WKTU (103.5 FM, "KTU") is a radio station based in New York City that plays a Rhythmic contemporary format. The station's broadcast transmitter is located on the top of the Empire State Building and its city of license is Lake Success, New York, with offices formerly in the "Newport" section of Jersey City, New Jersey. As of February 2008, the studios and offices were moved to the AT&T Building in the TriBeCa section of Manhattan along with sister stations WHTZ, WWPR-FM, WAXQ, and WLTW.
- 2 Signal
- 3 Beatstock
- 4 References
- 5 External links
The 103.5 frequency first went on the air in 1948, as WNNJ, which then changed its name to WPAT-FM. FM listenership was very light in those early days of FM broadcasting, and during the 1950s the station would sometimes be off the air for long stretches.
By 1957, WPAT-FM had relocated to its much better-known frequency of 93.1.The WTFM logo from 1980–1982
In 1958, the 103.5 FM frequency in New York City went back on the air as WTFM with a transmitter operating from the top of the Chrysler Building. They played an instrumental-based easy listening format until 1978, when the old WKTU (on 92.3) went from an adult contemporary format to adisco music format. As an easy listening station, WTFM's ratings were low, as WRFM and WPAT had higher ratings with the same format. So in the fall of 1978, WTFM switched to an adult contemporary format, even though ratings would remain low with the new format.The WAPP apple logo from 1982–1986
In 1982, Doubleday bought the station, and that June, the station switched to an Album-oriented rock format similar to WPLJ and WNEW-FM down the dial. The station was renamed "The Apple 103.5", with the call letters WAPP. The station went commercial-free for the duration of that summer, and as a result, it became the highest-rated radio station in New York City. Then, when the station added commercials, listeners switched back to WPLJ and WNEW-FM, and so ratings went down. In 1983, when WPLJ switched to aCHR format, the station's ratings got a slight boost.
In 1983, a then-unknown Bon Jovi visited the station and wrote and sung the jingles for the station. He spoke with DJ Chip Hobart, who suggested Bon Jovi let WAPP include the song "Runaway" on the station's compilation album of local homegrown talent. Bon Jovi was reluctant, but eventually gave them the song, on which Bon Jovi had used studio musicians to play on the track "Runaway" (which was written in 1980). WAPP worked with WOR-TV (now WWOR-TV) in nearby Secaucus, NJ on a music video show, Rock 9 Videos, for a short time in 1984.
Additional/Supplanting information to the above. In 1983, as part of its marketing effort, WAPP-FM launched a contest called "New York Rocks 1983." Local music acts were encouraged to submit demo tapes to this competition. Among the tapes submitted to this contest was "Runaway" by John Bongiovi, aka Bon Jovi. But it didn't win the competition. Another act called the "Frankie Carr Band" won the honors over Bon Jovi and "Runaway." This competition was repeated in 1984.
As 1984 progressed, WAPP's ratings were on the upswing. However, the station's owners decided to change the station's format to CHR that fall. They felt that if stations that they owned in Washington, D.C. and Minnesota could do well with the format, then this station could as well. This would not be the case, as the station could not compete with WPLJ or Z-100, and their ratings fell. Not even a change back to a rock format in the summer of 1985 could solve the station's ratings woes.
See WXRK section on WKTU for the original WKTU that existed from 1975–1985 and achieved great fame as a disco station known as "Disco 92" in the late 1970s.
The history of the 97.1 frequency goes back to 1940, when station W2XWG came on the air. After several frequency and call letters changes, WNBC-FM was established at 97.1 by 1948. It usually simulcast WNBC's AM programming. In 1954 it changed its call letters to WRCA-FM (Reflecting NBC's then-parent company, RCA), but reverted to WNBC-FM in 1960.
WNBC-FM played classical music in the 1950s; it later switched to pop music. It ran network programming for some time, such as the NBC Monitor weekend series. By the 1970s it was playing a pop/rock format. Beginning on June 4, 1973, it experimented with a fully automated programming scheme with local inserts known as "The Rock Pile"—a forerunner of today's DJ-free Bob FM and Frank FM formats with a wide diversity of pop, rock and R&B that proved to be 30 years ahead of its time—but technical glitches were frequent and listenership dropped. For a brief period starting in late 1974, the station attempted a fully automated beautiful music format for a younger demographic, called "The Love of New York".
NBC Radio then launched the NBC News and Information Service (NIS), a network service providing up to 50 minutes an hour of news programming to local stations that wanted to adopt an all-news format without the high costs of producing large quantities of local news content. WNBC-FM's small audience was deemed expendable to allow the NIS to have a New York outlet. Thus on June 18, 1975, the station became WNWS and branded itself "NewsCenter 97," an allusion to WNBC-TV's "NewsCenter 4" local newscasts. Ratings were low, and the service did not attract enough stations to allow NBC to project that it could ever become profitable (At the network's peak, only 57 stations across the country carried NIS, most of them already NBC Radio News affiliates). On January 1, 1977, NBC shut down NIS and 97.1 adopted an "Adult Contemporary" (AC) format with a rock lean (to compete against WKTU), under the moniker "Y-97". The call letters WNWS were still in use at the time but shortly afterward the station became known as WYNY.
Ratings were fair at best and by the end of 1978, after toying briefly with an all-Beatles format, WYNY evolved to an MOR format featuring Frank Sinatra, The Carpenters, Elvis Presley, Barry Manilow, Tony Bennett, Neil Diamond, Elton John, Carly Simon, and Billy Joel among others. They were an easy listening station without all the elevator music heard on WRFM or WPAT-AM-FM. Ratings went up gradually.
By 1980, WYNY moved away from Frank Sinatra and The Lettermen though they continued running "Saturday with Sinatra" hosted by Sid Mark. Musically they added Motown songs, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles, The Doobie Brothers, Donna Summer, and soft hits by hard rockers.
By 1981, the station format was that of pop hits from 1964 to what was then current music, with an occasional pre-64 rock & roll song. Ratings went up from 1981 through 1983. By 1982, WYNY trimmed the '60s music slightly. Some of the air personalities included Dan Daniel, Bill St. James, Bruce Bradley, Randy Davis, Carol Mason, Mike McCann, Floyd Wright, Steve O'Brien, Bill Rock, Margaret Jones, Paulie, and Ed Baer. On Sunday evenings, the station aired a pioneering advice show, Sexually Speaking, which made its host, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, a national celebrity. The station was also a pioneer of Contemporary Christian Music in the city, airing the weekly show Masterpeace, hosted by Steven Joseph. Sid Mark continued hosting a Frank Sinatra show. On weekend evenings call-in talk shows such as "Mouth Versus Ear" with Dick Summers was an alternative to other station's mundane public service shows.
In 1983, rival stations Z-100 and WPLJ adopted a "Contemporary Hit Radio" (CHR) format, attracting younger listeners. WYNY continued with its AC format. Then in January 1984, Lite FM 106.7 WLTW signed on, taking away older listeners. WYNY ratings plummeted, and in 1986 the station was revamped with the music staying "Hot AC" but marketed as a "Z-100 for Yuppies". The station had new jingles and imaging, and became known as "The NEW 97.1 WYNY". The format, however, was that of the same pop hits from 1964 to the then-present. The station continued to rate low. NBC had problems with sister station WNBC as well. Then in April 1987, a country music station, WHN, announced plans to go sports full-time on July 1, to become all-sports WFAN. In response, WYNY announced it would change to country music on July 1.
This format change was announced to the press in advance but not over the air except on Saturday With Sinatra. At 12:01 a.m. July 1, WYNY ended its AC format with "Hello, Goodbye" by The Beatles and went country, playing "Think About Love" by Dolly Parton. The airstaff all remained, though some gradually left later in the year.
Dan Daniel (who had left WYNY in the mid-1980s and returned), Randy Davis, Carol Mason, Lisa Taylor, Floyd Wright, and others survived the format change and remained with WYNY's country unit long after it would leave 97.1 FM and move to 103.5, where it remained until its 1996 demise. The WYNY call letters resurfaced on the suburban 107.1 frequency in late 1998 at a country station that had started up later in 1996; the format lasted until 2002. As of 2006, the WYNY call letters reside on a station in Gainesville, Florida.
In 1987, Emmis agreed to buy NBC's New York radio stations, which gave Emmis superior signals for use by WFAN and WQHT. Emmis sold its 103.5 license and the rights to WYNY's intellectual property to Westwood One, and the WYNY call sign and format moved to that frequency while WQHT shifted to 97.1.
In 1986, Emmis Communications would buy WAPP from Doubleday, as Doubleday was in the process getting out of the radio business. That August, after stunting with classic rock for a 36 hour period, the station relaunched as "HOT 103", with the call letters WQHT. The new station, which played a mix of pop hits, dance songs, rap songs and R&B songs, was an instant ratings success.The WYNY logo used from 1988–1996
On September 22, 1988, WQHT would change frequencies, as Emmis acquired NBC's radio stations. Since Federal Communications Commission regulations at the time required that a company can only own one FM radio station in a market, Emmis sold the 103.5 frequency to Westwood One (which, coincidentally, had also acquired the remnants of the NBC Radio Network). At the same time, they moved the format at 103.5 FM to the 97.1 FM frequency which they acquired from NBC, with WQHT becoming "Hot 97." As a result, WYNY, which was running a country music format at the 97.1 frequency prior to the sale, would move from 97.1 FM to 103.5 FM.
The station, now known as "Country 103.5", had mediocre ratings in their first few months at its new frequency. Even though rumors of a format change were always existent at the station, the country format remained. In 1993, the station would be sold to Broadcast Partners, whom were committed to keeping Country on WYNY. As a country station, Jim Kerr would be the station's morning show host from 1990 to 1993, while their airstaff included Dan Daniel, Randy Davis, Ray Rossi, Lisa Taylor and Charlie Berger.
Meanwhile, Hot 97 began to move away from Dance music in 1993 and toward hip hop. By 1994, they played almost no dance music. After Hot 97 changed to an Urban Contemporary format in 1994, New Yorkers demanded a Dance music station.
In the spring of 1995, Broadcast Partners opted to sell the station to Evergreen Media, and after a lot of speculation about the station's future, Evergreen confirmed in January 1996 that the station would be changing formats. On the final weekend that the station would play country music (which would be from February 2 to February 4, 1996), the entire airstaff said goodbye. After airing the syndicated After Midnite with Blair Garner show in the early morning hours of February 5, the country music format was gone from the station. (Later that year, country would resurface on several suburban stations, one of which would get the WYNY calls, resurfacing in late 1998.) Beginning at 6 AM on the 5th, WYNY then began stunting with a simulcast of WRCX/Chicago. On February 6, at 6 AM, the simulcasting switched to Mainstream Urban-formatted KKBT/Los Angeles. On February 7, at 6 AM, the simulcasting switched to Talk-formatted WLUP/Chicago. On February 8, at 6 AM, the simulcasting switched to AC-formatted KIOI/San Francisco. On February 9, from 6 AM to 6 PM, the simulcasting switched to Alternative-leaning Top 40 WXKS-FM/Boston. At 6 PM, the simulcasting of sister stations ended.The February 9, 1996–present WKTU Logo
At 6 PM on February 9, the station switched stunts to a tape loop of sounds of a heart beating and liners about a new radio station coming. The next day at Noon, WKTU was relaunched at 103.5 FM as The Beat of New York 103.5 KTU with a dance-based CHR format; WKTU's first song was "Gonna Make You Sweat" by C&C Music Factory. The station instantly skyrocketed to number one in the Arbitron ratings, although in the decade since, they have cooled down considerably. Drag performer RuPaul co-hosted mornings with Michelle Visage, Lisa Taylor and Freddie Colon around this period, further helping their ratings. Sean "Hollywood" Hamilton and Goumba Johnny followed in mornings from 1998-1999. By 2002, the moderate amount of rap played on the station was gone and the station evolved into more of a Hot Rhythmic AC.
On May 31, 2006, WKTU announced that actress/comedian Whoopi Goldberg would become the station's new morning host, and that KTU would serve as the flagship station for her syndicated morning show. Her show, which airs mostly on AC and Rhythmic outlets in the United States, especially those owned by WKTU's parent company Clear Channel, began on July 31, 2006. The news of Goldberg being named 'KTU's new morning star, and the departures of popular afternoon drive DJ "Broadway" Bill Lee and late night hostess Jewelz in June 2006, led to talk that KTU might switch formats (some suspected an upbeat female targeted Hot AC-type direction similar to sister station KBIG/Los Angeles) with Goldberg's arrival. KTU management insisted that there were no plans to flip formats, even with Goldberg in mornings. Another surprise move was the reunion of former KTU morning hosts Sean "Hollywood" Hamilton and Goumba Johnny, who hosted afternoons for the station beginning September 5, 2006. Hamilton continues to host his popular syndicated shows the Weekend Top 30 and the Remix Top 30 heard in over 250 cites across America and around the world.
However, on September 9, 2006, after many format flips by Clear Channel Communications of other radio stations throughout the country, 'KTU took on the upbeat Rhythmic AC direction by playing only popular current rhythmic material, as well as increasing the airplay of older rhythmic sounds such as soul, disco and freestyle.
On November 28, 2007, WKTU announced that it had dropped Whoopi's morning show. According to station management, the reason was due to Goldberg's duties on The View, although it may also have to do with the show's ratings.Her show continued to air in syndication through Premiere Radio Networks until April 18, 2008, when she called it quits. Cubby Bryant, who served as Goldberg's sidekick, left the syndicated show and returned to WKTU in January 2008 to host his own morning show.
Around 2009, WKTU did another tweak in their Rhythmic AC format, dropping the older elements of dance music (disco and freestyle, including Judy Torres' "Freestyle Free For All" Sunday show; Torres has since returned to doing a Sunday afternoon shift at WKTU) and focusing mainly on a current direction, with mainstream dance and rhythmic sounds. It pursued the advertiser-friendly demographic of people who are 25–54 years old. That has helped increase the ratings of the station. In September 2010, the station returned to a Rhythmic Top 40 direction, as WKTU was added to the Mediabase Rhythmic panel joining rival WQHT. On December 15, 2010, Goumba Johnny left WKTU after 15 years, leaving Hamilton solo in afternoons.
On April 4, 2011, WKTU was moved from the Rhythmic CHR panel on Mediabase to CHR (Top 40), reflecting the recent evolution of the station's music to a more rhythmic adult contemporary sound again without the disco titles. At the same time, Nielsen BDS will not include WKTU on its Top 40/CHR panel because of its direction and having sister station WHTZ as a reporter, but does contribute to BDS' Dance/Mix Show Airplay panel due to having club music mix shows on the station. Clear Channel still describes WKTU as a rhythmic.
As a result of a series of transactions from Evergreen Media, SFX Communications, and Clear Channel Communications in the late 1990s and early 2000s, WKTU is currently owned by Clear Channel Communications.
Like other Clear Channel stations WKTU began Multicasting in the late winter of 2005. On WKTU HD-1, the Rhythmic Top-40 format is heard on the original analog station, while WKTU HD-2 has played Country Music similar to the previous Country station occupying 103.5. HD stations can only be received with an HD Radio. HD Radios receive both the primary analog station, the duplicate HD Feed, and the Multicasting feeds. Stations can put as many as three sets of HD programming on one dial position plus their original analog broadcast. On July 23, 2009, the Country music format was dropped in favor of Pride Radio, a dance station catering to the LGBT community. The Country format has since moved to 106.7 HD-2.
The WKTU subcarrier also airs Catholic programming in Italian from Radio Maria New York, the local unit of Radio Maria USA.
Due to its antenna on top of the Empire State Building, WKTU's signal can reach as far as Clinton in western Hunterdon County. Before transmitter changes in the early 2010s, it was able to reach into most of the Philadelphia area, particularly Camden, Burlington and Gloucester counties in southern New Jersey.
Every August, WKTU holds an annual event called Beatstock. The event showcases artists from every dance genre, from disco to electronica, and is held at two locations in the New York area: Jones Beach Theater (now the Nikon at Jones Beach Theater) in Wantagh, NY and The Garden State Arts Center (now the PNC Bank Arts Center) in Holmdel, New Jersey. The original KTU Beatstock concert, which took place in 1997, was an all-day event held at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, NY. It featured over 50 acts from various genres of dance music, all performing on one stage. For 2011, WKTU had decided to no longer sponsor the event; however, Beatstock continued for the year in Long Island at the Brookhaven Amphitheater on August 20. (That event was featured in The Real Housewives of New Jersey, episode 4.12 (15 July 2012), as two of the cast members - Melissa Gorga and Teresa Giudice's daughter, Gia - performed there.)
In April 2012, WKTU announced a new concert event called KTUphoria. The all star concert event took place at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, New Jersey on May 20, 2012 and, like Beatstock, was an all-day event featuring DJs and artists performing on one stage, albeit modified.