WIYY (97.9 FM, "98 Rock") is a mainstream rock radio station in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, owned by the Hearst Corporation. WIYY shares a studio/office facility with sister stations WBAL (1090 AM) and WBAL-TV (channel 11) on Television Hill in the Woodberry section of Baltimore, near the transmission tower it shares with WBAL-TV. WIYY and WBAL are the only two radio stations owned by the Hearst Corporation.

History

The 97.9 frequency in Baltimore began in January 1948 as WMAR-FM,[3] owned by the A.S. Abell Company, publishers of the Baltimore Sun and founders of WMAR-TV, Baltimore's first television station. The first station to use those call letters (and not related to the second WMAR-FM at 106.5, now WWMX), WMAR-FM was a collaborative partner of Transit Rides Inc., developer of a music format designed for public transportation and owned by the Cincinnati-based Taft family.[4] After two years on the air, Abell shut down the radio station in June 1950 and turned in its license to the Federal Communications Commission.[5]

The 97.9 frequency remained silent until December 1958 when it was reborn as WFDS-FM,[6] a classical music outlet under the ownership of William S. Cook, a Baltimore native and professional engineer.[7] Cook created WFDS-FM as one of the first radio stations in the United States to experiment with stereo.[8] The Hearst Corporation purchased the station in April 1960 and retained classical music while renaming it WBAL-FM.[9][10]

In June 1975 WBAL-FM joined NBC Radio Network's 24-hour national "News and Information Service" (NIS), and was the largest affiliate of NIS not to be an NBC Radio owned-and-operated station.[2] After two years of all-news and low ratings, NBC closed down NIS in late May 1977. But WBAL-FM bailed on the service early, adopting its present elements—the call letters WIYY,[2] rock music format and the "98 Rock" brand—on March 28, 1977.

WIYY (along with WBAL) is the co-flagship station of the Baltimore Ravens and during the NFL Season the station broadcasts every Ravens game; whenever the Ravens and Baltimore Orioles played at the same time (while the Orioles were on WBAL), WIYY aired the Ravens game alone. Joe Robinson hosts the Sunday post-game show.

On their website, 98Rock offers podcasts of portions of its talk shows as well as their weekly special interest shows: Spiegel's News Countdown, The Rough House Podcast, Dork Dynasty, and Geekin' Madness. 98Rock has also added a simulcast of News/Talk 1090 WBAL on HD2.

Awards

In 2007, the station was nominated for the Radio & Records magazine Active Rock station of the year in a top 25 market award . Other nominees included WAAF in Boston, KBPI in Denver, WRIF in Detroit, WMMR in Philadelphia, and KISW in Seattle.[14] WIYY was a nominee for the 2012 "Major Market Radio Station of the Year" RadioContraband Rock Radio Award.