|City of license||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania|
|Broadcast area||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania|
|Branding||"Talk Radio 1210 WPHT"|
|Frequency||1210 kHz (also on HD Radio)|
|Repeaters||WOGL 98.1-HD3 Philadelphia|
|First air date||May 1922|
|Callsign meaning||PHiladelphia's Talk|
|Former callsigns||WCAU (1922–1990)
|Affiliations||CBS Radio Network|
(CBS Radio East Inc.)
|Sister stations||KYW, KYW-TV, WIP-FM, WOGL, WPSG, WZMP, WXTU|
WPHT is a CBS Radio station in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, broadcasting on 1210 kHz. A 50,000-watt clear-channel station, it broadcasts in an omnidirectional pattern that allows it to cover most of the eastern half of North America at night. It uses the nickname "Talk Radio 1210 WPHT." The station is owned by CBS Radio. Its transmitter is located in Moorestown, New Jersey. WPHT's studios are located at 2 Bala Plaza in Bala Cynwyd, PA. WPHT is the flagship radio station of MLB's Philadelphia Phillies.
The station first began broadcasting in May 1922 as WCAU (as in Where Cheer Awaits U), a 250-watt station operating out of electrician William Durham's home on 19th and Market Streets. It is Philadelphia's third-oldest radio station, having signed on two months after WIP (now WTEL) and WFIL. In 1924, WCAU was sold to law partners Ike Levy and Daniel Murphy. Murphy later bowed out in favor of Ike's brother, Leon, a local dentist.
The station began its long association with CBS in 1927, when it was one of 16 charter affiliates of a network called the Columbia Phonographic Broadcasting System, airing the network's first program on September 18, 1927. The network struggled to find advertisers, however, and William S. Paley, who had previously purchased time on the station for an entertainment program promoting his family's La Palina cigars, bought the network with $500,000 of his family's money and renamed it the Columbia Broadcasting System.
Actor Paul Douglas began his career at WCAU, where he worked as an announcer and sportscaster from 1928 to 1934.
In 1930, WCAU initiated a parallel shortwave radio service, operating under the call sign W3XAU. It is believed that this was the first license issued by the FCC for a commercial international shortwave broadcast station. Initially W3XAU operated as a tandem relay for WCAU programming, but eventually prepared programming specifically for international listeners. W3XAU, later WCAI, then WCAB, was closed down in 1941 as CBS consolidated various shortwave operations. The 10 kW shortwave transmitter was disassembled, and WCAU staff told it was sent to England to aid the BBC war propaganda efforts. However, the transmitter was actually sent to Camp X, a secret World War II paramilitary and commando training facility located near Toronto, Ontario, Canada, becoming part of the Hydra signals intelligence and communications program.
A series of power increases brought the station to 50,000 watts, with a new 50,000-watt transmitter dedicated October 2, 1932. The Levy brothers eventually became major stockholders in CBS, and were members of the network's board for many years.
On December 26, 1932, WCAU moved to a new facility at 1622 Chestnut Street. A story in Broadcasting called it "a thoroughly modern 9-story building ... erected especially for the WCAU Broadcasting Co." The building included eight studios and "a special office for Leopold Stokowski, director of the Philadelphia Orchestra."
The Levys agreed to sell WCAU-AM-FM to The Philadelphia Record in 1946. However, the Record folded shortly thereafter, and its "goodwill"—including the rights to buy WCAU-AM-FM—passed to the Philadelphia Bulletin, which already owned WPEN-AM-FM, and had secured a construction permit for WPEN-TV (channel 10). In a complex deal, the Bulletin sold off WPEN and WCAU-FM, while changing WPEN-FM's calls to WCAU-FM and WPEN-TV's calls to WCAU-TV. The Levys continued to run the stations while serving as consultants to the Bulletin, and it was largely due to their influence that WCAU-TV took to the air on May 23, 1948 as a CBS affiliate. The stations moved to a new studio in Bala Cynwyd in 1952.
In 1957, the Bulletin sold WCAU-AM-FM-TV to CBS. This came because the Bulletin had recently bought WGBI-TV in Scranton, Pennsylvania and changed its call letters to WDAU-TV to complement WCAU. However, the two television stations' signals overlapped so much that it constituted a duopoly under Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules of the time. CBS had to get a waiver to keep its new Philadelphia cluster, however. In addition to significant overlap of the television stations' grade B signals, the FCC normally did not allow common ownership of clear channel stations with overlapping nighttime signals.
In the 1960s, WCAU gradually began moving away from music programming; by 1967 it had become a talk station with considerable strengths in news and sports (all of Philadelphia's major professional sports teams had WCAU as their flagship radio station at one time or another). Although the station's ratings were good, in the mid-1970s, CBS made a corporate decision to move WCAU to an all-news format. The station never caught up to established all-news outlet KYW, and by 1980, WCAU was making moves to reclaim its heritage as a talk and sports leader. However, FM talk station WWDB had established itself as a strong competitor, and WCAU struggled for years to attract listeners and establish a consistent image.
On August 15, 1990, CBS abruptly changed the WCAU call letters to WOGL after 68 years and dropped the talk format in favor of oldies, partially simulcast with its FM sister station, by then WOGL-FM. In 1993, the AM station began running sports talk after 7 PM. The station went all-sports as WGMP (The Game) on March 18, 1994. However, once again, 1210 was taking on an entrenched competitor—this time WIP—and WGMP's largely syndicated program lineup won few listeners away from WIP's heavily local schedule.
A year later, CBS merged with Westinghouse Electric Corporation, thus making 1210 AM a sister station to its ancient rival, KYW. With this move, the higher-rated KYW became the flagship station of CBS Radio's Philadelphia cluster. Realizing that WGMP would never be able to compete against WIP, CBS began phasing out the sports talk shows in the summer of 1996. Finally, on August 23, 1210 AM went all-talk once again as WPTS (We're Philadelphia's Talk Station). The call letters changed again less than a month later to the current WPHT to avoid confusion with nearby Trenton, New Jersey's WPST. Ironically, only a year later, WIP became a sister station to WPHT when CBS merged its owner, Infinity Broadcasting Corporation (at the time part of Viacom).
Radios at Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania and other nearby locations may pick up signal from KYW, whose tower is close by. This effect can be eliminated through grounding and detuning of the receivers, and is not "interference" since the problem is with the radios, and not WPHT.
Today, WPHT is a mostly conservative talk-radio station with a focus on issues local to the Delaware Valley. The weekday lineup includes Chris Stigall from 5:30am to 9am, Dom Giordano from 9am to Noon, Rush Limbaugh from Noon to 3pm, Rich Zeoli from 3pm to 6pm, Gary R'Nel from 6pm to 9pm and Sean Hannity from 9pm to Midnight, and Coast to Coast AM from Midnight to 5:30am.
On April 9, 2012, CBS announced that they would move The Michael Smerconish Show into the noon time slot held by Rush Limbaugh since the late 1990s. WPHT's contract to carry Limbaugh's program was nearing its end, and the show's distributor opted for a new deal with Merlin Broadcasting's WWIQ. WWIQ owned by Merlin was sold in late 2013 and Limbaugh's program returned to the air on October 28, 2013.
- Radio Digest, September 1927, quoted in: McLeod, Elizabeth (September 20, 2002). CBS—In the Beginning, History of American Broadcasting. Retrieved on 2007-01-01. The other stations were WOR in Newark; WADC in Akron; WAIU in Columbus; WCAO in Baltimore; WEAN in Providence; WFBL in Syracuse; WGHP in Detroit; WJAS in Pittsburgh; WKRC in Cincinnati; WMAK in Buffalo-Lockport; WMAQ in Chicago; WNAC in Boston; WOWO in Fort Wayne; KMOX in St. Louis; and KOIL in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
- "Endurance Record Set By Sponsor on WCAU" (PDF). Broadcasting. October 15, 1932. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
- "WCAU in New Home" (PDF). Broadcasting. January 1, 1933. Retrieved 7 October 2014.
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Cite error: The named reference
- WPHT Website
- Query the FCC's AM station database for WPHT
- Radio-Locator Information on WPHT
- Query Nielsen Audio's AM station database for WPHT
- FCC History Cards for WPHT