Infobox Radio Station
name = WBLS
New York City
branding = "107.5 WBLS"
slogan = "New York's Only R&B Station"
airdate = July
frequency = 107.5 (MHz)
Urban Adult Contemporary
erp = 4,200
haat = 415
class = B
facility_id = 28203
Inner City Broadcasting Corporation
licensee = Urban Radio I, LLC
webcast = [http://126.96.36.199/wbls Listen Live]
website = [http://www.wbls.com/ www.wbls.com]
callsign_meaning = World's Best-Looking Sound / Black Listening Station
WBLS first broadcast in the summer of
1972, with Frankie Crockeras the Program Director. Crocker redefined R&Bradio with the term Urban contemporarytargeting listeners 18-34 years of age. It was a combined format that included R&B, jazz, pop, reggae, gospel, dance music, and later, rap. WBLS is owned by Inner City Broadcasting Corporation. Its city of licenseis New York Cityand its tower is located on the Empire State Building, which is also home to the majority of the New York area television and radio station towers since September 11, 2001.WBLS is also the home and flagship station to both The Steve HarveyMorning Show and The Wendy Williams Experience, often being advertised as the King and Queen of New York Radio.
The station signed on in July 1951 as WEVD-FM. On September 15, 1965, WEVD changed its call letters to WLIB, the same calls as its sister AM station at 1190 kHz. In the 1960s WLIB-FM held to a Jazz format. This morphed to a more eclectic format that included R&B, Soul and Vocalese (poetry & prose ala
Nikki Giovanniand the Last Poets). This format was called "The Total Black Experience in Sound" and featured Del Shields and Frankie Crocker as DJs. The evolution of this became the "Urban "Contemporary" sound. Early in 1972, it changed calls once again, this time to WBLS.
WBLS was often the number one FM station in
New Yorkfrom 1974to 1978, competing often with WKTU-FM, a dance/disco station whose music rosters included black artists. Afterward, though, the station's ratings fell to number three. In the spring of 1980, WBLS was number one again but incorporated rap music into its playlists. In August 1981, RKO General, who owned WXLO (99X), went after WBLS' urban audience by launching WRKS-FM(98.7 Kiss FM). WXLO rose from 22nd place to third place on the Arbitronratings in just one rating period. WBLS, WKTUand WRKSbattled for the urban audience in the early 1980s. WKTUwas sold in 1985and WRKS later became a hip hop station due to its rap-influenced format. WBLS became better known as an R&Bstation.
During that same period WBLS was reluctant to play rap music. They insisted that it plagues the minds of young
African Americanpeople especially teenagers. Many music critics, notably Chuck D(of Public Enemy fame) blamed the station for not reaching out to the youth, creating the formation of "white owned Black radio". White-owned 98.7 Kiss FM in 1983 added more rap music to its playlists. In response that same year, WBLS hired Mr. Magicto conduct a weekend hip hopshow and added more rap music to its own playlists.
Emmis Broadcastinglaunched WQHT-FM, a dance/freestyle station that drew listeners away from numerous radio stations around the city, forcing WBLS to incorporate dance musicto its playlists again.
In 1993, the Reverend Calvin Butts and other religious groups threatened to boycott the station if they played any form of "
gangsta rap." By the end of that year the station banned the music except for clean versions of it. [cite news|last=Myers|first=Steven Lee|title=WBLS-FM to Stop Playing Violent Songs|url=http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F0CE1DB153EF936A35751C1A965958260&scp=17&sq=%22Dr.+Dre%22&st=nyt|work= The New York Times|date=1993-12-05|accessdate=2008-03-02] WBLS introduced the market's first Urban Adult Contemporaryformat in 1994 and continued to stay in the top ten Arbitronratings until Emmis Broadcastingpurchased WRKS-FM (Kiss FM) in December of that year and changed the format targeting the station's 25-to-54-year-old audience. In 1997, WBLS reintroduced rap back on its playlists and crept back up to the top five Arbitronratings. In 2004, Deon Levingston was appointed as the new general manager of the station and changes the format back to Urban Adult Contemporary.
WBLS since 2001 has been the flagship station for the controversial radio show " [http://www.thewendywilliamsexperience.com/ The Wendy Williams Experience] ", hosted by female shock-jock Wendy Williams.
In August 2004, ICBC,
Inner City Broadcasting's radio subsidiary, redeemed nearly $140 million [ [http://www.quetzaljpmorganpartners.com/portfolio.html Radio Portfolio] Accessed September 26, 2007] accreted value of redeemable preferred stock in a recapitalization led by GE Capital and Alta Communications, a Boston-based private equity firm [ [http://www.quetzaljpmorganpartners.com/news08_13_04.html Quetzal/J.P. Morgan Partners Sells Stock in Inner City Broadcasting] . Accessed September 26, 2007]
The radio station was also mentioned in U2's song "
Angel of Harlem."
Starting on Late 2008, WBLS will broadcast a weekly
smooth jazzprogram, "Sunday Night Smooth Jazz", every Sunday at 7PM. This programming move came after WQCD, New York City's smooth jazz station, flipped formats back in February. Fact|date=March 2008
* [http://www.wbls.com/ WBLS Website]
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