WCBM first went on the air in the 1920s when it was based in the Hotel Chateau, located at the northwest corner of Charles Street and North Avenue. The building's name inspired the call letters - Chateau Baltimore Maryland. The Chateau was also home to the drugstore where Dr. George Bunting first produced and marketed Noxzema. Originally a low-powered local station, WCBM moved from 1400 kHz to 680 kHz in 1949 and increased its power from 250 to 10,000 watts.
WCBM gradually became a full service free-flowing Middle of The Road music and personality station by the early 1960s. The station was sold in 1963 to Metromedia radio. By the 1970s, WCBM evolved into more of an Adult Contemporary music format and in 1981 began running talk programming in the evening and evolved to all talk by 1983. WCBM was also the longtime radio flaship station of the Baltimore Colts with broadcasters Chuck Thompson and Vince Bagli calling the action in the broadcast booth. The station would be sold in 1986 to local owners known as WCBM Inc. They then returned to an adult contemporary format, dropping talk abruptly. Then in March 1988, WCBM became an oldies music station playing the hits of 1955 to 1969. In 1987, when the radio broadcast rights for the Baltimore Orioles were up for sale, WCBM surprisingly outbid both the 50,000 watt WBAL and rival station WFBR which had been the Orioles flagship station for the previous 8 years. Considered to me a major coup at the time, WCBM's tenure as the Orioles flagship station lasted only one season, as the station did not get the return on the investment that was expected. In May of 1987, after financial difficulties, WCBM filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy, went silent soon after, and was put up for sale.
At about the same time that WCBM was in the middle of bankruptcy, rival station WFBR (1300 AM) was sold and changed its format from talk radio to 1950's music. In doing so, the new owners of WFBR let go all of the station's on-air personnel. Later that summer, WCBM returned to the air under new ownership when Baltimore area businessman Nick Mangione, Sr. purchased the station and resurrected it from bankruptcy. Mangione was an avid listener of talk radio and a fan of WFBR's former talk radio format. Once he acquired the station, Mangione brought most of WFBR's former talk-radio line-up to WCBM, including broadcasters such as Frank Luber, Joe Lombardo, Tom Marr, Ken Maylath, Les Kinsolving, Alan Christian, and Stan Charles, who were all let go from WFBR.
WCBM originally had The Rush Limbaugh Show as part of their lineup in theearly 1990's, but lost it to competitor WBAL in 1994 due to the lack of transmitter power. At the time, WCBM was broadcasting at 10,000 watts, which was dramatically reduced after 6 p.m. each night. So WCBM had to scramble to put a lineup together to compete with WBAL.
Despite having a following, Zoh Heironimus didn't capture the listenership as well as Limbaugh. So WCBM added Dr. Laura Schlessinger to the 12-3 spot; this actually had negative results. After WJZ-AM AM 1300 (then WJFK-AM) dropped his show, WCBM added The G. Gordon Liddy Show. Liddy revived numbers for WCBM, although not as successful as Limbaugh.
By the end of 2001, The Sean Hannity Show was added to the 3-6 p.m. lineup, replacing Bob Scherr. By this time there were rumors of a new omnidirectional transmitter being built in Carroll County, Maryland. WCBM went to 50,000 watts in 2004. By the end of his contract with WBAL, on July 1, 2006, Limbaugh returned to WCBM after WBAL decided to invest heavily to win back broadcast rights to the Baltimore Orioles (which it had lost to CBS Radio's 105.7 FM), as well as winning the broadcast rights to the Baltimore Ravens.
Limbaugh replaced G. Gordon Liddy in the noon slot, and The Mark Levin Show debuted on the same day as Limbaugh's return, taking the 7-9 p.m. slot.
Recent changes in programming and station sound
As of the fall of 2009, WCBM dropped ABC News Radio network news and now airs Fox News Radio at the top and bottom of the hour. This change coincided with rival competitor station WBAL's morning show's switch to all news. For both stations, new station sweepers, imaging, station ID's and music accompanied the changes in programming, with WBAL adopting an all news imaging package and WCBM adopting a new imaging sound to accompany the switch to Fox news.
However, WCBM still airs their classic "WCBM" jingle before and after breaks in programming and more recently WBAL's station ID's were redone with a lighter announcing style.
WCBM and WQLL are owned by M-10 Broadcasting and the Mangione Family. The former Nick Mangione Sr., a World War II veteran aboard the U.S.S. Caperton, purchased the station in 1988. He brought over many talents from the old WFBR such as Tom Marr, who was a Baltimore Orioles play by play announcer, and Les Kinsolving. Sean Casey is currently the Program Director. He hosts the Morning Show with Frank Luber, a former reporter with WJZ-TV. Joe "Hosni" Armacost is their co-broadcaster and call screener. Marc D. Beaven has been General Manager of WCBM and sister station WQLL 1370 Baltimore's Greatest Hits since February 2014.