|Branding||NewsRadio 950, WWJ|
|Slogan||"The newswatch never stops, on Detroit's #1 news station." (:05 past the hour)|
|Frequency||950 kHz (also on HD Radio)|
|Repeater(s)||(also on HD Radio via WXYT-FM-HD2)|
|First air date||August 20, 1920|
|Callsign meaning||None. Assigned after requesting a call that could be easily understood.  |
|Former callsigns||8MK (1920–1921)
CBS Radio News
ABC News Radio
Michigan Wolverines (flagship)
(merger with Entercom pending)
(CBS Radio East Inc.)
|Sister stations||WWJ-TV, WKBD-TV, WDZH, WOMC, WXYT, WXYT-FM, WYCD|
WWJ, 950 AM (a regional broadcast frequency),  is an all-news radio station located in Detroit, Michigan. Owned by the CBS Radio subsidiary of CBS Corporation, WWJ's studios are in the Panasonic Building in Southfield, and its transmitter is located near Newport. It is the flagship station of the Michigan Wolverines.
WWJ began daily broadcasts on August 20, 1920, operating under an amateur radio license with the call sign "8MK". August 20, 2017 marks the beginning of its 98th year of broadcasting. The station has claimed to be "America's Pioneer Broadcasting Station",  and where "commercial radio broadcasting began". 
WWJ's regular programming is news and weather. It is Michigan's only commercial all-news radio station, despite the fact that co-owned WWJ-TV (channel 62) is the sole CBS owned-and-operated television station without a local news presence.  WWJ's main radio competition, especially in Flint and Ann Arbor, is the non-commercial Michigan Radio network.
WWJ is the flagship station for Michigan Wolverines football.  In cases where there are schedule conflicts, it also carries sports events normally broadcast by sister stations (example: Detroit Tigers baseball games, carried when 97.1 The Ticket is broadcasting the Detroit Red Wings hockey playoffs.) WWJ has reduced the use of its main slogan, "All news, all the time", due to its occasional inclusion of sporting events.
In March 2005, WWJ began streaming its programming over the Internet; in August 2005, the station began offering podcasts of newsmakers, interviews, and some of the station's feature programming. In August 2006 it also began broadcasting in the HD Radio format.  WWJ programming was live 24 hours a day until July 2015, when it began airing pre-recorded reports overnight. Now, the newscasts go back to live, because the current overnight anchor is Jim Matthews.
WWJ broadcasts full-time with 50,000 watts, using a five-tower directional antenna system during daytime hours, and its entire six-tower array at night. WWJ has the highest field strength — 7,980 mV/m at a distance of 1 km — in a single direction (nighttime pattern) of any U.S. AM station.  With this powerful signal primarily sent due north, the station can be heard in parts of northern Michigan during nighttime hours, including the Upper Peninsula and Mackinac areas, and much of southern Lower Michigan during the day. The northeastern reaches of Metro Detroit receive only a fair signal because of the need to limit WWJ's signal in that direction in order to protect a facility in Barrie, Ontario. 
- Dr. Joe Sobel – meteorologist
In her 1960 comprehensive review of the station's history, Cynthia Boyes Young cautioned that: "The actual beginnings of the Detroit News radio station, later to be known as WWJ, were not recorded at the time, and the story can only be partially pieced together from the reminiscences of radio pioneers." 
WWJ debuted as the "Detroit News Radiophone" on August 20, 1920. Its establishment was the outgrowth of interest in radio technology by the publishers of The Detroit News, combined with inventor Lee de Forest's longtime promotion of radio broadcasting.
In the first decade of the 20th century, James E. Scripps, the founder of the News, supported radio research conducted by Thomas E. Clark, and the April 4, 1906 issue of the paper publicized the receipt by the advertising department of an order, via radiotelegraphy, from the Clark-equipped steamer City of Detroit.  Clark's company soon failed, however, the newspaper continued to monitor developments, and in its December 13, 1919 issue heralded a broadcast of phonograph records by the U.S. Navy Station in Chicago  as a "great miracle". 
Meanwhile, the development of radio transmitters capable of audio transmissions led to Lee de Forest advocating the establishment of broadcasting stations, especially by newspapers. To publicize this idea, in late 1916 the DeForest Radio Telephone & Telegraph Company began broadcasting a nightly "wireless newspaper" entertainment and news program from its experimental station, 2XG, located in the Highbridge section of New York City.  However, de Forest was unsuccessful in interesting any publishers at this time, moreover, with the entrance of the United States into World War I, effective April 6, 1917 all civilian radio stations were shut down for the duration of the conflict. 
The ban on civilian radio stations was lifted on October 1, 1919, and the DeForest company soon returned to broadcasting from its Highbridge station. Then, in early 1920, Clarence "C.S." Thompson, a de Forest associate, established Radio News & Music, Inc., which in March 1920 took up the promotion of newspaper-run broadcasting stations, offering local franchises and asking in national advertisements "Is Your Paper to be One of the Pioneers Distributing News and Music by Wireless?"  The Detroit News became Radio News & Music's first — and ultimately only — newspaper customer. In a May 28, 1920 letter, the News made arrangements to lease a DeForest OT-10 radio transmitter through Radio News & Music, in order to develop a broadcasting service.  William Edmund Scripps, son of the paper's founder and its then-publisher, would play the key role in establishing the station, located at the Detroit News Building (corner of Lafayette and 2nd Avenues). A local teenaged amateur radio operator, Michael DeLisle Lyons, was hired to install the transmitter in a second floor room, connected to an antenna constructed on top of the building.  
In 1917 Lee de Forest had sold the commercial rights to his radio patents to the American Telephone & Telegraph Company (AT&T). However, he retained the right to sell equipment for "amateur and experimental use",  and the new station would operate under a standard amateur radio license, with the call sign 8MK.  Following the initial installation, to prepare the station for regular service Elton M. Plant, an aspiring reporter who had a good speaking and singing voice, was drafted as an announcer, while Frank Edwards was hired to perform engineering duties. Station preparation was conducted after normal work hours over a period of several months. William E. Scripps was particularly enthusiastic about the project, and kept close track as the equipment was being tested.  However, these tests were done with very limited publicity, as others at the paper worried that a radio station might adversely affect newspaper sales. In fact, 8MK was originally licensed in Michael DeLisle Lyons' name to hide the direct involvement of the Scripps family. 
On August 20, 1920 a series of trial broadcasts began, to check if the equipment was ready for regular service. This date marks what WWJ considers to be its official anniversary, although because the station was still unpublicized the audience consisted of only a small number of interested local amateur radio operators. The test programs proved satisfactory, so, on August 31, 1920, the front page of the Detroit News announced that nightly (except Sunday) broadcasts by the "Detroit News Radiophone" would start that evening. The debut program featured regularly updated returns for a primary election held earlier that day, plus singing by Lois Johnson. At the beginning of the program, Elton Plant introduced Malcolm Bingay, managing director of the Detroit News, as the broadcast's master of ceremonies. 
The front page of the next day's News contained enthusiastic reports attesting to the success of the election night broadcast, which had begun "promptly at 8:10 p. m.", with the newspaper declaring: "The sending of the election returns by The Detroit News Radiophone Tuesday night was fraught with romance and must go down in the history of man's conquest of the elements as a gigantic step in his progress", while noting that the paper received "numberless telephone calls to The News office asking for details of the apparatus".  The station continued with daily broadcasts in September, most commonly between 7 and 8 p.m.  Although the initial programs consisted mostly of phonograph records interspersed with news announcements, programming also included fight results from the heavyweight championship bout between Jack Dempsey and Billy Miske on September 6,  and, in October, play-by-play accounts as the Cleveland Indians bested the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1920 World Series baseball championship.  Weekly vocal concerts were begun on September 23, with Mable Norton Ayers as the first featured artist.  By late October, the paper was boasting that "hundreds of Detroiters are now the possessors of wireless receiving sets by which they get the news bulletins, music and other features sent out by The News Radiophone",  as the station prepared to broadcast returns for that year's presidential election on November 2. 
By 1922, the station staff had increased to ten,  with the station's costs borne by the newspaper—there was no advertising until the mid-1920s. Performers were not paid, however, the station was still able to attract numerous "illustrious persons" willing to talk over the airwaves from the station's "phonitorium" studio, including, by 1922, Lillian Gish, Fanny Brice, Ty Cobb, and Babe Ruth.  The station is believed to be the first to broadcast news reports regularly, and the first to present regularly scheduled religious broadcasts and play-by-play sports reports. 
8MK's transmitting wavelength was 200 meters (1500 kHz), the shared — thus interference-prone — standard amateur wavelength, although newspaper accounts stated that sometimes it transmitted on other, less congested, wavelengths. In the fall of 1921, the News applied for a Special Amateur station license,  which would provide better coverage by allowing the station to move to a wavelength less subject to interference. (The government agency responsible for radio regulation at the time was the United States Department of Commerce's Bureau of Navigation). However, on October 13, 1921 the government instead issued the News a Limited Commercial license, and early the next month the newspaper announced: "The Detroit News radio station is now operating under a limited commercial license call letters, WBL. The wavelength used is 360 meters [833 kHz] and a special antenna has been erected to use this wave. The station will transmit as before beginning every evening, except Sunday."  While this had the desired benefit of now being on a less congested wavelength, it also meant the station's continued use of DeForest equipment was technically in violation of the commercial radio equipment patent rights held by AT&T. This potential problem was soon resolved by the purchase of a 500-watt transmitter from AT&T subsidiary Western Electric, which was installed on January 28, 1922. 
The new WBL call sign had been randomly assigned, and the News found that listeners had trouble hearing it correctly,  so the newspaper asked the regional Radio Inspector, S. W. Edwards, to have it changed to something more phonetically distinct, requesting WKL or WWW. Neither of these calls was available, so one similar to their request, WWJ, was assigned on March 3, 1922.  
Effective December 1, 1921, the U.S. government for the first time established regulations for broadcasting stations, setting aside two wavelengths: 360 meters (833 kHz) for entertainment, and 485 meters (619 kHz) for official weather and other government reports.  On March 3, 1922 WWJ was granted permission to broadcast on 485 meters, in addition to its 360-meter assignment. In 1922, there was a rapid expansion in the number of broadcasting stations, all sharing the single entertainment wavelength of 360 meters, which required progressively more complicated timesharing schedules between stations in the same region. (On May 4, the News ran an editorial complaining about having to yield some of its hours to WCX, a station licensed to the Detroit Free Press which was making its debut.) 
In late September 1922, a second entertainment wavelength, 400 meters (750 kHz), was made available for "Class B" stations, which were ones with higher powers and better quality equipment and programming. Both WWJ and WCX qualified to use this new wavelength on a timesharing basis. In early 1923, the United States expanded its broadcast station allocations to a continuous band of 81 frequencies, in 10 kHz steps from 550 to 1350, with stations now using a single frequency, no longer having to broadcast entertainment and official reports on different frequencies. Under the new allocations, a Class B frequency of 580 kHz (516.9 meters) was to be used exclusively by qualified stations in the "Detroit/Dearborn" area, and by June 1923 both WWJ and WCX were assigned to this frequency. In January 1925 WWJ moved to a new Class B frequency, 850 kHz (352.7 meters), where it no longer had to share time. A series of frequency reassignments followed, as the government struggled to structure the broadcast band to accommodate an increasing congested environment. Eventually the band was divided into three frequency classes: Clear, Regional and Local. By February 28, 1929, WWJ was operating full-time on the regional frequency of 920 kHz (325.9 meters), with a transmitter power of 1,000 watts, the maximum permitted at the time for a regional frequency.
In 1937 WWJ became one of the first stations to increase its power to the new regional frequency limit of 5,000 watts. On March 29, 1941 as part of the North American Regional Broadcasting Agreement (NARBA) frequency reassignment, the station moved to 950 kHz where it remains to this day. The programming throughout this time was focused on variety. During the 1940s WWJ transmitted most of the NBC Red Network schedule, and locally produced news, entertainment and music programming. After World War II, especially as television grew in household reach and popularity, music and regularly scheduled local news would make up a larger portion of its format as television eroded support for variety programming on radio and the Golden Age of Radio gradually ended.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was interested in increasing the number of broadcasting outlets, and began licensing "Apex" stations, operating on higher transmitting frequencies than the original AM band. On January 29, 1936, the Detroit News activated its own Apex station, W8XWJ, initially broadcasting at 31.6 MHz and relaying WWJ's programs, although it would later adopt its own programming. As with WWJ, W8XWJ used amplitude modulation (AM), but it was also engineered to transmit in high-fidelity.  The FCC ultimately decided that the second broadcast band would use frequency modulation (FM), so W8XWJ ceased operating in early 1940, as the News prepared to replace it with an FM station.  On May 10, 1941 that station, W45D, debuted as Michigan's first FM station,  which would later undergo five call letter changes – to WENA, WWJ-FM, WJOI, WYST and WKRK – before becoming WXYT-FM.
With the advent of FM radio and FM stereo broadcasting, WWJ phased out its daytime Middle of the Road music programming in May 1971 and became a strictly news and talk station during the daytime hours (although for the first several years of the all-news format, the station simulcast the beautiful music format of WWJ-FM/97.1, during the overnight hours). The all-news format on WWJ has remained since then, enabling it to rank consistently among the Detroit area's most popular stations with adult listeners, occasionally finishing in first place in recent surveys of overall listenership.
In 1987, the Federal Broadcasting Corporation, run by David Herriman, purchased WWJ and WJOI (now WXYT-FM) from the new owner of The Detroit News, the Gannett Company (now the owner of the Detroit Free Press), which was required to sell the stations immediately by the Federal Communications Commission because of crossownership rules in effect at that time. On March 9, 1989, CBS bought the station, with its ownership being transferred to Infinity Broadcasting after CBS's 1996 acquisition of that group – although further corporate reorganization has put the station directly under the CBS corporate brand name once again in recent years.
Along with "97.1 The Ticket", WWJ was the flagship station for Detroit Pistons basketball from 2009-2014.  In 2013, all CBS-owned radio stations in Detroit moved their operations to the former Panasonic Building in Southfield. 
When CBS acquired WWJ-TV (channel 62) in 1995, it needed a site for a new transmission tower in order to improve the UHF TV station's coverage, and the WWJ radio transmitter site in Oak Park was partially dismantled (the taller north tower was razed) to make room for the television tower. The AM transmitter facility was subsequently relocated in late 1998, to a new six-tower array located in Monroe County, near Newport. The new site allowed WWJ to upgrade from 5,000 to 50,000 watts, greatly improving its nighttime signal in the Downriver communities, where it previously had a weak signal, due to the use of a directional antenna that protected the coverage areas of other stations on 950 kHz, including WNTD Chicago, KKSE Denver, KPRC Houston, and WKDN Philadelphia. The move was not without its disadvantages, as the new site's distance from commercially important Oakland County meant the signal, though adequate for home and outdoor listening, was difficult to receive inside office buildings. Even though WWJ was now using the maximum power permitted to AM stations in the United States, it was still considered to be a Regional station, because 950 AM is classified as a regional frequency in the U.S., on which only Class B stations and Class D stations may be assigned. 
Although WWJ is widely recognized as a pioneer broadcasting station, its exact status compared to other early U.S. stations, especially KDKA in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has been a source of contention for nearly a century. (KDKA began operating on November 2, 1920, initially under a temporary "Special Amateur" authorization as "8ZZ"). The disagreement over WWJ and KDKA has been long-standing, and controversial enough that some have gone out of their way to avoid becoming involved. This was on public display after the September 3, 1945 issue of Time magazine included a short note that the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) had recently endorsed WWJ's "claim to being the world's first commercial radio station", by concluding that KDKA "was ten and a half weeks younger".  This assertion brought a quick denial from NAB President J. Harold Ryan, who sent a letter to the magazine stating that Time had misconstrued informational material sent out by the association, and: "It was not the intention, nor is it the prerogative of the NAB to attempt to decide the relative claims of two pioneer broadcasting stations." 
One complicating factor is that the U.S. government initially did not have a formal definition of "broadcasting", or any specific regulations. In particular, there were no restrictions about broadcasting stations operating under amateur or experimental licenses. It was only effective December 1, 1921 that formal standards for broadcasting stations were adopted, which essentially grafted a broadcasting service definition onto the existing Limited Commercial license category, as an authorization issued to a select number of designated stations.  (A license class dating back to 1912, not all Limited Commercial stations were authorized to make broadcasts. A specific "broadcasting station" license would not exist until one was established by the Federal Radio Commission in 1927.)
This has led to varying interpretations about which stations should be considered the "first" and the "oldest surviving" broadcasters. In addition, numerous qualifiers have been proposed, leading to competing views about the relative importance of factors such as "regular", "continuous", "scheduled", "publicized", "commercial", and "real" — all in a challenging effort to develop a consensus about fast-moving events that were not always well documented. An example of the existence of competing standards occurred in 1923, when the Department of Commerce stated that "The first broadcasting license was issued in September, 1921",  a reference to the September 15, 1921 Limited Commercial license issued to WBZ in Springfield, Massachusetts, which appears to be the first to have stated that the station would be used exclusively for broadcasting, while transmitting on 360 meters, which would become the standard "entertainment" wavelength designated by the December 1, 1921 regulations. However, this particular interpretation has not been widely adopted. 
In 1977, the Journal of Broadcasting published a study, "Broadcasting's Oldest Stations: An Examination of Four Claimants", authored by Joseph E. Baudino and John M. Kittross, which reviewed four early U.S. stations — KDKA, WWJ, WHA in Madison, Wisconsin and KCBS in San Francisco, California — contending for the title of the "oldest [surviving] station in the nation". The authors ultimately favored KDKA,  although unmentioned by the review was the fact that lead author Baudino had formerly been that station's manager. 
Based on the somewhat limited information available at the time,  the authors eliminated WWJ on the grounds that "the evidence of a direct relationship between the licensee of 8MK and the licensee of WBL is very tenuous", and because supporting WWJ as the oldest U.S. station could only be done through "tortured reasoning". They also concluded that the Detroit News had not been significantly involved with radio broadcasting prior to the issuance of WBL's first license on October 13, 1921. 
Baudino and Kittross' contention that there was only a "tenuous" relationship between 8MK and WBL/WWJ was the opposite of what WWJ staff had been saying for over half a century. During the years that the Detroit News operated WWJ, the newspaper's reviews had always stated that 8MK and WBL/WWJ were effectively the same station, which, although there had been call sign and license changes, had a continuous history as the "Detroit News Radiophone" dating to August 20, 1920. After leasing 8MK's DeForest OT-10 transmitter through Radio News & Music, the newspaper had assumed total responsibility for constructing and running the radio station, including hiring engineers and staff. The transfer from operating under 8MK's license to that of WBL's had minimal effect: the same DeForest OT-10 transmitter was being used, operating from the same location, and under the control of the same Detroit News employees who had been responsible for the 8MK broadcasts. Moreover, at the time of the switchover from 8MK to WBL the News had informed its readers that, although the call sign and operating frequency were changing, the paper's broadcast service would continue, and "The Detroit News radio station... will transmit as before". 
Publicity issued by WWJ regularly listed August 1920 as its founding date, but varied greatly when describing the station's historical significance. In an early example, a 1922 advertisement for the Detroit News merely stated that the paper deserved recognition for having "installed the first transmitting set in use by any newspaper".  (At this time there was at least one other broadcasting station with a strong claim to predate both 8MK/WWJ and 8ZZ/KDKA, KZY in Oakland, California, which was a relicensing of an experimental station: 6XC in San Francisco, also known as the "California Theater Station". 6XC had begun a wide-ranging selection of daily broadcasts around April 1920, and in 1921 Lee de Forest wrote that this was the "first radio-telephone station devoted solely" to broadcasting to the public.  However, KZY would be deleted in early 1923.)
Later reviews became more sweeping in their claims. In 1934, an advertisement for WWJ included the contention that it was "America's Pioneer Broadcasting Station".  While celebrating its 25th anniversary in August 1945, WWJ further claimed to have been the station where "commercial radio broadcasting began".  ("First commercial station" status was also claimed by KDKA, in spite of the fact that both WWJ and KDKA were initially commercial-free and did not start to accept advertising until the mid-1920s, so in this case "commercial" appears to only mean that the station was under the control of a commercial enterprise.)
Largely ignored by WWJ and KDKA was a third station that had been reviewed in the Baudino and Kittross article, KCBS in San Francisco, which contended it was significantly older than both WWJ and KDKA. KCBS traced its history to a pre-World War One station operated by Charles "Doc" Herrold in San Jose, California, who made test audio transmissions in 1909, and began broadcasting weekly concerts in 1912.  Herrold's San Jose broadcasts were suspended during World War One when the U.S. government prohibited the operation of civilian radio stations, and after the war ended he did not return to the airwaves until May 1921.  His experimental station was relicensed in December 1921 as KQW, which later moved to San Francisco and became KCBS in 1949. Baudino and Kittross argued that this post-World War One gap disqualified KCBS from "oldest station" consideration, something neither KQW nor KCBS has agreed with, as program schedules for KQW appearing in 1925 included the slogan "Pioneer Broadcasting Station of the World",  and in 2009 KCBS celebrated its 100th birthday with a yearlong series of events throughout the Bay Area, including the public dedication of a plaque commemorating the "Centennial Celebration of the World's First Broadcasting Station".  At the same time, KCBS adopted the slogan "The World's First Broadcasting Station".
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