|City of license||New York City, New York|
|Broadcast area||New York metropolitan area|
|Frequency||1560 kHz (also on HD Radio)|
|First air date||March 26, 1929
(as experimental TV station W2XR)
|Callsign meaning||Where Faith Means Everything|
|Former callsigns||W2XR (1929-1936)
|Former frequencies||2100 kHz (1929-1934)
1550 kHz (1934-1941)
|Affiliations||Radio Disney (1998-2015)
Family Radio (2015-present)
(Family Stations Inc.)
|Sister stations||WFME-FM, WNYJ-TV|
WFME (1560 AM) is a Religious formatted broadcast radio station licensed to New York City, serving the New York metropolitan area. The station is owned and operated by Family Radio. The WFME broadcast license is held by Family Stations Inc.
WFME has a transmitter power of 50,000 watts and is listed as a Clear-channel station. On some nights, WFME can be picked up loud and clear as far west as Cleveland, Ohio, and as far north as Ottawa, Canada.
John Hogan/Interstate Broadcasting ownership (1929-1944)
WFME began operations as W2XR, an experimental television station, owned by inventor John V. L. Hogan, operating at 2100 kHz, which went on the air on March 26, 1929. Hogan was a radio engineer who owned many patents, and wanted a permit for an experimental station. To avoid interference, the frequency granted in 1934 by the Federal Radio Commission was considerably above the normal broadcasting range, which at that time ended at 1500 kilocycles. Hogan's permit was one of four construction permits; the others, all granted on the same day, were W1XBS Waterbury and W9XBY Kansas City, both on 1530 kHz, and W6XAI Bakersfield, which shared 1550 kHz with W2XR. W2XR was licensed as an "experimental broadcast station" on June 29, 1934. But Hogan was also a connoisseur of music, and he drew on his own record collection to provide the sound for his experiments, which typically lasted for an hour in the evening. W2XR began to broadcast classical music recordings on 1550 kHz. His television broadcasts came to naught, but Hogan began to hear from unknown individuals who encouraged him to continue broadcasting music.
In 1936, Hogan and Elliott Sanger formed the Interstate Broadcasting Company, with the intention of turning W2XR into a commercial station at a time when there were already about twenty-five radio stations in New York. The transmitter, which used a homemade antenna mounted on a wooden pole, was located in a garage in Long Island City, near the Queensborough Bridge, and its 250 watts provided just enough power to reach midtown Manhattan and parts of Queens. On December 3, 1936, W2XR became WQXR—the cursive form of the letter "Q" mimics the number "2". An FM service, W2XQR, was added in 1939. The North American Radio Broadcasting Agreement of 1941 formally extended the AM band to 1600 kHz, ending the "high-fidelity" service but keeping all four original stations near their existing dial positions. WQXR was originally slated to move to 1600 kHz as a five-kilowatt class III-A regional station, but was able to persuade the FCC to make it a class I-B station on 1560 kHz instead.
The New York Times years (1944-2007)
The New York Post approached the company in the early 1940s about purchasing the stations. Sanger said publicly that he would have preferred to sell to The New York Times, and in early 1944, the Times agreed to pay just over $1 million for ownership of Interstate Broadcasting Company. A transfer application was filed with the FCC on March 1, 1944, including a financial statement showing that the stations had made over $22,000 in profits the previous year, on revenues of $411,000; after FCC approval, the sale was completed on July 25, 1944. (The Times continued to operate its radio stations under the Interstate Broadcasting name for many years, maintaining what its president called "basic good-music policies," but now uses the name The New York Times Radio Company.) It broadcast classical music full-time.
WQXR was the first AM station in New York to experiment with broadcasting in stereo, beginning in 1952. During some of its live concerts, it used two microphones positioned six feet apart. The microphone on the right led to its AM feed, and the one on the left to its FM feed, so a listener could position two radios six feet apart, one tuned to 1560 and the other to 96.3, and listen in stereo.
In 1964, there was controversy when its 11 PM program "Nightcap" was sponsored by Schenley Liquors. Advertising hard liquor was considered a violation of the voluntary NAB standards.
In 1965, the FCC began requiring commonly owned AM and FM stations in large markets to broadcast separate programming for at least part of the day. WQXR-FM concentrated on longer Classical works, while WQXR-AM aired lighter Classical music and talk programs produced in conjunction with The New York Times. While this plan gave Classical music fans in the New York area two options, it also increased expenses for the stations.
In 1971, the Times put WQXR-AM-FM up for sale. Many offers were received for the FM station, but none of the bids for 1560 AM were satisfactory to management. When the FCC agreed to waive rules prohibiting stations from simulcasting if they were broadcasting classical music, the Times took WQXR off the market. Simulcasting was also allowed, for example, for WGMS and WGMS-FM in Washington.
On December 2, 1992, the AM station broke away from the FM simulcast for good, changing to a pop standards format, which was inaugurated by a live studio performance by Tony Bennett. The change came a few months after WNEW announced an impending sale and a format switch from standards to business information with the new call letters WBBR. The format change at 1560 to standards happened 10 days before WNEW's transition. To reflect the WNEW heritage as well as the heritage of WQXR, the station changed its call sign to WQEW.
The station focused on pop standards artists including Frank Sinatra, Nat "King" Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, Patti Page, Johnny Mathis, Andy Williams, The Mills Brothers, The McGuire Sisters, Dean Martin, Perry Como, among many others. The station played big band artists in moderation such as Tommy Dorsey, Artie Shaw, Glenn Miller, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and others. The station also played a few baby boomer pop hits (some of which were soft rock) by artists like Bobby Vinton, The Beatles, Neil Diamond, Kenny Rogers, Elvis Presley, Barbra Streisand, as well as pop artists widely accepted by both the 50's rock and roll fans and the non rock and roll crowd like Connie Francis, Ray Charles, Bobby Darin, Brenda Lee, The Platters, Pat Boone, among others.
Although successful, the station's advertising revenues were not spectacular. On December 3, 1998, the Times announced that WQEW would be shut down right after Christmas and would be leased to Radio Disney after entering an 8-year local marketing agreement with The Walt Disney Company. While the station put out a press release announcing the change, the air staff was not allowed to discuss it on the air. The last day the air staff worked was on December 21, 1998. After that, the station continued the standards format with no announcers and played wall to wall Christmas music on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, resuming the regular standards format until December 27, 1998 at 11:59 p.m., when Stan Martin's pre-recorded signoff was played.
The Disney/ABC era (2007-2015)
At the end of the agreement with the Times in late 2006, Disney had the option to purchase the station or to extend the arrangement with the Times maintaining ownership. Disney exercised the option to purchase in early January 2007. Disney/ABC officially became the owner of the station on May 24, 2007.
On August 13, 2014, Disney put WQEW and twenty-two other Radio Disney stations up for sale, in order to focus more on digital distribution of the Radio Disney network. Disney originally planned to temporarily shut down the station on September 26, 2014. However, the station would remain on the air and continue carrying Radio Disney programming until it was sold.
Family Radio (2015-present)
On November 21, 2014, Radio Disney New York filed an application to sell WQEW to Family Radio, which also owns 106.3 WFME-FM in Westchester County, NY and Channel 66 WNYJ-TV, licensed to West Milford, New Jersey (and had previously owned what is now WNSH 94.7, licensed to Newark, New Jersey, which had carried the Family Radio format for more than four decades). The sale was originally reported by the Daily News on October 14, however, Disney had clarified that it had not yet agreed the sale. Family Radio bought the station for $12.95 million. The FCC granted the sale on February 10, 2015. As a result, the station went silent the following Tuesday on February 17, 2015, in anticipation of the change of format. The sale was "consummated" on February 20, 2015 and the call sign was changed to WFME.
The station returned to the air on February 27, 2015, broadcasting Family Radio programming, again giving the network full coverage of the New York City market that it lost in January 2013, when Family Radio sold the original WFME to Cumulus Media. Family Radio's FM outlets in the market - the current WFME-FM, as well as WFRH and WFRS, serves only suburban areas to the north and east of New York City, not covering the city itself.
- John Vincent Lawless Hogan
- List of experimental television stations
- Family Radio
- Radio Disney
- The New York Times
- "WFME Facility Record". Federal Communications Commission, audio division.
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- Ivan Veit, preface to Howard Taubman, The New York Times Guide to Listening Pleasure (NY: Macmillan and London: Collier-Macmillan, 1968), pp. ix-x.
- Ivan Veit, preface to Howard Taubman, The New York Times Guide to Listening Pleasure (NY: Macmillan and London: Collier-Macmillan, 1968), p. x.
- "Actions of the Federal Communications Commission". Broadcasting and Broadcast Advertising (Washington, D.C.: Broadcasting Publications, Inc.) 26 (10): 60. March 6, 1944.
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- Ivan Veit, preface to Howard Taubman, The New York Times Guide to Listening Pleasure (NY: Macmillan and London: Collier-Macmillan, 1968), p. xi. Veit defined good music as "any music that has lasting value . . . symphonies, concertos, chamber works, opera, of course; but also the best of the lighter forms, including operettas, Broadway show tunes, fold music, and the world of jazz."
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- Nuccio, Sal (June 23, 1964). "Advertising: Poll on Liquor Commercials". The New York Times. Retrieved February 20, 2015.
- Blumenthal, Ralph (December 2, 1998). "WQEW-AM: All Kids, All the Time". The New York Times. Retrieved July 28, 2014.
- Hinckley, David (January 13, 1999). "DISNEY ON THE DIAL NEW STATION WQEW BETS IT CAN WIN PRE-TEENS WITHOUT DRIVING THEIR PARENTS UP THE WALL". The New York Daily News. Retrieved July 28, 2014.
- North East Radio Watch
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- "Assignment of License". United States Federal Communications Commission, audio division. March 21, 2007. Retrieved July 20, 2015.
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- "NERW Extra: No Signoffs for Disney AMs". Northeast Radio Watch. Retrieved 27 September 2014. (subscription required)
- "APPLICATION FOR CONSENT TO ASSIGNMENT OF BROADCAST STATION CONSTRUCTION PERMIT OR LICENSE". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. November 21, 2014. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
- Hinckley, David (October 14, 2014). "Radio Disney to be sold to Christian network Family Radio: report". Daily News of New York. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
- Seyler, Dave (October 14, 2014). "False alarm on Radio Disney NY sale". Radio & Television Business Report. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
- Venta, Lance (February 27, 2015). "Family Radio Returns To New York". Radio Insight. Retrieved February 27, 2015.
- "Application Search Details". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved February 18, 2015.
- "NERW Extra: Disney Off in NYC". Northeast Radio Watch. Retrieved February 18, 2015.
- "Consummation Notice - WQEW". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. February 20, 2015. Retrieved February 23, 2015.
- "WFME Call Sign History". United States Federal Communications Commission, audio division.
- Jaker, Bill; Frank Sulek; Peter Kanze (1998). The Airwaves of New York: Illustrated Histories of 156 AM Stations in the Metropolitan Area, 1921–1996. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland and Company. pp. 169–172. ISBN 0-7864-0343-8. LCC TK6548.U6J35.
- Sanger, Elliot (1973). Rebel in Radio: The Story of WQXR. New York City: Hastings House. ISBN 0-240-50845-9. LCC HE8698.S33, paperback ISBN 0-8115-0016-0.
- Family Radio Webiste
- Query the FCC's AM station database for WFME
- Radio-Locator Information on WFME
- Query Nielsen Audio's AM station database for WFME
- WQXR News Department Profile & Interviews - 1978