WHCN ("The River 105.9") is a classic hits music formatted radio station based in Hartford, Connecticut. The city of license is Hartford. The iHeartMedia, Inc. outlet broadcasts at 105.9 MHz with an effective radiated power of 16,000 watts from West Peak State Park in Meriden, CT. Its format blends classic rock and new wave, with current and recurrent hit songs of today. It is similar to the "JACK-FM" formats that have been heard across the U.S. Studios are at 10 Columbus Boulevard, in Hartford, Connecticut. "The River" brand, shared with many adult contemporary stations nationwide, is a local reference to the Connecticut River.
WHCN has a long history, going back to when it was licensed as W1XSL in 1936. It subsequently became W1XPW, W65H, WDRC-FM and WFMQ before arriving at WHCN in 1958. The call letters stood for "Hartford Concert Network." WHCN remained a Classical music station from that point until shifting to progressive rock in 1969. The format was flipped to main stream album rock in late 1976. Known as "106-WHCN", it was very successful in the 1970s and the 1980s. It was home to the morning show Picozzi and The Horn, up until the mid-1990s. Picozzi would later move across town to WCCC-FM. WHCN flipped to Classic rock in the mid-1990s to compete for the older rock audience that grew up with WHCN, but changing owners would signal changes at WHCN as well. It would become "105-9 WHCN" and adapt a harder-edged classic rock sound billed as "Classic Rock that really rocks!". WHCN would be snapped up by Liberty Broadcasting and then SFX Broadcasting/Capstar, then AMFM and then Clear Channel Communications in 2000.
After years of declining ratings, the 33-year run of the WHCN brand would come to an abrupt end in March 2002 when WHCN became known as "The River 105.9", surprisingly retaining most of its on-air staff in its infancy from the previous classic rock incarnation. The station's "The Rock" slogan (and later the station's former Asylum Street location after it moved to its current location) would be snatched up by former rival WCCC. The playlist was different and much more diverse than other stations in the market and the station shot up in ratings from 13th place to 5th place within a year. "The River 105.9" would target listeners of WRCH and WTIC-FM by launching its current hot adult contemporary format, which is a blend of classic rock hits of the 1970s and 1980s with recurrent and current hits of today. A similar format had been successful in the nearby Albany market on WRVE 99.5. The call letters have been retained to reflect the station's past.
The station appeals to baby boomers and Generation X listeners with various programming such as the "Eighties at Eight", which is an hour of Eighties music starting at 8am. The 10 o'clock Artist Spotlight at 10am and the "High School reunion" at 6pm, focused on a specific year.
The station carries a "deep tracks" format on its HD Radio HD-2 subchannel.
WHCN is a Class B FM station, a class allowed to transmit up to 50,000 watts Effective Radiated Power at 150 meters Above Average Terrain (AAT). Stations broadcasting at higher elevations transmit at ERPs reduced on a sliding scale that varies with height. WHCN transmits at 264 meters AAT, with an ERP of 16,000 watts—equivalent to 50,000 watts at 150 meters. (FCC Facility 72144). The facility radiates in a directional pattern, with maximum ERP at 30° azimuth, in the direction of Hartford. The signal is reduced in other directions. Its weakest strengths are at 190° and 230° azimuth, toward the southwest, where WQXR-FM, a classical music station in New York City that is also broadcasting on 105.9 FM broadcasts from the Empire State Building in New York City. In those directions the signal is .45 of full power, or 7,200 watts.