The Boston Radio Dial: WMKK(FM)

Who, What, Where

Community: Lawrence
Frequency: 93.7 MHz
Class: B
Ownership: Entercom Boston License, LLC
(Entercom Communications [NYSE: ETM]/Joseph M. Field)
Studio: 20 Guest Street
Brighton, MA 02135-2040
Transmitter: 100 Lakeland Park Drive
Peabody, MA 01960-3835
Format:
Main Variety hits
HD2 Rhythmic hits
Web site: 937mikefm.com

Technical Parameters

WMKK transmits at 93.7 MHz with an effective radiated power of 34 kW (analogue) from a non-directional, circularly-polarized antenna 179 meters (587 feet) above average terrain (201 m above sea level). The antenna, a four-bay ERI ROTOTILLER SHPX-4AE-HW, is mounted at the top of the tower, 145 m (476 ft) above ground. A five-bay backup antenna, an ERI SHPX-5AE-HW, is mounted below it at the 127-meter level; WMKK is licensed for an ERP of 42 kW when using the backup antenna. The tower is owned by American Tower.

WMKK transmits a digital signal using iBiquity Digital Corp.'s “HD Radio” system.

Station History

The history of 93.7 in Lawrence began in 1948 with WLAW-FM, which operated with 20 kW from the center tower of the new WLAW (680) directional array in Burlington, simulcasting WLAW's AM programming. When WLAW was sold to Boston's WNAC in 1953, the 680 facility took the WNAC calls and programming, but the existing WNAC-FM (98.5 Boston) remained unchanged at its existing site on Boston's (original) John Hancock Building. The WLAW-FM 93.7 facility went dark, though the pylon antenna remained in place in Burlington for many decades thereafter.

In the late fifties, Lawrence's other AM station, WCCM (800), applied for a new FM license on 93.7. WGHJ(FM) signed on in April 1960 with 1350 watts at 210 feet above average terrain, from a separate tower at the WCCM(AM) transmitter site in North Andover. The new station took its calls from the initials of WCCM president and general manager George H. Jaspert. While WGHJ had separate calls from its AM sister, it followed the pattern of most FMs in that era, simulcasting all the programming of the daytime-only AM. For a time early in its history, WGHJ even signed off at sunset when WCCM ended its broadcast day.

With the sale of WCCM and WGHJ to Curt Gowdy in May 1963, the FM calls were changed to WCCM-FM. The FM station now remained on the air until 10 PM daily, with contemporary music after the AM side signed off.

In 1973, WCCM-FM upgraded to full class B status, building a new 50-kW/430-ft facility at the AM site. In April 1974, WCCM-FM changed calls to WCGY (derived from owner Curt GowdY), added stereo and broke away from the AM simulcast, becoming a full-time outlet of TM's “Stereo Rock” automation service. The “Rock Garden” played a repeating cycle of two current rock songs followed by two oldies, with minimal announcing.

In the early eighties, WCGY began to lean more towards oldies, evolving into classic rock by the late eighties, now with live announcers, but still retaining the “Rock Garden” slogan from its early days.

In May 1994, Gowdy sold WCGY to American Radio Systems for $12.5 million, reuniting the 93.7 frequency with the other descendants of the old WLAW operation, WRKO (680) and WBMX (98.5, the former WNAC-FM). That fall, the station's studios moved from the WCCM building at 33 Franklin Street in downtown Lawrence to the WRKO/WBMX studios at 116 Huntington Ave. in Boston's Back Bay. WCGY became 70s/80s rock “Eagle 93.7” on September 30, 1994, adopting new calls of WEGQ(FM) on Nov. 28.

ARS quickly began working to move 93.7 closer to the center of the Boston market. In the summer of 1995, WEGQ began building a new 152-meter (498-foot) guyed tower at 100 Lakeland Park Drive in Peabody, easily visible from US 1 and the I-95/MA 128 interchange. “Eagle” signed on from the new tower in early 1996, with 34 kW at 179 m (587 ft) and a much-improved signal into downtown Boston and the South Shore.

While it had a strong roster of air talent, including the morning team of Kevin Karlson and Pete McKenzie (who would later return to the market on WZLX) and the popular “Lost 45s” weekend specialty show, WEGQ faced tough competition from WZLX and WBOS, and never achieved ratings strength in the crowded market.

With the sale of ARS to CBS in 1998, WEGQ changed hands again, as Entercom paid $225 million (plus two Tampa FMs) for the ARS stations that CBS was required to divest in Boston: WRKO, WEEI (850), WAAF (107.3 Worcester), WWTM (1440 Worcester) and WEGQ. In the end, only WBMX of the original ARS group stayed in CBS's hands.

On April 1, 1999, “Eagle 93.7” was replaced by “Star 93.7”, playing rhythmic hits under the new calls WQSX. Charlie Wilde was the station's first morning man, eventually replaced by market veteran Karen Blake, Ralph Marino, and, for a time, “Survivor” star Richard Hatch. In 2001, WQSX and the rest of the Entercom Boston cluster moved to new studios at 20 Guest Street in Brighton, overlooking the Massachusetts Turnpike.

On April 14, 2005, “Star” gave way to “93.7 Mike FM”, giving the newly-popular “variety hits” or “adult hits” format its first toehold in the Boston market. Under new calls WMKK, “Mike FM” operated without disc jockeys, instead interspersing quips from “Seinfeld” star John O'Hurley (“J. Peterman”) between songs. The “Star” rhythmic format returned to 93.7 in early 2006, on its HD2 subchannel. Entercom had kept the format alive as a webcast since flipping the main channel to “Mike”, and once it turned on HD Radio on the 93.7 air signal, it converted the webcast to “Star HD”.

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This station profile was written by the editors of The Archives @ BostonRadio.org. We have no relationship with the station; please send any comments or questions about their programming directly to the station. Network connectivity courtesy of MIT CSAIL.

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