There’s been plenty of migration on FM dial
Reprinted from the Daily Oakland Press, August 1, 2005
By: Art Vuolo
A couple of weeks ago, we had a history lesson on the many changes heard across the AM dial in the last three to four decades. Now let’s cruise down the FM band, where stability has never been a staple of the medium. First, it should be noted that FM frequencies 88.1 through 91.9 are reserved, in our country, for noncommercial broadcasters — known in the trade as “noncoms” — and are usually owned by high schools or colleges and universities.
Our WDET-FM (101.9), Wayne State University’s station, is an exception. From across the border in Windsor, a commercial outlet at 88.7 was first known as CJOM with progressive rock. Today, it’s 89X CIMX-FM, with alternative rock preceded by pop as Mix 88.7.
Locally, our first station, 92.3, has been home to many names and formats. It began as WLIN in Lincoln Park around 1964. Later, it was WCAR-FM, oldies WTWR, country WCXI-FM, urban WNTM and new age WVAE, and today it’s Mix WMXD-FM.
At 93.1, it began as hits WJBK-FM, then country WDEE-FM briefly before switching in June of 1971 to WDRQ-FM, Detroit’s first FM news-talk station. WDRQ evolved from top 40 into disco and then changed to WLTI Lite-FM before switching back to WDRQ and back to the hits. Recently, it became adult hits Doug-FM, though it retains the ’DRQ letters.
Again from Windsor is 93.9, which started out as CKLW-FM, then a plethora of call letters and formats from oldies to country, and today it’s CIDR Lite-FM. Recently, however, its pop music has become much brighter.
As the tour continues, 94.7 began as Birmingham’s WHFI with pop music and big names such as Marc Avery and Lee Alan, housed in a small A-frame building on Rankin Road in Troy. It became oldies Honey Radio WHNE, then pop WMJC, the first Majic 95 with Jeff & Jer. Today? It’s classic rock WCSX.
The roots of 95.5 show it as a true bastion of beautiful music known as WLDM. Then it changed to soft-pop Cozy WCZY, followed by Z95.5, and now WKQI, but became better known as Q95 and, currently, Channel 9-5-5. Are you taking notes?
What started out at 96.3 as elevator music WJR-FM flipped to hits WHYT in the early ’80s, followed later by modern rock The Planet WPLT. Today, it’s adult hit music WDVD.
There was more easy listening at 97.1 with WWJ-FM, followed by WJOI Joy 97 for many years. It was then WYST Star 97 with ’70s hits before becoming K-Rock WKRK going after rock giant The Riff. It failed, and WKRK is now Live 97.1 with a hot talk format and Lions football.
The 97.9 spot has been home only to ethnic WMZK and, for years, urban WJLB, staying amazingly stable.
WBFG was “We Broadcast For God” at 98.7, then it abruptly changed to rock WLLZ Detroit’s Wheels. You know it now as Smooth Jazz WVMV, or V-98.7.
One of the early homes of jazz was 99.5 WABX, which became a legendary “underground” rocker for years. Then it morphed into top 40, then WCLS “Class” before switching to eclectic-pop WDTX. It soon became hits WDFX The Fox, followed by a major shift to WOWF “WOW-FM,” another FM talker that lasted only five months. When it became Young Country WYCD, it stuck.
At 100.3, the saga began as WKMH-FM, then hits WKNRFM, which was transformed into Stereo Island pop music and then in 1973 to adult contemporary WNIC, which it still is today.
101.1 has been only two things — WXYZ-FM and, for 34 years, “Detroit’s Home of Rock & Roll” WRIF. Very stable indeed.
Wayne State’s WDET is one of just four FMs still with their original call letters.
At 102.7, we’ve seen a litany of names on the license. Macomb County’s WBRB-FM became WLBS urban-disco, then it was Kiss WKSG with oldies, then new age WXCD, Z-Rock WDZR, the Bear WWBR with Ted Nugent and then urban oldies and Kiss again as WDMK, which started as soft pop. Now it just switched to WHTD Hot 102.7 with hip-hop music.
Christian WMUZ at 103.5 is another call-letter original, and at 104.3, oldies WOMC has always stood for “Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties.” It started out with beautiful music and pop.
Many classical buffs remember 105.1 as classical WQRS for 37 years, then it stunned locals when it flipped to hard rock WXDG The Edge. After 15 months, that switched to jammin’ oldies WGRV The Groove, and then, 15 months later, became the second Magic with adult contemporary WMCG, which it is today.
105.9 stared out as jazz/black WCHD, then becoming jazz WJZZ, followed by WDTJ Detroit’s Jams. Now it’s adult urban WDMK Kiss 105.9.
The 106.7 spot began as classical WDTM. In 1970, it became WWWW (W4) which was beautiful music, oldies, rock with Howard Stern and, lastly, country for many years. Its current gear is classic hits WDTW The Drive.
Finally, our last unchanged letters are WGPR at 107.5, which stood for “Grosse Pointe Radio.” In the last few decades, it’s been rhythmic and jazz. That’s our fast-moving tour down the FM dial in Detroit. There will be a quiz next week.
Art Vuolo has published the Radio Guide for more than 30 years and runs Vuolovideo.com.