|City||Hackensack, New Jersey|
|Broadcast area||New York metropolitan area|
|Branding||AM 970, The Answer|
|Slogan||News. Opinion. Passion.|
|First air date||1926|
|Power||50,000 watts day|
5,000 watts night
|Callsign meaning||W New York Metro|
|Former callsigns||WKBD (1926)|
|Affiliations||Salem Radio Network|
Fox News Radio
|Owner||Salem Media Group |
(Salem Media of New York, LLC)
WNYM ("AM 970 The Answer") is an AM radio station licensed to Hackensack, New Jersey and serving the New York metropolitan area. The station is owned by Salem Media Group and programs a conservative talk radio format. Its studios are shared with co-owned WMCA (570 AM) in Lower Manhattan, and the transmitter is located in Hackensack.
WNYM airs most of the general-market slate of the Salem Radio Network, including Mike Gallagher, Dennis Prager, Michael Medved, Eric Metaxas, Hugh Hewitt and Larry Elder. Former Saturday Night Live cast member Joe Piscopo has hosted the station's morning program since January 2014.
The station is the New York City-area affiliate of IMG College-produced broadcasts of Syracuse University football and men's basketball; the flagship station of Seton Hall University men's basketball; and shares coverage of IMG-produced broadcasts of St. John's University men's basketball with WMCA. WNYM also airs ESPN Radio-produced NFL football and MLB baseball games that, due to programming conflicts, are unable to be broadcast by WEPN-FM.
Although FCC records list WNYM's "date first licensed" as August 1926, some station histories cite 1922 as its establishment date, reflecting a temporary broadcasting station operated during that year by founder Frank V. Bremer.
Bremer had extensive experience as a radio operator and pioneering broadcaster, starting with his amateur station, 2IA, located at his home at 3613 Boulevard in Jersey City, New Jersey. As part of his activities he is said to have hired out 2IA for $50 to the Jersey Journal for a one-hour New Year's program that began at 11:30 p.m. on December 31, 1921, for which the newspaper reportedly paid him $50. Ten days later a second newspaper, the Jersey Review, teamed up with Bremer to present a regular schedule of twice-weekly programs over 2IA.
Initially there were no formal standards in the United States for radio stations making transmissions intended for the general public, and numerous stations under various classifications made entertainment broadcasts. However, effective December 1, 1921, the Department of Commerce, regulators of radio at this time, adopted a regulation that formally created a broadcasting station category, and stations were now required to hold a Limited Commercial license authorizing operation on wavelengths of 360 meters (833 kHz) for "entertainment" broadcasts or 485 meters (619 kHz) for "market and weather reports".
In order to conform with the new requirements, the Jersey Review applied for and was issued a temporary broadcasting station authorization with the sequentially assigned call letters of WAAT, for operation on the 360 meter "entertainment" wavelength, with the station continuing to broadcast out of Bremer's home. The temporary authorization only listed two days of operation, April 16 and 19, 1922, however WAAT subsequently maintained a two-programs-a-week schedule for a number of months, finally ending the broadcasts in October.
Early years (1926 - 1970)
Bremer returned to the broadcasting airwaves four years later, with a new station licensed on August 19, 1926 to the Bremer Broadcasting Corporation in Jersey City, which was assigned the sequentially issued call letters WKBD. WKBD began a series of test transmissions in late August, initially broadcasting from Bremer's store at 210 Jackson Avenue. The next month Bremer was permitted to reclaim the call sign used in 1922, and the station was renamed WAAT. Its initial slogan was "The Voice At the Gate of the Golden State". A formal debut broadcast from studios at the Hotel Plaza in Jersey City was held on November 20, 1926.
WAAT began operations during a chaotic period when most government regulation had been suspended, and new stations were free to be set up with few restrictions, and could chose their own transmitting frequencies. Bremer initially squeezed WAAT onto the crowded New York area AM band using a non-standard frequency of 1275 kHz. Following the reestablishment of government control by the formation of the Federal Radio Commission, on May 3, 1927 the station was moved to a more traditional frequency of 1270 kHz, which a month later was changed to 1220 kHz. In November 1928, the station moved to 1070 kHz, which was followed by a switch to 940 kHz in April 1930. Effective March 1941, under the provisions of the North American Regional Broadcasting Agreement, stations on 940 kHz were reassigned to 970 kHz, which has been the station's frequency ever since. In 1943, WAAT's main studio location was changed from Jersey City to Newark, New Jersey.
In 1947 Bremer launched an FM adjunct, WAAT-FM (94.7, now WNSH), and the following year a sister television station, WATV, began broadcasts on channel 13. In 1951 the stations were sold to Irving Rosenhaus; WAAT evolved to a middle of the road music format by the 1950s, similar to what WNEW, WOR, and WCBS were doing at that time. WAAT later attempted a country music format, the first in the New York area.
In 1957 the WAAT/WATV operation was sold by Bremer to National Telefilm Associates, who changed the station's call letters to WNTA. National Telefilm split up its holdings in 1961, with WNTA-TV (now WNET) being sold to a New York City-based nonprofit educational group, and the WNTA radio stations going to Communications Industries Broadcasting. The new owners changed the calls to WJRZ and retained the MOR format until September 15, 1965, when WJRZ became the first radio station in the New York metro area to play a country music format 24 hours a day. WJRZ was the flagship radio outlet for the New York Mets from 1967 until 1971.
In 1968 the station established a new transmitter site in Hackensack, New Jersey, and changed its community of license from Newark to Hackensack. A serious fire destroyed its studios located in a house on Hackensack Avenue in North Hackensack on October 17, 1970; the station operated out of a prefab building near their transmitter site for a period of time afterward.
Top 40 years (1970 - 1974)
WJRZ was sold to Pacific and Southern Broadcasting (which merged with Combined Communications Corporation in 1974) on January 6, 1971 and the call letters were changed on May 16 of that year to WWDJ (known on the air as "97-DJ"), and the station attempted to take on WABC and replace WMCA as the New York market's second Top 40 outlet. For a brief time, program director Mark Driscoll began imaging the station as "9-J", giving rise to a recorded parody of the station called "Nine" produced by a group that included disk jockeys Howard Hoffman, Randy West, Pete Salant and Russ "Famous Amos" DiBello.
The station was hampered by a directional signal that covered Manhattan and parts of New Jersey well but suffered in the rest of the Five Boroughs and was virtually nonexistent on Long Island and western New Jersey. Eventually, FM competition from WCBS-FM and adult top 40 station WXLO (now WEPN-FM), and an evolution to adult Top 40 by WNBC (now WFAN), began to eat into WWDJ's ratings. In November 1973 it was ranked 15th in the Arbitron ratings.
Becoming a religious station (1974 - 1976)
By 1974, the station was losing money and unable to sell enough advertising. The studios were moved to the transmitter site. In the fall of 1973, the station began selling airtime to religious groups on weekends, which brought much-needed revenue for the station as it continued with Top 40 during weekdays into 1974. But as a result of the religious hours making money, WWDJ abruptly dropped the top 40 format on April 1, 1974, and switched to a religious format full time. Because the change took place on April Fool's Day, many listeners thought the switch was some sort of joke. Initially, WWDJ sold two-thirds of its daily airtime to outside ministries and played traditional Christian music the rest of the time, with the exception of a few hours on Saturdays devoted to a then-new genre, contemporary Christian music. WWDJ was sold to Communicom Corporation of America in April 1978, about a year before Combined Communications' merger into the Gannett Company in 1979.
CCM years (1976 - 1994)
By the late 1976 the music during the week was a mix of traditional and soft contemporary. By 1979, the music was adult contemporary Christian and evolved to contemporary Christian by 1982. The station still only played music part-time on weekdays and Saturdays. They continued with the contemporary Christian music/teaching/preaching format throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s, with Frank Reed (formerly of WNBC) handling mornings.
In 1994 WWDJ was sold to Salem Communications, which since 1989 has owned WMCA, initially retaining its studios on Main Street in Hackensack. As WMCA ran Christian talk and teaching, it was thought that WWDJ would move to music full-time with specialty Christian music programming on weekends. While this did not happen, WWDJ by the end of 1994 was playing music.
Later religious years (1995 - 2008)
In the fall of 1995, the station abruptly changed formats. The station's teaching programming expanded, with music cut back to morning and afternoon drive time hours on weekdays and Saturdays afternoons. Most of the announcers were laid off and the station revamped the format to a rhythmic Christian music format. This employed contemporary worship music, gospel music and light contemporary Christian songs. They positioned themselves as "The Sound of Praise and Celebration". George Flores was the only air-staffer retained and his afternoon show was pre-recorded. In 2002, local on-air personalities expanded Sylvia Lynn Pate and "Transitions with Sylvia Lynn" which was added to their weekday evening line-up. Sylvia was WWDJ's first African-American female official on-air talent.
This format continued until 2004, when the music was dropped and WWDJ moved to a Christian brokered format. Around this time, Pillar of Fire Church-owned WAWZ (99.1 FM) in Zarephath dropped all but a few religious programs to play contemporary Christian music 18 hours a day, and Salem picked up many of the bumped shows; this caused Salem to decide to air programming full-time on WWDJ. For about two years, the station billed itself "WMCA II" all the time, with the WWDJ call letters used only in the hourly station identification. The station's on-air identity reverted to "970 DJ" by 2007, but programming continued to be overflow programs from WMCA, as well as some syndicated mostly-secular personalities such as Laura Schlessinger and Kevin McCullough. They also broadcast infomercials and church services, as well as 30- and 60-minute religious shows.
Becoming a talk station (2008 - present)
On July 25, 2008, WWDJ swapped call signs with a sister station in the Boston area and briefly became WTTT. It stunted for several days with all-Frank Sinatra ("Frank 97 AM") programming, followed by a short stint of all-Pat Boone ("The Booner 970") music. On August 6, 2008 the station's call letters were changed to WNYM, a transfer of the call sign Salem had used on AM 1330 (now WWRV) since 1981. This change included adopting a conservative talk format and Fox News affiliation.
John R. Gambling hosted a midday show on WNYM from April 2014 until September 2016. The station shared New York City radio rights to the NHL's New York Islanders with Entercom-owned WFAN-AM-FM during the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons. The Islanders' broadcasts were produced by the team's flagship radio outlet, Hofstra University-owned WRHU in Hempstead. Beginning in 2018-19, Islanders radio coverage outside of Long Island is available exclusively through streaming, through Entercom-owned Radio.com and on the Islanders' and WRHU websites.
- "Joe Piscopo Joins AM 970 The Answer/New York For Mornings", February 26, 2014 (allaccess.com)
- "Salem Media of New York Welcomes Syracuse Sports", August 27, 2009. (mwnewsroom.com)
- "Gone But Not Forgotten" (cartoon), Radio News, July 1923, page 29.
- For example, in the 1949 edition of Broadcasting Yearbook, the station's "date established" entry lists "1926". However, beginning with the 1950 edition, this became "1922".
- The "2" in 2IA's call sign indicated that the station was located in the second Radio Inspection district, and the fact that the leading "I" fell in the range of A-W meant that it was operating under a standard amateur station license.
- "Jersey Journal New Year Greetings, by Wireless, Heard Country Over", Jersey (City) Journal, January 3, 1922, page 10. (earlyradiohistory.us)
- "Chronology of Milestones: Commercial Aspects", The first quarter-century of American Broadcasting by Edward P. J. Shurick, page 176. (This source incorrectly lists the station call sign as "WAAT", which would not be used until the following April. At this time Bremer was still operating as amateur station 2IA.)
- "WAAT, Jersey Review Claims Pioneer Honor" by Frank V. Bremer, Radio Digest, June 24, 1922, page 5. (americanradiohistory.com)
- "Miscellaneous: Amendments to Regulations", Radio Service Bulletin, January 3, 1922, page 10.
- "United States Temporary Broadcast Station Grants: 1922-1928" by Thomas H. White (earlyradiohistory.us)
- "Paper Broadcasts High Class Programme", Radio Dealer, July 1922, page 76.
- The combined 2IA/WAAT operations lasted for 10 months according to "Radio Station For Journal Sq.", Jersey (City) Journal, August 5, 1926, page 1.
- "Jersey City's Radio Station Has Successful First Test", Jersey Journal, August 30, 1926, page 11.
- "WAAT" (advertisement), Jersey (City) Journal, November 8, 1926, page 17.
- "New Stations: Broadcasting Stations" Radio Service Bulletin, August 31, 1926, page 3.
- "New Radio Station Gets Old Name", Jersey (City) Journal, September 11, 1926, page 1.
- "Alterations and Corrections: Broadcasting Stations", Radio Service Bulletin, September 30, 1926, page 8.
- "WAAT" (station entry), The Airwaves of New York: Illustrated Histories of 156 AM Stations in the Metropolitan Area, 1921-1996 by Bill Jaker, Frank Sulek and Peter Kanze, 1998, pages 24-27.
- "WAAT Gives Final Test Before Opening", Jersey (City) Journal, November 20, 1926, page 11.
- "List of broadcasting stations issued temporary permits", Radio Service Bulletin, April 30, 1927, page 9.
- "Broadcasting Stations Alphabetically by States and Cities" (effective June 15, 1927), Radio Service Bulletin, May 31, 1927, page 7.
- "Alterations and Corrections: Broadcasting Stations", Radio Service Bulletin, November 30, 1928, page 9.
- "Alterations and Corrections: Broadcasting Stations", Radio Service Bulletin, April 30, 1930, page 10.
- "WWDJ 970/WWRV 1330, Hackensack, NJ" by Scott Fybush, April 4, 2008. (fybush.com)
- "WAAT, WATV (TV) sold to NTA for $3.5 million", Broadcasting, October 7, 1957, pg. 9.
- "NTA Newark purchase gets FCC's approval", Broadcasting, April 7, 1958, pg. 64.
- "Changing Hands", Broadcasting, November 6, 1961, pg. 78.
- "For The Record: Call Letters Assigned", Broadcasting, April 2, 1962, pg. 129.
- "$13 million buys four radio stations", Broadcasting, January 11, 1971, pp. 23-24. (americanradiohistory.com)
- "The Jay Philpott Collection", which includes a section devoted to "Nine". Retrieved 2018-11-04. (reelradio.com)
- "In Brief", Broadcasting, April 3, 1978, pg. 38. (americanradiohistory.com)
- "Changing Hands", Broadcasting and Cable, April 25, 1994, pg. 38. (americanradiohistory.com)
- "Next Stunt For AM 970: All Pat Boone", August 5, 2008 (allaccess.com)
- "New York Gets More Talk", August 6, 2008 (allaccess.com)
- WFAN, WNYM/New York To Split Carriage Of New York Islanders Hockey, October 5, 2016 (allaccess.com)
- Official website
- Query the FCC's AM station database for WNYM
- Radio-Locator Information on WNYM
- Query Nielsen Audio's AM station database for WNYM
- FCC History Cards for WNYM (covering WAAT / WNTA / WJRZ / WWDJ from 1927-1981)