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WBAL (AM) logo.png
City Baltimore, Maryland
Broadcast area Baltimore metropolitan area
Branding Analog/HD1: "98 Rock"
HD2: "NewsRadio 1090 WBAL"
Slogan Baltimore's Rock Radio
Frequency 97.9 MHz
(also on HD Radio)
First air date December 7, 1958[1]
Format Analog/HD1: Mainstream Rock
HD2: News/Talk (WBAL simulcast)
ERP 13,500 watts (analog)
270 watts (digital)[2]
HAAT 288 meters
Class B
Facility ID 65693
Former callsigns WFDS-FM (1958–1960)
WBAL-FM (1960–1977)
Owner Hearst Corporation
Sister stations WBAL, WBAL-TV
Webcast 98 Rock Webstream
WBAL AM Webstream (HD2)
Website 98online.com
wbal.com (HD2)

WIYY (97.9 FM, "98 Rock") is a commercial FM radio station licensed to serve Baltimore, Maryland. The station is owned by the Hearst Corporation and broadcasts a mainstream rock format. WIYY shares a studio/office facility with sister stations WBAL (1090 AM) and WBAL-TV (channel 11) on Television Hill in the Woodberry section of Baltimore, near the transmission tower it shares with WBAL-TV. WIYY and WBAL are the only two radio stations owned by the Hearst Corporation.

WIYY uses HD Radio, and simulcasts the News/Talk programming of sister station WBAL on its HD2 subchannel.


Logo for the station's former HD2 format which ended in late August, 2014.
Logo for the station's former HD3 format which ended in late August, 2014.

The 97.9 frequency in Baltimore began in January 1948 as WMAR-FM,[3] owned by the A.S. Abell Company, publishers of the Baltimore Sun and founders of WMAR-TV, Baltimore's first television station. The first station to use those call letters (and not related to the second WMAR-FM at 106.5, now WWMX), WMAR-FM was a collaborative partner of Transit Rides Inc., developer of a music format designed for public transportation and owned by the Cincinnati-based Taft family.[4] After two years on the air, Abell shut down the radio station in June 1950 and turned in its license to the Federal Communications Commission.[5]

The 97.9 frequency remained silent until December 1958 when it was reborn as WFDS-FM,[6] a classical music outlet under the ownership of William S. Cook, a Baltimore native and professional engineer.[7] Cook created WFDS-FM as one of the first radio stations in the United States to experiment with stereo.[8] The Hearst Corporation purchased the station in April 1960 and retained classical music while renaming it WBAL-FM.[9][10]

In June 1975 WBAL-FM joined NBC Radio Network's 24-hour national "News and Information Service" (NIS), and was the largest affiliate of NIS not to be an NBC Radio owned-and-operated station.[11] After two years of all-news and low ratings, NBC closed down NIS in late May 1977. But WBAL-FM bailed on the service early, adopting its present elements—the call letters WIYY,[12] rock music format and the "98 Rock" brand—on March 28, 1977.

WIYY (along with WBAL) is the co-flagship station of the Baltimore Ravens and during the NFL Season the station broadcasts every Ravens game. Joe Robinson hosts the "Ravens' Last Call" Sunday post-game show.

On their website, 98Rock offers podcasts of portions of its talk shows as well as their weekly special interest shows: Spiegel's News Countdown, The Rough House Podcast, Dork Dynasty, and Geekin' Madness. 98Rock has also added a simulcast of News/Talk 1090 WBAL on HD2.


In 2007, the station was nominated for the Radio & Records magazine Active Rock station of the year in a top 25 market award . Other nominees included WAAF in Boston, KBPI in Denver, WRIF in Detroit, WMMR in Philadelphia, and KISW in Seattle.[13] WIYY was a nominee for the 2012 "Major Market Radio Station of the Year" RadioContraband Rock Radio Award.


  1. ^ 1960 Broadcasting Yearbook, page A-163
  2. ^ "APPLICATION FOR RENEWAL OF BROADCAST STATION LICENSE, Attachment 15: RF Study". fcc.gov. Federal Communications Commission. January 29, 2011. Retrieved 2017-02-22. 
  3. ^ "Directory of FM broadcasting stations of the United States: Maryland-Baltimore" (PDF). Broadcasting - Telecasting Yearbook. Washington, D.C.: Broadcasting Publications, Inc.: 305 1949. Retrieved 2013-03-18. 
  4. ^ "Bus rides to music: Multi-million FM advertising potential." Broadcasting - Telecasting, February 23, 1948, pg. 17.
  5. ^ "WMAR-FM quits; WAAM (TV) also drops FM." Broadcasting - Telecasting, May 29, 1950, pg. 28.
  6. ^ "Radio stations: Maryland-Baltimore" (PDF). Broadcasting Yearbook. Washington, D.C.: Broadcasting Publications, Inc.: B–164 1959. Retrieved 2013-03-18. 
  7. ^ "For the Record: New FM stations." Broadcasting, October 28, 1957, pg. 114.
  8. ^ About Audiophonic, retrieved 2013-03-18 
  9. ^ "For the Record: Existing FM stations-New call letters assigned." Broadcasting, March 21, 1960, pg. 104.
  10. ^ "Pleased beginning." Broadcasting, April 25, 1960, pg. 49.
  11. ^ "NBC news radio goes to O&Os in major cities." Broadcasting, April 21, 1975, pp. 46-47. [1][permanent dead link][2][permanent dead link]
  12. ^ "For the Record: Call letters-Grants-Existing FMs." Broadcasting, April 4, 1977, pg. 92.
  13. ^ "2007 Industry Achievement Awards". Radio and Records. September 28, 2008. 

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