|Broadcast area||Central New York|
|Frequency||89.1 MHz (HD Radio)|
|Owner||WJPZ Radio, Inc.|
First air date
|HAAT||37.0 meters (121.4 ft)|
|Webcast||Listen live (via iHeartRadio)|
WJPZ-FM is a radio station in Syracuse, New York. It broadcasts at 89.1 FM at an effective radiated power of 1,000 watts and can be heard throughout Syracuse, the rest of Onondaga County, and beyond to the north and east. WJPZ primarily programs a Top 40 (CHR) radio format. A notable amount of airtime during the academic year is devoted to sports talk and live play-by-play coverage of select local sporting events.
Although operated by students, it is an independent organization which is incorporated and licensed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as WJPZ Radio, Inc and leases studio and transmitter facilities on Syracuse University property. WJPZ broadcasts 14 hours of sports talk radio and provides game broadcasts for Central New York high school football, Syracuse Orange women's basketball, and Syracuse women's lacrosse.
WJPZ was founded by a group of Syracuse University students including Craig Fox and Bill Blyley in late 1972. The unlicenced station initially broadcast with a power of one-tenth of a watt, and played Top 40 hits at 1200 AM. The makeshift studio was located in the attic of a building at 100 Waverly Avenue, which housed a campus record store. According to one story, the WJPZ call letters were chosen because the students liked the call letter rhyme scheme for WABC in New York City, while Bill Blyley has maintained that the letters were chosen at random.
After construction of Newhouse 2 building in 1972, university-supported WAER radio moved into a brand new facility and discarded equipment that had been in use since 1946. These discarded turntables and parts were salvaged by Fox and Blyley. WAER was more academically focused and students wanting freedom to learn other aspects tuned in to WJPZ. In 1974, WJPZ relocated to the basement of 821 University Avenue (now the Sheraton Hotel). The station branded itself WJPZ 1200 ZRock “Non-Stop Rock,” playing a “tasteful blend of Top 40 music and popular album cuts” for a college-age audience 24 hours a day. However, the station was not a fully recognized student organization, and did not have a license because the station's low-power signal did not require one under Part 15 of the FCC’s rules. The university wanted a faculty advisor for the station and suggested Dr. Roosevelt “Rick” Wright Jr. Wright became the station's biggest champion and helped it grow into a successful student-run and operated operation.
In 1985, the station rebranded Z89 when it acquired an FM license and began broadcasting with 100 watts of effective radiated power. With WAER becoming a National Public Radio affiliate and becoming a "public radio" station, the Student Government Association encouraged WJPZ to move to the FM dial. At the time, it was the first and only student-owned and operated FM station in the country.
In the Fall of 1997, WJPZ was placed into receivership for several reasons, but it survived. In 2001, the station moved into a house off campus over on Ostrom Ave. and finally settled into the Menchel Media Center inside the Watson Hall in the Fall of 2001 where it is still housed.
On June 29, 2017, the station increased power to 1,000 watts.
Currently WJPZ broadcasts as part of Syracuse University's student media organization. The WJPZ Alumni Association organized events and curates a Hall of Fame wall.
Greatest Media Classroom & WJPZ at 50
In 2014, WJPZ alumnus Scott MacFarlane produced Greatest Media Classroom documentary film to chronicle the 40-year history of WJPZ. The film showcased the students' ambition and self-reliance in creating and running the station, as well as their ability to handle tragic events such as the Pan Am Flight 103 tragedy in 1988. It was commissioned by the WJPZ Alumni Association.
In 2023, a new podcast "WJPZ at 50" was created and produced by WJPZ to mark the station's 50th anniversary. It consists of 50 episodes. Hosted by Jon "JAG" Gay, a Class of 2002 alumnus, the podcast featured interviews with current and former staffers about their experiences at SU and the station. Notable guests included CBS News Correspondent Scott MacFarlane and ESPN Radio's Mike Couzens, as well as business owners and communicators from the radio industry.
- John JAG Gay (November 7, 2022). "Rick Wright's History of WJPZ (Radio Edit)". WJPZ at 50 (Podcast). Retrieved 6 March 2023.
- John JAG Gay (February 8, 2023). "Hall of Famer Bill Bleyle and Carol Mason, Class of 1976". WJPZ at 50 (Podcast). Event occurs at 19:15. Retrieved 6 March 2023.
- Speach, Amy (1 January 2014). "Traditions: WJPZ Radio". Syracuse University Magazine. Vol. 31, no. 1. pp. 52–53. Retrieved 18 March 2023.
- Herbert, Geoff (2 March 2023). "WJPZ: How a ragtag radio station 50 years ago became a Syracuse mainstay". Syracuse Post-Standard. Retrieved 3 March 2023.
- Herbert, Geoff (23 January 2020). "Syracuse radio legend Rick Wright out at Power 620 after iHeartMedia layoffs". syracuse.com. Retrieved 3 March 2023.
- Robinson, David (1985). "No. 2 Radio: FM Station on the Air". Syracuse Post-Standard. Retrieved 18 March 2023.
- "The University: News of campus programs and events". Syracuse University Magazine. 1 (2): 6–7. 1 January 1985. Retrieved 3 March 2023.
- John JAG Gay (January 20, 2023). "Back to Z89 (and Receivership) with Dena and Harry, Class of 1999". WJPZ at 50 (Podcast). Event occurs at 19:15. Retrieved 6 March 2023.
- John JAG Gay (January 27, 2023). "John Ferracane, Class of 2003, On the Ostrom House and More". WJPZ at 50 (Podcast). Event occurs at 19:15. Retrieved 6 March 2023.
- "WJPZ Hall of Fame – WJPZ Alumni Association". Retrieved 6 March 2023.
- "Greatest Media Classroom: The Story of WJPZ". greatestmediaclassroom.org. Retrieved 18 March 2023.
- Van Rheenen, Erik (26 February 2014). "Radio active: Alumni documentary delves into WJPZ's history". The Daily Orange. Retrieved 18 March 2023.
- "Syracuse University's 'Z89 Radio' Celebrates 50th Anniversary With Alumni Podcast". Inside Radio. December 2, 2022. Retrieved 18 March 2023.