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City of license Newark, New Jersey
Broadcast area New York City
Frequency 105.9 MHz (also on HD Radio)
105.9-2 FM for Q2
First air date November 26, 1939
Format Classical
ERP 610 watts
HAAT 416 meters
Class B1
Facility ID 46978
Transmitter coordinates 40°44′54.00″N 73°59′10.00″W / 40.74833°N 73.98611°W / 40.74833; -73.98611
Callsign meaning a nod to the calls of 1929 experimental station W2XR. The cursive version of Q mimics the number 2.
Former frequencies 96.3 (MHz) (1944-2009)
Owner WNYC Foundation, Inc.
Webcast WQXR Webstream
Q2 Webstream
Q2 website

WQXR-FM (105.9 MHz.) is a classical radio station licensed to Newark, New Jersey and serving the New York City metropolitan area. It is the most listened-to classical music station in the United States, with an average quarter-hour audience of 63,000. On the air since 1939, WQXR-FM is also one of the oldest continuously operating FM stations in the world.

WQXR-FM is owned by the New York-based, nonprofit WNYC Foundation, which also operates WNYC (820 AM and 93.9 FM). WNYC acquired WQXR on July 14, 2009, as part of a three-way trade which also involved the New York Times Company, the previous owners of WQXR, and Univision Radio.[1 ] At 8:00 p.m. on October 8, 2009, Univision's WCAA moved to the 96.3 FM frequency while WQXR-FM moved to 105.9 FM becoming a non-commercial radio station run by WNYC.[1 ][2 ] Within that next week WCAA now on 96.3 changed its call letters to WXNY.



Callsign MHz City of license Power
Additional Information
W244AS* 96.7 FM Oakhurst, New Jersey 8 D FCC
W279AJ 103.7 FM Highland, New York 2 D FCC


See also: WQEW History


WQXR-FM is the outgrowth of a "high-fidelity" AM station, also called WQXR (1560 AM), which was founded in 1936 by John V. L. Hogan and Elliott Sanger. Hogan began this station as the mechanical television station W2XR, which went on the air on March 26, 1929.[3]

WQXR broadcast mainly classical music recordings. One of the station's listeners was the inventor of frequency modulation, Edwin Howard Armstrong. When Armstrong put his experimental FM station, W2XMN, on the air, he arranged to rebroadcast some of WQXR's programming. This ended in 1939, when Hogan and Sanger put their own experimental FM station on the air, W2XQR, just down the dial from Armstrong at 42.3 MHz.

When the Federal Communications Commission began licensing commercial FM stations, W2XQR moved to 45.9 MHz and became W59NY; the special FM callsigns were later dropped and the station became WQXQ.

New York Times ownership

In 1944, Hogan and Sanger sold their holding company, Interstate Broadcasting Company, to the New York Times Company. When the FM band was moved from 42–50 MHz to its present frequency range of 88–108 MHz in 1945, WQXQ moved to 97.7 MHz. Within a few years, the station had adopted its current callsign, WQXR-FM, and its frequency for the next 64 years, 96.3 MHz.

An older logo of WQXR displaying both FM and AM frequencies.

WQXR was the first AM station in New York to experiment with broadcasting in stereo, beginning in 1952. During some of their live concerts, they used two microphones positioned six feet apart. The microphone on the right led to their AM feed, and the one on the left to their FM feed, so a listener could position two radios six feet apart, one tuned to 1560 and the other to 96.3, and listen in stereo.

During the 1950s, WQXR-FM's programming was also heard on the Rural Radio Network in Upstate New York; this ended when the RRN stations were sold to Pat Robertson's new Christian Broadcasting Network. Both the AM and FM sides continued to simulcast each other until 1965, when the FCC began requiring commonly-owned AM and FM stations in large markets to broadcast separate programming for at least part of the day.

WQXR's final logo at 96.3 FM

After briefly attempting to sell the WQXR stations in 1971, the New York Times was able to get a waiver of the simulcasting rules. The stations continued to duplicate each other until 1992, when the AM side changed its programming from classical to popular standards, becoming WQEW. In 1998, the Times entered into a long-term lease for WQEW with ABC, a move which brought Radio Disney to New York. The Times also included a purchase clause in the lease contract, and ABC exercised the option in 2007. This left WQXR-FM as the Times' lone radio station and, following a sale of its group of television stations to Local TV that same year, the Times Company's sole remaining broadcasting property.

Sale to WNYC and change of frequency

On July 14, 2009, the New York Times Company announced that the 96.3 FM frequency would be transferred to Univision Radio in a sale planned to close in the second half of 2009. As a result, at 8 p.m. on October 8, 2009, Univision's WCAA moved to the 96.3 FM frequency while WQXR-FM moved to 105.9 FM and became a non-commercial radio station run by WNYC. In the $45 million three-party deal, Univision paid the Times Company $33.5 million to trade broadcasting licenses with the Times, so that Univision moved its WCAA broadcast from 105.9 FM to the stronger signal licensed at 96.3 FM. The weaker 105.9 FM signal then became operated by WNYC under the WQXR call letters. WNYC paid the Times Company $11.5 million for 105.9 FM’s license, equipment and the WQXR call letters.[2 ]

Change in coverage area

WQXR has less range and population coverage on 105.9 than it had with its old signal on 96.3. WQXR's old and new signals both radiate from the same FM master antenna atop the the Empire State Building; but while WQXR's old signal (now WCAA's) is 6,000 watts ERP (effective radiated power -- the energy concentrated toward the horizon), its new signal (WCAA's old one) is 600 watts. The calculated signal strength of the new signal at 30 miles (covering about 14.5 million people) is the same as the old 96.3 FM signal at 42 miles (covering about 17.1 million people). Further compromising coverage is Hartford's WHCN, which also broadcasts on 105.9 FM. While WHCN has a directional signal with reduced wattage toward WQXR's transmitter, the two stations do interfere with each other where their signals overlap. Reduced coverage has resulted in thousands of irate veteran listeners.

WQXR's FAQ page [4] states that two translator stations -- 103.7 in Poughkeepsie, New York, and 96.7 in the Asbury Park, New Jersey -- continue to carry WQXR. It also states that WQXR's audio is carried over WNYC's HD2 channel at 93.9 FM, and over Time Warner Cable television channel 590 in the Hudson Valley.


As with most remaining classical music stations in the United States, WQXR's playlist has changed over the years to focus on shorter and more easily assimilated pieces and away from long pieces and most vocal music including opera. However, when compared to music programming from WQXR's early days (1940s and 1950s) the change in music is not as pronounced as might be expected. WQXR does however play a fair amount of 20th century classical works. It also continues to play long pieces during special broadcasts, and during evening hours (7PM to 6AM) and also broadcasts a complete opera at least once a week. Most notably, it is the headquarters for broadcasting the Metropolitan Opera radio broadcasts each Saturday afternoon during its season, from December to April.

In addition to music, WQXR had newscast and financial updates of various lengths, from 30 seconds to 3 minutes, prepared initially by Bloomberg Radio (WBBR-AM 1130 kHz New York City). Over the years, the prominence that WQXR afforded to news first rose, then steadily diminished. During the 1950s and 1960s, WQXR provided five minutes of news each hour, uninterrupted by commercials. "Every hour on the hour, the New York Times brings you the latest news bulletins." These bulletins focused heavily on New York City, New York State, national, and international developments. It also featured a weather forecast for the New York Metropolitan area. Sports was almost never included. This presentation expanded during the 1960s to a fifteen-minute "early evening news roundup" at 6:00 p.m. WQXR dissolved its 2-person news department in late 2008. It had broadcast from the actual newsroom of the New York Times, about 2 miles from the WQXR facility.

WQXR relied on New York Times contributors for a number of short-form features, such as "The Front Page of Tomorrow's New York Times" broadcast six evenings at 9:00 PM and prepared by NYT reporter James Barron, also a weekly fifteen minute book feature prepared in conjunction with the New York Times Book Review editors, a weekly review of Dance, and weekday reports on Theatre, Dining, and Wine. The New York Times' White House correspondent also had frequent reports which were aired during the Morning Show. Since the transfer of ownership to the WNYC Foundation, the station has aired brief news updates during drive time from the WNYC newsroom.

WQXR also broadcasted some religious services, including a live half-hour Shabbat service from Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York every Friday at 5:30 p.m. (which will continue through the end of 2009 [5]), a weekly Lutheran service from the previous week on Sunday morning, as well as Sunday morning services, alternately, from two Unitarian churches, the Community Church and All Souls Church (New York).

The station also featured a weekly program about piano entitled "Reflections from the Keyboard" which is hosted by David Dubal. Mr. Dubal had previously been Music Director at WNCN (a defunct classical music radio station in New York City), WQXR's competitor in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. This program was not continued with the transfer of ownership to the WNYC Foundation. Many of the current WQXR announcers, as well as its Program Director, were previously employed at WNCN.



WQXR 96.3 Managers:[6]

  • General Manager – Thomas Bartunek
  • Program Director – Margaret Mercer
  • Content Director - Jeffrey Spurgeon


The announcers of WQXR 96.3:[7]

  • Candice Agree
  • Annie Bergen
  • Clayelle Dalferes
  • Elliott Forrest
  • Kevin Gordon
  • Bill Jerome
  • Jeff Spurgeon
  • Midge Woolsey
  • Nimet Habachy (Retired April 28, 2007)

On October 8, 2009 Annie Bergen, Elliott Forrest, Kevin Gordon, Jeff Spurgeon, and Midge Woolsey joined WQXR 105.9.


External links


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