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WYSP
94WYSP.PNG
City of license Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Broadcast area Delaware Valley
Branding 94 WYSP
Slogan The Rock You Grew Up With
Frequency 94.1 MHz (FM)
(also on HD Radio)
HD-1 :: WYSP
HD-2 : KYW (AM)
HD-3 :: WIP (AM)
Format Classic rock
ERP 9,600 watts
HAAT 338 meters
Class B
Facility ID 28628
Owner CBS Radio
Sister stations KYW, WIP, WOGL, WPHT
part of CBS Corp. cluster with KYW-TV and WPSG
Webcast Listen Live
Website 94wysp.com

WYSP is a radio station broadcasting a classic rock format. Referred to on-air as "94 WYSP", the station broadcasts on the 94.1 FM frequency in the Philadelphia area. WYSP is owned by CBS Radio. Its studios are on the 9th floor of 400 Market Street in Center City Philadelphia. The station's transmitter is located in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia. Since 1992, WYSP also serves as the flagship station for Philadelphia Eagles radio broadcasts, although the games are also broadcast on sister station 610 WIP. It is now the home of "The Danny Bonaduce Show," the station's first morning talk show since the dismissal of Kidd Chris in early 2008.

Contents

History

In Philadelphia, FM frequency 94.1 began as WIBG-FM, the sister station of WIBG-AM, and basically simulcast the AM top-40 station until the mid-1960s. By this time, WIBG-FM experimented with an "underground", prerecorded type of rock music without announcers.

In 1968, Storer bought the station and shut it down while attempting to get permission for an increase in transmission power. WIBG-FM was a restricted class B station at the time, limited in range to avoid interfering with another station , WQKX 94.1 FM, in Sunbury, PA. During 1969, the WIBG call was changed to WPNA, but only on paper, since the station was still dark. Having been unsuccessful in getting the Sunbury station to agree to an FCC waiver, Storer sold WPNA to SJR Communications. (SJR stood for "San Juan Racing", referring to the company's lone US holding: a racing track in San Juan)

SJR changed the call letters to WYSP ("Your Station in Philadelphia"), and quickly made a deal with the Sunbury station that allowed WYSP to increase its power. The station became a full class B, with a non-directional 550 ft. antenna resulting in 39,000 watts effective radiated power (ERP). On August 23, 1971, WYSP went on the air. The format consisted of live announcers playing big-band and easy listening music from half-hour-long reel-to-reel tapes that were produced in-house. The WYSP studios were located in the Suburban Station Building at 16th and JFK Parkway in Philadelphia. A new RCA transmitter and circular polarized five-bay Gates antenna was installed at the transmitter site.

At 6am on Monday, August 6, 1973, WYSP abruptly stopped playing big-band music and started playing album-oriented rock (AOR). The entire announcing staff was fired (despite attempts to unionize) and five new announcers were hired, including Tom Straw and Dean Clark. The music included popular cuts from albums by artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Chicago, and Crosby Stills and Nash. Radio consultant Kent Burkhart was called in and along with Lee Abrams helped to develop and refine the format. The Fox & Leonard Morning Show (Sonny Fox & Bob Leonard) was the first 2-man morning show on AOR radio.

In 1974, WYSP became Philadelphia's "quad" station, piping its audio through a Sony Quad encoder, which provided "ambience" effects to the rear channels of the handful of quad radios in the market. Due to a compatibility problem with regular mono radios, and a lack of interest from the listening public, the quad encoder was quietly dismantled in 1976.

In June 1979, Program Director Steve Sutton was hired to put a failing YSP back on the map. Assembling a line-up of Jerry Abear, Sean McKay and Bill Fantini (6-10a), Denny Somach (10a-2p), Randy Kotz (2-6p), Gary Bridges (6-10p), Cyndy Drue (10p-2a) and Trip Reeb (2-6a) the station broke artists like Tom Petty in Philadelphia. Sutton hired popular Eagles linebacker Frank LeMaster for mornings during football season. The station was loud, up and cutting edge. Production—outrageous spots and promos—from Jay Gilbert and later, R D Steele made YSP unique. The station was hugely creative; it generated the syndicated shows found on album rock stations around the country, NBC recognized this and pursued WYSP as its flagship affiliate for its new Source network. And YSP soon tied rival WMMR as #1 in the coveted 18-34 demographic. In 1981, Steve Sutton accepted an offer from old friend and WMMR PD Charlie Kendall to cross the street and become the MMR morning host, "Steveski."

WYSP became the nation's very first "classic rock" station in January 1981, when then-Program Director and midday jock Dick Hungate teamed up with station consultant Lee Abrams to more effectively compete with two traditionally-programmed and very entrenched competitors...WMMR and WIOQ. The actual on-air describer "classic rock" was thought of in a strategy session at WYSP's then One Bala Plaza offices, in which other adjectives such as "timeless" and "vintage" also were discussed by Hungate and Abrams. In this pre-PC age, it fell upon Hungate to create the universe of all-old-rock tracks based upon his previous Philly experience as MD of WMMR in 1978-79, using metal file boxes and color-coded 3 X 5 index cards to manually rotate within each age/strength category the on-air playlist. 'YSP would abandon that approach for all new hard rock, only to try classic rock once again a few years later (but, ultimately, to switch back to a current, hard-rock format once and for all).

WYSP was ultimately purchased by Infinity Broadcasting. Infinity merged with CBS in 1996. CBS already owned WMMR, and the Infinity merger left CBS one station over the FCC's ownership limit of the time. WMMR was sold to Greater Media. This left empty space at the KYW-AM-TV studios on Independence Mall, which served as the headquarters for CBS' broadcasting operations in Philadelphia. On April 5, 1997, WMMR and WYSP switched studios. WYSP moved downtown to 5th and Market Street near Independence Mall in Philadelphia and WMMR moved out to Bala Cynwyd. In 1977, the transmitter site was also moved to its present location in Roxborough.

During the late 1990s and early 2000s, the station gradually added or tried out several talk-intensive or talk-based shows during the daytime hours. The shows were a mix of locally based and nationally syndicated programs, such as Opie and Anthony and Don and Mike. While some shows proved successful in their time slot, the station did not retain many, with only a few incarnations of the locally produced shows still on WYSP. Shows that were dropped were usually replaced by the music format.

On October 25, 2005, the station switched to the Free FM format. From its inception until early 2007, WYSP featured a format of straight talk from 6AM to 7PM, a mix of talk and music from 7PM to 10PM and all music from 10PM to 6AM the next day, with all music from 10PM on Fridays to 6AM on Mondays.

The station also featured the syndicated Howard Stern morning show until his move to satellite. Philadelphia was the first city that syndicated Stern. It is also the official award winning broadcaster of Philadelphia Eagles games. From April 2006 to October 2007, the station carried Opie and Anthony's syndicated talk show in the morning, as Stern moved to Sirius Satellite Radio, and David Lee Roth's morning show failed to garner good ratings.

At 11:59 p.m. EDT on March 16, 2007, former WYSP D.J. Jacky Bam Bam (now with WMMR) signed off at the station's previous 5th and Market Street studio (also shared with KYW-AM, KYW-TV, and WPSG-TV) before switching over to the new studios located on the 9th floor at the new 4th and Market studio (KYW-AM is also located in the same building, but on the 10th floor). The first all-talk broadcast (the 9 A.M. Barsky Show) occurred on March 19, 2007 with minor, but correctable problems.

On November 20, 2006, WYSP added the Scotty and Alex Show to replace Couzin Ed. While they continued to play music, it was obvious that the new show was brought in to be a talk-based replacement. On April 17, Scotty and Alex stopped playing music and WYSP began to carry the syndicated Loveline and John and Jeff shows, effectively ending music programming during weekdays.

During the week of June 18, 2007, the use of the "Free FM" title was ended during broadcasts, and new imaging was slowly rolled out which referred to the station as both "94-1 WYSP" and "94 WYSP." During the week of June 25, their "94 WYSP Talks" logo was unveiled on the station website, effectively wiping clean any trace of "Free FM" from the station's identity. On August 13, during the first "Eagles Radio" broadcast of the year, new imaging began to refer to the station as "Philadelphia's FM Talk Station," a nickname also being used by corporate sister station KLSX in Los Angeles.

As recently as June 2007, WYSP was committed to the talk format as long time music programmer, Gil Edwards was let go. Edwards lobbied for a return to rock at that time but was rebuffed by management.[1]

On September 11, 2007, an article was published in the Philadelphia Daily News which stated that a format change at WYSP was imminent.[2] Paul Barsky brushed the article off as rumor, as did Matt of the Matt and Huggy Show. Kidd Chris ranted on the topic, and the brutal radio industry itself. Scotty and Alex somewhat referred to their show that night as their "last" show, claiming that not many radio shows get to do a final broadcast, yet hoped to return tomorrow (they would not).

On September 12, 2007, Paul Barsky stated that he had re-signed with the station, and his show continued as normal with guest Donovan McNabb (ironically, promos for the station would later be heard featuring McNabb announcing that "the rock is back," promos recorded the day of his appearance). A rerun of the previous Wednesday's Matt and Huggy Show was played in their timeslot. At the start of Kidd Chris' broadcast, he discussed the topic of the format change, and revealed that Scotty, Alex, Matt and Huggy had been fired, the Barsky Show was no more, and that Chris himself had lost members of his show (later revealed to be co-producer Monkeyboy [Dave Eitel] and producer Brad Maybe). The night's Scotty and Alex Show' was a "Best Of." and the night's Loveline and John and Jeff broadcasts went as planned (as they are syndicated).

The following day, Opie and Anthony broadcast their show from the WYSP studios. They touted an announcement at 5pm EDT, and joked about the lack of secrecy of the topic (articles in that day's Philadelphia Daily News and the Philadelphia Inquirer, Opie referring to Anthony's "new' "94 WYSP, The Rock Station" sweatshirt he was wearing, the tearing down of a "94 WYSP Talks" poster in the studio). After the conclusion of their broadcast, "Best of" was played until Kidd Chris' show, when at 5 PM EDT, WYSP switched back to an active rock format (without the alternative lean from 2005-2007 during Y100's demise) leaving only Opie and Anthony for the morning drive slot and Kidd Chris for the afternoon drive. The first song on the return of rock was Welcome to the Jungle by Guns N' Roses.

In another effort to improve ratings, WYSP ceased airing the syndicated Opie and Anthony Show during morning drive on October 23, 2007, replacing them with music. Many speculated that Kidd Chris would move from his afternoon drive slot to take over mornings.[3] The last day WYSP aired (and dropped) Opie and Anthony was also the last day Kidd Chris's show aired in the 3-7 PM slot. He ended his show with "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey, and music took over the timeslot starting the next day. For nearly a month, he was in talks with the station for a new contract, and was expected to return in the morning slot.[4] On Sunday, November 25, WYSP revealed on their website that Kidd Chris would be returning the following day, with his show airing from 6-10 AM.

Kidd Chris remained the morning staple for seven months until May 16, 2008. Kidd Chris and WYSP program director John Cook were terminated from WYSP due to an offensive song called "Schwoogies" which aired on March 21 originally and several times there after. The song referred to African-Americans in slang terms that station management determined to be highly offensive.[5]

On August 25, 2008, WYSP returned to the classic rock format it shed in 1995, using the slogan "The Rock You Grew Up With From The 70s, 80s, & 90s." WYSP's version of classic rock has a harder sound than that of the market's other classic rock station, WMGK.

Danny Bonaduce was recently named the new morning drive host for WYSP, with his program beginning November 10, 2008. The show will air from 6-10AM ET.

Competition

Today, WYSP's main competitor in the Philadelphia market is full-time rock station WMMR, which broadcasts on the 93.3FM frequency. WMMR features the highly popular Preston and Steve morning show. Upon the return of Opie and Anthony in April 2006, WYSP sent WMMR some flowers with a card saying: "Congratulations on your last good book," implying that Opie and Anthony would achieve higher ratings than Preston and Steve in future ratings books. WMMR responded by putting the flowers in the men's room.

Music competition between the two stations is not nearly as intense as it was during the 1980s and 1990s, when both stations were considered among the best rock music stations in the nation. With the impending departurre of Howard Stern from terrestrial radio, WYSP was one of the many stations that CBS Radio (then Infinity Broadcasting) chose to launch a bold, male-oriented talk radio format known as Free FM. WYSP consciously surrendered its leadership as a rock music station to WMMR. WYSP's all-talk format featured local shows The Barsky Show, Matt & Huggy, and Scotty & Alex, along with the syndicated Loveline and John and Jeff.

Further competition can be found in WRFF, an alternative leaning rock station launched only 4 months before WYSP flipped back to rock. A quick jump in ratings occurred when 104.5 flipped to rock from its former Spanish language format, something that may have influenced WYSP to flip back to rock.

In the Lehigh Valley, WYSP competes somewhat with WZZO, a local rock station with a long-running and loyal following, and WWYY, also a Lehigh Valley station with a harder sound than that of WZZO.

Trivia

WYSP is remembered by the sound of wind chimes playing whenever the DJ opened the microphone.

External links

References

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