|City||Raleigh, North Carolina|
|Slogan||Today's Best Country|
94.7 MHz (also on HD Radio)|
94.7 HD-1: simulcast of WQDR
94.7 HD-2: simulcast of WPTK
94.7 HD-3: simulcast of WPTF
|First air date||August 1949 (as 94.5 WPTF-FM)|
|HAAT||512 meters (1680 ft)|
|Callsign meaning||QuaDraphonic Rock|
|Former frequencies||94.5 MHz (1949-1950)|
|Owner||Curtis Media Group|
|Sister stations||WKIX-FM, WBBB, WWPL, WQDR, WPTF, WPTK|
WQDR-FM (94.7 FM) is a commercial radio station in Raleigh, North Carolina, broadcasting to the Research Triangle, including the cities of Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Fayetteville, Rocky Mount, Wilson, and Goldsboro. "94-7 QDR" presents a country music radio format and is owned by the Curtis Media Group.
WQDR-FM's studios and offices are on Highwoods Boulevard in Raleigh. The transmitter is off Business Route 70 in Garner, on an antenna used by many Raleigh TV and FM stations. WQDR-FM is a Primary Entry Point (PEP) station for the Emergency Alert System. WQDR-FM broadcasts in the HD Radio format, with its HD-2 subchannel carrying the Soft Oldies programming of co-owned AM 850 WPTK. WQDR-FM's HD-3 subchannel airs the news/talk programming of AM 680 WPTF.
In August 1949, the Durham Life Insurance Company signed on WPTF-FM, then at 94.5 MHz. The station, which moved the following year to 94.7 MHz, transmitted from atop one of co-owned AM 680 WPTF's three towers in what is now Cary, near Interstate 40 East. Both stations had studios and offices in downtown Raleigh at 410 Salisbury Street. During its early years, WPTF-FM simulcast its sister station. In the 1960s and early 70s, WPTF-FM was separately programmed, airing a classical music format.
The creative force behind a change to a rock music format was Durham Life Broadcasting's then President and General Manager, Carl Venters. Venters, who succeeded Richard Mason in June 1972, believed quadraphonic (four channels versus the two channels of the dominant audio format, stereo) music, particularly rock music, to be the wave of the future for FM radio. The new call letters of WQDR were selected to match the phrase "quadraphonic rock".
Venters hired Lee Abrams, a 19-year-old broadcaster then working for ABC Radio's progressive rock station in Detroit, WRIF. Abrams' mission was to create an Album Rock format for the Raleigh radio market. Abrams' idea was that album sales should determine a rock station's playlist, with songs from the hottest selling LPs played the most often. Venters also appointed David Berry as station manager. David Sousa was hired as program director, having previously worked with Abrams at WMYQ in Miami. Abrams, Sousa, and Robert W. Walker (an associate of Abrams) created an Album Rock music playlist and a program structure that was later known as the "Superstars" format. WQDR became the first FM station in the nation using this guide.
The new format went on the air on December 26, 1972 at midnight. The last song on WPTF-FM was "Jingle Bell Rock", while the first on WQDR was "Bitch" by the Rolling Stones. Within a year the station had double-digit ratings. After that first year, the "Superstars" format was being used in over 30 markets around the country. Abrams teamed up with veteran consultant Kent Burkhart, and later helped develop music formats for XM Satellite Radio.
In its rock days, WQDR garnered some impressive listener ratings. Among the many memorable on-air personalities during the WQDR rock era were David Sousa, Frank Laseter, Mike Koste, Bill Hard, Jason Janulis, Roger Nelson, Bob Heymann, Steve Mitchell, Mark Silver, John Scott (John Chrystal), Chris Miller, Keith Wilson, Jim Huste, Sean Sizemore (Sean Scott), and Rad Messick. In later years, the air staff included Greg Wells, Jo Leigh Ferriss, Bob Kirk (Robert Kirk), Daniel Brunty, Tom Gongaware, Bob Walton, Rockin' Ron Phillips, Tom Guild, John Lisle, Steve Kahn, Tom Evans, Brian McFadden, Cabell Smith (who was previously WDBS's morning classical DJ), Bob Robinson, and Pat Patterson, who was hired for mornings in 1978 after years at crosstown Top-40 station WKIX. In 1981, WQDR's News Department won a Peabody Award for a series produced by News Director Gayle Rancer and Joan Siefert on Vietnam Vets, entitled "Our Forgotten Warriors." It was an accomplishment almost unheard of at the time for a rock-music radio station and a first for a North Carolina radio station. This extensive and comprehensive investigative news series also reeled in an Ohio State Award and other honors regionally and nationally.
In 1977, the Durham Life Broadcasting Company bought a local television station, Channel 28 WRDU-TV (now WRDC) in Durham. WQDR's transmitter joined Channel 28, renamed WPTF-TV, using a 1,200-foot (370 m) tower that stood off Penny Road in Apex.
Switch to Country
Despite continued success as a rock station into the 1980s, the Durham Life Broadcasting Company decided WQDR would have more success in the country music format. Venters left to form Voyager Communications group in 1982. In the summer of 1984, Durham Life Broadcasting, under Don Curtis' management, announced plans to switch WQDR's format to country in September. This predictably set off a howl of protest from listeners, and added media coverage for the station and its staffers. When Durham Life flipped WQDR to country music in early September 1984, several fired DJs and a number of off-air personnel re-appeared on 106.1 WRDU-FM (now WTKK), owned by Voyager Communications. WRDU-FM made the opposite switch, going from Country to Rock, on the same day as WQDR's format flip.
WQDR ended its run as a rock station exactly how it began 12 years earlier, closing out with "Bitch" by the Rolling Stones. The running joke at the time was that WQDR stood for "We Quit Doing Rock". WQDR, now playing country, and WRDU-FM playing rock, enjoyed ratings success in the following years.
WQDR's switch to country gave listeners in the Raleigh market the chance to hear their favorite country artists on a full-power FM station, broadcasting in stereo. Till the 80s, most country stations were on the AM band. In 1987, Durham Life moved the studios for WQDR and WPTF radio from Salisbury Street to a new broadcast center at 3012 Highwoods Boulevard in North Raleigh, where they were joined by WPTF-TV, which moved from studios on NC Highway 54 in Durham. On December 10, 1989, WPTF-TV, broadcasting from a 2,000-foot (610 m) antenna near Garner, lost its tower when it collapsed due to uneven ice thawing. WPTF-TV returned to its former tower in Apex, with WQDR, to be joined by 101.5 WRAL-FM, whose site on the WRAL-TV tower was also destroyed that same day. When WRAL-TV and WPTF-TV re-built a common tower at the Garner site, both radio stations soon moved there. Since that tower placement substantially increased WQDR's antenna height above average terrain, its effective radiated power was reduced to 95 kilowatts in order to conform to the FCC's "Class C" FM station parameters. In 1991, Durham Life divested its broadcast properties, with WQDR and sister AM station WPTF going to what is now the Curtis Media Group.
In 2017, the station's call sign changed from WQDR to WQDR-FM. The -FM suffix was added to the call letters to allow co-owned AM 570 WFNL to switch its call sign to WQDR. The AM station flipped to a classic country format, playing many of the past country hits made popular on 94.7 WQDR-FM years ago.
WQDR's morning radio team, dubbed "The Q Morning Crew," features Mike Wheless and Mike Raley. From 2004 to 2006 The Q Morning Crew also included the country singer Heather Green. After Green's exit, the show added broadcasting newbie Janie Carothers and Marty "The One Man Party" Young to the lineup. It is one of the most popular morning radio shows in the Raleigh media market.
Some of the notable radio announcers that used to work at the radio station included long-time employee and morning man Jay Butler, Donna Reed and Dan Robins. In January 2018, WQDR-FM listeners were saddened with the loss of Program Director and afternoon drive time personality Lisa McKay, who died at age 54. She fell ill during the Christmas holidays and tests confirmed she had bile duct cancer.
- "WQDR Facility Record". United States Federal Communications Commission, audio division.
- "WQDR Station Information Profile". Arbitron.
- "Broadcasting Yearbook 1950 page 228" (PDF).
- Broadcasting & Cable Yearbook 1985 page B-202
- "The Day The Music Died: WQDR 94.7 FM". candidslice.com. 20 September 2014. Retrieved 21 September 2014.
- "Broadcasting & Cable Yearbook 1992 page A-255" (PDF).
- Ranii, David (2011-10-17). "WQDR honored by Country Music Association". News & Observer. Retrieved 2011-10-27.
- Baysden, Chris (2011-02-08). "Curtis moves NASCAR from WQDR to WPTF". Triangle Business Journal. Retrieved 2011-02-09.
- "Listeners And Coworkers Mourn Loss Of WQDR's Lisa McKay". Insideradio.com. Retrieved 2018-04-08.
- Davis, Richard (January 1997). "Wake-up Man Does Stand-up Job as Farmer, Comic". North Carolina Farmer. pp. 10, 11.