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|Broadcast area||Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania|
|Branding||ESPN Deportes Lehigh Valley 1470 AM|
|Slogan||Allentown/Easton/Bethlehem's Spanish Sports Station!|
|First air date||May 24, 1923|
|Former callsigns||WYHM (9/11/06-4/2/07)
|Affiliations||ESPN Deportes Radio
Philadelphia Phillies Radio Network
(Capstar TX LLC)
|Sister stations||WAEB (AM), WAEB (FM), WZZO|
WSAN is an AM radio station licensed to Allentown, Pennsylvania, United States and serves the Lehigh Valley. The station, owned by iHeartMedia, Inc., broadcasts on 1470 kHz. It operates at 5000 watts, non-directional by day but using a directional antenna at night. Its studios and offices are in the iHeart Broadcasting Center in Whitehall Township and its transmitter is near the Whitehall Mall.
WSAN carries a Spanish-language sports radio format supplied by ESPN Deportes. It serves as the Lehigh Valley affiliate for Philadelphia Phillies radio broadcasts in English even though its regular programming is in Spanish.
AM 1470 history
AM 1470 began operation in May 24, 1923 with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) assigning it the call letters WCBA. Assabe and Sabina, a popular Pennsylvania German dialect radio program, was broadcast on the station from 1944 to 1955. They employed a popular music format. Through most of the 1970s, with the call letters WSAN, the station was a rare Progressive rock outlet on the AM dial, even though the format was found mostly on FM stations. (The call letters were chosen to echo pioneering FM progressive rock station KSAN in San Francisco.)
By the end of the 70s, WSAN switched to pop and disco, and toward the end of the decade to a country music format, until about 1980. At that time, it switched to a big band music/adult standards format called "Unforgettable". At that point, the station played the hits of the 1940s, early 1950s, and non-rock songs of the 1950s and 1960s, with a small amount of soft rock cuts from the 1960s and 1970s.
During the late 1970s, operating as WSAN, it played top 40 during the week, then on the weekend it ran a hard rock format (Black Sabbath, etc.) show in the late evening hours.
In 1983, still operating with the call letters WSAN, the station evolved into more of a popular music format under the catchphrase "Unforgettable II", and played soft hits of the 1950s through the 1980s. The station was family-owned for decades.
In spring 1985, rival station WXKW 104.1 dropped country music for a soft adult contemporary format. The station then became known as WAEB-FM. At the same time, WSAN dropped its adult contemporary format for country music and became 1470 WXKW.
In 1992, Holt Broadcasting, which owned the local stations 95.1 WZZO and 1320 WKAP, purchased WSAN. It maintained the country music format until 1993. The station then switched to a satellite oldies format when WKAP 1320 dropped it to return to easy listening. In 1996, Holt Broadcasting sold WZZO and 1470 WXKW to Capstar, which already owned WAEB and WAEB-FM. Holt kept 1320 AM, switched the station to a sports format and changed the call letters to WTKZ.
WKAP began operation on 1320 AM in 1948. The station employed a popular music format for many years. It was owned by Rahall Communications. In the 1950s, it opted to play mostly non rock music and some softer songs by rock and roll artists. This format was known as MOR, or Middle of the Road. Throughout the 1960s, it had a top-40 format, combined with relatively apolitical call-in shows. By 1970, the station evolved to more of an adult contemporary format. In 1972, WKAP decided to compete with the two Top 40 stations in the Lehigh Valley, WAEB 790, which played current music, and WEEX 1230, which played oldies music. WKAP's adult top 40 format emulated West Coast giant KCBQ in San Diego. Some of the original WKAP DJs were Kevin Fennessy, Walt Brown, Shotgun Steve Kelly, Mark Stewart, Kris Bailey, Billy Sheridan, and J. Robert Taylor. The station was known as WKAP Radio 13. The station was sold to Gulf Broadcasting in the late 1970s.
In September 1978, a local club DJ by the name of Mike Jacobs came up with an idea of broadcasting an entire evening of live music, commercial-free, from a local night club. The facility to be used was "The Castle Garden Ballroom" located in Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom in Allentown. The park's owners were Robert Plarr and Robert Ott. After extensive renovations, Castle Garden was opened in the fall of 1978. Crowds averaged about 300-450 per night, but the ballroom capacity was 2,000, so the owners and management were looking for a spark to drive the venue to bigger and better crowds. At the time, the radio station was an independent local AM station. The PD, Chris Bailey, the station manager Jerry Duckett, and the staff were very interested in the project, as it could help them in competition with their cross-town nemesis WAEB 790AM and add a possible ratings boost.
The idea was refined, and in January 1979, "Studio 13" debuted. It was broadcast Saturdays from 9:00 PM – 2:00 AM with DJ Mike Jacobs as the DJ/Host/MC. Bill Sheridan (now employed by Nassau Broadcasting) was the board technician. Pepsi-Cola came on board as the primary sponsor for the show. The station would insert voice-only commercials over the instrumental breaks in the music. The show opened with the Parliament's "Shit, Goddamn, Get Off Your Ass & Jam," followed by Bell & James' "Livin It Up". This resulted in an FCC Warning to the station that made the local news. The crowd was 600 people the first night. With the news coverage and word of mouth, Studio 13 averaged 2,000 people per night and could have done more had there not been a Fire Marshall's limit on the amount of people.
WKAP realized a ratings jump from 3.8 to 23.4 Saturday evenings from 9:00PM to midnight in a one- month period and maintained this throughout the summer, until the show's conclusion on Labor Day of 1979.
The management of Castle Garden invested in and shot a one-hour video pilot entitled Castle Garden that it attempted unsuccessfully to syndicate.
In the fall of 1979, at the Annual Billboard Disco Forum and Convention in New York City, Mike Jacobs received an honorable mention as "DJ of the Year" for the Philadelphia region and was invited to spin at the Roseland Ballroom during the convention. WKAP also fared well, being nominated for "Most Innovative Breakout Radio Show" for the year 1979, but lost out to WCAU-FM in Philadelphia.
Mike Jacobs continued in radio and clubs in the area, working at Sunny 1100 WGPA and 96.1 WLEV-FM until his retirement in 1997. Some of the other WKAP on-air personalities moved on to other outlets, such as Bill Sheridan to WKRZ in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania and 99 "The Hawk" WODE-FM in Easton, Pennsylvania, and Kris Bailey to AM 790 WAEB.
By 1980, WKAP evolved into more of an adult contemporary music format. At the end of the Summer 1982, WKAP changed to an adult standards format, which was known as "Music of Your Life". The station featured easy listening vocalists from the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, as well as big band music from the 1930s and 1940s. The station played a limited amount of non-rock songs from the 1970s.
The station stayed with this format through the 1980s. In 1984, Gulf Broadcasting sold WKAP to Holt Broadcasting, which at the time also owned WZZO. WKAP stayed with its standards music format, but added a bit more baby-boomer pop (songs by artists like Elvis Presley and The Beatles). In 1990, WKAP switched to a satellite-delivered oldies music format, playing mostly songs from 1964-1969 with some 1955-64 songs and a few 1970-73 songs mixed in. They continued with this format until 1992, at which time they returned to adult standards. This featured non-rock music as well as some soft rock music of the 1950s and 1960s, along with a small amount of 1940s hits and some soft hits form the 1970s. It was more of an easy listening based format than "Music Of Your Life". Their decision to abandon oldies music in 1992 was due to 99.9 FM WODE's adopting the format in late 1991.
In 1992, Holt Broadcasting also bought 1470 WXKW, which remained a country music station for another year. In 1993, the station switched to a satellite oldies format when 1320 flipped back to standards. Then, in 1996, Holt Broadcasting sold all of their stations except for AM 1320, which they made a sports station. Eventually AM 1320 was sold to Nassau Broadcasting Partners and today simulcasts WEEX. Capstar, which already owned WAEB-AM and WAEB-FM, then purchased 1470 AM and WZZO. The WKAP intellectual unit then moved from AM 1320 to AM 1470.
1470 WKAP used a Westwood One easy listening format, playing a blend of standards and soft oldies/adult contemporary songs. Capstar merged with Chancellor Media in 1999, making WKAP 1470 an AM/FM station. At the beginning of 2001, Clear Channel Communications merged with AM/FM. Federal regulations limited the number of Lehigh Valley stations Clear Channel could own. They opted to sell WEEX and WODE to Nassau Broadcasting Partners, and kept WAEB, WAEB-FM, WZZO, and WKAP.
In November 2001, a few days after Oldies 99.9 FM WODE switched to classic rock hits, WKAP switched back to playing oldies songs from 1955 to 1973. Many of the air staff on WKAP came from WODE when the formats of the two stations changed.
The station was very popular, as it was the only oldies music station in the Lehigh Valley, with music from the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s. This format aired very successfully for almost five years and its cessation left a programming gap in Lehigh Valley radio.
On September 11, 2006, WKAP ended its oldies format and adopted a Christian teaching and preaching format. With this change, the station was assigned the WYHM call letters.
The station was still a commercial radio station rather than non-commercial like many Christian outlets. Though owned by Clear Channel, the station was run similarly to how Christian network Salem Media runs its many Christian stations. Commercial blocks of time were sold to various Christian organizations. Morning and afternoon drive times were occupied by a blend of soft adult contemporary Christian songs, Gospel music, and rhythmic praise and worship music.
Some of the Christian programming included Focus On The Family, Insight For Living, Janet Parshall's America, Adventures In Odyssey, Money Matters, Turning Point, Back To The Bible, and other programming. Mornings were hosted by "Doug & Kim".
In March 2007, the short-lived experiment with the Christian Talk format ended. The call sign returned to WSAN and the station adopted a sports-talk format, affiliated with Fox Sports Radio. WSAN carries Phillies baseball nearly every evening from the beginning of April through the end of September. Syndicated personalities Mancow, Jim Rome and Phil Hendrie were carried on the station.
In a bow to its former existence as an oldies station, in the winter of 2007 WSAN dropped one of FOX Sports Radio's weekday morning programs in favor of a three-hour oldies music show.
On May 26, 2016, WSAN flipped from English-language sports to Spanish-language sports as "ESPN Deportes Lehigh Valley". While the station retains English language broadcasts of the Philadelphia Phillies, all other programming is in Spanish. The flip also provides the extra incentive for ESPN Deportes being able to count WSAN as a Philadelphia market clearance, as Allentown is embedded in the Philadelphia television market, one of two top 10 markets along with Washington DC where the network did not have an affiliate.