WDZH (98.7 FM, "98-7 AMP Radio") is a radio station serving the Metropolitan Detroit area in Southeastern Michigan. WDZH broadcasts a Top 40 (CHR) format at 98.7 MHz. The station's offices and studios are located on American Drive in Southfield while the transmitter is located near Livernois and West Davison in the City of Detroit. WDZH broadcasts with an Effective Radiated Power of 50,000 watts from an antenna 463 feet in height.
WDZH is one of two radio stations in the Detroit market reporting to Mediabase as a CHR/Pop outlet, the other being Clear Channel's Channel 955. The station is musically positioned between the rhythmic-leaning Channel 955 and Cumulus' Adult Top 40-formatted 96-3 WDVD.
WBFG/WLLZ, Detroit's Wheels
The station signed on the air in 1961 as WBFG ("We Broadcast For God"). The station broadcast religious programming for nearly two decades. On July 16, 1980, WBFG was sold and soon changed its calls to WLLZ.
On August 11, 1980, at 5:07 PM, WLLZ debuted a new AOR/CHR format; the first song played on the new "Detroit's Wheels" was "Let It Rock" by Bob Seger. (The WLLZ calls were also rumored to stand for "We Love Led Zeppelin" or "Whole Lotta Led Zeppelin", but were more likely chosen as a sound-alike for wheels, as a in tribute to the area's auto industry.) The new WLLZ became an instant hit. "Wheels" had one of the most successful debuts in Detroit radio history; it debuted at #2 (behind only WJR) in total persons 12+ in the Fall 1980 Arbitron radio listening ratings, and posted #1 ratings in the teen, 18-34 and 18-49 listener demographics. Detroit's other rockers were hit hard, particularly WWWW (W4), which, having been a top 10-rated station just a year earlier (and had ranked as high as #2 in the spring 1979 ratings), had tumbled completely out of the top 20 by the fall of 1980. In January 1981, just days after the fall Arbiton ratings were released, W4 changed formats from rock to country, and terminated morning man Howard Stern, whose show had been crushed by his WLLZ competition of Jon Larson and Jeff Young.
WABX would also drop their rock format for a Top 40/CHR format in 1982, leaving WLLZ and WRIF to go head-to-head in the AOR format for the rest of the 1980s and into the early 1990s, with WLLZ occasionally beating the heritage rocker in the 12+ ratings. In an Ann Arbor News article in 1987, Michael Solon, the station's general manager at the time of the rock format's launch, credited WLLZ's success to the perception that the station featured less chatter and took a more mass-appeal, hit-oriented approach to its music than competing stations: "It was a wonderful time, making such a splash with an all-new station. I was no genius. I just figured that if the other stations were awfully chatty and going four songs deep on albums, we would do well by playing album-music hits."
In 1988, WLLZ also introduced the nation's first weekly sports talk show on an FM rock and roll station, "The Sunday Sports Albom", hosted by Mitch Albom.
WLLZ saw its fortunes slip in the early 1990s with the emergence of "alternative" rock groups like Nirvana and Pearl Jam who drove many of the 1980s "hair bands" off the charts. A format tweak from AOR to modern rock in June 1995 (which put the station in competition with 89X and The Planet 96.3) failed to reverse the station's dropping ratings.
Smooth Jazz V98.7
On December 20, 1995, at 10 AM, after playing Led Zeppelin's "Stairway To Heaven", WLLZ flipped to Smooth Jazz as "V98.7". The format was introduced by musician Kenny G, followed by "Smooth Operator" by Sade. The WVMV calls were adopted on February 16, 1996.
For a while, WVMV and WJZZ were competitors in the smooth jazz format. When WJZZ flipped to an urban format in August 1996, the WJZZ callsign was also discontinued, and eventually used for a Smooth Jazz station in Atlanta, Georgia — which, like WVMV, is the second (if one discounts Detroit's previous new age-format stations, WVAE and WXCD) such formatted station to serve its city.
98-7 AMP Radio
At 5 PM on October 2, 2009, after almost fifteen years as a smooth jazz station, "V98.7" signed off, bookending "V" with the first song they played, "Smooth Operator" by Sade. The station then briefly stunted by playing an audio montage of TM Communications' DBSV jingles and airchecks of WLLZ followed by "Welcome To The Jungle" by Guns N' Roses. Halfway through the song, the station then played audio of Kanye West's famous "Imma let you finish" scene, followed by Beyoncé's "Sweet Dreams", and flipped to Top 40.
During the first weekend, the station was commercial free and was calling itself "98-7 Takeover" and asking people to register online and guess what the name of the new station was going to be. The winner of the contest would be awarded $1,000. On October 5, 2009 at 8am, the station officially launched as "98-7 AMP Radio", modeled like sister stations 97-1 Amp Radio in Los Angeles, and 92-3 Amp Radio in New York City. Unlike those two stations, this station did not start with 10,000 songs commercial free. For a time, the station offered commercial-free Mondays, which were discontinued in April 2011. The station adopted the WDZH call sign on May 3, 2010.
WDZH currently ranks at #14 (3.3 share) in the Detroit market according to the December 2015 PPM Ratings release.
On January 20, 2006, the station launched its HD-2 station with a Traditional Jazz format. After the change to Top 40 (CHR) on FM on October 2, 2009, the station moved its Smooth Jazz to the HD2 sub-channel as "Smooth Jazz V98.7", with one live host from 9am-5pm, Madison Leigh, who had done mornings on WVMV in the early 2000s. Former WVMV morning host Alexander Zonjic also hosts Alexander Zonjic from A to Z on Fridays and Sundays from 7 pm to 8 pm.
In April 2016, WDZH-HD3 flipped to Rhythmic Adult Contemporary as "Party 98-7."