|Broadcast area||Chattanooga, Tennessee|
|Slogan||Chattanooga's Greatest Hits|
|Frequency||95.3 MHz (also on HD Radio)|
|Translator(s)||106.9 W295BI (Chattanooga, relays HD2)|
|First air date||1980 (as WQNE)|
HD2: Oldies "106.9 The Big Easy"
|Callsign meaning||PLZ = PuLse News (former format)|
|Former callsigns||WQNE (1980-1983)
(J. L. Brewer Broadcasting of Cleveland, LLC)
|Sister stations||WALV, WJTT, WMPZ|
Listen Live (HD2)
WPLZ (95.3 FM) is a classic hits formatted radio station licensed to Ooltewah, Tennessee, USA, and serves the Chattanooga area. The station is currently owned by J. L. Brewer Broadcasting of Cleveland, LLC.
The station carried the Jack FM format ("Playing what we want") until May 1, 2009, when it switched to News/Talk using the name "Pulse News", with the Jack FM format relocating to WSAA 93.1. The station was launched as a companion to the Brewer Media-owned alternative weekly newspaper The Chattanooga Pulse and featured longtime radio hosts Dale Deason in the morning and Zach Cooper (who is also the Publisher for the Chattanooga Pulse) in afternoons in its lineup. Former WRCB-TV reporter Louis Lee served as News Director for the entire run of the station.
A year after launching, WPLZ separated itself from the Chattanooga Pulse editorially and changed its slogan to "News Talk 95.3 WPLZ". Among the many hosts who worked on air at the station were Jay "The Jammer" Scott, Bobby Byrd, Max Hackett, Ed Ramsey, Logan Carmichael, Stuart James, and Gary Poole. Among the main syndicated shows carried included Glenn Beck, Clark Howard, Dennis Miller, Jason Lewis, and Phil Hendrie. The station had news affiliations with both Fox News Radio and the Associated Press.
The news department won two Edward R. Murrow awards for its longform coverage of gang issues, and received several honorable mentions for news reporting from the Associated Press. Among the reporters and anchors who worked at the station were Jeremy Lawrence, Misty Brandon, Lysa Greer, Chris Peddie, and Mike Chambers.
In March 2011, Jim Brewer II, station owner, revamped the lineup with Gary Poole and Louis Lee in morning drive, former WGOW-FM host Robert T. Nash in early afternoons and WRCB-TV's David Karnes in afternoon drive. While the station started to show some modest ratings growth, Brewer felt that it wasn't growing fast enough to justify the expense, citing economics and inability to compete with Clear Channel Communications and Cumulus Broadcasting as the reason. In light of that, the station decided to let the entire staff go effective December 23, 2011.
On June 1, 2015 WPLZ and WPLZ-HD2/W295BI swapped formats—the "Cat Country" format moved to WPLZ-HD2 and W295BI 106.9, while WPLZ's main 95.3 frequency switched to classic hits, branded as "Big 95.3". "Cat Country 106.9" lasted just over 5 months, as the station began playing Christmas music on November 2, 2015 as "Santa 106.9". On December 28th, WPLZ-HD2 and W295BI flipped to oldies as a spinoff from Big, "106.9 The Big Easy", playing hits from the 50s to 70s.
- "WHJK Facility Record". United States Federal Communications Commission, audio division.
- Brewer Broadcasting
- Chattanooga Times Free Press: "Radio station WPLZ to drop news-talk format after three years", December 17, 2011
- Chattanooga Times Free Press: "WPLZ-FM radio adopts country format", January 4, 2012.
- Cat Country Moves to 106.9
- Classic Hits Moves Up While Country Moves Down in Chattanooga from Radio Insight (June 1, 2015)