|Branding||WPKZ AM 1280 and 105.3 FM|
|Translator(s)||W287BT (105.3, Fitchburg)|
|First air date||October 6, 1941|
|Power||WPKZ: 5,000 watts daytime, 1,000 watts nighttime|
|ERP||W287BT: 150 watts|
|Former callsigns||WEIM (1941–2009)|
Fox News Radio
Fox Sports Radio
(K-Zone Media Group, LLC)
WPKZ (1280 AM) is a 5,000 watt radio station broadcasting a News Talk Information format and licensed to Fitchburg, Massachusetts, United States. The station is owned by John Morrison through licensee K-Zone Media Group, LLC, and features programming from Westwood One, Fox News Radio, Premiere Radio Networks, and Fox Sports Radio.
The station signed on in 1941 as WEIM, a general entertainment station with a variety of shows, ranging from dramas to talk to sports to popular music to news and information. By the mid 1950s, WEIM was primarily a popular music station, playing the hits of that time; also included in the stations' programming were sports and large amounts of local news. The station was sold to Knight Quality Stations in 1959.
With the advent of rock-and-roll music, WEIM evolved into a Top 40 station by the late 1950s, a format that would remain throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Some of the WEIM DJs in 1966/1967 included Russ Karon, Jerry Olin, Phil Dirkin, Gordy Sinclair, Dick Masterman and Joe Anthony as well as part-timer Jim Bohannon, now a nationally syndicated radio talk show host. During this period, WEIM's main competitor for the Top 40 audience was Boston's 1030/WBZ, which left the format in 1968. In 1969, WEIM, facing competition from new Boston area Top 40 stations 680/WRKO and 105.7/WKOX-FM (now WROR-FM), streamlined their sound, becoming a much hipper-sounding Top 40 station, with the addition of DJs Jim Conlee, Mike Ivers, Dan Gifford, and Gil Lawrence, as well as adding a progressive rock hour, late at night. The station sounded far more professional, than what one would expect in a market the size of Fitchburg-Leominster Leominster. During this era, the station was known as "Fitchburg's Famous" and "The Famous 1280".
In the 1970s, WEIM continued to be well known as a Top 40 station with personalities such as "Ray C", "Jack Raymond", "Floyd Wright", Rick Williams, John Driscoll, P.J. Scott, Don Russell, Gary Berkowitz, known as Dave Gary and Jay Richards... many of whom went on to stations in larger markets. Additionally, the station had its music tracked by national publications (such as Radio and Records), giving the station an impact much greater than its size would dictate. By the early 1980s, WEIM had evolved into more of a Hot Adult Contemporary format, with oldies mixed in on weekends; nevertheless, current music remained a significant part of the station's programming. Although as a local radio station WEIM had aired local sports programming from the 1970s onward (including Joe White and "Sportstalk") it added more sports programming in the 1980s as well.
In 1987, Knight Quality Stations sold WEIM to its longtime general manager, Frank Fillipone. It continued as a Hot Adult Contemporary station into the 1990s. More specialty shows, such as evening sports talk, local community focus programs, more professional sports, and news specials were added on weekends but the station continued to be relatively music-intensive. By the mid 1990s, WEIM evolved into more of a mainstream adult contemporary format, and became more gold-based by the late 1990s.
In 2001, Fillipone's WEIM Corp. sold to David Wang's LiveAir Communications, Inc. LiveAir changed format to News/Talk/Sports and began 24-hour programming, airing local, regional, and national talk. LiveAir sold the station in 2005 to Central Broadcasting Company, who returned music programming to the station, and relaunched it as "AM 1280 The Blend" on October 2, 2006.
In 2007, longtime morning host Ray Chalifoux ("Ray C") concluded an over-30-year full-time run with the station. "Ray C" began a part-time stint as Public Service Director and co-host of the Saturday morning program Smart Shopper which he did from 2007 until his death on March 13, 2016. In November 2007, the station began airing a Spanish tropical format during the evening hours, branded "Mega 1280".
On April 6, 2009, after nearly 68 years as WEIM, the call sign was changed to WPKZ in anticipation of its new FM translator which went on the air March 28, 2010 on a frequency of 105.3 FM. The station remains mostly a news and talk station, with some sports programming. The station also discontinued its music programming (including the nighttime Spanish tropical format), with Fox Sports Radio being broadcast in the evening hours, except when professional sports run. WPKZ became one of several radio stations in New England to carry the New York Yankees in 2012; it had previously carried the Boston Red Sox for 45 years, but Entercom, owner of Red Sox flagship station WEEI, did not offer a renewal of WPKZ's contract. However, the Red Sox returned to the station the following season. An ownership change occurred in August 2015 when the station was purchased by an entity headed by John Morrison, a local businessman and owner of local baseball team the Wachusett Dirt Dawgs.
|City of license||ERP
- Broadcasting & Cable Yearbook 1999 (PDF). 1999. p. D-210. Retrieved March 3, 2012.
- Fybush, Scott (October 2, 2006). "Liu Moves Into TV Arena". NorthEast Radio Watch. Retrieved June 2, 2009.
- Fybush, Scott (November 26, 2007). "Entercom/CBS Deal Gets FCC Blessing". NorthEast Radio Watch. Retrieved June 2, 2009.
- "New Radio Station for Central New England". Leominster Champion. April 24, 2009. Retrieved June 2, 2009.
- Hartwell, Michael (March 2, 2012). "SAY IT AIN'T SO! Fitchburg station swaps Red Sox for pinstripes". Sentinel & Enterprise. Retrieved March 3, 2012.
- Fybush, Scott (November 30, 2009). "WGBH Readies Radio Switch". NorthEast Radio Watch. Retrieved February 13, 2017.
- WPKZ data
- Query the FCC's AM station database for WPKZ
- Radio-Locator Information on WPKZ
- Query Nielsen Audio's AM station database for WPKZ
- FCC History Cards for WPKZ
- Translator data