The Boston Radio Dial: WWDJ(AM)

Who, What, Where

Community: Boston
Frequency: 1150 kHz
Class: B
Ownership: Pennsylvania Media Associates, Inc.
(Salem Communications [Nasdaq: SALM]/Atsinger and Epperson families)
Studio: 500 Victory Rd.
Quincy, MA 02171-3139
Transmitter: Concord Ave.
Lexington, MA 02421
Phones: +1 617 328 0880
Format: Spanish-language Christian music
Web site: talk1150.com

Technical Parameters

WWDJ broadcasts from three 270-foot-tall (82 m) self-supporting towers on Concord Avenue in Lexington, easily visible from the Route 2 freeway. WWDJ uses 5 kW full-time, with different patterns day and night, and is diplexed with WAZN (1470 Watertown).

Station History

WWDJ can trace its origins to 1934 and WMFH 1120, a construction permit for a 500-watt daytimer, owned by Joseph M. Kirby. In 1935, before the station first began broadcasting the callsign was changed to WCOP, to reflect the station's studio location in the Copley Plaza Hotel. WCOP's transmitter was along the Charles River on Soldiers Field Road, at a site later to be occupied by WBZ television and radio. (A concrete tower footing from WCOP was uncovered in 1994 during renovations of the WBZ facility.) Kirby died in 1937, and his estate sold the station to Arde Bulova, who then controlled New York's WOV (1130). In 1940, WCOP received a construction permit for nighttime service, using a new directional antenna. NARBA saw WCOP move to 1150 kHz, and in December of 1941 construction was completed on the 500-watt nighttime service.

In 1944, with sanctions looming at the FCC over the business practices of Bulova's business partner, Harold Lafount, WCOP was sold to Iowa Broadcasting Company. (Iowa Broadcasting, which was controlled by the Cowles family, had just divested its second Des Moines station, KSO, as the FCC introduced the “one-to-a-market” rule.) In 1946, WCOP's transmitter was moved to Lexington, with a power increase from 500 to 5000 watts. WCOP-FM made its debut in 1948 on 100.7 MHz from a new tower at the Lexington site (second tower from the left in the photo above), simulcasting the AM; it is now WZLX.

In 1951, Iowa Broadcasting became Cowles Broadcasting, and in December of that year, WCOP was sold to a three-man partnership; partner Roy V. Whisnand would be general manager of the station. The station was sold two and a half years later, to the Boston Post newspaper.

When the Post shut down in 1956, the Plough Corp. bought WCOP, and soon the station metamorphosed from a typical independent of the era into a music-driven format. WCOP was one of the first stations in New England to make heavy use of disc jockeys. WCOP's programming was by then emanating from the Lexington transmitter site, although sales and executive offices remained downtown.

By the early 1970s, WCOP had become one of New England's first country stations. That lasted until May 20, 1977, and a brief attempt at a hit radio format as WACQ, followed on January 1, 1979 by a change in calls to WHUE and a change in format to beautiful music. WHUE would later become an all-news station, before an attempt in 1984 at standards under the WSNY callsign, “Sunny 1150”.

In 1985, Greater Media purchased AM 1150 and moved it in with WMJX 106.7. The new calls were WMEX, reviving one of Boston's best-known top 40 calls. WMEX went AM stereo with an oldies format, and soon bumper stickers were sprouting around town proclaiming, “WMEX is back!”

That too lasted only briefly. By 1990, WMEX had dropped oldies and picked up the Business Radio Network, along with local business news from a team headed by Rod Fritz. The format was never much of a ratings winner, and in 1991 WMEX flipped again, this time to a simulcast of WMJX. Greater Media began leasing time on WMEX shortly thereafter, and by 1994 the station was under an LMA (Local Marketing Agreement), being operated by WRCA 1330 from WRCA's studios in Cambridge.

On August 20, 1996, WMEX changed calls to WROR, to allow Greater Media to hold those heritage calls for eventual use on sister-station WKLB-FM (105.7 Framingham), which began calling itself WROR on September 5, although the calls were not yet legally there. On October 17, WROR became the sixth affiliate of the Kidstar children's radio network, based out of Seattle. October 21st, WROR changed callsign to WNFT, under the moniker “Nifty 1150”. When the KidStar network folded in early 1997, WNFT spent some time doing tests of Digital Audio Broadcasting before becoming a simulcast of country sister WKLB-FM. In May of 1997, WNFT was sold to American Radio Systems for an undisclosed amount of cash; the FM backup tower would be leased out by ARS affiliate American Tower Systems. On June 2, 1997, WNFT switched from simulcasting country WKLB-FM to ARS's hard-rock WAAF.

In 1997, American Radio agreed to merge with CBS—thus reuniting the original WCOP and WCOP-FM, and forming the largest radio group in the country by revenue. Because the Boston combination would have violated FCC ownership restrictions, WNFT was placed in a trust pending sale to a third party. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Justice sued to block the merger on anti-trust grounds, and on March 31, 1998, a consent agreement was announced by which CBS would have 180 days to sell WRKO, WEEI, WEGQ, and WAAF. The merger was consummated in June, 1998, and the problem properties were sold off that August (to Entercom). Ownership of the Lexington site remains with American Tower, which was split off from American Radio before the CBS buyout.

After the sale of the other AMs, WNFT was removed from trust so that CBS could sell it to Mega Broadcasting, a national Spanish-language chain, which also purchased WBPS at about the same time. New studios were built for both stations in the Schrafft Center in Charlestown, and the 1150 callsign was changed to WAMG. Soon after, Mega also acquired Lowell and Lawrence's WLLH 1400, which became a simulcast of 1150.

In 2003, Mega's mounting financial difficulties had it looking for a buyer for its Boston-area stations. The Boston signal was the first to go, with Salem picking it up on November 4th of that year; the callsigns and formats of WBPS and WAMG were swapped just prior to the sale. Salem installed its satellite conservative talk network and a new callsign: WTTT. Some programs also moved from sister station WROL 950.

The new talk format, for which Salem requested but never used the calls WYTS and WJTK before settling on WTTT for its launch on November 2, 2003, included national hosts Bill Bennett, Michael Medved, Sean Hannity, Hugh Hewitt and Dennis Prager. A local morning show with Boston Herald columnist Don Feder lasted only a short time before being cancelled. In February 2006, WTTT added Paul Harvey's news and commentary broadcasts, moving over from WBZ.

On January 28, 2008, WTTT dropped the talk format for Spanish-language Christian music as “Radio Luz”. On July 25, 2008, WTTT swapped callsigns with WWDJ (970 Hackensack) in the New York market; Salem soon launched its conservative talk format on the newly-upgraded New York signal.

WWDJ holds the record for greatest number of callsigns on a single station in the Boston area, with eleven: WCOP, WACQ, WHUE, WSNY, WMEX, WROR, WNFT, WAMG, WBPS, WTTT, and WWDJ.

Historical information courtesy of Donna Halper.

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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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