|City of license||New York City|
|Broadcast area||New York City|
|First air date||August 26, 1926|
|Power||25,000 watts (daytime)
5,000 watts (nighttime)
(Access.1 New York License Company, LLC)
For many years, WWRL catered to New York's African American community first as an R&B station, then later a gospel 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 format for the next eight years.
Founded by radio enthusiast William Reuman, WWRL (for Woodside Radio Laboratory) 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. 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 Radio 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 WEVD 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. They 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, 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. In 1979 Sonderling merged with Viacom.
Viacom bought 106.7 WRVR (now WLTW) in 1980 and in 1981 donated WWRL to the United Negro College Fund. The Fund then sold the station to Unity Broadcasting later in 1981. 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. 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 they dropped Gospel programming except for Sunday. They flipped to playing R & B oldies from the 1960s to the 1980s. The format change was not successful. They added some talk shows by 1999. By 2001 they had evolved towards their current format. Although the station was recently able to increase daytime power to 25,000 watts (it is still 5,000 watts at night) -- after purchasing the frequencies of WLNG in Sag Harbor, New York, WQQW in Waterbury, Connecticut, and WERA in Plainfield, New Jersey. WWRL does not achieve any substantial ratings, and has not since their gospel days.
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. Their 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.
Also, WWRL is owned by Access.1 Communications Corporation. Access.1 is a 24-hour African American owned and operated radio broadcasting company. Access.1 Communications Corp. also owns and operates 7 AM and FM stations in Shreveport, LA; another 7 in Tyler-Longview-Marshall, Texas; another 6 FM and AM stations in Atlantic City, NJ and an 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 daily schedule began with The 'RL Morning Show, which is currently hosted by Mark Riley (who has hosted the program multiple times in the past). The show airs daily from 6 AM to 9 AM, followed by three hours of health and wellness programming. The Ed Schultz Show follows at midday, airing from noon until 3 PM. From 3 to 6 PM, The Thom Hartmann Program airs, followed by The Randi Rhodes Show from 6 to 8 PM. Keepin' It Real with Al Sharpton follows Rhodes and airs until 10 PM, with The Bev Smith Show airing until midnight after that. The Leslie Marshall Show airs 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 their format to Hindi (Indian) talk and music, branded as "Radio Zindagi".
- Radio Zindagi 1600 AM
- WWRL station history
- Query the FCC's AM station database for WWRL
- Radio-Locator Information on WWRL
- Query Nielsen Audio's AM station database for WWRL