WISX

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WISX
Thebreezephilly.png.jpg
CityPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania
Broadcast areaGreater Philadelphia (Delaware Valley)
Branding106.1 The Breeze
SloganPhilly's Relaxing Favorites (Primary)
Philly's Soft and Relaxing Favorites (Secondary)
Frequency106.1 MHz (also on HD Radio)
First air dateNovember 11, 1959 (as WQAL)[1]
FormatFM/HD1: Soft Adult Contemporary
HD2: Smooth Jazz (Smooth Jazz JJZ)
ERP22,500 watts (analog)
895 watts (digital)[2]
HAAT226 meters (741 ft)
ClassB
Facility ID53973
Transmitter coordinates40°04′58.00″N 75°10′54.00″W / 40.0827778°N 75.1816667°W / 40.0827778; -75.1816667 (NAD27)
Former callsignsWQAL (1959-1970)
WWSH (1970-1984)
WZGO (1984-5/19/1986)
WTRK (5/19/1986-3/13/1987)
WEGX (3/13/1987-3/12/1993)
WJJZ (3/12/1993-8/10/2006)
WISX (8/28/2006-)
OwneriHeartMedia
(AMFM Radio Licenses, L.L.C.)
Sister stationsWDAS (AM), WDAS-FM, WIOQ, WRFF, WUSL
WebcastHD1: 106.1 The Breeze
HD2: Smooth Jazz JJZ
Website1061thebreeze.iheart.com

WISX (106.1 FM, "106.1 The Breeze") is a commercial FM radio station licensed to serve Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and airing a Soft Adult Contemporary radio format. The station is owned by iHeartMedia, through licensee AMFM Radio Licenses, L.L.C. Studios are located in Bala Cynwyd and the station's broadcast tower is in Wyndmoor.[1]

WISX broadcasts using HD Radio, and airs smooth jazz programming on its HD2 subchannel, branded as Smooth Jazz JJZ.[3]

History[edit]

Beautiful Music WQAL/WWSH[edit]

The station signed on for the first time at 5 p.m. on November 11, 1959 as WQAL.[1] It was owned by George Voron, whose company provided businesses with "piped-in music". The first song was "The Star-Spangled Banner" as performed by Henry Mancini and the Warner Brothers Studio Orchestra. The first voice broadcast was that of Dave Custis, who was in charge of the station's format. The first song after the National Anthem was "The Carousel Waltz" by Percy Faith.[1] The station employed a beautiful music format playing mostly instrumental versions of popular songs (Mantovani, Lawrence Welk, 101 Strings, Chet Atkins, Richard Clayderman) with an occasional vocalist (Frank Sinatra, the Carpenters, Nat King Cole, Barbra Streisand). The station was sold to United Artists in 1970. The call letters then became WWSH and its brand, "Wish 106." (The WQAL call letters are now used by hot AC-formatted "Q104" in Cleveland, Ohio.)

The station was sold again in 1977 to Cox Enterprises. Initially, the sound remained easy listening, a popular format at the time, also heard on Philadelphia stations 101.1 WDVR (now WBEB) and 99.1 WPBS (now WUSL). In 1980, more contemporary vocalists were added but the format still remained instrumentally based.

The Early/Mid '80s[edit]

Despite the station's popularity, the format was changed in 1982 to hot adult contemporary. The station was known as "FM 106". In a market already crowded with four adult contemporary stations, it didn't go over well in the ratings, and one year later the format was modified to contemporary hit radio (Top 40) to compete with "hot hits" WCAU-FM. In July 1984, the call letters were changed to WZGO (Z-106). On May 23, 1986, the station became WTRK "Electric 106," consulted by Mike Joseph, who had spearheaded the launch of hot hits on WCAU-FM five years earlier.[4] Like WCAU-FM in its early months of hot hits, WTRK featured a very tight playlist of only current hit songs and intense disc jockeys; unlike WCAU-FM, however, "Electric 106" was a flop, and 106.1 FM's ratings and revenues did not improve. The station's continued poor performance was a source of embarrassment for Cox, which then sold the station to Malrite.

Eagle 106 Takes Flight[edit]

On March 13, 1987, at 6 p.m., the station became known as WEGX (Eagle 106). The station kept the CHR/top 40 format, but gave it a more adult-friendly makeover, designing the station to appeal primarily to women aged 18–34. Research had shown that listeners in their 20s and older scoffed at the more teen-oriented WCAU-FM as the "bubblegum music" radio station, and WCAU-FM had trouble making a profit because of that perception (1).[5] Eagle 106 attempted to combat the teen-oriented image that came with the CHR format by conducting extensive music research with women in its target demographic, eliminating most jingles, and "dayparting" - playing more gold titles during the day to attract adult listeners at work while continuing to program for teenagers at night with higher energy and more new music. The move paid off, as WEGX's ratings rose steadily through 1987 while WCAU-FM's fell. In November 1987, WCAU-FM dropped the top 40 format in favor of oldies as WOGL, leaving Eagle 106 as the only top 40 station in the market. With the CHR format all to itself, WEGX's ratings climbed even higher, and by the spring of 1988, the station had moved into the top five in Philadelphia Arbitron ratings (1). Former "Partridge Family" cast member Danny Bonaduce made his debut as a radio disc jockey as the station's night man around this time.

In January 1989, WIOQ, which had gone through several unsuccessful format changes (including oldies to compete with WOGL), started a dance-leaning Top 40 format as "Q102". This brought Eagle 106's ratings down slightly but the station still was profitable.

Smooth Jazz WJJZ[edit]

On March 12, 1993, at 1:06 p.m., despite WEGX's moderate ratings, the station flipped to smooth jazz, a growing phenomenon at the time, becoming WJJZ. The final song played on "Eagle 106" was "I Will Remember You" by Amy Grant, with Basia's "New Day for You" kicking off the Smooth Jazz format.[6]

At first, WJJZ lacked ratings and success and it seemed 106.1 was headed for another format change. In its early years, WJJZ featured an eclectic mix of contemporary jazz with some new age music, as well as a sprinkling of adult contemporary vocals. The smooth jazz format evolved, however, and by the mid 1990s, after Malrite sold the station to Evergreen Media, WJJZ began to phase out the new age music and broad variety of contemporary jazz it played, and added more adult contemporary crossovers and some soft R&B. This coincided with its first strong ratings showings. WJJZ was becoming a fixture in Philadelphia radio, with free smooth jazz listener party concerts, and music not heard anywhere else. Also during the period, the station introduced the Vacation-A-Day giveaway, giving away free vacations to different locales. The station described it as the biggest giveaway in Philadelphia radio history. This promotion was subsequently adopted by a number of other major-market smooth jazz stations across the country; WVMV/Detroit's version, for example, was called the "Trip-A-Day Giveaway."

In 1997, Evergreen Media was purchased by Chancellor Media, which eventually was purchased by AMFM and finally became part of conglomerate Clear Channel Communications. During the late 1990s, WJJZ saw its finest ratings, reaching into the top five of the Arbitrons for Philadelphia. However, like many stations across the country, the effect of cutbacks by owner Clear Channel (which would become iHeartMedia in 2014) started to take its toll. 2002 saw the dismissals of afternoon host Deanna Wright and longtime evening host Desirae McCrae. The music on the air began to feature fewer instrumentals and more vocals, featuring the likes of Stevie Wonder, Al Green, The Police, Gladys Knight & The Pips, and Madonna, while still being called smooth jazz. Ratings continued to be solid until 2004, which also coincided with the sign-on of urban adult contemporary station WRNB and Gospel station WPPZ, both appearing to be taking a bite out of the station's ratings. The station dropped out of the top 10 in ratings, and this also led to adverse effects on its billing. By the end of 2005, the signs were not looking positive for the heritage Smooth Jazz station. 10-year afternoon host Teri Webb was dismissed before Christmas, and the Vacation-A-Day giveaway was dropped.

Change to WISX[edit]

Mix 106.1 logo, 2010-2017

Although ratings were rebounding, rumors began to swirl in July 2006 that a format change was imminent. Clear Channel wanted to give a Philadelphia clearance for its syndicated morning show Wake Up with Whoopi with Whoopi Goldberg. On Tuesday, August 8, the airstaff was dismissed. Two days later at noon, WJJZ's midday host and program director Michael Tozzi bid farewell to 13 years of smooth jazz, and after playing 'She's Gone' by Daryl Hall, WJJZ flipped to rhythmic adult contemporary, branded as Philly's 106-1. The first song played was "Let's Get It Started" by The Black Eyed Peas. For the first month, the station was completely automated and the staff was voice-tracked. Although the station kept its WJJZ call sign for a month after the flip, it would eventually change its call letters to WISX. Not too long after, WISX changed its name to "My 106-1".

WISX was gaining ground in the AC market in Philadelphia, and at one point ranked #1 during the work day in Women 25-54 (Arbitron). The audience largely consisted of hard-to-reach working women. Although its musical direction had a ventured toward hot AC for a time, WISX started to concentrate once again on the rhythmic AC fare. The station returned to hot AC by late 2010, as Clear Channel began withdrawing rhythmic AC stations in various markets. My 106.1 became "Mix 106.1" on November 15, 2010, remaining a hot AC station. The Mix branding had been on WMWX (now WBEN-FM) prior to 2005.

By August 2011, WISX became the market's only hot adult contemporary after WPST in nearby Trenton, New Jersey flipped formats back to CHR. By March 2012, Philadelphia returned to having two hot AC stations following the flip of WSTW in Wilmington from CHR to Hot AC. In January 2017, WISX gained a competitor in WZMP, when it flipped from Top 40 to a more current, upbeat AC as "Today's 96.5" (though it would flip to Hot AC in March 2018).

Real 106.1[edit]

Logo as Real 106.1, 2017-2018

On June 29, 2017, at 10 a.m., after playing "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)" by Green Day, morning host Chio began a stunt wherein he played music from various genres that listeners requested via phone or text messaging. At the same time, all references to "Mix" were completely wiped from the station, leading to rumors of a format change. At noon the same day, WISX flipped back to rhythmic AC as "Real 106.1", with "Summertime" by Philadelphia duo DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince being the first song played. The flip returned the format itself to the market for the first time since WISX shifted to hot AC seven years prior. While "Real" had a classic hip-hop lean (to fill the void after WPHI-FM swapped frequencies with WPPZ and shifted to urban in September 2016), the station included some currents. In addition to the change, Chio continued as morning host, while Ryan Seacrest and Mario Lopez's syndicated shows were dropped.[7][8][9]

106.1 The Breeze[edit]

At Noon on November 9, 2018, after playing "End of the Road" by Boyz II Men, WISX began stunting with Christmas music, using the slogan "Philly's REAL Christmas Favorites". Various liners on WISX implied a new format would be coming after the holidays, as well as directing "Real" listeners to sister stations WUSL and WDAS-FM. Former morning host Chio (who had himself introduced the "Real" format) revealed on Twitter that he had left the station with the change, along with the rest of the air staff. [10]

On November 12th at Noon, WISX flipped to Soft Adult Contemporary as "106.1 The Breeze." The first song on "The Breeze" was "Me and Mrs. Jones" by Billy Paul, a native of North Philadelphia. The change returned the format to Philadelphia for the first time since WSNI dropped it in 2006, and also positioned the station as a new rival for WBEB, which had been acquired by Entercom the month prior.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "The Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia: WQAL". broadcastpioneers.com. Retrieved 2017-01-11.
  2. ^ "FCC 335-FM Digital Notification [WISX]". fcc.gov. Federal Communications Commission. December 23, 2015. Retrieved 2017-01-11.
  3. ^ "Smooth Jazz JJZ - 106.1 HD2 and on iHeartRadio". wjjz.iheart.com. Retrieved 2018-10-22.
  4. ^ http://www.americanradiohistory.com/Archive-RandR/1980s/1986/RR-1986-05-30.pdf
  5. ^ http://www.americanradiohistory.com/Archive-RandR/1980s/1987/RR-1987-03-20.pdf
  6. ^ "Eagle 106 WEGX becomes Smooth Jazz WJJZ". Archived from the original on October 22, 2013. Retrieved 2017-01-11.
  7. ^ WISX Philadelphia Gets Real With Throwbacks
  8. ^ Daily Domains 6/29: About To Get Real In Philly? What About The Stunts In Amarillo & Fort Collins?
  9. ^ Audio of Format Change to "Real"
  10. ^ WISX Really Stunting With Christmas Music Radioinsight - November 9, 2018
  11. ^ WISX Flips to Soft AC "106.1 The Breeze"

External links[edit]