|City||Morningside, Maryland, U.S.|
|Broadcast area||Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area|
"D.C.'s Home of At Least 18 Jams in A Row"|
HD2:"D.C.'s Dance Channel"
|Frequency||95.5 (MHz) (also on HD Radio)|
|First air date||March 1958|
FM/HD1: Rhythmic Contemporary Hit Radio|
HD2: Dance Top 40
HD3: CBS Sports Radio (WJFK simulcast)
|Callsign meaning||We're Prince George's County|
CBS Radio |
(CBS Radio Inc. of Maryland)
|Sister stations||WIAD, WJFK, WJFK-FM, WDCH-FM, WLZL|
Area 955 - Listen Live
WPGC-FM (95.5 FM) is an urban-leaning rhythmic-formatted station, and one of the most popular among Washington, D.C.'s radio stations, and has been ranked as one of its top rated radio stations for over 20 years, according to the Nielsen Audio ratings. It has a city of license of Morningside (its studios are located in the Navy Yard neighborhood of Southeast D.C.) at the 95.5 MHz frequency on the FM dial. Its tower operates at an effective radiated power of 50 kilowatts (kW) and is located in Capitol Heights, Maryland. It also formerly shared the WPGC calls with sister station WPGC/1580, which once played urban gospel music (the AM station is now sports as WJFK). In 2005, WPGC began broadcasting in IBOC digital radio, using the HD Radio system from iBiquity.
WPGC is listed as a Rhythmic contemporary station according to Mediabase reports, because it primarily plays urban contemporary music, making WPGC-FM an urban-leaning rhythmic station (the other being KBFB in Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas). In addition, WPGC-FM is the only rhythmic in the D.C./Balto. region targeted towards Baltimore listeners, putting competition up against WERQ, a Radio One-owned urban contemporary station and WZFT, a iHeartMedia owned contemporary hit radio station. It is the only CBS Radio rhythmic in the Eastern United States to use its calls as a branding on-air; while the other two—KSFM in Sacramento, California, KLUC-FM in Las Vegas, Nevada, are both in the Pacific Time Zone and Western United States. It was the only Rhythmic owned by CBS Radio that was not listed on the Nielsen BDS rhythmic panel, but that changed on June 13, 2012, when it moved WPGC to the Rhythmic panel from the R&B/Hip-Hop panel due to WPGC becoming more of a hit-driven Rhythmic Top 40 that is more in line with CBS Radio's Rhythmic outlets and to be more competitive with Top 40/CHR rival WIHT.
Notable on-air personalities
- Joe Clair – host of The Joe Clair Morning Show
The station that later became WPGC-FM signed on as on January 18, 1948, on the 96.7 frequency with the WBUZ call letters. WBUZ was owned by Arthur Baldwin Curtis, president of Chesapeake Broadcasting Company, Incorporated, and was located in Bradbury Heights. WBUZ-FM was broadcasting at 420 watts effective radiated power. The call letters were a play on the word "bus," as WBUZ broadcast background music for a Prince George's County, Maryland based bus company.
WBUZ-FM raised power to 6.3 kilowatts and its city of license was changed to Oakland, Maryland (near District Heights; not the Western Maryland town) in May 1953. Then on June 8, 1953, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted a permit to the station to raise power from 6.3 to 18 kilowatts. WBUZ-FM changed frequency from 96.7 to 95.5 megahertz and power was reduced to 16.5 kilowatts from a new transmitter and tower site on Walker Mill Road in Oakland. The calls were changed to WRNC on March 30, 1956. By the end of the year, WRNC was simulcasting the WPGC-AM programming. The ERP was reduced to 15.7 kilowatts while the power increase authorized for the WPGC-AM in 1955 to 10,000 watts daytime only.
WPGC-AM, Inc., purchased WRNC in 1956. The calls were changed to WPGC-FM in March 1958. WPGC-FM temporarily goes silent until February 1959 as new studios were being constructed for the top 40 format. The call letters stand for "We're Prince George's County", the county in which the station is actually located, but at one time in the 1970s and early 1980s, it was referred to in on-air promos as "Where People Get Cash".
The format failed and First Media decided to sell all of its properties for $177 million to a minority interest in early 1987. New owners, Cook Inlet Media, a group of Alaska Natives, promptly rebuilt the station as a Rhythmic and reclaimed the legendary call letters, WPGC on May 30, 1987. The first song under the new format was "Jam On It" by Newcleus. The station flipped to a successful music format with the brand name "WPGC, 95 Jams". Also in the early 2000s (decade), the branding reverted to simply "WPGC 95.5", dropping the "Jams" moniker from the brand although it still visibly remained on the station's logo and was used in the slogan. In August 2009, the station rebranded again to "95-5 PGC" and changing its slogan from "DC's #1, Blazin' At Least 18 Jamz in A Row" to "DC's Hip Hop and R&B" (and briefly to "DC's Official #1 for Hip-Hop and R&B" in 2010), but now "WPGC 95.5, DC's Home for At Least 18 Jams in A Row" as of 2011. The "Jams" moniker was also removed from the station's logo and replaced with "wpgc.com".
Donnie Simpson hosted The Donnie Simpson Morning Show during the morning drive from March 1993 to January 29, 2010.
WPGC-FM also has been a debated topic amongst radio experts about its format classification as a Rhythmic Contemporary Hit radio station even though it really operates musically as a Mainstream Urban. In 1987, when the current format on WPGC was introduced it was a mix of R&B, hip-hop, dance and pop titles. This came at a time when many radio stations took on the "crossover"-based format for the first time as Emmis Communications pioneered it on KPWR in Los Angeles and WQHT in New York upon acquiring those stations. In the case of Washington, D.C., the new format niched in well with established R&B stations WKYS, WMMJ and WOL as well as top 40 stations (at the time) WRQX and WAVA-FM.
By 1997, following the departure of longtime Assistant program director/music director and afternoon host, Albie Dee, its playlist consisted mainly of R&B and hip-hop titles. Many critics say the ability to attract more mainstream advertisers as Rhythmic, rather than Urban, is the real reason.
In June 2009, speculation began circulating that WPGC might be evolving towards a Top 40/CHR direction or back to its former urban-leaning Rhythmic format similar to sister station WZMX. The move might have been fueled by the recent drop in the ratings and in part due to the introduction of PPMs in the market, where it has hurt them audience-wise. However, it has remained a Mainstream Urban (in terms of programming and music playlist, although still basically considered a rhythmic) that focuses primarily on the current urban hits with some recurrents and throwbacks mixed into its playlist.
In December 2010, WPGC began to open up its playlist to include songs that they wouldn't have touched, i.e. Just The Way You Are from Bruno Mars. This issue of whether WPGC might be shifting to a broader Rhythmic sound continues to be debated on message boards like Radio-Info. Even though WPGC-FM is still considered as a rhythmic, it added more rhythmic-friendly tracks but reduced the urban lean. From 1992 to 1997, WPGC was an original member of the BDS Rhythmic Top 40 panel, when it was moved to BDS's R&B/Hip-Hop reporting panel in 1997. But in June 2012, WPGC returned to the Rhythmic Top 40 panel after 15 years. However, it has retained a heavy urban lean to programming when compared to most rhythmic-formatted stations on the panel. Ironically, they are also the second CBS Radio Rhythmic outlet on the BDS Rhythmic panel with a R&B/Hip-Hop direction, the other being WZMX/Hartford, Connecticut.
WPGC is considered the largest station owned by CBS Radio within its urban/rhythmic division, based on market size (Washington, DC #7). From 1997 to 2012, Nielsen BDS placed WPGC-FM on the urban panel, while it remained on the rhythmic panel on Mediabase, as Radio One's WKYS is its competitor, but is an urban contemporary station. Until August 2012, CBS Radio did list WPGC as an urban on the corporate listings, but in actuality it is programmed as a hybrid of both formats. As a result, Atlanta (market rank #8) sister station, WVEE, is considered the largest urban station and the flagship of the company's urban/rhythmic division.
Currently, WPGC is musically programmed as a hits-driven station that spins a heavy concentration of mainly contemporary hip-hop and R&B music with numerous urban music throwbacks throughout the day and an occasional crossover pop hit song. The station directly competes with urban contemporary rival WKYS full-time and to a lesser extent the station competes with contemporary hit radio rival WIHT (Hot 99-5), but only urban adult contemporary rivals WMMJ and WHUR with R&B and classic soul slow jams indirectly on Sunday nights from 10pm to 2am via "The Koolout" slow jams program. After many years of only giving occasional spins to urban contemporary gospel music that charted well on the Billboard, the station added a program dedicated to the genre on Sunday mornings from 8AM to 10AM since 2009.
- HD2:In March 2006, WPGC launched a HD2 subchannel, which featured a format geared to local Hip-Hop and R&B artists under the billing "Crank." However, by September 2011, the format would be replaced with a Dance Top 40 format, billed as "Area 955."
- HD3 is a simulcast of WJFK 1580 AM, which airs a sports format with programming from CBS Sports Radio.
Infinity Broadcasting acquired the station and sister station WPGC from Cook Inlet in June 1994 for $60 million. The stations moved to new studios and offices at 4200 Parliament Place, Suite 300 in Lanham, Maryland, in the summer of 2000. In January 2006 owner Viacom split into two companies, Viacom and CBS, and the Infinity Broadcasting name was dropped in favor of CBS Radio.
- "Radio-Info September 2011 Arbitron Washington D.C. ratings". Radio-Info and Arbitron.
- "AM/FM Morningside". AMFM Morningside.
- "AM/FM Morningside WBUZ era of WPGC". AMFM Morningside.
- "GNIS Detail - Oakland". United States Board on Geographic Names.
- "http://licensing.fcc.gov/cgi-bin/ws.exe/prod/cdbs/pubacc/prod/call_hist.pl?Facility_id=28632&Callsign=WPGC-FM". Federal Communications Commission. External link in
- "Washington, DC-Baltimore Area Radio History". Playlist Research.
- "WPGC Celebrates 25 Years On Air" from All Access (May 26, 2012)
- "WPGC is Moving to 1015 Half Street SE Effective March 30" from WPGC (March 26, 2015)
- From DCRTV.com
- From Radio-Info Washington/Baltimore message board
- BDS monitored radio panel update
- "http://www.cbsradio.com/market". CBS Radio. External link in
- "HD-2 Area 9-5-5 Dancin' In D.C." from All Access (September 14, 2011)
- http://hdradio.com/station_guides/widget.php?id=8 HD Radio Guide for Washington D.C.
- WPGC Website
- WPGC (Top 40 Format) Tribute Site
- WPGC Sherry Berger
- Query the FCC's FM station database for WPGC
- Radio-Locator information on WPGC
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for WPGC