|Branding Smooth Jazz JJZ|
Format Smooth Jazz
|First air date July 1922|
|City Philadelphia, Pennsylvania|
Frequency 1480 kHz(also on HD Radio) 106.1 HD2 (WISX)
Power 5,000 watts (daytime) 1,000 watts (nighttime)
WDAS (1480 AM) is a radio station licensed to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Owned and operated by iHeartMedia, the station airs a smooth jazz format. Its transmitter is located near Fairmount Park, and its studios are located in Bala Cynwyd.
WIAD in Ocean City, New Jersey signed on in July 1922 at 1200 AM. The station was owned by Howard R. Miller. WIAD eventually relocated to Philadelphia. In 1928, per order of the Federal Radio Commission, the station moved to 1370 AM. In 1929, calls changed to WELK.
In 1934, Miller sold the station, and the new owners, silk manufacturers Dannenbaum & Steppacher, adopted the WDAS call sign. WDAS broadcast various ethnic programming in languages such as Italian, Yiddish and Polish. In 1941, WDAS moved to 1400 AM, then about 15 years later to its current position of 1480 AM.
In 1950, candy manufacturer Max Leon purchased the station for $495,000 from William Goldman, a theater chain owner. The programming at the time consisted of big band music, ethnic and cultural shows. Leon, the founder and conductor of the original Philly Pops Orchestra, added an all-night classical music show.
Civil Rights Era
In 1951, Leon promoted his son-in-law, Bob Klein, to general manager. Klein saw an opportunity in the marketplace and quickly adopted programming geared toward the local African-American community. The music consisted of jazz and rhythm & blues. WDAS added a number of young personalities, including Georgie Woods, Jimmy Bishop, Carl Helm, Butterball Tamburro, Jocko Henderson and Hy Lit. The station also added black-oriented public affairs and news programs, and provided in-depth coverage of the unfolding civil rights movement, featuring award-winning and groundbreaking journalists Joe Rainey and Jim Klash,along with Walt Sanders, Carl Stubbs, Bill Adams, Dave Colman, Jimmy Carter and later, reporter Ed Bradley (later of TV's 60 Minutes). The station employed many blacks, in on-air, office and management positions. The station also took on an activist role in the movement. WDAS was commended by many in the industry and in the civil rights movement. Leon and Klein signed on a sister FM station, WDAS-FM, in 1959. By the early 1970s, the station would launch a groundbreaking and influential urban adult contemporary format still used today.
The station retained the R&B format throughout the 1960s, while adding gospel music with Louise Williams. Many people involved in the civil rights movement, including Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, visited and were heard on the station. Following his return from Mecca, Malcolm X visited the station on December 29, 1964 where he was interviewed by Rainey under heavy armed police guard due to assassination threats.
Klein filed a class action lawsuit against the Arbitron rating service in 1972, on behalf of all black radio stations, protesting that black radio listenership was undercounted. Arbitron settled the suit after four days of testimony and amended its methodologies and policies.
1979 sale to Unity Broadcasting
Leon sold the station in November 1979 to the minority-owned Unity Broadcasting Network. In the 1980s, WDAS added the National Black Network (NBN) news, and tried a news format in the mornings (anchored locally by Karen Warrington, E. Steven Collins and Wynne Alexander) and afternoons (via the NBN feed) to compete with KYW. This was unsuccessful, and the station returned with a mix of gospel, R&B and talk shows. In 1988, the station switched to a full-time gospel music and religious format.
Beasley Broadcasting purchased WDAS and WDAS-FM in 1994. Two years later, the station was sold to Evergreen Media, which soon merged with Chancellor Broadcasting (later AMFM Inc.). In August 2000, after a series of mergers, the two stations would become properties of Clear Channel Communications, who in turn would become iHeartMedia after its successful iHeartRadio internet platform in 2014.
On May 16, 2007, WDAS and the all-gospel format ended when sister station "Rumba 104.5" moved its programming and WUBA call sign to 1480 AM (104.5 would flip to modern rock). The WDAS calls were officially retired on 1480 AM on May 23, 2007. WUBA served as the Spanish language flagship radio station of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Return as WDAS
On November 22, 2011, Clear Channel announced that the frequency would once again become WDAS, effective at noon the following day. The station initially broadcast R&B Christmas music, with its new R&B oldies format debuting December 27.
At Noon on June 10, 2013, Clear Channel flipped the station to smooth jazz, branded as "Smooth Jazz JJZ". The call sign remains WDAS. The final song on WDAS as an R&B oldies station was "Please, Please, Please" by James Brown, while the first song on "JJZ" was "Peace on Earth" by Paul Hardcastle. This is the third time the JJZ branding has been used in the market; the first incarnation lasted from March 13, 1993 to August 10, 2006 on 106.1 FM (now WISX), while the second incarnation lasted from November 17, 2006 to September 5, 2008 on 97.5 FM (now WPEN-FM).
Pope Info Radio
On September 13, 2015, iHeartMedia announced that the station will flip to a temporary 'micro-format' as "Pope Info Radio" on September 19, in advance of Pope Francis's visit to the United States, which took place in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and New York City from September 22-27. The station aired the Pope's masses and speeches, as well as traffic reports. The station returned to its smooth jazz format after the visit.
WDAS formerly broadcast in HD IBOC (1480 AM) Radio; it was turned off with the change to urban oldies. The station is simulcast on WISX 106.1 HD 2.