|Broadcast area||Delaware Valley|
|Slogan||Better Variety, Fewer Commercials|
|Frequency||96.5 MHz (also on HD Radio)
96.5 HD-2 for Dance, "Pulse"
|First air date||1944 (as WHAT-FM)|
|HAAT||528 meters (1108 ft)|
|Former callsigns||WHAT-FM (1944-1960s)
(sale to Entercom pending)
(CBS Radio Stations Inc.)
|Sister stations||KYW, WIP-FM, WOGL, WPHT, WXTU, KYW-TV, WPSG-TV|
WTDY-FM (96.5 MHz, "Today's 96.5") is a commercial FM radio station in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is owned by CBS Radio and airs an adult contemporary radio format. WTDY's studios and offices are located in Bala Cynwyd. Its transmitter is off Domino Lane in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia, a site where other local FM and TV towers are located.
The station first went on the air in 1944 as WHAT-FM and was simulcast with its AM sister station, 1340 WHAT. In 1956, a young disc jockey known as Sid Mark took the airwaves for the first time in Philadelphia on WHAT-AM-FM, beginning a multi-decade career. WHAT-FM became a full-time Jazz station in 1958, the first of its kind on the FM dial.
In the late 1960s, the call letters were changed to WWDB, referring to the brother and sister owners of the station, William and Dolly Banks. In the early 1970s, WWDB experimented with playing adult contemporary music, but eventually went back to jazz.
WWDB The Talk Station
In 1975, the station's format was changed to all talk, making WWDB became the first full-time talk station in the United States that was exclusively on the FM dial. On-air talk personalities included Irv Homer, Bernie McCain, Frank Ford and Bernie Herman. The station called itself "WWDB, The Talk Station." The station carried no syndicated shows, as is common today. Around the clock, all talk programming and news updates came from the WWDB staff. Meanwhile, the AM station, 1340 WHAT, continued as one of Philadelphia's leading stations aimed at the African-American community.
After her brother William died in 1979, Dolly Banks took over as General Manager. William Banks had no children, so several distant relatives filed lawsuits, fighting for ownership of WWDB and WHAT. In 1985, Dolly Banks retired after the African-American employees of sister station WHAT, along with the Black Media Caucus in Washington, D.C., sued the estate, receiving millions of dollars and forcing an estate sale of WWDB. The sale, which was overseen by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), required the stations to go to black ownership. WWDB was sold to Ragen Henry, a black Philadelphia attorney, for an undervalued amount of $6 million. Henry's law firm had worked for the Banks family. Irv Homer had to testify before the FCC.
In 1986, Charles Schwartz purchased WWDB from Ragan Henry and ran it under the name of Panache Broadcasting. In 1996, Mercury Broadcasting purchased WWDB-FM for $48 million. After having been all-local, WWDB, under Mercury ownership, added nationally syndicated personalities such as Rush Limbaugh and Dr. Laura.
96-5 The Point
Beasley Broadcasting of Florida purchased WWDB for $65 million from Mercury Broadcasting in 1999. The new owners at first said that the talk format would continue, but the high salaries earned by the veteran talk hosts became an expense the new owners did not want to pay. To earn extra money, the station began playing extended infomercials. After lawsuits filed by the Gay Alliance of Philadelphia, Beasley Broadcasting decided to change the format with no notice given ahead of time. On November 3, 2000, Beasley registered new call letters WPTP for the station. At 9 a.m. on November 6, the day before the U.S. Presidential Election, the station began stunting with a computer-generated countdown. At 5 p.m. that day, WWDB's format was changed to 1980s hits, known as "96-5 The Point." The first song was "Don't You (Forget About Me)" by Simple Minds. The buyout of the WWDB hosts' contracts is said to have cost Beasley $5 million. The WPTP call letters went into effect on November 22, 2000. WPTP shifted to Hot AC in early 2003. The Hot AC format would not last long, as the station continued to see low ratings. (WPTP's closest rival with the format, WMWX, also had low ratings during this time.)
Wild 96.5/Wired 96.5
On November 17, 2003, at 7:50 a.m., WPTP began stunting with Christmas music as "Snowy 96.5." At 5 p.m. that day, after a bit with morning host Paul Barsky, WPTP changed to rhythmic contemporary as "Wild 96.5", and changed call letters to WLDW. The station launched with "Get Low" by Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz. However, Clear Channel Communications (now iHeartMedia), owners of the copyrighted "Wild" moniker, threatened Beasley with a lawsuit for copyright infringement. To avoid this, in February 2004, WLDW became "Wired 96.5" and the call sign changed to WRDW-FM. (The -FM tag was necessary because of the existence of AM station WRDW in Augusta, Georgia, which is also owned by Beasley.) During its tenure as "Wired", the station would occasionally shift back and forth between Rhythmic and Mainstream Top 40, while still placing an emphasis on Rhythmic and Dance currents/recurrents, and avoiding most rock-leaning product.
On October 2, 2014, Beasley Broadcast Group announced that it would trade five radio stations located in Miami and Philadelphia (including WRDW-FM) to CBS Radio in exchange for 14 stations located in Tampa and Charlotte. Because CBS already owned two big AM stations in Philadelphia, Beasley would acquire AM 610 WIP, which today is WTEL. The swap was completed on December 1, 2014. Shortly after the trade was consummated, WRDW-FM shifted to a more Mainstream Top 40 sound, though still favoring Rhythmic and Dance currents/recurrents.
96.5 AMP Radio
During and after the trade, rumors abounded online that CBS would flip the station to all-news, this time as a simulcast of 1060 KYW. This was partially due to WRDW-FM's continued low ratings. In the February 2015 Philadelphia PPM ratings report, WRDW-FM held a 2.4 share of the market, as compared to direct competitor WIOQ's 4.1 share. In the spring of 2015, CBS registered domain names towards a possible rebranding as "96.5 AMP Radio," joining similar stations in New York, Detroit, Boston, Orlando and Los Angeles with the "AMP" name. On April 5, 2015, WRDW-FM began running without airstaff and promoting a significant change to come on April 10 at 5 PM. At that time, after playing "Motownphilly" by Boyz II Men, the rebrand to "AMP Radio" took place. The first song on "AMP" was "Get Low" by Dillon Francis and DJ Snake. The changeover also resulted in morning host Chunky and afternoon host/program director Buster being released. On April 20, 2015, WRDW-FM changed its call letters to WZMP to match the "AMP" moniker.
During its tenure as "AMP", the station's ratings improved, mostly to a low to mid-3 share of the market, but did not dethrone WIOQ. In the December 2016 Philadelphia PPM ratings report, WZMP held a 3.0 share as compared to WIOQ's 3.6 share. Around Christmas of 2016, morning host Jason Cage and afternoon host Mike Adam left the station.
During the last week of December 2016, and the first few days of January 2017, WZMP ran jockless, leading to rumors that the station will change formats. On January 5, at 10 a.m., after playing "Time of Our Lives" by Pitbull, the station flipped to Mainstream AC, branded as "Today's 96.5". The first song on "Today's 96.5" was "Raise Your Glass" by Doylestown native P!nk. The station is now in competition against market leader WBEB, and Hot-AC formatted WISX, and will complement classic hits-formatted sister station WOGL. On January 13, WZMP changed its call letters to WTDY-FM to better match the new format.
In 2007, WRDW added an HD-2 subchannel, carrying non-stop dance music under the moniker "Hot Wired." The music and imaging was similar to co-owned Miami rhythmic station WPOW's HD2 channel, now defunct. In 2012, the format changed to foreign language programming as "VDC Radio". In May 2013, Hot Wired returned to 96.5-HD2, while VDC moved to WXTU-HD3. "Hot Wired" was later renamed "WirEDM," referring to Electronic Dance Music (or "EDM"). In 2015, the WirEDM name was phased out with the rebranding to AMP Radio, with the HD2 channel rebranding as "Pulse." The HD2 format is mainly dance music from 2005-2012 with a few current songs in the mix.
WTDY-FM's signal can be heard as far north as Pottsville, Pennsylvania; Walnutport, Pennsylvania; Frackville, Pennsylvania and even Monmouth County, New Jersey and Maplewood, New Jersey. This is rather unusual, as WTDY-FM operates as a Class B station with an effective radiated power of 9600 watts from an antenna at 1108 feet height above average terrain.
- http://www.phillytalkradioonline.com/comment/gil_gross.html, Retrieved on 2009-03-12.
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VIXqF2hw1-A , Irv Homer
- CBS And Beasley Swap Philadelphia/Miami For Charlotte/Tampa from Radio Insight (October 2, 2014)
- "96.5 AMP Radio Debuts In Philadelphia" from Radio Insight (April 10, 2015)
- Wired 96.5 Becomes AMP Radio
- WZMP Philadelphia Flips to AC 'Today's 96.5'
- WTDY-FM's Website
- 96.5 Philadelphia Information
- Wired 96.5 YouTube Videos
- Query the FCC's FM station database for WTDY
- Radio-Locator information on WTDY
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for WTDY