|Broadcast area||Cincinnati, Ohio|
|Slogan||"Cincinnati's Pure Rock"|
|First air date||1958 (as WQMS)|
|Callsign meaning||Where Stereo FM 96 Totally RocKs!|
|Former callsigns||WQMS (1958-1974)
|Owner||Cumulus Media Inc.
(Radio License Holding SRC LLC)
|Sister stations||WGRR, WRRM, WOFX, WNNF|
The station began in 1958 as WQMS, Quality Music Station, playing beautiful music. In 1968, the station became a religious station and played contemporary Christian music. The station was originally licensed to Hamilton, Ohio, but the city of license was changed to Lebanon, Ohio in a deal with CBS Radio in 2002.
After the station was sold in 1974, the station switched to an adult contemporary/Top 40 format under the call letters WLWS. In 1979, the format changed to Top 40, as "Kiss 96", WSKS. By 1983, WSKS was playing a mix of classic rock and modern rock and changed their slogan to "96 Rock". After 3 years, the format switched again this time to country, WBVE, The Beaver. Four years later in 1990, Z Rock made its debut. Z Rock debuted with the WZRQ call letters, which were protested by crosstown CHR WKRQ. The call letters were then changed to WZRZ. The country format returned in August 1992, as "The River 96.5", and then WYGY "Young Country Y-96" on Christmas Eve, 1992. "Y-96" was used as a flanker station to protect sister station WUBE, the heritage country station in Cincinnati. In 2000, the station was sold and the station's name was changed to "The New 96.5." In 2003, the name changed again to "Eagle 96.5", but due to a conflict with another station called "Eagle 99.3" in nearby Aurora, Indiana, the name was changed yet again to "96.5 The Star."
The call letters WPRV were introduced in September 2006, when Cumulus Media sold WMOJ ("Mojo 94.9") to Radio One, who moved the station to 100.3 FM. Cumulus Media launched WPRV at 94.9 FM, and temporarily used the frequency to simulcast WYGY. Cumulus later traded the 94.9 FM frequency to Entercom, so in November 2006, the call letters WPRV were moved to 96.5 and "SuperTalk FM" was launched. The call letters were soon changed to WFTK.
WFTK's initial programming consisted solely of syndicated programs from Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly, Dave Ramsey, Dennis Miller, in addition to the overnight feed from Sporting News Radio. Until the switch to 96 Rock, the station added more local, live personalities. Andy Furman (Furball) sports talk and starting Monday, October 1, 2007, the Two Angry Guys premiered with Tom Gamble and Richard Skinner. Previous syndicated shows Mancow's Morning Madhouse, Rusty Humphries and Phil Valentine were removed from the programing line up.
On December 13, 2007, at 10 am EST, SuperTalk FM went off the air following The Two Angry Guys Show, and was replaced with the broadcast sounds of a construction site - hammers, saws, drills, workers shouting, trucks backing up, etc. The station's website listed seven new format possibilities, each with an accompanying logo. All seven logos could be seen one at a time when the page was refreshed. The possibilities were Y96 ("Today's Best Country"), Rdnx96 ("Old-time mountain music"), WRAS96 ("Rasta and Reggae"), WWJD96 ("Christian"), ES96 ("Spanish"), D96 ("Disco"), G96 ("Alternative Lifestyle"), and WJOC96 ("Strictly Sports"). Also on the station's website, there was a countdown timer set for Noon on December 14, 2007.
When the countdown timer on the station's website hit zero on December 14, the station flipped to active rock as "96 Rock, Cincinnati's Pure Rock". The first song played was Metallica's "Enter Sandman". The Two Angry Guys Show, which was SuperTalk's morning show before the format change, remained as 96 Rock's morning show. It returned in January, following their Christmas vacation. In fact, 96 Rock's tagline of "Angry all morning, pissed all day" is a direct reference to the Two Angry Guys Show. All of the station's other airstaff, including afternoon host Andy Furman, were let go before the change, while all of the syndicated programs were discontinued.
WFTK was the 2007–08 flagship station for Miami University Men's Ice Hockey broadcasts. As well as the official radio station of the minor league hockey team the Cincinnati Cyclones during the 2007-08 season. Neither are part of the station's programming as of August 2008.
The active rock format lasted for only a year. According to the station's playlist, the station has segued to modern rock because of alternative rock artists such as MGMT, Bad Religion and Franz Ferdinand on the playlist. This occurred in January of 2009 when Cumulus acquired WOFX-FM from Clear Channel, and WOFX is a classic rock-formatted station. The shift to alternative rock caused WSWD to change formats on May 21, 2009, as its old "Sound" format was moved to 94.9 HD2 and the 97.3 frequency flipped formats back to country music, leaving WFTK as the only alternative rock station in Cincinnati. Ratings have since increased since the station shifted to alternative rock. Mediabase still reports the station as active rock.
In February 2014, the station began adding more classic rock artists to its lineup, in an effort to "invite more people to the party" hoping to increase ratings. Bands such as Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, Whitesnake, AC/DC, and other classic rock artists were mixed in with the currents. The formula didn't work, as ratings did not increase.
The station dropped the classic rock tracks in July 2014, and went back to music from the 1990s to the present. However, the classic rock returned in November, curiously only between the hours of 10:00 am and 7:00 pm. In December the station went back to playing two or three classic rock tracks 24 hours a day; as they had done from February - July.
On September 2, 2014, the station dropped its local morning show in favor of the syndicated Free Beer and Hot Wings.
On Monday January 5, 2015, Axel Lowe became the new program director; replacing Michael "Fin" Walter, who had been program director from January 2008 until the end of October 2014.
On Monday January 19, 2015, the station became one of at least 30 Cumulus-owned stations, that began airing Loveline late nights. It did not air live; instead the station aired the previous night's episode, from midnight until 2:00 am. The show ended in April 2016. On May 2, 96ROCK replaced Loveline with the new syndicated rock show 2Hours with Matt Pinfield. The show airs from 10pm-midnight Monday thru Friday.
On July 1, 2015, WFTK posted an image on its Facebook page; saying "You Spoke. We Listened. Monday Morning at 6am." On Monday July 6, Free Beer and Hot Wings was dropped after ten months as the station's morning show. WFTK returned to a local morning show; known as "96ROCK Mornings with JD and Bridget."
- More information: 2006 Cincinnati radio station reorganization.
Call sign history
- WFTK & WWJD from 11/9/2006
- WPRV from 11/2/2006
- WYGY from 1/9/1993
- WZRZ from 1/30/1991
- WZRQ from 12/27/1990
- WBVE from 1986
- WSKS from 1979
- WLWS from 1974
- WQMS from 1958
- 96 Rock
- Query the FCC's FM station database for WFTK
- Radio-Locator information on WFTK
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for WFTK