|Broadcast area||Metro Detroit
|Branding||CBS Sports Radio 1270|
(also on HD Radio)
|First air date||October 10, 1925 (as WGHP)|
|Callsign meaning||WXYZ Talk Radio
(based upon former callsign)
|Former callsigns||1930–1984: WXYZ
|Affiliations||CBS Sports Radio|
(CBS Radio Inc. of Detroit)
|Sister stations||WXYT-FM, WDZH, WOMC, WWJ, WYCD
part of CBS Corp. cluster w/ TV stations WWJ-TV & WKBD-TV
WXYT (1270 AM, branded CBS Sports Radio 1270) is a commercial radio station licensed to Detroit, Michigan broadcasting a sports talk format. The station serves the Detroit-Windsor market and the Southeastern Michigan and Southwestern Ontario areas. Its transmitter is in Monroe County at Ash Township and operations and studios are at CBS Radio's facilities in Southfield, Michigan. WXYT is a 50,000 watt, Class B station broadcasting on a regional frequency. It is not a clear-channel station because of its frequency and highly directional antenna.
The station went on the air October 10, 1925, as WGHP - named after its owner, George Harrison Phelps. The radio station was licensed in Detroit, then moved to Mt. Clemens in 1927, and moved again to Fraser in 1928. The station was rated at 500 watts.
WGHP was a charter member of the CBS Radio Network, being one of the 16 stations that aired the first CBS network program on September 18, 1927. In 1930, the station was purchased by George W. Trendle's Kunsky-Trendle Broadcasting and switched the call letters to WXYZ which were acquired from a U.S. Army station. The station was rated at 1,000 watts when it moved back to Detroit in 1930. Trendle moved the station to the Maccabees Building on Woodward Avenue in downtown Detroit, where it maintained facilities until 1959. However, most programming in the 1930s, 1940s and early 1950s originated from the former Mendelson Mansion on East Jefferson Avenue. In addition to local programs, WXYZ produced The Lone Ranger, Challenge of the Yukon and The Green Hornet for broadcast throughout the US and Canada.
The station's slogan "The Last Word in Radio" would tie-in with its call letters. Another former slogan was "WXYZ, Where the Best Comes Last."
In 1934, WXYZ was one of the founding stations of the Mutual Broadcasting System, along with WOR in New York, WGN in Chicago, and WLW in Cincinnati. On September 29, 1935, WXYZ dropped out of the Mutual group to become an affiliate of the NBC Blue network. The following year, its parent company, Kunsky-Trendle, changed its name to King-Trendle. WXYZ was contractually obligated to provide The Lone Ranger to Mutual for another four years, so although the program originated from WXYZ, it was heard in the Detroit area on Mutual's new affiliate, CKLW.
In 1946, the station was purchased by the American Broadcasting Company, which was recently formed from the NBC Blue Network by Edward Noble. On May 2, 1946, Noble, ABC board chairman, announced the purchase of King-Trendle Broadcasting Corp. (which consisted of WXYZ, WOOD/Grand Rapids and Michigan Radio Network) for $3,650,000. The sale was approved by FCC on July 18.
Some time prior to the end of 1939, the radio station's power was increased to 5,000 watts daytime, and WXYZ increased night power to 5,000 watts with a mildly directional night pattern by the end of March 1941.
In 1948, WXYZ personalities contributed to launching programing on ABC's new Detroit television station WXYZ-TV, Channel 7, and WXYZ-FM (now WRIF) also signed on at 101.1 MHz. Dick Osgood of WXYZ radio was the first face on Channel 7 from its studios in the Maccabees Building.
WXYZ had many of Detroit's most prominent radio personalities of the 1940s and 1950s including Dick Osgood, Fred Wolf, Ed McKenzie, Mickey Shorr, "The Lady of Charm" Edyth Fern Melrose, Jack Surrell (one of the earliest African-American air personalities on an otherwise white-oriented station), and future CBS News correspondents Mike Wallace and Douglas Edwards.
ABC moved WXYZ AM-FM-TV in 1959 from the Maccabees Building to a new home known as "Broadcast House." WXYZ radio occupied studios on the second floor of the new facility built on the site of a former farm, which housed WXYZ's AM transmitter in Southfield, Michigan, until 1984.
Over the next decade, as television grew in popularity, WXYZ was successful in replacing many of the declining ABC radio network variety features with local record shows hosted by personalities like longtime morning show host Fred Wolf, Paul Winter, and Mickey Shorr, one of the most influential of Detroit's early rock-and-roll disc jockeys.
Under the guidance of Hal Neal, WXYZ was the first ABC-owned-and-operated station to adopt the Top 40 music format in 1958; although WXYZ had already been making moves toward Top 40 in terms of playing more music and less network programming, the music played on the station during the various disc jockey shows encompassed a wide variety of genres, from mainstream pop to rock and roll to show tunes to opera. The transition to Top 40 was completed in 1958 with the station instituting an official playlist and taking away disc jockeys' privileges to play what they wanted. Although many of the DJs were disenchanted with the changes (particularly Fred Wolf, who was notable for his distaste for rock and roll), WXYZ's move proved a success in terms of ratings. The station's success in Top 40 inspired ABC to convert two of its flagship stations, WABC in New York and WLS in Chicago, to Top 40 in 1960. Neal himself moved to New York to manage network flagship WABC, which during the 1960s became the nation's most listened-to radio station. WXYZ was still, however, as an ABC network station, obliged to carry ABC's weekday-morning traditional radio variety show, "The Breakfast Club."
During the late 1950s and early 1960s, "Channel 1270", or "Wixie" (also spelled "Wyxie") as it was affectionately known, battled with Storer Broadcasting's WJBK (1500 AM) and RKO General's CKLW (800 AM, often known as 'the Big 8') for the Top 40 audience in Detroit. The "Wixie" persona and WXYZ calls is reputed to have been the inspiration for "WIXY 1260," itself a Top 40 powerhouse in Cleveland, Ohio during the late 1960s.
Some noteworthy personalities during WXYZ's Top 40 era included: longtime morning drive host Fred Wolf; Lee Alan "On The Horn"; Joel Sebastian, (who later moved on to WLS); Paul Winter; Fred Weiss; Dave Prince; Steve Lundy, Don Zee; and, for a short time in 1966, Joey Reynolds and Jim Hampton.
In 1963, WXYZ and WJBK were the two dominant Top 40 music stations in Detroit. However, both stations were seriously undermined by the launch of WKNR "Keener 13" (formerly WKMH) at 1310 on the dial. "Keener" had a tighter, faster presentation and a shorter playlist than the competition, and quickly took over as Detroit's number one rated station. WJBK was the first of WKNR's competitors to fall, switching to an MOR format in 1964.
WXYZ battled tooth and nail with WKNR for over three years, but by the summer of 1966, WXYZ had also fallen behind Windsor, Ontario's CKLW in the ratings. As an ABC-owned-and-operated station, WXYZ continued to be crippled by its ABC network commitments such as "The Breakfast Club" and an hour-long block of news and commentary during the evening drive period, and although the disc jockeys continued to lobby to drop these programs to compete more effectively with WKNR, their pleas fell on deaf ears. In early 1967, WXYZ was third-ranked out of the three Top 40 stations. As a result, the station changed direction, softening its music mix to an adult contemporary/MOR approach known as "The Sound of the Good Life."
However, the station continued to flounder until Dick Purtan, formerly of WKNR, took over the WXYZ morning show after a short but eventful stint at WBAL in Baltimore. With Dick Purtan in the morning, WXYZ did respectably in the ratings through the 1970s with an adult Top 40/oldies hybrid. In the mid-1970s, WXYZ adopted the "Musicradio" slogan used by its sister stations WABC and WLS and continued to do well with an adult contemporary format and Purtan's morning show as the anchor. By then, the former WXYZ-FM was known as WRIF and also doing well with its "Rock 'N' Stereo 101" album oriented rock approach.
The station dropped music in favor of an all-talk format in 1978, which was the same year Dick Purtan left for CKLW. Ron Cameron, Joel Zelle, Tom Hopkins, Tom Dean, Dr. Sonya Freidman, David Newman and others hosted talk shows during this timeframe, under Program Directors Bob Oakes and Michael Packer. News reporters/anchors included Tom Bell, Tom Adams, Lou Hebert, Kathy Jackson, Robert Lambert, Scott Lewis and Mike O'Neill.
In 1977, WXYZ reporters, Lou Hebert and Tom Adams won a radio Peabody Award for Winter's Fear: The Children, The Killer, The Search, a presentation on the events surrounding the Oakland County Child Killer case.
In 1984, the radio station was seeing its profits steadily declining along with its ratings. Station vice president and general manager Chuck Fritz, thinking he could operate it more profitably, offered to buy the station. ABC agreed and sold it to Fritz Broadcasting for $3 million (USD). The call letters were changed to the similar-sounding WXYT, with the "T" standing for "talk." The WXYZ calls were retained by the TV station, which was sold two years later to Scripps-Howard to comply with divestiture requirements following Capital Cities Communications' purchase of ABC. WRIF was also sold while Cap Cities retained WJR, WHYT, the "Oakland Press" and numerous cable interests in Southeastern Lower Michigan. Jock Fritz later bought the struggling 92.3 FM and converted it to the highly successful WMXD "Mix 92.3" (now a iHeartMedia station), and founded the Radio Station Representative Association in Detroit.
WXYT continued with its talk format as "Talkradio 1270" airing local programs hosted by Denny McLain, Kevin Joyce, Bill Bonds, Mark Scott, David Newman, John McCullogh and weathercaster Rob Kress; and syndicated talk show hosts such as Don Imus, Larry King, Michael Jackson, and Rush Limbaugh. Glenn Haege, known as "America's Master Handyman," hosted "Ask The Handyman", a weekend home improvement show that started on WXYZ in the mid-1980s, and lasted on WXYT until 2002. In 1998, after an unsuccessful campaign for Michigan governor, Geoffrey Fieger hosted an evening talk show that lasted less than a year.
In 1994, the station was sold again, this time to Infinity Broadcasting, which itself was acquired by CBS Radio in 1997, pairing WXYT with WWJ and WKRK-FM (Infinity Broadcasting remained as the name of the radio division). Infinity Broadcasting would revert its name to CBS Radio by December 2005.
The Sports Station
WXYT changed to an all-sports format in 2000 when the station, which had aired Detroit Lions football starting in 1998, acquired the broadcast rights to Detroit Tigers baseball and Detroit Red Wings hockey from rival WJR. The station re-branded itself as "Team 1270".
By 2002, WXYT re-branded itself again as "AM 1270 The Sports Station". Power was increased from 5,000 watts to 50,000 watts, though with a highly directional signal as opposed to non-directional clear-channel WJR. In 2005, the station re-branded again, this time to "1270-XYT: The Sports Station."
WXYT's former afternoon show, The Locker Room, was hosted by former Detroit Tiger Kirk Gibson, Gary Danielson and former WJBK-TV and WABC-TV sports anchor Eli Zaret. Until the 2006 NCAA football season WXYT was the broadcast home for the Michigan State University Spartans. Opie and Anthony, upon the return of their show, The Opie and Anthony Show, were also on WXYT from June to September 2006, after WXYT's local morning sports talk programming experiment fell through. Their show was moved to sister station WKRK, while WXYT picked up Mike and Mike in the Morning. In August 2007, WXYT became an ESPN Radio affiliate, same as its Detroit sports radio competitor, WDFN. The two stations simulcast ESPN content until the merger of WXYT with WKRK in October 2007, at which point they picked up WKRK's affiliation with Sporting News Radio, dropping ESPN.
WXYT airs one-minute sports news updates, called "Sports Headlines", at the top of every hour, as well as a quick update at the bottom of the hour on weekends and from 3-9 p.m. Monday thru Friday. This is unlike many other sports stations across the country which air their sports news updates three times an hour.
In January 2007, WXYT announced that it had renewed its flagship-broadcast contracts with the Tigers and Red Wings. Beginning with the 2007 season, the Tigers would have their games simulcast on WKRK. The Red Wings' simulcast began in spring 2007. These contracts were extended in July 2010.
Detroit's Sports Powerhouse/The Ticket
WXYT began a simulcast with FM sister station WKRK, which dropped its "hot talk" format in the process, on October 1, 2007. On WXYT's end, Mike and Mike in the Morning was replaced by Deminski & Doyle, and the ESPN Radio affiliation was dropped in favor of Sporting News Radio. The AM/FM simulcast took the name "Detroit's Sports Powerhouse: 97.1 FM & 1270 AM."
That November 6, the simulcast was renamed "97.1 The Ticket" (WKRK was also renamed WXYT-FM in the process). Any mention of the 1270 facility came during top of the hour legal station identification. Another change was the names of the mid-day show "The Big Show" and the afternoon show "The Sports Inferno" with the names changing to the last names of their hosts.
Along with WXYT-FM, WXYT served as the flagship station (along with sister station WXYT-FM) for the Detroit Lions, Detroit Red Wings, and Detroit Tigers; and along with WWJ, the Detroit Pistons  It also carried syndicated programming from the Los Angeles-based Yahoo! Sports Radio, as well as live (non-Detroit) NFL games from across the country via NFL on Westwood One. In February 2009, the station announced it would broadcast games for the Detroit Pistons, beginning with the 2009-2010 NBA season. All of these play-by-play rights remain with WXYT-FM to this day.
When 1270 wasn't simulcasting 97.1 FM (mostly during live sporing events with restricted contracts), 1270 used a different set of station IDs.
Next generation of talk radio
WXYT AM and FM concluded their simulcast on September 12, 2011, with the 1270 facility reverting to a talk radio format and its former "Talk Radio 1270 WXYT" branding. Charlie Langton hosted a live, local morning show, Doc Thompson (formerly of WMJI in Cleveland, WLW in Cincinnati and WRVA in Richmond) in afternoon drive, and syndicated hosts Glenn Beck, Laura Ingraham, Todd Schnitt, and Rusty Humphries and Coast to Coast's George Noory on for the balance of the day.  The station also had frequent preemptions of talk shows to air college and professional games, as well as overflow from WXYT-FM.
Switch back to Sports Talk
- Michiguide.com - WXYT AM 1270 Detroit History
- Alan, Lee. "Turn Your Radio On"
- Carson, David. Rockin' Down the Dial: The Detroit Sound of Radio from Jack the Bellboy to the Big 8 University of Michigan Press
- Hampton, Jim. WXYZ airchecks on Reelradio.com Jim Hampton Collection.
- Osgood, Dick. W*Y*X*I*E* Wonderland: An Unauthorized 50-Year Diary of WXYZ Detroit Bowling Green University Press
- Radio Digest, September 1927, quoted in: McLeod, Elizabeth (September 20, 2002). CBS—In the Beginning, History of American Broadcasting. Retrieved on 2007-01-01. The other stations were WOR in Newark; WADC in Akron, Ohio; WAIU in Columbus, Ohio; WCAO in Baltimore; WCAU in Philadelphia; WEAN in Providence; WFBL in Syracuse; WJAS in Pittsburgh; WKRC in Cincinnati; WMAK in Buffalo-Lockport; WMAQ in Chicago; WNAC in Boston; WOWO in Fort Wayne, Indiana; KMOX in St. Louis; and KOIL in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
- "CBS Adds WHAS and Windsor Unit" (PDF). Broadcasting. April 15, 1932. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
- "WXYZ to Join NBC as Detroit Link" (PDF). Broadcasting. June 15, 1935. Retrieved 24 October 2014.
- "Stations in Detroit Realigned Sept. 29" (PDF). Broadcasting. October 1, 1935. Retrieved 4 November 2014.
- "Joel Sebastian, radio disc jockey". Chicago Tribune. 19 January 1986. Retrieved 31 July 2010.
- Detroit Lions Official Site: Current Radio Affiliates
- Detroit Red Wings Official Site - Current Radio Affiliates
- Detroit Tigers Official Site - Current Radio Affiliates
- "Detroit Pistons Radio Network". Retrieved 2009-10-11.
- "Next Generation Of Talk Radio Launches Sept. 12 On 1270 WXYT AM". August 22, 2011. Retrieved July 9, 2012.
- WXYT Going Back To Its Talk Roots Archived September 18, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
- Marcucci, Carl (September 6, 2012). "CBS Radio consolidating ops in Detroit". RBR.com TVBR.com. Retrieved December 30, 2012.