|Branding||FM 101.5 & AM 1400 The Patriot|
|Translator(s)||101.5 W268CN (Detroit)|
|First air date||November 1925 (as WMBC)|
|ERP||99 watts (translator)|
|Callsign meaning||Detroit TalK|
|Affiliations||Salem Radio Network|
Salem Media Group |
(Salem Communications Holding Corporation)
WDTK, known on the air as The Patriot, is a conservative-oriented news/talk radio station broadcasting at 1400 kHz on the AM dial and broadcasts on a translator at 101.5 MHz on the FM dial in Detroit, Michigan, United States. The station is owned by Salem Communications, one of the nation's largest owners of Christian-oriented radio stations.
WDTK is the Detroit outlet for such syndicated conservative talkers as Sean Hannity, Mike Gallagher, Dennis Prager, Hugh Hewitt, Larry Elder and Michael Medved as well as local talkers such as John McCulloch.
The station began in November 1925 at 1170 kHz as WMBC. The calls stood for the station's original owners, the Michigan Broadcast Company. WMBC's frequency changed to 1230 in 1927 and to 1420 in 1930. WMBC was an early outlet for religious programming and gospel music in Detroit, but was probably most famous as the home of conservative radio commentator Jerry Buckley, who was shot dead in the lobby of the LaSalle Hotel in 1930 after successfully campaigning for a mayoral recall election in which then-mayor Charles Bowles lost.
WMBC's call letters were changed to WJLB in 1939 after the station was acquired by John Lord Booth (who renamed the station for himself), and in 1941 the station settled on its current home of 1400 kHz. Being a small independent station, WJLB relied on brokered programming to pay the bills, much of which was ethnic in nature, including many programs targeted toward Detroit's African-American community. One of WJLB's most popular programs during its early years was the Interracial Goodwill Hour, a jazz and R&B show hosted by later Cleveland radio legend Bill Randle.
By the 1960s, WJLB had competition for Detroit's black audience in the form of 1440 AM WCHB and later 107.5 FM WGPR, and WJLB evolved into a chiefly R&B/soul music station, using the slogan "Tiger Radio" for a time in the late 1960s. Perhaps WJLB's most well-known personality in the 1960s and 1970s was Martha Jean "The Queen" Steinberg, one of the first successful female air personalities in Detroit, best known for her trademark line, "I betcha!" On the evening of July 23, 1967 Steinberg got the station to cancel its regular programing and let her do a broadcast encouraging people to stop rioting. In the early 1970s, Steinberg led the WJLB air staff in protesting the fact that the station employed no African-Americans outside of the air personalities.
In 1980, in response to the growing popularity of FM radio, WJLB-AM 1400 switched call signs and formats with its ethnic sister station, WMZK-FM 97.9. WJLB-FM was updated to the then-new urban contemporary format and has been a top-rated station in Detroit since. However, WJLB-FM dropped Steinberg's show, and Martha Jean the Queen found herself without a radio home until 1982, when a Steinberg-led group called TXZ Corporation purchased WMZK-AM 1400 and changed the calls to WQBH (the calls stood for Queen Broadcasts Here). WQBH took on a full-service format of R&B and gospel music and African-American-oriented talk which would continue for over two decades. With backing from Michigan National Bank, Steinberg took full ownership of WQBH (as "Queen's Broadcasting Corporation") in 1997. After Steinberg's death in January 2000, ownership of the station reverted to a consortium of her three daughters and the Order of the Fisherman Ministry. WQBH continued to air broadcasts of Steinberg's past programs after her death.
In March 2004, Salem Communications announced that it would be acquiring WQBH from the Steinberg family for $4.75 million. The sale was finalized in May, and in September, Salem changed WQBH's calls to WDTK and installed the current conservative news/talk format.
In late July 2012, WDTK's FM translator, W224CC on 92.7 FM signed on at 99 watts of power.
In the Fall of 2014 the Patriot began covering the Detroit Catholic High School League Game of the Week. Jeremy Otto and Sean Baligian call the action. In 2015 the station added a drive home show hosted by Brendan Johnson.
On November 18, 2016, WDTK moved its FM repeater operations from 92.7 FM to a new translator in Oak Park, W268CN, on 101.5. The former repeater on 92.7 remains on the air, but was repurposed as a repeater for sister station WLQV. While not protected this far out, the new repeater on 101.5 has drowned out Toledo, Ohio's WRVF (also on 101.5) in much of Downtown Detroit and the Metro Detroit area north of Eureka Road.
Talk show hosts
- "You're Gonna Like It... I Bet'cha!", chapter on Martha Jean "The Queen" Steinberg from Rockin' Down the Dial: A History of Detroit Radio from Jack the Bellboy to the Big 8, by David Carson (University of Michigan Press). Details Steinberg's early career in Detroit at WCHB-AM and WJLB-AM.
- Sidney Fine, Violence in the Model City: The Cavanagh Administration, Race Reliations, and the Detroit Riot of 1967 (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1989), p. 184