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City of license Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Broadcast area Greater Philadelphia (Delaware Valley)
Branding WDAS 105.3 FM
Slogan "Philly's Best R&B and Classic Soul"
Frequency 105.3 (MHz) (also on HD Radio)
105.3 HD-2 for R&B Love Songs
First air date August 1959
Format Urban Adult Contemporary
Language English
ERP 16,500 watts
HAAT 266 meters
Class B
Facility ID 71316
Callsign meaning W Dannenbaum And Steppacher
Owner Clear Channel Communications
Sister stations WIOQ, WISX, WRFF, WUBA, WUSL
Webcast Listen Live

WDAS-FM is an Urban Adult Contemporary radio station that features R&B and Classic Soul, and is licensed to the city of Philadelphia. The station is widely regarded as one of the originators of the Urban AC format which mixes R&B oldies with non-rap contemporary R&B and is now found in many major markets across the United States. WDAS broadcasts at an effective radiated power of 16,500 watts (16.5 kilowatts (kW)) from a class B signal, from a tower located in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia. The main competitor of WDAS in the Philadelphia market is WRNB, which broadcasts on the 107.9 frequency. WDAS used to feature the Tom Joyner Morning Show, until WRNB won the rights to the syndicated morning show. WDAS is the current Philadelphia affiliate for the competing Steve Harvey Morning Show. WDAS is owned by Clear Channel Communications.


WDAS is one of at least two "legendary" radio stations in Philadelphia, pioneers in a format so successful that listenership is passed on from generation to generation. In Philadelphia's African American community, WDAS is the FM equivalent to the perennially popular KYW Newsradio 1060. Widely regarded as the originator of the Urban Adult Contemporary format which it plays today, WDAS continues to occupy its roost amongst the 3 top radio stations in the Delaware Valley as of December 2005 Arbitron ratings, [1]. But it was not always this way.

WDAS came on the air in August 1959, as a hybrid rock and classical music format, the later of which featured on Sundays. The station shared the same WDAS call letters as its AM counterpart on the 1480 frequency. By mid 1960s, the station moved to the classical music format execlusively. However, due to low ratings by April 1968, the format changed back to a rock format, evolving to the new "underground" and album-track trend. This short-lived period introduced much of the new voices of "progressive" FM radio including Michael Tearson and Ed Sciaky alongside a revitalized Hy Lit from WIBG, and later a popular nighttime show by owner Max Leon's son Steve, who called himself "My Father's Son" on the air. Venerable folk music host Gene Shay also did his program from WDAS at this time.

During the late 1960's and early 1970's, radio stations were under increased pressure by the Nixon Administration through the FCC to censor music that involved drug content. Steve Leon ignored this directive and continued to play the music that was popular at the time. While playing Arlo Guthrie's "Coming Into Los Angeles", which referenced smuggling marijuana, Leon charged into the station and ripped the turntable arm off the record. Leon then fired his son and the other on the air staff. To fill the void, WDAS-AM staff were used as replacements.

In March 1971, Leon and a group empowered to direct change at the radio station launched its Urban Contemporary format[2]. The station playlist included the R&B, soul and funk playing what would become the classics of their genre and launching careers of national artists like Lou Rawls and "Philadelphia Sound" acts such as The O'Jays, The Stylistics, Patti LaBelle and the Blue Bells, and Teddy Pendergrass. WDAS' rising success paralleled the red-hot popularity of the new R&B sound developed at Philadelphia International Records[3]. By 1975, as the Philly Sound laid the musical groundwork for disco, the station too began to integrate more disco into the station's playlist to go along with its rising popularity. By the end of the decade, WDAS introduced its listenership to the new genre of Rap playing Sugarhill Gang, Kurtis Blow and again showcasing local talent like Frankie Smith (of "Double Dutch Bus" fame). By 1980, WDAS was the number-one music station in Philadelphia[4].

WDAS' activistic voice was as powerful as its musical one. Legendary broadcasters George "Georgie" Woods and Ed Bradley shaped the political voice of the station[5],[6]. WDAS earned its position as the "voice of the [Black] community"

The station was sold in November 1979 to Black-owned Unity Broadcasting Network, and it honed the Urban Contemporary format in 1980. By 1982, new competition from WUSL forced the station to skew towards the Urban Adult Contemporary format, and rap music was removed from the playlists. It also further leveraged its community involvement and public affairs programming aimed at the black community. The station moved away from the disco music into more to urban hits. The station introduced a new slogan was "105.3 WDAS-FM, Say It Loud, We're Black And We're Proud". Despite these efforts, WUSL, which played primarily black artists geared to both black and white audiences, won the urban ratings battle.

By 1989, WDAS evolved into a successful, community-oriented Urban Adult Contemporary format after that, and WDAS-AM had flipped to Urban Gospel in 1989. In 1994, Unity Broadcasting sold both WDAS stations to Beasley Broadcast Group. In 1995, when the Tom Joyner Morning Show went syndicated nationwide through ABC, WDAS became a flagship affiliate. In May 1996, Beasley sold WDAS to Evergreen which owned WUSL, making WDAS and WUSL sister stations. In 1997, Evergreen and Chancellor merged to form Chancellor Media and later restructured in 1999 as AMFM, Inc. In 2000, Clear Channel Communications acquires AMFM along with several of the top urban radio stations in the United States.

Since 1979, WDAS has sponsored Unity Day, an annual summer gathering on Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

External links



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