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|City||New Castle, Pennsylvania|
|Broadcast area||Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania|
|Branding||ESPN Radio 1280 WJST|
|First air date||August 25, 1968 (as WBZY at 1140)|
|Power||4,900 watts day
1,000 watts night
|Callsign meaning||previously used for the former WKST-FM, now WKPL; a mimick of sister station WKST|
|Former callsigns||WBZY (1968-1999)
|Former frequencies||1140 kHz (1968-1982)
1200 kHz (1982-2004)
|Affiliations||AP Radio, ESPN Radio|
|Owner||Forever Broadcasting, LLC|
WJST (1280 AM) is a radio station broadcasting a sports radio format as a Fox Sports Radio affiliate. Licensed to New Castle, Pennsylvania, United States, it serves the Pittsburgh area. The station is currently owned by Forever Broadcasting, LLC.
Beginnings as WBZY AM 1140
The history of the current WJST can be traced back to the late 1960s. The station, known then as WBZY, signed on for the very first time August 25, 1968 from studios in the First National Bank building on Mill Street in downtown New Castle. Under the ownership of Lawrence County Broadcasting Corporation, Robert Purcell served as company president and Robert Jolly served as station general manager.
WBZY began as a head-on competitor to WKST, which had already been on the air for thirty years at the time. One big difference between the two, however, was that WBZY, while operating as a strictly daytime-only operation, operated at a power of 5,000 watts from the time of its inception, while WKST operated at only a thousand at that time. WBZY at that time operated at the frequency of 1140 kHz, and had to sign-off at sundown in order to protect the clear channel WRVA, which also operated on this same frequency. Transmitter facilities were located five miles southwest of downtown New Castle near Vance and Gilmore Roads in North Beaver Township.
In 1972, WBZY moved its studios to Kennedy Square West in downtown New Castle, about three blocks west of its original location.
Move to 1200 kHz and First Sale
In the early 1980s, WBZY was granted permission to move its frequency from 1140 to 1200 kHz. With the move came the addition of nighttime power, and the elimination of a directional antenna pattern operation during the daytime. However, the station would revert to directional antenna operation at night, and was required to reduce its power to a thousand watts. However, the changeover would not take place until 1987, as WBZY was sold in December 1986 by Lawrence County Broadcasting Corp. to a partnership called WBZY Radio Sam (the "Sam" representing the surname initials of partners Samuel M. Shirey, William G. Andrews and Robert L. McCracken, who served as general manager under the previous owner beginning in 1982).
After the sale was completed, the move from 1140 to 1200 took place. Concurrently with the frequency swap came another studio move, this time to 1906 Wilmington Road (PA 18).
Second Sale and Move from 1200 to 1280
Clear Channel, which also owned WKST, recognized the superiority of WBZY's signal to that of WKST, and switched the call signs in November 1999. The calls of WKST-FM were changed to WJST on October 10, 2000, and WKST-FM call sign was moved to Pittsburgh where it could be used with Clear Channel's KISS-FM brand.
In April 2004, Clear Channel announced the sale of WKST along with WBZY and to Forever Broadcasting for $2.85 million , while WJST-FM and Grove City-based WICT was sold to Keymarket Communications of Pittsburgh, best known for the Froggy country music brand.
On September 20, 2004, the WJST call sign was moved to 1280 AM. WJST-FM became WKPL, playing an oldies format under the name "Pickle 92.1" (WICT, which already was a country station as "95.1 The Cat", changed its call sign to WWGY and was converted to the Froggy format), while WJST 1280 temporarily continued the adult contemporary music format from WJST-FM as "Star 1280" instead of "Star 92.1", before itself converting to an oldies format (unrelated to WKPL) as "Just Oldies 1280".
In January 2009, the station switched to sports talk as an affiliate to Fox Sports Radio, joining fellow Fox Sports Radio station WBGG in Pittsburgh and going under the name "Fox Sports Radio 1280 WJST". It was at this point that the station became home to Penguins hockey and Pirates baseball. Various Penn State sports broadcasts take place on WJST as do many local high school football and basketball games. Local news coverage continues to be provided by Wade Sutton, who has handled news duties dating back to 1996 when the station was still using the WBZY call sign. On June 1, 2015, WJST became an affiliate of ESPN Radio.