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|Broadcast area||Philadelphia, PA|
|Branding||"News Talk 990"|
|First air date||1956|
|Power||Daytime: 50,000 watts
Nighttime: 10,000 watts
directional day & night
|Callsign meaning||W News Talk Philadelphia|
|Owner||Salem Media Group
(Pennsylvania Media Associates, Inc.)
WNTP 990 is a politically conservative talk radio station which serves the Philadelphia area. It is owned by Salem Communications, along with a number of similar channels in various markets. Some of those whose programs are run by WNTP include Michael Medved, Dennis Prager, Mike Gallagher, Mark Levin and Bill Bennett. Its studios and transmitter site are located in Lafayette Hill, Pennsylvania.
For many years, 990 was known as WIBG, and had great success in the ratings playing Top 40 music in the 1950s and early 1960s with popular hosts including Joe "The Rockin' Bird" Niagara, Hy Lit, Billy Wright Sr., Frank X. Feller, and others. The original call letters stood for "I Believe in God" for the station's original religious format when founded in the 1920s by St. Paul's Episcopal Church, though as "Wibbage", the call became best known for, and most associated with, rock 'n' roll programming.
In September 1966, WFIL moved to a Top 40 format and before long passed Wibbage (hampered by a poor suburban nighttime signal) in the ratings. WIBG soldiered on as a Top 40 station through most of the first half of the 1970s, including radio greats John Records Landecker, and Johnny "Long John" Wade, although they tried progressive rock for a time early in the decade. At mid-decade the station tried a more adult contemporary approach, with sports talk at night for a time and even one year (1976) as the flagship station for Philadelphia Phillies baseball. In 1977 management decided that the WIBG image was no longer an asset; after a highly publicized final week featuring many of the personalities from the station's peak years, the call letters were changed to WZZD.
The station began to call itself "The All New Wizzard 100", and adopted a heavily researched Top 40 format. Listeners did not respond, and the format was changed to disco, which did not fare much better. In 1980 the station was sold to Christian broadcaster Communicom, which began airing contemporary Christian music and Christian teaching and features similar to sister station (and another former top 40 station) 970 WWDJ in Hackensack, New Jersey. But by then, the call letters WIBG had already been reassigned and the WZZD calls was retained. WZZD played music about half the day and Christian programs and features during the other half of the day.
The WZZD antenna was redesigned in 1986 to reduce the number of towers and greatly improve coverage to the north and west, a change that if it had been made in the 1960s may have improved the success of WIBG in its battle with WFIL.
In 1994 Communicom sold WZZD to Salem Media. Under Salem WZZD kept the Christian music and teaching format initially. But by the late 1990s Music was cut back to a couple of hours a day. By 2002 WZZD ran nearly all teaching and almost no music at all.
In 2004 WZZD and WFIL's features and programs were merged onto WFIL as WZZD dropped the Christian format in favor of conservative news-talk, changing its call letters to WNTP. Beginning in 2006, WNTP became the flagship station for the Saint Joseph's University Hawks college basketball radio network, as well as airing college sports of Penn State University, Drexel University, and the University of Pennsylvania for the Philadelphia audience.
In 2007 WNTP again redesigned and modified its daytime antenna, which has even further improved its signal in the suburban counties of Pennsylvania.