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|City||Newark, New Jersey|
|Broadcast area||New York City area|
|Slogan||New York's #1 Hit Music Station|
|Frequency||100.3 MHz (also on HD Radio)
SiriusXM ch. 12
|First air date||June 1, 1961|
|Format||Top 40 (CHR)
HD2: Nick Radio
|Former callsigns||WHNF (1942–48; 1947–48 on 100.3)
Nick Radio (on HD2)
(AMFM Radio Licenses, L.L.C.)
|Sister stations||WAXQ, WKTU, WLTW, WOR, WWPR-FM|
|Webcast||Listen Live (via iHeartRadio)
HD2: Listen Live (via iHeartRadio)
WHTZ (100.3 FM) – branded Z100 – is a commercial Top 40 (CHR) radio station licensed to Newark, New Jersey and serving the New York City metropolitan area. Owned by iHeartMedia, WHTZ serves as the flagship station for Elvis Duran and the Morning Show and the New York affiliate for On Air with Ryan Seacrest. The WHTZ studios are located in the AT&T Building in the TriBeCa neighborhood of New York City, while the station transmitter resides atop the Empire State Building.
Besides a standard analog transmission, WHTZ broadcasts over two HD Radio channels, and is available online via iHeartRadio. The station also simulcasts over channel 12 on SiriusXM satellite radio.
The call letters are supposed to represent the word "hits" with a Z; indeed, an early advertising campaign for the earlier days of station claimed that HTZ was "Finally, there's a new way to spell Hitz!"
WHNF and WMGM-FM
100.3 began as WHNF (for WHN FM) in the early 1940s broadcasting on 46.3 mc, which played easy listening music which was co-owned with 1050 WHN (frequency now occupied by WEPN, now WFAN on 660 AM). After WHN changed their call letters to WMGM in 1948, WHNF, by this time now broadcasting on 100.3, followed suit by changing their call letters to WMGM-FM. That station shut down in February 1955 and its owners turned the license over to the FCC.
100.3 FM was sold to local owner Herb Saltzman and known as Sabre Broadcasting. The station focused to serve northern New Jersey rather than the New York City Metropolitan area. They already owned AM 620 then known as WVNJ so 100.3 FM would have WVNJ-FM as its call letters. On July 13, 1961, at about 3 p.m., WVNJ-FM signed on. WVNJ-FM began with 20,000 watts at 330 ft. above average terrain from the AM site in Livingston, moving a few years according to Chatham with 25,000 watts. A few years later, the transmitter moved to West Orange, New Jersey and only transmitted at 5,000 watts.
The station had an instrumentally based "Easy Listening" music format (also known as Beautiful Music or, more commonly, "elevator music") consisted of instrumental versions of familiar songs with several soft vocal hits added per hour. The station was known as "WVNJoy".
Licensed to Newark, NJ, its FM transmitter was in West Orange, while its studios and AM transmitter were located on State Route 10 in Livingston, New Jersey. At the time, the station had an effective power of about 20,000 watts and an actual power of 5,000 watts. This lack of coverage due to lesser power inhibited the station's opportunity to show with competitive strength in ratings estimates in the NY Market. Thus the station's target market concentration was northern New Jersey. Radio listeners in the New York City metropolitan area could listen to the WPAT-AM-FM simulcast, WRFM, or WTFM for easy listening.
In 1980, when WRVR (now WLTW) changed from jazz to country music, WVNJ began playing jazz music after 8 PM. Its slogan was "VNJoy By Day, VNJazz By Night". In May 1983, plans were made for 100.3 FM to be purchased by Cleveland-based Malrite Communications. Malrite signed on the station from a studio in Secaucus, New Jersey and moved the transmitter to the top of the Empire State Building. In addition, new management announced plans for a top 40 format. The sale became final on August 1, 1983, and WVNJ-FM ceased broadcasting on 100.3 that night.
WHTZ - "Z100"
The station, which now had the callsign WHTZ, went back on the air at 6:08 AM on August 2, 1983 with new program director and morning jock Scott Shannon. The first two songs ever played on the station were "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor, and "America" by Neil Diamond. Initially, the station called themselves by their new call letters, but by late August, they began calling themselves "Z100". The station signed on from its new and still-incomplete studio in Secaucus, transmitting from the old FM tower site in West Orange, New Jersey, as their antenna was not moved to the top of the Empire State Building until August 4 at 6 AM.
Z100 was the second station that summer to attempt to bring the Top 40 format back to New York, with rock station WPLJ having begun the evolution to top 40 in June. WHTZ was programmed to remind listeners of one-time AM powerhouse WABC, which had gone from a tight Top 40 format to leaning Disco in early 1979, to leaning adult rock later in 1979, to leaning adult contemporary in 1980 and then evolving to Adult Contemporary/Talk in 1981, before it finally flipped to an all-talk format on May 10, 1982.
Within 74 days of signing on, WHTZ had climbed from last place to first in the New York Arbitron ratings book. Over the years, Z100 stayed with a top 40 format, with WPLJ behind them in the ratings. Scott Shannon left Z100 on January 27, 1989 to start "Pirate Radio" in Los Angeles, with Steve Kingston assuming operations manager duties, Frankie Blue becoming assistant programming director, and Brian Wilson taking over mornings (he would be replaced in March 1990 with Gary Bryan, who came over from WPLJ; in November 1993, John Lander became morning show host).
By 1991, however, the Top 40 format nationwide was in an identity crisis due to the rise of alternative rock, hip hop and country. A major sign of this crisis came when WPLJ moved to a hot adult contemporary format by 1992. Z100 responded to this by adding some older songs and introducing an evening talk show called "Love Phones". Ratings gradually dropped during this time. In March 1993, Malrite (Z100's owners) announced it would merge with Shamrock Broadcasting, with the sale closing that August 2. Also that year, Z100 dropped the older songs and began mixing in alternative rock music which wasn't normally being played on Top 40 stations. By the end of 1994, the majority of the station's music consisted of alternative rock with only a few non-modern-rock-based songs per hour. The station still played the current popular hits by mainstream artists such as Madonna, TLC, Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey, Shania Twain, Toni Braxton, Sheryl Crow, and others; notably, though, Z100 snubbed several big pop hits at the time such as "Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman" by Bryan Adams, "You Are Not Alone" by Michael Jackson, and "I Could Fall In Love" by Selena. During this time, the station also underwent numerous airstaff and management changes. Frankie Blue left in 1995 and Sam Milkman moved up to his position. Also in 1995, Z100 stopped using the "Morning Zoo" title, which was simply renamed "The Morning Show." Morning host John Lander left in November 1995 due to his contract not being renewed, with more airstaff gradually leaving the station shortly thereafter.
Ratings, though nowhere near the top anymore, remained steady at the station during much of the mid-1990s, but by March 1996, there was a steep drop after WKTU signed on at 103.5 FM with a dance music format, and WXRK adapted a full-time alternative rock format. Both stations took listeners from Z100. Steve Kingston and his assistant Sam Milkman left Z100 for WXRK in early 1996, while music director Andy Shane left for WKTU, joining another former Z100 music director, Frankie Blue. In January 1996, Steve Cochran arrived to do mornings, but by mid-April, he was gone. Z100 was undergoing a crisis at this point. The station was sold in a corporate deal to Chancellor Media.
In April 1996, the station brought in Tom Poleman as its new programming director. Initially, at that point, Z100 dropped all non-modern rock titles and began playing strictly pop alternative. By May 1996, Z100 began gradually replacing its on-air staff, and the harder alternative songs were phased out. Though initially it seemed that Z100 was becoming a modern AC station, beginning that summer, the station gradually began to move back to a mainstream Top 40 format, as it added pop music from such formats as R&B, rap, and adult contemporary. One of Poleman's biggest moves was to switch DJ Elvis Duran from afternoons to the "Z Morning Zoo" (which was known as "The Morning Show" for the last year), Z100's popular morning show, on April 22. Despite having shared the post with other hosts (such as Elliot Segal, now at WWDC) through the years, Duran remains the "Head Zookeeper" to this day. By December 1996, Z100 was a full-time Top 40 station again. Chancellor merged with Evergreen in 1997, making WKTU a sister station of Z100. Still, both stations continued on the same courses, occasionally overlapping with music.
The station used to broadcast "mini-mixes" by DJ Spinbad, a well-known DJ who created a nightly mash-up mix of the day's top songs, playing them all together, mixing, for instance, the lyrics of one with the music of another. This often lasted 15–20 minutes, and was played at seven o'clock and ten o'clock Monday through Friday. Spinbad's mix was also a part of the weekly 5 O'Clock Whistle, a tradition started in 1986 to celebrate the end of the work week.
In early 2006, Z100 launched an HD Radio station that plays songs by bands who have not gone mainstream, or have very little exposure. Currently, it is the only New York City area HD2 station that features DJs.
In October 2007, after years of hovering near the top, Z100 once again became the highest-rated station in New York City, scoring a 5.1 rating in persons 12+ in the Summer book. That marked the first number-one finish for the station since the 1980s, according to Clear Channel New York programming guru Tom Poleman. It also scored a first-place among the 18-34 demographic in the book, as well as a second place in the 25-54 demo.
In 2008, remixer Jason Nevins joined Z100 for the "Remix at 6 with Jason Nevins", where one of Jason's remixes is played every night at 6pm. The programming follows the Z100 playlist and gives listeners a "you heard it here first" mix premiere of projects that come straight from Jason's studio.
Z100's current slogan is "New York's #1 Hit Music Station", used in tandem on-air with "All The Hits". The long-running "#1" part of the slogan was then removed in 2007, but brought back in the Spring of 2014. Another former slogan was "Today's Best Music!". Z100 is considered the 2nd largest pop/CHR/Top 40 station in the world after BBC Radio 1, pulling in an audience of 5 million daily. Additionally, according to the radio industry website, RadioStats.Net, Z100's site is the most visited US CHR website in the world and, in fact, one of the most frequented radio websites overall.
Z100 broadcasts a mainstream Top 40 format. A majority of the music played on Z100 tends to be pop, R&B, alternative, hip-hop, rock, EDM, and dance. On Air with Ryan Seacrest, syndicated nationally via Premiere Networks, is heard daily from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. WHTZ local on air personalities are referred to as "ZJ's". The station's current local weekday ZJ's are: Mo' Bounce (2 p.m.-6 p.m.), with Maxwell (6pm-10pm.), and Shelley Rome (2 a.m.-5 a.m.) and the Pre Morning Show with Greg T. from 5-6 a.m. with weekend ZJ's Phillip "Phill" Kross and Erica "America" Hayden, as well as the GetActive community program air every Sunday morning from 7-8 a.m., and syndicated programs American Top 40 and iHeartRadio Countdown, are heard every Sunday. Station imaging is provided by Dave Kampel, Ann DeWig, with Mark Medina, and Kelly "Kelly3" Doherty (although Dave Foxx remained as the station's "main" voice for legal IDs even after he resigned as Creative Services Director for the station).
While it was not created at WHTZ, the popular morning zoo format became a widely employed morning show concept based on its success at Z100 - even to the point of being implemented at Malrite's sister station in Cleveland, rock-formatted WMMS. Essentially, the Morning Zoo formula was grafted onto their already successful morning show, and lasted until 1994.
The first version of the Z Morning Zoo came together within two months of sign-on, and featured Michael Scott Shannon, Ross Brittain, Jack Murphy, John "JR Nelson" Marik, Claire Stevens, John "Professor Jonathan B." Bell, with Kevin "Captain" Smith, and Anita Bonita. It also gained rapid popularity for its use of the character "Mr. Leonard", invented by radio personality John Carrillo of KKBQ in Houston in 1986, who subsequently moved the character to New York.
The current Morning show includes Elvis Duran, Danielle Monaro, Bethany Watson, Greg T., Froggy, Skeery Jones, David Brody, "Straight Nate" Marino, Garrett, Scotty B, Coaster Boy Josh, "Web Girl" Kathleen, "Bald Freak" Ronnie Scalzo, Producer Sam and Producer Jake.
The Z100 Morning Show features "Danielle's Entertainment Report," "Phone Taps" (prank calls to an unsuspecting friend or relative of a listener), stunts performed by Greg T, Song Parodies, various contests, news and traffic reports.
The show was simulcast on WHCY in New Jersey from early 2003 until December 23, 2008, and as of October 10, 2010, is again carrying the show. The show began syndication on May 22, 2006, starting with WHYI in Miami, Florida, followed by WIOQ in Philadelphia on July 23, 2008, and Cleveland's Kiss FM on August 25, 2008.
Until May 2008, the show was known as "Elvis Duran and The (Y/Z) Morning Zoo". By July 2008, the "Zoo" references were later replaced with "Show". In March 2009, Clear Channel subsidiary Premiere Radio Networks added Elvis Duran and the Morning Show to its blue-ribbon lineup of nationally syndicated radio programs and is now heard coast to coast on over 70 stations.
The station annually holds popular concerts featuring the world's top-name acts: "Z100's Jingle Ball" at Madison Square Garden in Midtown Manhattan during the winter holiday season, and Z100's Zootopia in late Spring. There has been no Zootopia since 2009.
The 2011 Jingle Ball was considered the biggest Jingle Ball Z100 has ever had in their existence. It drew in the biggest stars in the world including Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, David Guetta, Pitbull, and LMFAO.
From 1983 to 1991 and from 1997 to 2004, Z100 aired the "24 Hours Of Christmas" from Christmas Eve to Christmas Day. Sometimes it began at noon, and other years it would be as late as 2pm. It was one of the first major-market Top 40 stations to play wall-to-wall Christmas music at the time. The music consisted of Christmas songs by the station's core artists mixed with well-known Christmas music by oldies artists and some traditional easy listening type artists. The station played about 125 songs in total, which were repeated over this 24-hour period. When Scott Shannon arrived at WPLJ, he began the same tradition there in 1991. Z100 discontinued the tradition in 1992 and during the "alternative years". By 1997, more core artists began creating Christmas music. As a result, Z100 reinstated the 24 hours of Christmas that year. It continued until 2004, when it was discontinued due to the desire to counter-program other co-owned stations as well as competitors.
On Christmas Eve at noon, the station used to air a (pre-recorded) countdown show of the top 100 songs for the year, based on the total number of song spins, listener requests, and weekly playlist success (peak position, weeks on). The show was then repeated an average of once a day over the following week, with a final broadcast airing in January. Until 2004, the countdown began at Noon on Christmas Day after the "24 Hours Of Christmas". Until 2005, the countdown was hosted by Elvis Duran and Paul "Cubby" Bryant. In June 2006, Cubby left Z100 to co-host the nationally syndicated "Wake Up With Whoopi" Goldberg program, heard in NY on Z100's sister station WKTU.
Songs that are released in the final quarter of the year can be problematic; if a song is very popular during the last three months of the year and is in high rotation, it will often peak higher than a song that had been in medium rotation for a number of months. However, if a popular song is only in low to medium rotation during the later part of the year, it will often chart very low or not at all on the year end countdown, only to appear very high on the countdown of the following year.
Notable former staff
- Matthew "Magic Matt" Alan
- Ernie Anderson (deceased)
- Professor Jonathan B. Bell (retired)
- Carolina Bermudez (now at WKTU)
- Robby Bridges
- Gary Bryan
- Paul "Cubby" Bryant (now at WKTU)
- Adam "The MTV Guy" Curry
- Carson Daly
- Sean "Hollywood" Hamilton
- Jimmy Howes
- Clarke Ingram
- Jo "The Madame" Meader
- Dawson McAllister
- Christine Nagy (now at WLTW)
- Jason Nevins
- Elliot Segal (now at WWDC (FM))
- Michael Scott "Super Shan" Shannon (now at WCBS-FM)
- DJ Spinbad
- Shadoe "The Shadow" Stevenson
- Tony Martinez
- Len "Boom-Boom!" Goldberg
- Ross Brittain
- Jackson "Jack Da Wack" Tally (now at KKBQ as "Cactus Jack")
- "HD Radio station guide for New York, NY". hdradio.com. Retrieved 2016-03-22.
- Venta, Lance (October 15, 2013). "SiriusXM Adjusting Lineup: Z100/KIIS-FM Come To Sirius". RadioInsight.com. RadioBB Networks. Retrieved October 18, 2013.