|Broadcast area||Pittsburgh metropolitan area|
|Slogan||Pittsburgh's New HIT Country|
|Frequency||104.7 MHz (also on HD Radio)|
104.7-2 for WBGG (AM)
|First air date||1967 (as WYDD)|
|Callsign meaning||Pittsburgh’s Big|
|Former callsigns||WYDD (1967-1989)|
(Capstar TX LLC)
|Sister stations||WBGG, WDVE, WKST-FM, WWSW-FM, WXDX-FM|
WPGB is a country radio station based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Owned by iHeartMedia, the station broadcasts on 104.7 MHz with an ERP of 13 kW. Its studios are located in Green Tree, while its transmitter is located in Pittsburgh.
Beginnings at WPGH
Though the station first signed on the air as WYDD in 1967, its roots can be traced back to 1963 on 100.7 FM as WPGH and under the ownership of Gateway Broadcasting Enterprises, which also owned New Kensington-licensed AM station WKPA (now WMNY). 100.7 was also (and still is) licensed to New Kensington.
Gateway owner Nelson L. Goldberg was interested in acquiring an improved FM signal with Pittsburgh market penetration. That opportunity presented itself in 1967, when a channel opened up for 104.7. To acquire the new signal, Goldberg had to spin off WPGH, which was purchased by Milton Hammond and moved to Millvale, where it was rechristened as big-band formatted WNUF-FM. That station is known today as WBZZ.
104.7 adopted the WPGH call letters, but soon afterwards, the station changed to a full-time jazz format and changed its call letters to WYDD, for "the 'WYDE' world of Pittsburgh", using an elongated globe as its logo. A fragment of the jazz format remained as "Jazzz Impressions", a weekend specialty smooth jazz show that premiered in 1976. The station would then move to a more freeform, progressive, underground AOR format throughout the 1970's, which would then shift into a Top 40/CHR format in the early to late 1980's. Throughout their run as a Top 40/CHR, WYDD had iconic and legendary monikers like "104 WYDD", "104.7 WYDD", and "Power 104.7 WYDD".
The Stephen King book "Christine" (but not the movie of the same name) was set in a fictional suburb of Pittsburgh and mentioned both "WYDD" and its weekly "Block Party Weekend" multiple times. The "Block Party Weekend" was a playing of multiple songs by the same artist back-to-back.
On May 17, 1989, at 7:30 p.m., the station became known as "Energy 105", and brought about the call letter change to WNRJ. Before the changeover, the station manager at the time, Bob Hank, executed an early viral marketing plan by playing the song "What's On Your Mind (Pure Energy)" by Information Society non-stop in a loop for 25 1/2 hours — focusing on a repeat of the "Pure Energy" sample from Leonard Nimoy as Star Trek's Mr. Spock. The marketing stunt caused listeners to call emergency services concerned that some calamity befell the DJs and other station employees. Hank told reporters he was only trying to draw attention to the station's switch in format and new call letters. "We were just trying to draw a little bit of attention," Hank said. "We never dreamed it would go this far."
"Energy" was led by WABC radio legend and consultant Rick Sklar and WYDD Program Director Tony Florentino. Among the talent hired for "Energy" was New York City native Mike Frazer, who remained in Pittsburgh and has been a part of WWSW since 1990, and Columbus, Ohio nighttime radio legend Suzy Waud. The format was successful in terms of ratings, but quickly became too costly to maintain.
One of the chief competitors between Top 40 station WBZZ (then known as B94, now as KDKA-FM) and AOR-formatted WDVE, the station maintained a fairly consistent lineup until its sale to Salem Communications in 1989, ending more than two decades of local ownership.
Gateway Broadcasting Enterprises had initially agreed to sell WYDD and its sister station WKPA to Salem Communications in 1987, but legal complexities between the two companies delayed the finalization to the end of December 1989. While initially reporting that WNRJ would keep its format, Salem officials announced the following month that the station would switch to an easy listening format, an unusual move at a time when established easy-listening stations were migrating towards soft adult contemporary music.
The call letters were switched to WEZE, shared by Salem's co-owned AM station in Boston, and the easy-listening format was adopted on January 15, 1990, with the intent to switch from that format to Christian talk once the ministry contracts could be obtained. In April 1991, the studios were moved to Green Tree borough, located in Pittsburgh's South Hills, to Seven Parkway Center, Suite 625, one floor below WLTJ. The tower site was then moved later that same year from Murray Hill Road in East Deer Township (which was also half of WKPA's two-tower directional antenna array) to 750 Ivory Avenue, just off I-279 in Pittsburgh, the home of WPGH-TV. The much higher tower location allowed a power reduction to 13 kW, but a decades-long coverage problem for the southern suburbs of Pittsburgh was finally alleviated.
In October 1991, Salem Communications completed its intended format switch to Christian Talk, mirroring the format adopted by its co-owned stations, and adopting the call sign WORD-FM. This station continues today at 101.5 FM.
After years of negotiations, the opportunity to purchase heritage Christian stations WPIT & WPIT-FM finally presented itself to Salem Communications. Salem purchased the station in early 1993, and though now legally permitted to hold 104.7 (thanks to duopoly) in addition to WPIT & WPIT-FM, Salem chose to spin off 104.7 to Entercom, licensee of WDSY-FM and the former WEEP. WPIT & WPIT-FM's facilities were moved to Greentree, and 104.7's operations were moved to WPIT's longtime home in downtown Pittsburgh at Gateway Towers, where it was joined by WEEP and WDSY. Both stations would remain there for about five years, until all three stations were split off and sold to three different owners. Operations for 104.7 would move temporarily to One Allegheny Square in Pittsburgh, and then finally to 200 Fleet Street in Greentree.
After Entercom purchased the station, and after stunting briefly with a classic rock format, on February 2, 1993, 104.7 changed to country, branded as "104.7 The Rebel" WXRB. The station was to complement WDSY and WEEP, who targeted an older audience, while WXRB targeted a younger audience with its "Young Country" direction, which was very popular during that time due to a recent spike in country music listenership.
On August 29, 1995, after stunting for a few days with snippets of songs from random genres, as well as redirecting listeners to WDSY, 104.7 flipped to modern rock, branded as "The Revolution 104.7" WNRQ, after modern rock had proven to be the mainstream following its success in other markets. The first song on "The Revolution" was "Send Me on My Way" by Pittsburgh band Rusted Root. WNRQ was Pittsburgh's first modern rock station. The format would only last just shy of one year, due to the station being sold to Secret Communications, then-owner of WXDX, and who wanted to eliminate the overlap between the two stations.
On June 1, 1996, after playing "Killing in the Name" by Rage Against the Machine, 104.7 flipped again, this time to smooth jazz, branding as "Smooth Jazz 104.7" (with the WJJJ call letters instituted on June 28, 1996). The WJJJ call sign was an obvious nod to WJJZ (106.1 FM) in Philadelphia.
At 2 PM on May 24, 1999, the station flipped to urban oldies, branded as "Pittsburgh's Jammin' Oldies, 104.7 The Beat." The format was widely popular, though management skewed the format towards more current material to attract a broad audience; this didn't help, as the station's ratings began to sink. The station changed its slogan to "Pittsburgh's Jammin' Hits" in a half-hearted attempt to attract new listeners, and modified its format towards Urban AC in 2003 to compete against WAMO.
On January 2, 2004, the station flipped to a Talk format, branded as "NewsTalk 104.7". The current WPGB call letters took effect that day.
During its ten years as a talk station, for most of that time The War Room with Quinn and Rose, a show hosted by longtime Pittsburgh disc jockey Jim Quinn, was flagshipped at WPGB. Quinn was dismissed in a contract dispute in November 2013.
When WPGB was a talk station, its programming was fairly standard for a Clear Channel station of its type, a regional morning show (itself simulcast on several stations throughout northern Appalachia and New England), followed by Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, with Dave Ramsey and Andy Dean in the evening hours. From 6-8 p.m., Greg Henson hosted a sports talk show featuring interviews other local sports talk show hosts conducted earlier in the day on sister stations. Weekday newscasts were supplied by Cleveland station WTAM and Fox News Radio.
- Wall Street Journal in the Morning
- The Glenn Beck Program
- Rush Limbaugh
- The Sean Hannity Show
- Coast to Coast AM with George Noory
In addition, Glen Meakem hosted a program from 8-9:30am on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
In July 2014, rumors surfaced that 104.7 would soon flip back to country, possibly named 104.7 The Bull to match similar stations in Boston, Atlanta, St. Louis, Lexington, Portland, and Houston with the format and branding, following a decline of ratings from the previous November (when Quinn and Rose were still with the station), from a 4.1 rating to a 2.5 in the June 2014 Nielsen ratings.
On August 7, 2014, Clear Channel sold off the entire intellectual property unit of WPGB's talk format to Frank Iorio, who was taking over operations of WJAS. WJAS dropped their longtime adult standards format at noon that day and began a three-hour simulcast of WPGB-FM (the duration of The Rush Limbaugh Show). Both stations replaced all local commercial breaks with sweepers prompting listeners to move to WJAS, interspersed with a heart monitor sound effect. At 3 p.m., WPGB abruptly cut away from the top-of-the-hour newscast (fed from the Total Traffic Network facilities in Cleveland) and, after playing a few song snippets poking fun at the format change - notably "No More Words" by Berlin - debuted a country music format as "Big 104.7." The first song on "Big" was "This Is How We Roll" by Florida Georgia Line. The new station launched with 10,000 songs in a row, and will now compete with WDSY and WOGI for Steel City country listeners.
On April 25, 2006, Clear Channel announced that WPGB's HD2 subchannel will carry a smooth jazz music format, which was a previous station format under the call letters WJJJ. WPGB-HD2 currently airs a simulcast of sports-formatted WBGG 970 AM.
On September 12, 2006, Clear Channel and the Pittsburgh Pirates announced a five-year agreement in which WPGB would become the "new radio broadcast and strategic promotional partner of the Pirates beginning with the 2007 (Major League Baseball) season." WPGB was the Pirates' flagship radio station, having replaced KDKA, which broadcast the first Major League Baseball game on radio (between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Philadelphia Phillies) in 1921, and served as the Pirates' flagship station for 52 seasons (1955–2006). On July 6, 2010, the station was announced as the new home for the Duquesne Dukes men's basketball team.
- "BIG 104.7 - Pittsburgh's New HIT Country". Clear Channel Media and Entertainment. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
- "Vox Jox". Billboard. 107 (38): 118. 9 September 1995.
- "WPGB Pittsburgh Brings Big Country". RadioBB Networks. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
- WPGB Becomes Big 104.7
- Official website
- Press Release related to the Pittsburgh Pirates deal
- Clear Channel Pittsburgh Announces Partnership With Duquesne University
- Query the FCC's FM station database for WPGB
- Radio-Locator information on WPGB
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for WPGB