WZMP (96.5 FM, "96-5 AMP Radio") is a Philadelphia radio station owned by CBS Radio that airs a CHR format. Its transmitter is located in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia, with studios located in Bala Cynwyd.
96.5 Philadelphia history
For several years in the 1940s and 1950s, the frequency was known as WHAT-FM and was simulcast with its sister station on the AM dial. In 1956, a young disc jockey known as Sid Mark took the airwaves for the first time in Philadelphia, beginning a nearly 50-year career in the market as a disc jockey. WHAT-FM became a full-time jazz station in 1958, the first of its kind on the FM spectrum.
In the late 1960s, the call letters were changed to WWDB, after the owners of the station, William and Dolly Banks. In the early 1970s, WWDB experimented with playing adult contemporary music, but eventually went back to jazz. In 1975, the station's format was changed to talk, and WWDB became the first FM talk station in the United States. On-air talk personalities included Irv Homer, Bernie McCade, Frank Ford and Bernie Herman.
After her brother William died in 1979, Dolly Banks took over as General Manager. Many lawsuits over the ownership of WWDB began since William Banks did not have children other than distant relatives were fighting for ownership. In 1985, Dolly Banks retired after the African-American employees of sister station WHAT-AM, along with the Black Media Caucus in Washington, D.C., sued the estate, receiving millions of dollars and forcing an estate sale of WWDB. The sale, which was overseen by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), required the ownership to go only to a Black minority, so WWDB was sold to Black Philadelphia attorney Ragan Henry (for an undervalued amount of $6,000,000), whose law firm was also working for the Banks Family. Irv Homer had to testify before the FCC.
In 1986, Charles Schwartz then purchased WWDB from Ragan Henry and ran it under the name of Panache Broadcasting,
Beasley Broadcasting of Florida purchased WWDB for $65 million from Mercury Broadcasting in 1999. The new owners misled the hosts saying that the Talk format would continue, but they did not want to pay the high salaries. At first, the station include extended infomercials. However, even after lawsuits filed by the Gay Alliance of Philadelphia, they decided to change the format with no notice to the employees or the listeners. On November 3, 2000, Beasley registered the new WPTP call letters for the station. At 9 AM on November 6, the day before the U.S. Presidential Election, the station began stunting with a computer-generated countdown. At 5 PM that day, WWDB's format was changed to 1980s Hits, known as "96-5 The Point", launching with "Don't You (Forget About Me)" by Simple Minds. The buyout of the WWDB hosts' contracts is said to have cost Beasley $5 million.
The WPTP call letters went into effect on November 22. WPTP shifted to Hot AC in early 2003. The Hot AC format would not last long, as the station had continuous low ratings (WPTP's closest rival with the format, WMWX, also had low ratings during this time). On November 17, 2003, at 7:50 AM, WPTP began stunting with Christmas music as "Snowy 96.5"; at 5 PM that day, during a bit with morning show host and Philadelphia radio veteran Paul Barsky, WPTP changed to rhythmic contemporary as "Wild 96.5" (with callsign changing to WLDW), launching with "Get Low" by Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz. However, Clear Channel Communications (now iHeartMedia), who are owners of the copyrighted 'Wild' moniker, threatened Beasley with a lawsuit for copyright infringement. To avoid this, in February 2004, WLDW became "Wired 96.5" and the callsign changed to WRDW-FM (the -FM tag is necessary because of the existence of AM station WRDW in Augusta, Georgia, which is also owned by Beasley). During its tenure as "Wired", the station would occasionally shift back and forth between Rhythmic and Mainstream, though they would place an emphasis on Rhythmic and Dance currents/recurrents, while avoiding most pop-rock product.
On October 2, 2014, Beasley Broadcast Group announced that it would trade five radio stations located in Philadelphia (including WRDW) and Miami to CBS Radio in exchange for 14 stations located in Tampa, Charlotte and Philadelphia (which Beasley will acquire 610 AM). The swap was completed on December 1, 2014. Shortly after the trade was consummated, WRDW-FM shifted to a more Mainstream Top 40, though they still favored Rhythmic and Dance currents/recurrents.
During and after the trade, rumors abounded online that CBS would flip the station back to news, this time as a simulcast of KYW. This was partially due to the station's continued low ratings; in the February 2015 Philadelphia PPM ratings report, WRDW-FM held a 2.4 share of the market, as compared to direct competitor WIOQ's 4.1 share. On April 8, 2015, after registering domains towards a possible rebrand as "96.5 AMP Radio" (joining similar stations in New York, Detroit, Boston, Orlando and Los Angeles with the branding), WRDW-FM began running jockless and promoting a change to come on April 10 at 5 PM. At that time, after playing "Motownphilly" by Boyz II Men, the rebrand to "AMP Radio" took place; the first song on "AMP" was "Get Low" by Dillon Francis and DJ Snake. The changeover also resulted in morning host Chunky and afternoon host/program director Buster being released.
On April 20, 2015, WRDW-FM changed call letters to WZMP to match the "AMP" moniker.
In 2007, WRDW added an HD2 subcarrier to its lineup to carry non-stop Dance music 24/7 under the moniker "Hot Wired." The music and imaging is similar to sister station WPOW's HD2 subcarrier channel, now defunct. In 2012, the format changed to foreign language programming as "VDC Radio". In May 2013, Hot Wired returned to 96.5-HD2, while VDC moved to WXTU-HD3 ("Hot Wired" would later be renamed "WirEDM"). In 2015, the WirEDM name was phased out with the rebranding to AMP Radio. The HD2 format is mainly dance music from 2005-2012 with a few current songs in the mix.
WZMP's signal can be heard as far north as Pottsville, Pennsylvania, Walnutport, Pennsylvania, Frackville, Pennsylvania and Maplewood, New Jersey, despite there being a pirate radio station called Streetz 96 in Newark, New Jersey (Streetz 96 has since moved to 106.5 on the FM dial). This is rather unusual, as WZMP operates on a class B frequency with an Effective radiated power of 17,000 watts.