WLIF (101.9 FM) is a radio station located in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. It is currently owned and operated by CBS Radio. Its studios are located on Clarkview Road in the Mount Washington neighborhood of Baltimore, while its transmitter is located near Loch Raven Reservoir in Towson. WLIF features an adult contemporary format, playing "the greatest hits of today and your favorite songs from the '80s and '90s".
The station in its current incarnation signed on the air as a beautiful music in the late 1950s as WTOW. In 1963, it became WAQE-FM, and was owned by Booth Broadcasting. On December 24, 1970, after Sudbrink Broadcasting bought the station, it began featuring programming of SRP (Stereo Music Productions, created by Jim Schulke).
Over the years, 101.9 FM was one of the highest-rated stations in Baltimore, playing mostly instrumental renditions of popular songs. Featured artists included Percy Faith, John Fox, Chet Atkins, Richard Clayderman, Frank Mills, Henry Mancini, Ray Anthony, Floyd Cramer, and many others. The station played four vocal selections per hour and they were only smooth vocal stylings of artists like Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Nat King Cole, Neil Diamond, Tony Bennett, Patti Page, Dionne Warwick, Barbra Streisand, and others. It was called "The Beautiful Place In Your Life" FM-102. On December 31, 1971, the station became known as WLIF. By the 1980s, WLIF began playing more soft rock hits, such as those by Linda Ronstadt, The Beatles, The Temptations, Elton John, along with the previously played artists. During morning and afternoon drives, the station was about half instrumental and half vocal, while other times the station continued to play one vocal every quarter-hour. In the late 1980s, the station shifted to roughly half vocalists and half instrumentals. Early in 1991, WLIF dropped all instrumentals and shifted to a soft adult contemporary format; at this point, it also became known as "Lite 102". By 1993, WLIF began mixing in current material in its playlist.
In 2001, the station changed nicknames again, branded as "101.9 Lite FM." Today, its lineup consists of adult contemporary hits during the day and love songs at night. In the late 2000s, the station carried the syndicated Delilah radio show to complement the popular local love songs programming that was (and still is) hosted by Fran Lane; however, Delilah aired during the late-night hours, and this resulted in its eventual elimination from the station. On the weekends, WLIF featured "The Flashback Weekend" featuring former WQSR announcers Dave Alan, John Summers and Diane Lyn playing the greatest hits of the 1960s and 1970s. However, in recent years, these songs have been replaced by music from the 1980s, thus creating an "All-80s Weekend"; the eighties songs were mixed in with the sixties and seventies hits during the latter part of the "Flashback Weekend" era.
In addition, WLIF (along with WWIN) also played jazz music during the weekends for many years. WLIF continued to play jazz until 2004, when WSMJ became Baltimore's full-time Smooth Jazz station (the 104.3 frequency has since changed formats, first to Alternative in 2008, then to Top-40/CHR a year later).
On December 29, 2013, after playing "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" by Johnny Mathis, WLIF rebranded as "Today's 101.9", with its first song being "Hey Soul Sister" by Train. Like its AC sister stations KEZK-FM in St. Louis, WDOK in Cleveland, and KVIL in Dallas, WLIF retooled its format to more hot adult contemporary-leaning fare to attract a new generation of listeners, even though it also continues to play the standard AC songs from the 1980s to present. It was the last surviving "Lite FM"-branded station to be owned by CBS Radio, with the moniker having been dropped from KVIL in Dallas and WLTE in Minneapolis (with the latter station also undergoing a format change to country at the time).
WLIF is well known for its Christmas programming. For decades, WLIF began mixing in Christmas music the week before Thanksgiving and went to wall-to-wall Christmas music about 2 weeks before Christmas. They would remain all Christmas music until the middle of December 26 or later and would keep mixing in Christmas music until New Year's Day.
Beginning in 2001, every year, starting the week before Thanksgiving, the station plays nothing but Christmas music, well into December 26 or 27. There are no advertisements all day on Christmas Day. Since 2007, WLIF has played wall to wall Christmas music not only before Thanksgiving but all the way until New Year's Eve. They are the last station left playing Christmas music at New Year's. Most stations in this market that feature Christmas music continue mixing it in throughout the last week of the year, unlike many places that end cold turkey on the 26. In 2010, WLIF dropped Christmas music early on December 27 but continued mixing a few in rather than remaining wall-to-wall until January 1. Since 2014, WLIF has dropped Christmas Music at midnight on December 26, which received negative feedback from some listeners.
WLIF signed on HD Radio operations in 2006. 101.9 HD1 carries the same analog programming from 101.9 FM, while 101.9-HD2 aired a country format, branded as "New Country @ 106.1." The format began on October 25, 2013 at Noon, replacing the 1980s hits "Flashback" format that has aired since WLIF turned on their HD operations. The format is being simulcasted on translator W291BA (106.1 FM), which is owned by Hope Christian Church of Marlton, and is being leased to CBS to operate it. 101.9-HD3 airs an adult standards format, branded as "The Strip", while 101.9-HD4 airs programming from "Hope FM" as part of an agreement between CBS and Hope Christian Church where CBS will operate W291BA and another translator, W248AO (97.5 FM), which airs an alternative rock format branded as "HFS @ 97-5" (that format has since been moved to another translator owned by Hope, W285EJ (104.9 FM)).