Infobox Radio station
name = WEPN
New York City
area = New York City area
branding = 1050 ESPN New York
slogan = "The Sports Talk of New York"
March 19, 1922(as WHN)
frequency = 1050 AM (kHz)
format = Commercial; Sports
power = 50,000
class = B
facility_id = 65636
callsign_meaning = ESPN
former_callsigns = WEVD (1989-2003)
The Walt Disney Company
licensee = New York AM Radio, LLC
webcast = [http://stations.espn.go.com/stations/1050espnradio/story?id=listenlive Listen Live!]
website = [http://www.1050espnradio.com/ www.1050espnradio.com]
Rangers Radio Network
Jets Radio Network
Knicks Radio Network
Army Black Knights football
coordinates = coord|40|48|26.00|N| 74|04|11.00|W|region:US_type:city
WEPN (1050 kHz), branded as "1050 ESPN New York", is a 24-hour
sports radiostation in New York Cityfeaturing national and local sports talk programs and live broadcasts of sports matches. It is the New York affiliate for ESPN Radio. Its transmitters are located in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
It is the radio home for the
New York Knicksof the NBA, the New York Jetsof the NFL, the New York Rangersof the NHL, Syracuse Universitymen's basketball and football, and select nationally broadcast Major League Baseballand NBA games. There is also a partnership with the Army's football team, but those games usually air on sister station WQEW, or on former sister station WABC because of scheduling conflicts.
The 1050 frequency had a long history prior to this format. Starting in the 1920s as WHN it played a diversified format; renamed WMGM in the late 1940s, the diversity continued until a switch to rock & roll in the late 1950s and early 1960s. As WHN again, it played adult standards in the 1960s and country music in the 1970s and 1980s (the format it was best known for). In the late 1980s as WFAN it was the original frequency for the very successful all-sports station; which begat a truly convoluted set of ownership, call letter, and format changes via Spanish language WUKQ; as the eventual WEVD it was a low-rated brokered station in the 1990s; and today as WEPN.
WHN was one of the first radio stations in New York City, going on the air on
March 18, 1922at AM frequency 833 and originally owned by the "Ridgewood Times" newspaper. Original shows included children's programming. A court case in the 1920s against AT&Testablished some of the early legal principles for American broadcasting.
The station became noted for playing
jazzand contemporary dance music, including Sophie Tucker, Fletcher Henderson, and Duke Ellington, as well as for broadcasting Columbia Universityfootball games. In 1928 the station was bought by the Loew's Theatre Organization. During the 1920s the station's frequency changed to 830, 760, and then 1010. In the 1930s it broadcast the " Major Bowes Amateur Hour", which became so popular it was picked up by the CBS Radio Network.
WHN made its final frequency change to 1050 in 1941. During the 1940s the programs "Radio Newsreel" and "Newsreel Theater" were prototypes for what would later become the all-news radio format. The station broadcast
Brooklyn Dodgersgames with Red Barberas well as the New York Giantsand New York Rangerswith Marty Glickman.
September 15, 1948, the station changed its call lettersto WMGM. The station had a diversified format that included pop standardhits, drama, talk, and sports, and briefly featured New York talk legend Barry Gray.
In the mid to late 1950s the station switched to playing Top 40
rock and rollhits, which covered a broad spectrum of music nonetheless. The 50s brand of Top 40 played by WMGM and its competitors included what might today be considered Rhythm & Blues and Country, in addition to popular instrumentals (Percy Faith's 1960 Theme from a Summer Place and Acker Bilk's 1962 Stranger on the Shore hit the top of the charts during this era).
Nevertheless, WMGM was overall more up-tempo than the competition, featuring artists like
Elvis Presley, Fats Domino, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Frankie Lymon, the Crystals, the Tokens, Ray Charles, Dinah Washington, Brook Benton, Ricky Nelson, and Bill Haley. Playlists were narrower and more predictable than mainstream MOR stations'. WMGM's deejay lineup included entertaining morning man Ted Brown and the Redhead (Ted's then-wife), Jerry Marshall, Peter Tripp, Norm Stevens, Dick Shepherd, Bob Lewis, Ed Stokes and Bob Callen. Among its newsreaders were Bill Edmunds, Dick DeFrietas and Aime Govin.
WMGM's deejay lineup was subdued compared to what was just over the horizon: the hyper, fast-talking jocks with their electronically created studio reverb that became standard during the glory years of WABC and WMCA.
During its Top 40 incarnation, WMGM was for a time home to New York Yankees baseball with
Mel Allen, Red Barberand Phil Rizzuto. Ex-athletes-turned-broadcasters Marty Glickman and Gussie Moran worked Yankees pre- and post-game shows from the studio. Ironically, the Yankees affiliation might have worked against WMGM's longterm viability as the dominant station among the teen-aged set. While rivals WINS, WABC and WMCA were essentially wall-to-wall rock and roll/pop music, WMGM's sports programming breaks left a huge opening for demanding young listeners to turn elsewhere.
By 1962, with 1010 WINS, 770 WABC, and 570
WMCAalso playing predominantly rock and roll music. WMGM-1050 was sold to Storer Broadcasting, which owned mostly TV stations, but also owned top-rated WIBG, a rock & roll radio station less than 100 miles away in Philadelphia. But alas, WIBG did not have three other stations competing with it.
Storer immediately dropped Top 40 for slow-paced standards and
beautiful music, the province of much of FM radio at the time, much to the dismay of its core teen base who had mastered the art of dial-jumping between WMGM, WINS, WMCA and WABC in search of their favorites. The station was renamed WHN again on February 28, 1962with special permission by the FCC. (Three-letter call signsets are a rarity and have not been issued to broadcast stations since the early 1930s, let alone on the AM band; since WHN, WGH in Newport News, Virginiaand KHJ in Los Angelesare the only known AM stations that have been able to revert back to their original three-letter calls.)
Through the 1960s, WHN, unlike WNEW and WOR, did not even play any softer rock and roll music whatsoever. As New York City's
Mutual Radio Networkaffiliate, on-air hosts included Jim Ameche(brother of actor Don Ameche), Jack Sterling, and, early on, the comedy team of Bob Elliot & Ray Goulding( Bob and Ray). (Morning host Ted Brownremained with WHN for only a short time of transition, heading eventually to MOR WNEW-AM.)
Longtime WABC fixture Herb Oscar Anderson moved in to the morning slot by the late 60s. They played vocalists such as
Nat King Cole, Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Peggy Lee, Patti Page, Johnny Mathis, plus a heavy dose of instrumentalist groups, notably Percy Faith, Al Hirt, Ray Conniff, Henry Mancini, and others. The station was about 75% vocal and 25% instrumental. Ratings were decent, but the demographic was older by a generation or two. WHN essentially became a background music station, suitable for doctors' offices and other Muzak-type venues, while maintaining a live presence with its hosts and newscasters.
WHN eventually picked up
New York Metsbaseball ( Lindsey Nelson, Bob Murphy, Ralph Kiner), after the team's original NYC flagship, WABC-AM770, dropped the rights after the novelty of the new team, born in 1962, wore off. The station became a launching pad for the radio sports broadcasting career of Marv Albert, who hosted the "Interwoven Scoreboard" after Mets games and later on reintroduced New York fans to the Knicks and Rangers on radio.
Both winter sports teams had fallen upon hard times and had just about fallen silent on the New York area radio dial until WHN, with Albert as their voice, made their presence known again. Initially, Rangers games were broadcast in small doses: the last two minutes of the first and second periods, then the entire third period. Albert's calls of both sports became legendary on "Double-U AA-CHH ENN". The entire metropolitan area was riveted to his radio calls ("Yessss") of
Red Holzman's miracle 1969-70 Knicks championship run, much of which was blacked out from over-the-air TV viewers.
Overall, though, WHN's ratings were still low as the FM band, by FCC rule, developed its own identity and WHN's brand of music was more suited for FMs high fidelity. By 1971, WHN began mixing in softer songs by artists like
Elvis Presley, Everly Brothers, Beatles, Association, and others with their easy listening format. Still, the ratings were below average. After a lot of research, on February 26, 1973, WHN became a country musicstation. The New York Metropolitan Area had never been a country music hot spot, and prior to WHN, the area had only had two country music stations: WJRZ in Hackensack, New Jersey(which changed to a Top 40 format with the call letters of WWDJin 1971, and to a religious format in 1974), and WTHEin Mineola, New York, which also later changed to a religious format.
In the early year's of WHN's country format, it featured on-air personalities such as
Lee Arnold, Del Demontreux, Larry Kenney, "Big" Wilson, Ray Otisand Jack Spector. Some of these were holdovers from the previous MOR format.
As a country music station, they played artists like
Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Tanya Tucker, Lynn Anderson, Kenny Rogers, Mel Tillis, Charley Pride, Mickey Gilly, Ronnie Milsap, and many more. Also, they mixed in non-country artists that had country friendly songs such as The Eagles, Elvis Presley, Anne Murray, Olivia Newton-John, Linda Ronstadt, and others.
Over the years, as WHN evolved as a country station, on-air personalities such as
Mike Fitzgerald, Dan Taylor, Sheila York, Dana Lauren, Bob "Wizard" Wayne, Dan Daniel, Jessie, Sheila York, Alan Colmes, Robbie Roman, Jerry Carroll, Stan Martin Brian Kelly, Stan Martin, Ed Baer, Robbie Roman, Jerry Carrolland others moved in. During this era, WHN was programmed by Ed Salamon, who was inducted into the Country Radio Hall of Fame in 2006. WHN is conidered the most listend to Country radio station in history.
In the late 1970s Mutual Radio bought WHN from Storer. In 1980, WHN got some competition when WRVR was sold to
Viacomand dropped jazz for country and became WKHK (also known as "Kick 106 FM"). As a result, ratings went down for WHN, but they stuck it out. They added New York Metsbaseball to their lineup in 1983. WHN had previously carried the Mets from 1972 until 1974.
In 1984, WKHK became "Lite FM"
WLTW, playing a soft adult- contemporary format. Without direct competition, WHN remained country, with decent ratings. In 1985 Doubleday Broadcasting bought WHN. In 1986 Emmis Communicationsbought WHN in a corporate deal. Emmis added sports talk in the evenings, but kept the country format the rest of the day until 1987.
In late April 1987, Emmis announced that WHN would drop country on
July 1for an "all-sports" format, the first of its kind on radio. They would drop the WHN calls and become WFAN ("The Fan"). In May, NBCannounced that Adult Contemporary WYNY 97.1 (today's WQHT) would go country on July 1, the same day as WHN ended the format. The airstaff said their goodbyes at the end of June. Dan Taylor signed off at 3 p.m. with "For The Good Times" by Ray Price on July 1, 1987.
The first voice heard on WFAN was that of
Suzyn Waldmanwith a sports update at 3:00 p.m., [cite web | url=http://www.radioink.com/HeadlineEntry.asp?hid=138448&pt=todaysnews | title=NYC’s ‘FAN: in business 20 years & a day | publisher="Radio Ink" | accessdate=2007-07-05] followed by the first show, which was hosted by Jim Lampley. Waldman would report for the station, covering the Yankees and Knicks, for 14 years. Other personalities that hosted shows besides Lampley in the 1050 kHz years included Bill Mazer, Pete Franklin, Greg Gumbeland Ed Coleman. WFAN also inherited broadcast rights to the defending World Series champion New York Metsfrom WHN, who had held the rights for several years. Ratings were low initially but gradually improved.
In early 1988
General Electric, which now owned NBC through its purchase of RCA two years earlier, announced that it would sell off the NBC Radio division. In February of that year GE made a multi-station deal with Emmis and, in New York, the WNBC and WYNY licenses were included in the sale. This ended up giving Emmis control of four frequencies: 97.1-FM, 103.5-FM, 660-AM and 1050-AM, whereas duopolies were not permitted yet by the FCC.
Emmis ended up moving their Dance/R&B "Hot" format and call letters
WQHTover to the 97.1 frequency (while selling the 103.5 facility and WYNY's intellectual property over to Westwood One), and then moved WFAN's format and call letters from 1050 to 660 on October 7, 1988at 5:30 p.m., replacing "66 WNBC" which signed off forever.
As for the 1050 license,
Spanish Broadcasting Systembought it, intending to swap it with cash to the Jewish Daily Forwardfor their FM station, WEVD 97.9. However, Spanish Broadcasting already owned WSKQ, AM 620 in Newark, New Jersey. The deal for WEVD could not be consummated at the same time as Emmis' purchase of 660, which left Spanish Broadcasting owning two AM stations in the New York market, which (as was the case with Emmis earlier) not permitted under FCCrules at that time.
FCCgranted them a temporary waiver to run 1050 on a noncommercial basis until it could be transferred. Therefore, following WFAN's move to 660, 620 WSKQ flipped from Spanish Adult Contemporary to Spanish Oldies while the 1050 facility became "KQ 1050" WUKQ playing Spanish Adult Contemporary music (commercial-free, to satisfy the FCC requirement).
For the first few hours after the switch of WFAN to the 660 facility, WUKQ broadcast a recorded message which was continuously looped stating:
"This is WUKQ-AM New York, operating at 1050 Kilohertz. If you are looking for SportsRadio 1050, we've moved... down the dial to 660-AM. Join us now for the new SportsRadio 66 WFAN."
A copy of this recording is available in the
RealPlayerformat by [http://mxmonline.tripod.com/wukq.html clicking here] .
Shortly thereafter, the FCC approved the trade of WUKQ for WEVD on
February 1, 1989. Under the deal, the Spanish AC format on 620 would move to 97.9-FM, and the station would become FM-98 WSKQ-FM. Meanwhile, WEVD's call letters and programming moved to the 1050 facility. Dating back to October 20, 1927, WEVD had been the radio station owned by the Workman's Circle("Arbeter Ring") in New York City. Its call letters were a tribute to legendary Socialist Partyleader Eugene Victor Debs, who died one year earlier.
This was WEVD's second existence on the AM dial, as it was originally a time-share at 1330-AM with
WPOW, an arrangement that lasted until 1984. WEVD soon added an FM counterpart at 107.5-FM in 1950, which then moved to 97.9-FM in 1952. Both stations maintained the same programming through the 50s, 60s and 70s. The AM station was sold on March 2, 1981for $1.1 million to Salem Communications, and changed the call letters to WNYM (today WWRV) while WEVD continued on the FM dial.
By 1988 the station was mostly an outlet for leased access foreign language programming. WEVD had a brokered format with Jewish programming, ethnic programs, talk shows, and a
big bandshow with Danny Stiles. The station generated cash flow by selling blocks of airtime, which allowed it to be profitable despite minimal ratings.
By the mid 1990s, WEVD had a talk format with a liberal emphasis on weekdays, with ethnic programming at night and on weekends. Talk hosts included New York sports legend
Bill Mazer, former New York mayor Ed Koch, Jay Diamond, Sam Greenfield, and Alan Colmes.
During most of 1050's existence as WEVD, the station broadcast Mets, Jets, Knicks and Rangers games produced by
WFAN, when WFAN was already broadcasting another game. WFAN game overruns are now broadcast on WBBR.
In 2001 WEVD entered into a
local marketing agreementwith ABC/Disney and added ESPN Radio's " The Dan Patrick Show" to the talk lineup. Despite a public campaign to save the old format, on September 2, 2001WEVD began running ESPN Radio fulltime, albeit having simulcast WABC's coverage of the September 11 attacksnine days later.
The first local voice on 1050 ESPN Radio was Don La Greca
The station was renamed WEPN on
April 28, 2003after being sold to ABC/Disney outright, which continues to run the station as 1050 ESPN Radio. For years, WEPN billed itself as New York City's only all-sports station, since competitor WFAN's former morning show, " Imus in the Morning", was primarily a politically-based talk show. However, this is (and, in fact was) a misnomer, since Imus has been replaced by a sports-themed show with Boomer Esiasonas host and there was also the existence of satellite sports station WSNR, which ran a 24-hour feed of Sporting News Radioand thus also counted as an "all sports" station.
Despite the fact that it is a 50,000 watt station, it cannot be heard clearly in many parts of the
New York metropolitan area, especially west of New York City and in Suffolk County on Long Island. WEPN has a highly directional signal, due primarily to the fact that there is another 50,000 watt station on the 1050 channel, CHUM (AM) a few hundred miles to the northwest in Toronto, and yet another 50,000 watt station, KYW, in Philadelphia next door on the dial at 1060 AM.
Arbitrondata of as early 2006, WFAN's daytime ratings are about 3 points higher on average than WEPN's, though WFAN's most-known " Mike and the Mad Dog" show has aired since 1989, or well over a decade longer than WEPN has existed. Because of WEPN's limited signal, all Jets games are simulcast on WABC, which reaches more of the suburbs. The station has also worked with MSG Networkto find affiliates for Knicks and Rangers games outside WEPN's coverage area. [http://weblogs.newsday.com/sports/watchdog/blog/2007/09/at_least_knicks_and_rangers_fa.html] Early in 2008, to strengthen the reach of WEPN, ESPN reached LMAs to simulcast WEPN on WLIR in Hampton Bays, extending WEPN's reach to eastern Long Island, and on WNJEin Flemington (for New Jersey's ESPN), extending WEPN's reach into the Skylands Regionand the Trenton market. Both stations broadcast the WEPN signal full time.
Programs on WEPN
While WEPN does broadcast most of ESPN Radio's programming, some preemptions are made.
The daily schedule starts at 5 AM with a simulcast of "
SportsCenter". " Mike & Mike in the Morning", ESPN Radio's morning program, follows from 6-10 AM. WEPN preempts ESPN Radio's midday show " The Herd with Colin Cowherd", instead airing "Kellerman & Kenny", a local three hour midday show hosted by Max Kellermanand Brian Kenny. " Tirico and Van Pelt" follows that, with WEPN preempting the last hour of the show (when Scott Van Pelthosts solo) and airing "The Michael Kay Show" from 3-7 PM. Brandon Tierney hosts evenings, starting at 7 PM on Monday and Tuesday and 7:30 PM on the other days of the week (WEPN rebroadcasts " Pardon The Interruption" the other night), hosting until 11 PM unless WEPN is broadcasting another event. The nationally syndicated "Jim Rome Show" follows and airs until 2 AM, at which point WEPN rejoins ESPN Radio for "ESPN Radio AllNight".
On Saturday, WEPN airs locally hosted shows from 6 AM to 4 PM, at which point national ESPN Radio programming returns until 8 AM on Sunday morning, after which local shows air until 1 PM.
Warner Wolf, Gordon Damer, and Jody McDonaldall host shows on the weekends.
* [http://www.1050espnradio.com/ Official website]
* [http://www.airwaves.com/archive3/v9_89.html AIRWAVES RADIO Journal V9 #89] - "Re: 1050 NYC (was: Relate These Phrases For Me)" explains the complex callsign changes related to WHN.
* [http://www.nyradioguide.com/cgi-bin/infoam.cgi/WEPN-AM New York Radio Guide station history]
* [http://www.angelfire.com/nj2/piratejim/nycamhistory3.html NYC AM Radio History station history]
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