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990 WIBG / Philadelphia

Bill Wright, WIBG 990 Philadelphia | August 1, 1966

“Look out everybody, this is hot wax!!!”

We begin by warning listeners: The audio quality on this recording is horrible. Despite my best efforts, the tape sounds muddy, grainy, has dropouts and a very strange echo, which I believe is caused by old oxide audio bleedthrough. What I mean by that is, sometimes when a tape has been sitting for a very long time (and we’re talking several decades here), the sounds on a tape actually bleed through to the next layer of tape – remember, cassette tape is wound on a capstan and the tape on the takeup reel may not have moved in 30 years.

Now that that’s out of the way, here’s the description of a recording from a time when WIBG, “Wibbage”, was the undesputed king of Top 40 music.

This begins coming out of a newscast read by Chris Davis. Not much to say about this, except that you’ll notice that they give complete weather forecasts including temperature, sky conditions and even barometric pressure. Things that were later considered ‘full service’ elements. You’ll hear that on the next newscast as well.

Bill Wright is the assigned jock. Capable, witty and talks between EVERY RECORD! Now, that may seem strange by today’s standards, but from the dawn of Top 40 radio in the 1950s until the mid and late 1960s, this was the most commonly used approach to the format. Stations like WABC, WLS, KHJ and so on, they were the pioneers of streamlining Top 40 radio without watering down the talent.

Notice the amount of ‘live copy’. Bill Wright seems to have a live commercial to read after every other record. And in general, it’s obvious that WIBG was very sold out. There weren’t any commercial breaks, per se. They air one or two spots after every song… or two. This approach was largely abandoned in later years as the 60s turned into the 70s. It may even have been what caused the demise of WIBG when WFIL began its Top 40 format in 1966. But there are lots of people who were there and remember WIBG and WFIL duking it out, and I’m sure they’ll be commenting in short order.

A note about station IDs. WIBG identified itself here as WIBG AM and FM Philadelphia. Yes, there was a WIBG-FM. It was on 94.1 and simulcasted AM 990 for many years. In 1971, the FM broke away from the AM side, as it was purchased by Storer Communications. Its first format was Big Band and Standards, and they ran the station, with new call letters WYSP, in that Standards format for nearly two years before changing the format to the long running and now infamous AOR (Album Oriented Rock) format. Many format changes happened beginning in 2005, leading up to the current (as of this writing) sports talk format as WIP-FM.

WIBG (AM) gradually evolved into a full-service Middle-of-the-Road/Adult Contemporary format by 1975, but in 1977, the station went full blown Top 40 once again, this time with new call letters WZZD. They called it “Wizzard 100”. It didn’t work, and failed to beat WFIL, and competition from FM stations, such as WIFI 92. The station is now News Talk 990 WNTP.

990 Philadelphia WIBG WZZD WNTP


Aircheck #1,297 since May 2, 2002!

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26 Comments


  1. Some corrections here: WIBG was a Storer Broadcasting station from the 50’s until the mid-70’s, when the station was sold to Fairbanks Communications. WIBG-FM did carry a full simulcast of the AM side, mainly due to gaps in coverage due to the AM’s directional pattern. When the sides split, WIBG-FM became WPNA, with an easy listening, big band format. When Fairbanks bought the station, the FM went to an album rock format as WYSP. There were some more ownership changes down the road, culminating with CBS and the station becoming WIP-FM.

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  2. I was only 3 years old in ’66, but believe it or not I can remember “Great Shakes” spots, though not this particular one. The guy talking on the Great Shakes spot sounds like he could be Casey Kasem.

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  3. Anymore, it’s common practice for a company to own more than one AM and more than one FM station in a given market. Having said that 990, (once WIBG) and 560 (once WFIL) are now co-owned. WPVI-TV (channel 6) was once WFIL-TV. I really liked “In the Good Old Summertime jingle at 7:43. Other stations used it, too; namely WABC and KQV(Pittsburgh). Really dug the Warner Mack Coke spot.

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    • That started in 1996 after the FCC deregulated radio ownership rules. Clear Channel took major advantage of this and bought up as many as 8 FM and 8 AM stations in some markets. They’ve since divested themselves of some of those stations for financial reasons. Other stations did the same, although not in such big numbers. I long for the days when it was one AM and one FM per market. Radio was better then. We didn’t have “cookie-cutter” radio, where you could travel from market to market and hear the same old thing. The local “flavor” is gone. How is that serving the public interest?

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      • Jay, I most appreciated your reply. Here’s a good one: WCBS and WINS are sister stations, as I’m guessing you already know. If somebody had said as recently as 20 years ago that, their sanity would have been questioned. I think WCBS focuses more on national and world news, whereas WINS is more concerned with NYC. Also, where WCBS is, to my way of thinking, dispassionate, WINS is more “in your face”. WCBS I believe, could be compared to a banker or a stockbroker, while WINS is more like a cabbie or a truck driver.

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        • Strangely enough, Gary, I flip back and forth during my commute to work and back to WCBS and WFAN. I very much enjoy 880s more conversational style of reporting and respect their anchors. Prefer the TV weather guys – I’m a huge fan of Craig Allen! So to me, WCBS 880 wins over WINS. Ok, pardon the pun!. WINS does concentrate more on the City and less on national but both cover national very well. Keep in mind, however, you don’t have to go very far away from NYC after dark before 1010 WINS gets clobbered by CFRB Toronto. 880 is still a true clear channel with no interference whatsoever!

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          • Steve, you probably already know this, but the Yankees’ flagship switched from WCBS to WFAN effective with the 2014 season. Before the Yanks were on WCBS, they were on WABC. So they went from 770 to 880 to 660. Also, WFAN carried a Yankee game in 2011 when WCBS was doing coverage of a hurricane. At the end of your post, you said that WINS gets clobbered by CFRB.You’re absolutely right. I’m going to tell a related story and then I’m going to go. I was the biggest fan WHN ever had, once I learned they were a country station. Well, CHUM (also in Toronto) beat up on them, as both were 1050, as CHUM still is. 1050 in NYC is now WEPN.


        • If WCBS focuses more on the news of the nation and the world, then that’s due to, if nothing else, its being the AM flagship of CBS (as it carries the network’s hourly newscasts.

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          • It is the flagship, but definitely serves the Tri-State region. That’s the difference, more than national stories. WINS tends to focus on news in the 5 boroughs while WCBS serves NY/NJ/CT very well. And that’s logical considering the signal patterns of both stations.


          • That’s why WABC did better in the New York City suburbs than WMCA and their early Top-40 competitors (and a later one based in the suburbs but reaching parts of if not the entire city)–because of WABC’s signal pattern vs. those of its early rock ‘n’ roll competitors, including WMCA.


      • Jay, one other thing. I mentioned that WPVI-TV was once WFIL. Well WPVI means Channel 6, as VI is the Roman numeral for 6.

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        • Very familiar with WPVI; also learned Roman numerals in school. One thing I find interesting is that WPVI opted to move their digital signal to channel 6 after the big switch. This is surprising, because low-band VHF isn’t too good for digital reception. I understand they had a lot of problems at first. I know that 1010 WINS was all-news before the Group W/CBS merge, as was WCBS. Interesting how former competitors now complement one another. But in the days before deregulation, these stations would have had to be owned by two different companies. I just think there are too many stations being run by too few companies. The days “B.D.” (before deregulation) offered more variety and real competition among stations in practically every market. This is something we don’t have anymore, and I miss it.

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          • Jay one other thing (boy, I’m really fond of that phrase, but please bear with me), in the late 90s WMVP (formerly WCFL) and WLS were co-owned, namely by ABC. They were bitter rivals, too, back in the day. Also, talking about stations’ call letters having a pronunciation, there was WIXY (1260 in Cleveland) known as Wicksee 1260, and WIXZ (1360) serving Pittsburgh, known as Wicksee 1360. My all-time favorite station though was WHN New York City when they were country. I really enjoy chatting with you.


  4. Actually, Steve, WIBG, while it did revert to full-blown Top 40 in ’77, was still broadcasting under that very call sign (it did so in the spring of that year (after two years as an adult contemporary station)). It wasn’t until that September that WIBG became WZZD “Wizzard 100”. As you posted in the intro, the research-based Top 40 format that came with the latter format change failed. And it did fail to beat WIFI as well as WFIL (the latter of which went Adult Contemporary at that time). In either ’78 or ’79 at the latest, it went to a disco format which was slightly modified to an urban format. In the spring of 1980,new owners switched WZZD to a religious format (dropping the “Wizzard 100” nickname in the process. It remained so for 24 years (during which another ownership change took place) and then became News/Talk 990 WNTP.

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  5. You know, it seems like we’ve veered way off topic here, wouldn’t you agree?

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  6. Talking about stations with calls you could pronounce, we have had some good calls here. WINZ (pronounced “Wins”), WAME (“Whammy”), WAEZ (“Ways”), WAQI (“Aqui”). and WAXY (pretty obvious).

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    • Jay, you’re absolutely right. Others were WKNR (Keener 13) in Detroit, WEEP (Pittsburgh), and of course, WINS, the last two being self-explanatory. There are probably several more, truth be told.

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      • I can also mention KEIN, Great Falls, Montana (13 Keen); WHOO, Orlando (another obvious one), WAYS, Charlotte (ditto), CHUM, Toronto (ditto again), I could go on…

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        • Here’s another one. I don’t know whether it ever happened, but I wonder if WJAR in Providence, Rhode Island was ever called “The Jar”. Also, it seems that I once heard WXYZ in Detroit called wickzee.

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  7. Tampa, Florida had WALT; Jacksonville had WJAX and WAPE (The Big Ape), we also had WCKR (Wacker), WEDR (Weeder), and the list goes on!

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    • On one of George Carlin’s albums, he had a cut entitled “Wonderful WINO”. Interestingly he’d been a dj at one time, I believe it was in the Army.

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  8. I remember it well. He was great; his seven words you could never say on radio or TV are classic.

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  9. There’s a channel 10 TV station in the Lansing Michigan, area whose call letters are WILX. It’s pronounced “Wilkes”.

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  10. STORER SOLD WIBBAGE AROUND 1970, AND WHEN THEY DID, JOEY REYNOLDS CAME IN. FAIRBANKS BOUGHT IT AND SOLD IT IN 1980 TO SALEM

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  11. Well, WCBS is said to appeal more to suburbanites, whereas WINS has its approach toward New York City, never mind focuses on news of the Five Boroughs themselves. Which is probably owed to their respective signal patterns (even though they’re both 50,00 watts).

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  12. @fredwyke henryfendzen:
    Circa 1969/1970, Storer sold Wibbage to Buckley Broadcasting. Around the time it flipped to Rock MOR or Pop Adult or whatever Adult Contemporary’s original name was in 1975, Buckley sold the station to Fairbanks. By the way, Fairbanks didn’t sell the station–by then WZZD (its current call letters)–to Salem in 1980, it sold it to Communicom. In fact, Communicom flipped WZZD to a Christian format, and then THEY! sold it to Salem in the late 80s or early 90s. In fact, Salem dropped WZZD’s religious format in 2004 in favor of its parent company’s new (?), conservative secular talk format.

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