N.B.: This profile has not been updated in several years, and may contain significant inaccuracies.
WHTK broadcasts with 5000 Watts on 1280 kHz. WHTK is nondirectional by day, switching at night to a directional pattern that concentrates nearly the entire signal into a tight lobe north of the transmitter into the city of Rochester. WHTK uses four guyed towers in a line.
The 1280 frequency in Rochester first came to life in 1947 under the callsign WVET, for the Veterans Broadcasting Company, named in turn after the returning World War II veterans who founded the station.
WVET quickly branched out into television, applying for the channel 10 license and winning it as a share-time with rival WHEC. WVET also made a name for itself with sports, winning the Rochester Red Wings radio rights in 1952 and keeping them for all but one season through 1963.
In 1961, Veterans sold its half of channel 10 to WHEC-TV and purchased WROC-TV/FM. WVET radio became WROC radio, and moved into the WROC broadcast center on Humboldt Street. For most of the next two decades, WROC was a middle-of-the-road, full-service radio station of the kind that flourished in that era. WROC regained Red Wings baseball in 1970, and kept it for all but two of the next dozen seasons.
In 1979, Rust Craft Broadcasting, which had acquired Veterans, sold WROC and its sister station, WPXY(FM), to Associated Broadcasters (later part of Pyramid). The stations moved to new studios in the Chamber of Commerce building on St. Paul Street, and WROC(AM) became WPXN(AM), with the "N" reflecting the station's news format.
The news format came to an end a short time later, and WPXN spent several years as a big-band station before switching to a simulcast of WPXY-FM, changing calls to WPXY(AM) in January 1984 and becoming the city's first AM stereo station. For most of the rest of the decade, listeners heard a "98 PXY...FM and AM Stereo" jingle at the top of each hour.
In 1990, WPXY(AM) switched back to a big-band format, then two years later to the Kool oldies satellite service, as "Kool Gold 1280," WKQG. In 1993, it was back to WPXY(AM) and the FM simulcast, with a brief detour into leased-time Spanish broadcasting.
In September 1993, the 1280/97.9 combo was split after 33 years, with the Lincoln Group's purchase of 1280. As the new sister station of heritage news-talker WHAM, 1280 became "Hot Talk" WHTK with a lineup that included Don Imus in the morning and Don and Mike in the afternoons. The nineties also saw the return of the Red Wings yet again, with play-by-play on 1280 from 1990 until 1993, and returning for the 1997 season.
American Radio Systems purchased the Lincoln Group in 1996, but a Justice Department consent decree compelled them to spin off WHTK, along with WHAM, WVOR, and WNVE, to present owner Jacor.