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Specs at a Glance
July 1922, Leslie L. Altman
starts the Bradbury Heights Bus Line to Washington with 2 buses. Its
garage & offices were located at 1510 Southern Avenue in SE, DC.
In 1926 it incorporates as the Washington, Marlboro and Annapolis
(WM&A) Motor Lines, Inc.
bus line grows and on December 6, 1941 opens its new garage &
office building at 4421
Southern Ave, SE, DC.
The Federal Communications Commission grants a construction permit
for a new FM station to the Chesapeake Broadcasting Company, Inc.
in late 1947 to build and operate a station on 96.7 megacycles at
Bradbury Heights, Maryland, "just over the District of Columbia
dealer Arthur Baldwin Curtis
was President of Cheasapeake Broadcasting which selected and was
granted WBUZ-FM as call letters
for the 1KW station. By the end of the year, the station was authorized
to use 420 watts Effective Radiated Power.
transmitter and 255 foot tower were located at Bradbury Heights with
studios & offices in the WM&A passenger terminal at 1510 Southern
Ave. in SE, DC.
independent station originally announced a target date of Christmas,
1947 but delays caused by the failure of some equipment to arrive
postponed WBUZ-FM's airdate to January 18th.
& General Manager
of WBUZ-FM was Leslie
L. Altman, President of the WM&A Bus Line. Al
K. Porter was Vice President & Commercial Manager of the new
station, "the first all Gates-equipped station in the Washington,
hour were from 7:00AM until 12 midnight daily. In late 1948, Leslie
L. Altman was named President of the Chesapeake Broadcasting Co.
while continuing as WBUZ-FM's General
early 1949, WBUZ-FM was 'transitcasting',
programming recorded music into buses of the WM&A line. Another
'transitcaster in the DC area was WWDC-FM. Read
a related story on 'transitcasting' here.
Chesapeake Broadcasting Co. is reorgnized. For a consideration of
$1,300, 22.24% interest is acquired from A.C.
Connelly by President & General
Manager, Leslie L. Altman.
The FCC sanctioned this transfer on August 14th, 1950.
June, 1951, the 'transitcasting'
concept, in vogue over a number of independently operated FM stations
across the United States, was attacked by the Transit Riders Association,
and found unconstitutional by a Federal Appeals Court. The Chesapeake
Broadcasting Company continues piping in WBUZ-FM
into the Washington, Marlboro & Annapolis busses while the case
WBUZ-FM transmitter tower in
Bradbury Heights is felled by vandals on October 13th, 1951. At the
time, the WM&A Bus Line is the target of a labor dispute with
its drivers. The station later returns to the air with 50 watts using
a temporary antenna until a new tower can be erected and full power
U.S. Supreme Court overturns a lower court and rules in favor of 'transitcasting'
but the damage is done as the tide of public opinion has turned against
riders of municipal transportation being forced to hear music and
commercials against their will.
(but now simulcasts WWDC-AM) in May 1953. But out of sheer economic
necessity, WBUZ-FM with no sister
AM station to fall back on, continues to broadcast to a total of 35
buses (out of a fleet of 90) of the WM&A line.
raises power to 6.3KW that same month and its city of license is changed
to Oakland, Maryland. Then on June 8th, 1953, the FCC grants a permit
to the station to raise power from 6.3KW to 18KW.
on November 12th, 1953, Washington electronics engineer and former
FCC employee, Harry Hayman receives
a Construction Permit to build and operate a new Morningside, Maryland
AM broadcasting station. The FCC assigns 250 watt daytime only operation
to the station on 1580 kilocycles. Estimated construction cost $9,420;
first year operating costs $28,140; anticipated first year advertising
revenue $31,200. The call letters WPGC, representing Prince
Georges County are issued late in the year.
The tower for WPGC-AM is erected in April and broadcasts begin on
April 24th, 1954 from Morningside
on a hill on the farm of Duval B.
Evans on Walters Lane. Harry
Hayman is President & General
Manager of the new independent station which airs 'Hillbilly Music'
for 25% of its broadcast day. On September 15th, 1954, WPGC-AM's power
is increased to 1,000 watts (250 watts Critical Hours).
6 months of its on air debut, Maxwell
Evans Richmond, purchases WPGC-AM from Harry
Hayman for $10,000 on November 10th, 1954.
that year, WBUZ-FM, its 'transitcasting'
days now behind it, changes frequency from 96.7 to 95.5 megacycles
and power is reduced to 16.5KW from a new
transmitter & tower site
on Walker Mill Road in Oakland, MD, a few miles from Bradbury Heights.
President Leslie L. Altman
names Leslie Smith as the new
General Manager. WPGC-AM's
President Maxwell Richmond names
former WPGC-AM Chief Engineer, Gene
Winters as General Manager
of WPGC-AM that same year
so that Richmond could devote
more time to his advertising agency in Philadelphia as well as to
WPGC's sister station in Boston, WMEX.
April 14th, 1955 a modification of WPGC-AM's permit to raise power
to 10,000 watts daytime only and install a directional antenna system
was granted. Late
in the year WPGC-AM opens new offices and studios at 4421
Southern Ave., SE, DC
above the WM&A Bus Line repair facility, in the studios formerly
used by WBUZ-FM (which has since
moved it's studios to the transmitter site).
March 30th, 1956, WBUZ-FM changes
its call letters to WRNC-FM. (Today the WBUZ
calls are used by an alternative station in Nashville). Late in the
year, WRNC-FM is purchased from the Chesapeake Broadcasting Company
by WPGC, Inc. $5.00 is paid for the station license and $10,000 for
its equipment and tower. FCC approval takes place on November 20th,
1956. The purchase is made to add nightime programming to WPGC-AM's
daytime only operation.
this time, WPGC-AM owner Maxwell
Richmond becomes President of WRNC-FM and names Gene
Winters, General Manager
of WPGC-AM as General
Manager of WRNC-FM. WRNC begins dupicating WPGC-AM's daytime programming
changes call letters to WPGC-FM in mid-March 1958. (Today the WRNC
calls are assigned to an AM Country station not presently on the air
in suburban Atlanta). Power on the FM is reduced to 15.7KW while the
power increase authorized for the AM in 1955 to 10,000 watts daytime
only is implemented. The FM temporarily goes silent as new studios
in preparation for a new format are constructed at the transmitter
February 1959, the FM returns to the air from new studios at the transmitter
site at 6369 Walker Mill Road in Oakland, MD, playing
Big Band music.
Robert Howard joins the station
early in the year as its new General
Manager. On July 2nd, 1959, the FCC authorizes the station to
mount the FM antenna on the north (280 foot) tower of the AM's array.
this time, the Washington, Marlboro & Annapolis Bus Line is sold
to an employee group and founder Leslie
L. Altman retires to Florida.
On January 27th, 1964, the FM is granted FCC authorization to change
its city of license from Oakland
to Morningside. The
FM begins expanded broadcasts till midnight beyond the AM
June 28th, 1965, the stations are granted a modification of their
licenses to move studios to Bladensburg, MD (outside the city limits
of Morningside but are allowed to continue to identify themselves
as being in Morningside). New offices & studios are located in
the Parkway Building adjacent to the Baltimore Washington Parkway,
5801 Annapolis Road,
Landover Heights (adjacent to Bladensburg), occupying the top floor
of a multi story office building which open late in the year.
FM is granted a construction permit to raise power to 50KW on August
6, 1968. Coinciding with this, the FM
its first 24 hour broadcasts,
also in August.
raise in power for the FM to 50KW authorized in 1968 is implemented,
utilizing two transmitters in parallel.
FM goes ((Stereo))!!
Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) purchases
the Washington, Marlboro & Annapolis bus line (WM&A, original
owner of WBUZ-FM) for $4.5
million. Along with the near simultaneous acquisition of the other
three independently owned bus lines in the greater Washington area,
MetroBus is formed.
Foreshadowing things to come, ratings on the FM surpass those on the
AM for the first time. For years, the station has continually
conditioned its listeners to 'tune
over now' at sunset.
the estate of station owner, Max
Richmond receives FCC approval on August 7th, 1974 to sell the
stations for $5.8 million to First Media Corporation (Richard E. Marriott,
Chairman & 44% owner). The transaction is finalized on October
17, 1974. Outbid for the properties, General
Manager Bob Howard exercises
his right of first refusal, leaves the station and purchases WYSL
in Buffalo. First Media Corporation names Glenn
Potter as President and GM.
new FM transmitter is installed late in 1975 concurrent with a boost
in antenna height to 480 feet (horizontal & vertical polarization).
motion: Ratings on the Washington FM dial as a whole surpass
those for AM stations for
the first time, making DC the first FM dominant market in the country,
thanks in no small part to WPGC's long time
campaign to convert
cume to FM.
April 9th, 1979 the FCC grants the AM a permit to raise power from
10KW to 50KW, still daytime only, directional.
15 years in the Parkway
Building in Bladensburg, the station
to new state of the art studios
overlooking the Beltway in Greenbelt at 6301
Ivy lane, Suite 800. Charles
Giddens is named the new General
Manager when the venerable Bill
Prettyman leaves for station ownership on Maryland's Eastern Shore.
June 18th, 1981 authorization from the FCC is granted to change the
transmitting location from 6369
Walker Mill Road to 5526 Walker Mill Road. The change of sites
occurs on December 21, 1981. The FM's antenna height is increased
to 500 feet.
September 13th, 1984 the FCC renews the permit to raise power
on the AM from 10KW to
decides to sell all of its properties for $177 million to a minority
interest in early 1987. New owners Cook
Inlet promptly rebuild the station as Urban
Contemporary and bring
back the legendary call letters on May 30th, 1987. Ratings rise
almost immediately, softening
the blow somewhat of unquestionably the biggest blunder
the history of Washington radio at that time.
the AM raises power from 10KW to 50KW watts
in late 1986 and debuts a business talk format in 1988. In October
1987, it also gains a low
power nightime authorization of 270 watts.
In 1989 the AM's nightime power is increased to 500 watts directional,
but a change in the directional pattern in 1990 requires a reduction
in power back to 270 watts.
Broadcasting acquires the stations from Cook Inlet in June 1994
for $60 million. In 1995, the AM format gives way to Rap and Hip-Hop. Ultimately,
it evolves to its present Gospel incarnation in November 1996 as 'Heaven
1580'. The stations move to new studios and offices at 4200 Parliament
Place, Suite 300 in Lanham, MD in the Summer of 2000.
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