|City||New York City|
|Broadcast area||New York metropolitan area|
|First air date||August 26, 1926|
|Power||25,000 watts (daytime)
5,000 watts (nighttime)
|Owner||Nimisha Shukla and Jeetendra Shukla
(NJ Broadcasting, LLC)
WWRL (1600 kHz) is a commercial AM radio station in New York City. WWRL airs an Indian/South Asian radio format in the Hindi language from a transmitter site in Secaucus, NJ, and owned by Nimisha and Jeetendra Shukla, through licensee NJ Broadcasting, LLC.
For many years, WWRL catered to New York's African American community first as an R&B station, then later a Gospel music station and even later a Talk radio format. In 2006, WWRL replaced WLIB as the flagship station for the Air America Radio network and retained a Progressive talk radio format for the next eight years.
Founded by radio enthusiast William Reuman, WWRL began broadcasting at 12:00 a.m., Thursday, August 26, 1926 from a studio and transmitter in his home at 41-30 58th Street in Woodside, Queens, New York on a frequency of 1120 kHz. (WWRL stood for Woodside Radio Laboratory.) In 1927 the nascent Federal Radio Commission ordered the station to move to 1500 kHz. In its early days, the station served many ethnic communities, broadcasting programs in Italian, German, French, Polish, Hungarian, Slovak, and Czech, as well as English. Following implementation of the 1941 North American Regional Broadcasting Agreement the station again changed its frequency, this time to 1490 kHz, followed shortly thereafter by a move to the current 1600 kHz. In 1951 the station's official licensed location was changed from Woodside, NY to New York, NY. In 1964 Reuman retired and sold the station to a group headed by Egmont Sonderling.
In 2005, after 79 years, the station moved to former studios of 1050 WEVD (now WEPN) at 333 Seventh Avenue in Manhattan.
Prior to its affiliation with Air America, WWRL was a diversified radio station primarily serving the African American community. The station also aired some progressive talk shows weekdays, with Caribbean music on Saturdays and overnights. On Sundays they aired Gospel music and religious programming. WWRL also carries live play-by-play of the New York Liberty of the WNBA. On August 2, 2006, WWRL announced its affiliation with Air America.
WWRL in the 1960s was an R & B radio station focusing on popular music aimed at the young black community. It played a blend of Motown, Stax and Memphis soul, and early James Brown-styled funk. In that era, disc jockeys, Carlton King Coleman, Douglas Jocko Henderson, Frankie Crocker, Chuck Leonard (who went on to become the first black d.j. on powerhouse Top 40 station WABC), Herb Hamlett, Gary Byrd and Hank Spann were featured on the station. In the 1970s WWRL stressed Philadelphia soul and other 1970s soul artists. The station was owned during this period by Sonderling Broadcasting. Sonderling bought 106.7 WRVR (now WLTW) in the early 1970s. The original plan was to move the gold based Urban AC format to 106.7 and shift WWRL to a Gospel format. In 1979 Sonderling merged with Viacom.
In 1980, Viacom changed formats on WRVR to Country and calls to WKHK. Then in 1981, Viacom donated WWRL to the United Negro College Fund. The Fund immediately sold the station to Unity Broadcasting. The station planned to affiliate with a new sports talk radio network in 1982 but the network never got on the air. Also that year WWRL began playing Gospel music in the evenings as well as airing religious features, and expanded Gospel programming on Sundays. In Fall 1982 WWRL shifted to a full-time Gospel music format along with sermons from local black churches. The station played music 6 to 9 a.m. and again from 2 to 7 p.m. WWRL stayed with this format until 1997.
The 1983 New Order song "Confusion" begins with a voice saying "W, W, W-R-L," which is widely thought to be a reference to WWRL. The track was co-produced by Arthur Baker, who lived in New York City at the time and was likely familiar with the station.
In April 1997, WWRL dropped Gospel programming except for Sunday. It flipped to playing R & B oldies from the 1960s to the 1980s. The format change was not successful. WWRL added some talk shows by 1999. By 2001 it had evolved towards its current format. The station was given permission by the Federal Communications Commission to increase daytime power to 25,000 watts (it is still 5,000 watts at night) -- after purchasing the frequencies of 1600 WLNG in Sag Harbor, New York, 1590 WQQW in Waterbury, Connecticut, and 1590 WERA in Plainfield, New Jersey and taking all three stations off the air, to improve its range in the New York market. During its musical hey day, WWRL broadcast in AM Stereo. The WWRL directional antenna system consists of 4 towers in a square arrangement.
By 1999, WWRL began mixing in paid programming during the week. By 2001, the station evolved into a diversified station selling blocks of time to various interests. Programming included gospel music and preaching on Sundays, some Caribbean music, talk shows, infomercials, and other programs. In September 2006, WWRL became an affiliate of Air America, a liberal talk radio network.
In 2000, WWRL was sold to Access.1 Communications Corporation, an African-American owned and operated radio broadcasting company. Access.1 Communications Corp. also owned radio stations in Shreveport, Louisiana, in Tyler-Longview-Marshall, Texas; in Atlantic City, New Jersey and previously owned then-NBC TV affiliate WMGM-TV 40 in Atlantic City. While being African American owned, the stations program a wide variety of formats, many of which are not targeted to the black community.
WWRL's weekday schedule began with The 'RL Morning Show, which was hosted by Mark Riley (who had hosted other shows on WWRL in the past). The show aired from 6 AM to 9 AM, followed by three hours of paid health and wellness programming. The Ed Schultz Show followed from noon until 3 PM. From 3 to 6 PM, The Thom Hartmann Program was heard, followed by The Randi Rhodes Show from 6 to 8 PM. Keepin' It Real with Al Sharpton followed Rhodes and aired until 10 PM, with The Bev Smith Show airing until midnight after that. The Leslie Marshall Show was heard for one hour beginning at midnight, followed by Alan Colmes at 1AM and Dr. Joy Browne from 4-6AM.
Sports journalist Jaime Harris created the station's first all-sports talk show which aired on Saturday afternoon. He hosted the Harris and Henry Show along with his co-host, Marcus Henry. In 2013 Bobby Childs joined Harris as a co-host and the show was renamed the Sports Brothers.
WWRL's programming became All-Spanish as "La Invasora" on January 1, 2014.
On February 1, 2016, WWRL changed its format to Hindi (Indian/South Asian) talk and music, branded as "Radio Zindagi". Effective July 15, 2016, Access.1 Communications sold WWRL to NJ Broadcasting, LLC for $7 million.
- Radio Zindagi 1600 AM
- Query the FCC's AM station database for WWRL
- Radio-Locator Information on WWRL
- Query Nielsen Audio's AM station database for WWRL
- FCC History Cards for WWRL
- WWRL station history