WIOQ (102.1 FM), known as "Q102", is a Top 40 (CHR) radio station which is broadcast in the Philadelphia area. The station appeals to a generally young demographic. WIOQ is owned by iHeartMedia, Inc.. Its transmitter is located in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia, and its studios are located in Bala Cynwyd.
The 102.1 MHz frequency in Philadelphia was originally occupied by WFIL-FM. In 1948 it was used to transmit some experimental facsimile broadcasts, presumably related to The Philadelphia Inquirer, which was under common ownership with the radio station. On July 10th, 1968, WFIL-FM switched away from background classical music to an early version of an adult contemporary format. Known as Popular 102, the station featured softer pop music of the day with a mix of currents, oldies and instrumentals. Each hour featured a track from a featured album of the week, and voices on the station were pre-recorded announcements and news from the voices at sister station WFIL-AM, including Jay Cook, J.J. Jeffrey, Tommy Tyler and news by the likes of Allen Stone and Glenn Barton.
The station promoted itself as playing "The Nicest Music for the Nicest People." This format continued through May of 1971, when the Triangle Publications-owned station was spun off to Richer Communications.
Album rock era
With the sale of WFIL AM-FM-TV by Triangle Publications, Inc. in 1971 to Capital Cities Broadcasting (later Capital Cities Communications), WFIL-FM (102.1) was spun off to Richer Communications in May of 1971. The call letters were changed to WIOQ representing the script version of IOQ in relation to the frequency of 102. The familiar jingle of Popular 102 was also changed to W102. Initially, the familiar PAMS jingles were updated to reflect the new call letters and all continued as before. By 1972, the station's imaging changed to Stereo Island which trended even softer than the station had been, but added live DJs while the music rotated on an IGM automation unit.
Air staff at this time included Jeff Dean, Lee Meredith, Art Andrews, Alan Drew (Frio), Jere Sullivan, and Jay Mathieu, with Dave Klahr continuing as program director. After a year or so in this format, the station brought back the Popular 102 moniker and started playing a little harder mix of pop tunes. When Dave Klahr left, Roy Laurence was hired as program director and the station's mix, which by then had become Top 40 based with a much more adult presentation than its former AM sister, gradually became more rock-oriented, and by about 1975 WIOQ had a progressive rock format. Around this time the station began using an extract from the album Intergalactic Trot by Stardrive as the music bed for hourly station IDs; it would remain WIOQ's audio signature for over a decade.
The station also started using the moniker "Q102" during that time. For a time in the mid-70s, the station affiliated with ABC's "American FM Radio Network" in order to air some programs hosted by then-hip Geraldo Rivera. That contract also forced them to air the ABC news at :15 past the hour, giving the station a bit of a stodgy feel in comparison with its competition. The station had trouble competing with established FM rock leader WMMR and aggressive AOR upstart WYSP. Programming duties were split between Alex DeMers and Bill Fantini, with DJs Jim Harlan, John Harvey, and Bill Paul rounding out the full-time air staff, but after a few years, the owner (by then listed as Que Broadcasting, Inc.) declared bankruptcy. WIOQ emerged from the bankruptcy under the ownership of The Outlet Company, a retailing and broadcasting company based in Providence, Rhode Island.
Under Outlet, WIOQ evolved into an eclectic music format often described as "adult rock". The station played a blend of softer songs heard on rock music stations, some deeper album cuts, a few top 40 crossover hits, and a bit of uptempo jazz. Leading air personalities on WIOQ in this era included John Harvey ("Harvey in the Morning"), Helen Leicht who hosted a show called "Breakfast With The Beatles" on Sunday mornings, David Dye, Ed Sciaky and Michael Tozzi. (Leicht and Dye are now the midday DJs for the adult alternative public station WXPN. The former continues her "Leight Lunch" program at noon, and Dye is the producer and host of the nationally-distributed World Cafe.) After a proposed sale of Outlet's broadcast properties to Coca-Cola's Columbia Pictures subsidiary around 1982 fell through, the station group was acquired by Wesray Capital Corporation, a corporation partially owned by former Treasury Secretary William E. Simon.
Solid Gold 102
After years of low to moderate ratings, on November 9, 1987, the adult rock format was dropped in favor of an oldies format, playing the hits of 1955-1973 and positioning themselves as "Solid Gold 102". Harvey Holiday, formerly of WDAS-FM, hosted the station's morning show.
Q102 goes CHR
Late in 1988, WIOQ was sold to EZ Communications. On January 18, 1989, the station dropped oldies and switched to a Dance/Urban/Top 40 (or "Churban") hybrid format. The first song under the new format was "Let's Go Crazy" by Prince and The Revolution. They kept the WIOQ call letters, but became known as "Pirate Radio", although they had no association with the rock-based CHR format of that name at then-KQLZ/Los Angeles, then owned by Westwood One. It soon adopted, for the second time, the handle "Q102."
The station consistently leaned dance and urban, but played varying amounts of rock and AC crossover songs, changing according to chart trends and competitive conditions. In 1994, rival WUSL would be bought by EZ, with WUSL targeting specifically towards African-Americans, while WIOQ targeted more of a Caucasian audience. In 1996, EZ would merge with American Radio Systems. To satisfy ownership limits (as well as taking advantage of a larger advertising market), WIOQ and WUSL were traded to Evergreen Media (owner of WJJZ), with EZ receiving Evergreen's Charlotte stations. In February 1997, Evergreen and Chancellor Media would merge. After the Chancellor acquisition, WIOQ became co-owned with 104.5 FM (now WRFF), WDAS, WDAS-FM, WUSL, and WJJZ (now WISX).
By early 1998, the station was Mainstream CHR with a slight dance and rhythmic lean. There were a few rumors that Q102 would adopt a Jammin' Oldies format in 1999, along with reports that WDAS-FM would possibly become a Jammin' Oldies station, but neither happened, as WXXM (now WBEN-FM) flipped to the format in May of that year.
As a result of a large merger in 2000, WIOQ and the other stations in its cluster became properties of Clear Channel Communications. Q102 remains a successful mainstream Top 40 radio station.
The morning drive show was hosted by Chris Booker, with Angi Taylor, Diego, Blaire, and Team, until Booker was fired on May 23, 2008, when the station stated it was switching to a format that focused more on music.
On May 22, 2012, the station held the first Springle Ball concert.