|City||WEEX: Easton, Pennsylvania
WTKZ: Allentown, Pennsylvania
|Broadcast area||Lehigh Valley|
|Branding||ESPN 1230 & 1320|
|Slogan||Lehigh Valley Sports Radio|
|Frequency||WEEX: 1230 kHz
WTKZ: 1320 kHz
|First air date||WEEX: May 1956
WTKZ: 1948 (as WKAP)
|Power||WEEX: 840 watts day
1,000 watts night
WTKZ: 750 watts day
195 watts night
|Facility ID||WEEX: 8596
|Callsign meaning||WEEX: Easton EXpress
WTKZ: TKZ = Talks (formerly a talk radio station)
New York Giants Radio Network
IronPigs Baseball Radio Network
(Connoisseur Media Licenses, LLC)
|Sister stations||WBYN, WODE-FM, WWYY|
WEEX (1230 AM) is a sports radio station in Easton, Pennsylvania branded as "ESPN Radio 1230 and 1320" and is owned by Connoisseur Media, through licensee Connoisseur Media Licenses, LLC. Programming is simulcast on co-owned WTKZ (1320 AM), licensed to nearby Allentown, Pennsylvania. As of January 2016, programming is also simulcasted on WBYN (AM) of Lehighton, Pennsylvania.
WEEX signed on in May 1956 with a popular music format, simulcast from WEEX-FM (99.9 FM); it is one of the few AM stations to sign on after its FM sister station, which went on the air in 1948. It was owned locally by Easton Publishing Company, who also owned the Easton Express newspaper. WEEX and WEEX-FM evolved into a Top 40 music format in the early 1960s. WEEX 1230 did not have a lot of power so they used their FM to simulcast much of their programming to areas where the AM could not be heard.
In the early 1970s, WEEX-FM's simulcast with the AM was broken off under Federal Communications Commission (FCC) changes which forbid full-time AM/FM simulcasts. The station switched to Beautiful Music under the WQQQ call-letters. The calls were chosen because the lower-case Q closely resembled the number 9, hence the station's frequency 99.9. The station offered an instrumental-based easy listening format, playing instrumental cover versions of pop songs. A few times per hour a soft vocalist was mixed in. WEEX evolved into more of an adult top 40 format and then more of an oldies format focusing on music from the late 1960s mixed in with a few pre-64 oldies an hour along with some '70s hits and current songs.
By 1980, WEEX moved into more of an adult contemporary format. In late 1982, longtime station owner Easton Publishing acquired The Globe Times, a newspaper in nearby Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. To satisfy media ownership rules, both WEEX and WQQQ were sold off to Wilks-Schwartz Broadcasting.
On April 4, 1983, WEEX swapped formats with its FM sister station, WQQQ. WEEX's airstaff and music library was moved to 99.9 FM. The former WEEX format was modified on FM into Mainstream CHR/Top 40. The station kept the WQQQ call letters but became known as "Q 100". Initially, the station focused on current pop music, but also played a moderate amount of 1960s' and 1970s' oldies until about 1985. WQQQ's Easy Listening format was moved to WEEX but would be more vocally-oriented than on FM. By 1987, WEEX evolved into more of an Adult Standards easy listening format.
In 1989, Roth Broadcasting acquired WQQQ and WEEX from Wilks-Schwartz. That September, WEEX switched formats to Satellite Oldies. WQQQ became a Rhythmic CHR as WHXT. On August 23, 1991, WHXT dropped its CHR format for Oldies. The format played the Hits of the 1950s, 1960s, and a few from the very early 1970s. The call letters became WODE-FM and the station became known as "Oldies 99" under programing consultant Pete Salant. WEEX then became WODE, simulcasting the FM's programming. On August 9, 1993, the station dropped the WODE-FM simulcast and became a sports radio station, with most of its programming provided by Philadelphia's WIP; to reflect this, the call letters were changed to WIPI on August 23.
The stations were sold to Patterson Broadcasting in the mid 1990s. The WEEX call letters returned in 1996; on September 2, the station dropped the all-sports format and switched to classic country as an affiliate of the Real Country network. In 1997, Capstar would buy WODE and WEEX but would spin the stations off to Clear Channel Communications. They had to do this because the Lehigh Valley has only five FM stations and no one company can own more than half. As a result, a company can only have 2 FM stations in the market. Capstar was already buying WZZO and WAEB-FM. Under Clear Channel ownership, WODE continued its oldies format. WEEX switched to a talk radio format. Nassau Broadcasting Partners would eventually buy WEEX and WODE in 2001. WEEX returned to sports radio as an ESPN Radio affiliate, and WODE switched from Oldies to Classic Hits with a rock base.
The station, along with nine other Nassau stations in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, was purchased at bankruptcy auction by NB Broadcasting in May 2012. NB Broadcasting is controlled by Nassau's creditors — Goldman Sachs, Pluss Enterprises, and P.E. Capital. In November, NB Broadcasting filed a motion to assign its rights to the stations to Connoisseur Media. The sale to Connoisseur Media, at a price of $38.7 million, was consummated on May 29, 2013.
AM 1320 began operation as WKAP in 1948. The station employed a popular music format for many years. They were owned by Rahall Communications. In the 1950s, they opted to play mostly non rock music and some softer songs by rock and roll artists. This format was known as MOR. Throughout the 1960s, they 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 was very current music based, and WEEX/1230, which played more oldies music, based as an Adult Top 40 station. WKAP's Top 40 format emulated West Coast giant KCBQ in San Diego. Some of the original WKAP D.J.s were Kevin Fennessy, Walt Brown, Shotgun Steve Kelly, Mark Stewart, Kris Bailey, Billy Sheridan and J. Robert Taylor. Other DJs around during the late-'70s were "Wolinski In The Morning", Gene O'Brien, "Weird Beard Don Foxx" and "Smokin' Doug Hanley". The station was known as WKAP Radio 13 (rounded off to the nearest hundred). 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 to broadcast live an entire evening of music commercial-free-at a local nightclub. At the time the station was an independent local AM station. The PD, Chris Bailey, Station Mgr Jerry Duckett and the staff were very interested in the project that could help them in competition with their cross-town nemesis WAEB and add a possible ratings boost to the TOP40 outlet.
The facility to be used was "The Castle Garden Ballroom" located in Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom in Allentown. The parks owners, Robert Plarr and Robert Ott were also on board for this project. After extensive renovations, Castle Garden was opened for business in the late fall of 1978. Crowds averaged about 300-450 per night and the owners and management were looking for a spark to drive this to bigger and better crowds. The ballroom had a capacity of approximately 2,000 people and 300-450 looked pretty thin at the time.
The idea was refined and in January 1979, Studio 13 debuted. It was broadcast Saturdays from 9PM–2AM with DJ Mike Jacobs as the DJ/Host/MC. Bill Sheridan (now employed by Nassau Broadcasting) and Shotgun Steve Kelly were the board techs. Sponsorship for the show was secured and Pepsi-Cola came on board as the primary sponsor. Commercials were inserted by Bill & Steve by having Mike Jacobs backtime the breaks in the music and then the station inserting voice-only commercials over the breaks in the music while the music played the instrumental break without interruption. 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 and made the local news. The first night the crowd was 600 people. After 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 marshal's limit on the amount of people.
WKAP realized a ratings jump from 3.8 to 23.4, Saturday evenings from 9 to midnight in a 1-month period and maintained this throughout the summer until the show's conclusion on Labor Day 1979 at the park's request.
The management of Castle Garden also invested in and shot a 1-hour video pilot entitled "Castle Garden" that it attempted unsuccessfully to syndicate.
The one bright spot was in the fall of 1979 in New York City at the Annual Billboard Disco Forum & Convention. 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 at this convention being nominated for "Most Innovative Breakout Radio Show" for the year 1979, but lost out to WCAU in Philadelphia.
Mike Jacobs continued in radio and clubs in the area working at Sunny 1100 WGPA and 96 WLEV-FM until 1997 and then retired. Some of the other WKAP Air-Personalities moved on to other outlets, such as Bill Sheridan to WKRZ in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania and 99 "The Hawk" 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 dropped the adult contemporary format for 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 also 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, though, WKAP switched to a satellite-delivered oldies music format, playing mostly songs from 1964-1969 with some 1955-64 songs, with some 1970-73 songs mixed in. They continued with this format until 1992, at which time they returned to adult standards' Westwood One's AM-only format. 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 1970ss. 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. A year later, on October 9, 1994, WKAP changed its call letters to WTKZ and became a talk radio station; this format was dropped on September 3, 1996 in favor of sports radio. In 1999, Holt sold WTKZ to Mega Communications, which changed the station to a tropical music format. Nassau took over the station's operations on August 2, 2004 and made it into a simulcast of WEEX; it bought the station outright on February 15, 2005. WTKZ was acquired by NB Broadcasting in May 2012 in the same bankruptcy auction as WEEX, and was also part of the sale to Connoisseur Media.
- Savidge, Mariella (October 6, 1994). "WKAP Switching To All-Talk Radio". The Morning Call. Retrieved November 10, 2012.
- Reinhard, Katherine (January 30, 1992). "Oldies Are Goodies In Radio Ratings". The Morning Call. Retrieved November 10, 2012.
- Beldon Jackson, Kirk (August 10, 1993). "Sports Talk Replaces Oldies On Area Station". The Morning Call. Retrieved November 10, 2012.
- Mathias, Madeleine (August 24, 1996). "WEEX-AM To Switch To Country". The Morning Call. Retrieved November 10, 2012.
- Frassinelli, Mike (May 3, 1998). "Uncle Bob Is Baaaaack On The Air In The Valley". The Morning Call. Retrieved November 10, 2012.
- McDermott, Radio station will switch to sports center (April 18, 2001). "Radio station will switch to sports center". The Morning Call. Retrieved November 10, 2012.
- "10 Nassau Stations Go To NB Broadcasting LLC". All Access. May 30, 2012. Retrieved November 10, 2012.
- Pierce, David (June 12, 2012). "Pocono radio stations now in the hands of creditors". Pocono Record. Retrieved November 10, 2012.
- "Connoisseur Moves To Assume Debtor's Bid To Buy 10 Nassau Stations, Including WPST". All Access. November 21, 2012. Retrieved November 21, 2012.
- Marczley, Diane (August 30, 1996). "WTKZ To Switch To All Sports Talk". The Morning Call. Retrieved November 10, 2012.
- Chavez, Erika (November 9, 1999). "WTKZ-AM Going Hispanic". The Morning Call. Retrieved November 10, 2012.
- "Nassau Closes Purchase of Additional AM Serving Allentown, PA" (Press release). Nassau Broadcasting Partners. February 15, 2005. Retrieved November 10, 2012.