located on top of a 5-story building on the eastern edge of downtown Cincinnati and was partially inhibited by the hillside of Mount Adams, Ohio which rose right behind and to the east of the building. (The current tower site is in Eden Park on a former Cincinnati Police communications tower.)
On January 1, 1985, the call letters changed again to WDJO and the station adopted a "oldies rock 'n' roll" format. In 1986, both WDJO and WUBE-FM were sold to American Media Inc.
In January 1990, the station's format changed to a simulcast of sister country station WUBE-FM. The station held on to the WDJO call letters until March 16, 1990 in order to keep them from going to another broadcaster who may have wanted to do an FM oldies format. (An FM oldies station did emerge in January 1990 as WGRR.) The WUBE call letters appeared on 1230 AM for the first time in almost ten years on March 16, 1990. During this time, the station aired a few seasons of Cincinnati Cyclones minor league hockey and some other weekend sports programming separate from the FM. In 1991, American Media sold the stations to National Radio Partners, which eventually changed its name to Chancellor Media and was later known as AMFM Inc. AMFM eventually merged with Clear Channel in 2000.
On December 29, 1994, 1230 AM became All-Sports "The Score." It swapped programming with sister all-sports station WKYN 1160 (later WBOB) in 1996, and the two stations became a sports combo at one point, simulcasting some programs to make up for individual signal deficiencies. The stronger 1160 AM was known as "BOB", while 1230 AM was known as "BOB 2", similar to the ESPN and ESPN2 cable networks. (See the WCVX page for more on this relationship). Some Bengals play-by-play aired on 1230 AM at that time, as WUBE-FM and WBOB were the official Bengals stations from 1997-1999. A "modern standards" based music format called Retro-Radio occupied the 1230 AM dial position in 1998, but was dropped in favor of returning to the sports combo format. The station was eventually sold to Blue Chip Broadcasting in 2000 as part of the AMFM/Clear Channel merger. Sister WUBE-FM was sold to Infinity Broadcasting. Blue Chip then launched the "Buzz" format consisting of urban talk programs on August 23, 2000. The format was changed to "Community and Inspiration" - a mix of talk and gospel music - in late 2008. The "Buzz" moniker was dropped in favor of the WDBZ call letters. After a long LMA, Radio One took official ownership of WDBZ in 2007.
On December 4, 2015, WDBZ changed their format from talk to gospel, branded as "Praise 1230".
On January 5, 2017, WDBZ adopted sister WOSL's urban oldies format and rebranded as "Soul 101.5" (in reference to translator W268CM 101.5 FM) (concurrently, WOSL shifted to urban AC). With the change, Tom Joyner would move back to WDBZ to host mornings (as WOSL added Russ Parr in that timeslot), while WOSL midday personality Emanuel Livington was added for the same daypart on WDBZ, and Fredd E. Redd was added for afternoon drive.
- Martini, Michael A. (2011). Cincinnati Radio. Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing. p. 30. ISBN 978-0-7385-8864-3.
- Radio One Brings Praise to Cincinnati
- Radio One Revamps Cincinnati Pair
- Soul 101.5
- Query the FCC's AM station database for WDBZ
- Radio-Locator Information on WDBZ
- Query Nielsen Audio's AM station database for WDBZ
- Query the FCC's FM station database for W268CM
- Radio-Locator information on W268CM
- FCC History Cards for WDBZ