WASH (97.1 FM) is an iHeartMedia, Inc. radio station located in Washington, D.C.. Known on-air as "Wash-FM", the station has an adult contemporary format. The station also streams its broadcast on iHeartRadio. The station's studios are located in Rockville, Maryland and the transmitter site is in DC's Tenleytown district.
WASH has been a soft adult contemporary station in one form or another since the 1970s. For a few years in the early 1980s, the station attempted to do a Top 40 / CHR format (publicized by the station's "WASH with the Stars" TV ad campaign) which had no success and the station later returned to their original Soft AC format. On Saturday nights from 7 pm - midnight (Eastern time), the station plays disco music and related songs (mostly 1970s Top 40) in a program known as "Jammin' Saturday Night". The station recently began broadcasting two hours of 1980s music (from midnight - 2:00 am Eastern time) immediately following "Jammin' Saturday Night".
The station plays exclusively Christmas music from mid-November through Christmas Day (plus on July 25 for "Christmas in July") and calls itself "Washington's Home for the Holidays" during the season. In 2011, the station started playing exclusively Christmas music on Friday, November 18.
WASH-FM was an early FM station licensed to Washington, DC in 1944. Original owner, Everett L Dillard. WASH-FM and its owner, Dillard were early pioneers in FM “networking” and Stereo broadcasting.
During the 1940s Dillard also headed the Washington-based Continental FM Network, a 52-station network. The Continental Network was Dillard’s & Edwin Howard Armstrong's creation to get some content for Armstrong’s Alpine, NJ, station. Dillard's WASH fed a 15 kHz phone line to Alpine. Some of the content was WASH's evening classical record program. The network “connected” Dillard’s WASH-FM to stations in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York (as far west as Buffalo), Connecticut, Massachusetts and ending at Mount Washington, in New Hampshire. Many of the stations picked up the broadcast from the station "down the line" and rebroadcast it, thus allowing the next station "up the line" to pick up the broadcast and forward it along.
WASH-FM also conducted early experiments with stereo broadcasts. One system was to broadcast one channel over WASH-FM, and the other channel on another of Dillard’s stations, WDON. (1540 Kc Wheaton, MD)
Dillard sells WASH-FM
Dillard sold WASH-FM in 1968 to Metromedia, who moved the studios and transmitter from Wheaton, MD to Metromedia’s Wisconsin Ave. headquarters. The transmitter was moved to Metromedia’s WTTG-TV’s transmitter facility and broadcast from the WTTG-TV tower.
In the 1970s, the station gained notoriety for its million dollar give-away contest, both because of the amount of money involved and because of the difficulty the station encountered in finding a winner who met all of the contest's requirements.