WRDA (105.7 FM) – branded Radio 105.7 – is a commercial radio station licensed to Canton, Georgia, broadcasting an alternative rock format. Owned by iHeartMedia, Inc., WRDA serves the Atlanta metropolitan area. The WRDA studios are located in Atlanta, while the station transmitter resides in the nearby suburb of Marietta. Besides a standard analog transmission, WRDA broadcasts over three HD Radio channels, and is available online via iHeartRadio. WRDA also simulcasts over sister station WRDG (96.7 FM), and repeats over the 32.25 digital subchannel of Atlanta television station WANN-CD (29 UHF, 32 PSIP).
From its sign-on in 1964 until 1991, the station was country music WCHK-FM on 105.5 MHz in Canton, Georgia, sister station to WCHK AM. In 1993 owner Cherokee Broadcasting received FCC approval to upgrade to class C2, with a much stronger signal and relocation of their transmitter site from the WTLK-TV 14 (now WPXA-TV) tower on Bear Mountain (near Lake Arrowhead southwest of Waleska) south-southeastward toward Atlanta. (This large broadcast tower in Holly Springs is next to Interstate 575 and old Georgia 5 at Rabbit Hill Road, and now only has mobile phone base stations about halfway up on it.) This change also required a frequency shift of one channel to 105.7. Subsequently, this also allowed a later move by WMAX-FM (now Regional Mexican WBZY-FM "El Patrón") on 105.3 from Carrollton east towards Atlanta, also having changed channels from 105.5. WCHK remained under local management for a little over a year afterward, briefly as "North Metro's K-105" then as "Country 105.7", and finally as "Atlanta's Classic Country 105.7", before owner Chuck McClure leased the station to Clear Channel Communications (which also owns 105.3).
Under Clear Channel management, the station became WGST-FM and simulcast news/talk WGST AM 640 (beginning in 1993). In the mid-1990s, it again relocated its transmitter site southward, this time to the Sweat Mountain antenna farm in northeastern Cobb County (where several other stations are). In 2004, Clear Channel purchased the station and license outright from McClure, and still holds Canton as its city of license. A new WCHK-FM, located at 100.1 and also owned by McClure, was sold and changed to WNSY FM (oldies "Sunny 100") in 1999, later becoming the market's third hispanic FM station, but covering more toward northwest Georgia.
On September 8, 2000, 105.7 broke away from the WGST simulcast, and became Rock AC/classic rock "Mix 105.7" (WMXV), but didn't stay that way for long due to lagging Arbitron ratings. It finally became WLCL "Cool 105.7" on February 7, 2003, playing '60s/'70s oldies music after Cox Radio dropped its '50s/'60s "Fox 97" format from WFOX, which is now WSRV. At the time, WLCL was the only oldies station in Atlanta; however, the format still wasn't as profitable to companies as it once was.
In September 2004, the station format and moniker were created as "Viva 105.3", as part of efforts by owner Clear Channel Communications to expand into Hispanic markets. On May 2, 2005, Viva flipped to Spanish top 40, and moved over to the 105.7 frequency. During the flip, Viva warned listeners on the old 105.3 frequency to make the change to 105.7 that was played on a 'format loop'. One week later, the station officially became WWVA-FM itself, swapping the WLCL callsign over to 105.3, where "The Buzz" format from 96.7 was put. Strangely, that left the hard modern rock of "The Buzz" with the oldies call sign WLCL instead of with its own WBZY-FM, which was unused for about two weeks. ("The Buzz" later merged into "96 Rock", becoming "Project 9-6-1" but remaining as WKLS.)
"Viva 105.7" began simulcasting on 96.7 (formerly "The Buzz", then "Viva 96.7") on May 17, 2005, and that station's callsign was changed to WVWA (an anagram of WWVA, with the two middle letters transposed). Because 105.7 is north of Atlanta, 96.7 gave some coverage to the south. Its far-northeastern simulcast on WHEL FM 105.1 in Helen, Georgia was sold in 2005, and has since changed formats to hot AC. On December 20, 2006, WVWA flipped formats to 94.9's former adult contemporary format as "96.7 Lite FM" and took its WLTM callsign as well. (This station would flip about a year later to country music WWLG FM 96.7 "The Legend", and has ironically since returned to simulcast this station.) During the last quarter of 2004, it was the second-highest-rated radio station in Atlanta.
The Groove / Wild 105.7 & 96.7
On October 19, 2009, at 10 AM, the station dropped the Spanish format and again began simulcasting WGST AM 640, leading to speculation that it would return to its former news/talk format. At the same time, its displayed a large question mark. However, the station would shift to a stunt featuring the possible return of AC station "The Peach", which was formerly heard on 94.9 FM, and some Christmas music as "Holiday 105.7". At 4 PM the same day, the format wheel would officially land on rhythmic AC as Groove 105.7. (The "Viva" format now airs on the HD2 channel of sister station 105.3 "El Patron".) The new station featured a mix of current and gold-based rhythmic hits targeting ages 25 to 54. Its primary competitors were a variety of Atlanta stations because of its unique approach: AC WSB-FM, rhythmic WSBB-FM, top-40 WWWQ and WSTR, urbans WVEE and WHTA, and urban ACs WALR and WUMJ. For its kick-off, WWVA's first songs were "Into The Groove" by Madonna, "Shake Your Groove Thing" by Peaches & Herb, "Groove Is In The Heart" by Deee-Lite and "Let's Groove" by Earth, Wind & Fire. Clear Channel, in turn, merged WWVA's format into WBZY's, giving Atlanta a hybrid regional Mexican and Spanish AC outlet at the latter. On January 11, 2010, the nationally syndicated morning drive-time Elvis Duran and the Morning Show premiered on the station. Duran previously did evenings in Atlanta with sidekick "Hot Henrietta" at Z-93 during the late 1980s.
The station briefly aired "Streetz 102.9" on its HD-2 channel, in order to satisfy a legal fiction so that it could be broadcast on W275BK FM 102.9. A lawsuit regarding the owners of that broadcast translator quickly ensued, and W275BK is now assigned to WAMJ. Since the end of March 2010, the station is now also simulcast on WANN-CD, a low-power digital TV station on physical (RF) TV channel 29 in Atlanta. The main channel was heard on virtual channel 32.106, with Pride Radio (WWVA's HD2 digital subchannel) formerly on 32.105. Clear Channel's other Atlanta stations are also heard via DTV radio on WANN.
In May 2010, WWVA's music and playlist direction shifted to rhythmic top 40 by adding more current rhythmic pop/R&B/dance tracks. They also added a few mainstream pop songs, but has since dropped them from the playlist. It also phased out the heavy amount of Rhythmic gold product. This move was expected to benefit WWVA (as evidenced on their Facebook page at their website) as it stood to pick up listeners and carry the rhythmic top 40 mantle from WBTS, who exited the rhythmic format after 11 years to become a simulcast of WSB-AM on August 16, 2010. Despite the sudden shift to rhythmic top 40 and primary signal coverage into Atlanta, there was some criticism over whether WWVA could actually replace WBTS, or fill the void for that matter, in terms of music, personalities, area promotion, and signal presence.
In efforts to fill in a signal shortcoming in southern portions of the market, the station re-added WWLG FM 96.7 as a simulcast on September 6, 2010. It also changed its positioner to "Atlanta's Party Station", which was last used at WWLG's predecessor WLDA when it was "Wild 96.7". Another move came from the hiring of former WBTS and WHTA DJ-mixer Mami Chula to The Groove's lineup. On November 14, 2010, the station changed its name to "WiLD 105.7 & 96.7", retaining the "Atlanta's Party Station" slogan. (The first song on "WiLD" was "We R Who We R" by Ke$ha.) WWVA saw an increase in terms of listeners and ratings, mostly among the 18-34 audience and managed to carve its own niche by playing dance-pop and rhythmic tracks that their competitors usually avoid.
End of Wild, start of "Radio"
On August 29, 2012, sister station WKLS FM ("Project 9-6-1") (now WWPW) flipped from its long-time rock format to top 40, branded as "Power 96-1". Because WiLD was under the same ownership of Power, and with nearly identical formats, it was likely the two formats would merge, with 105.7/96.7 flipping to a new format after Labor Day. A change was also likely due to the station's program director being released days before the change, but on August 30, it was announced that WWVA would retain their rhythmic format, but tweaked its direction towards more hip-hop tracks and less emphasis on dance under its new PD (Rick Vaughn) for both WWVA and WWPW.
However, by March 2013, due to the launch of Power, the move of Elvis Duran and the Morning Show to WWPW, and a lack of promotion, ratings had tumbled from a mid-3 share to a 1.8 share, among the lowest-rated commercial music radio stations in the area. Therefore, on March 28, 2013, at 11:00 AM, with little warning, after playing "Rosa Parks" by Atlanta hip hop group OutKast, WWVA/WWLG went into a stunt loop consisting of R.E.M.'s "What's the Frequency, Kenneth?" and "Radio Song". One hour later, WWVA/WWLG launched an alternative rock format, branded as "Radio 105.7", with the first song being "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" by R.E.M. (from nearby Athens, Georgia). This fills the hole left by 99X when it flipped to active rock in September 2012 and adult album alternative WZGC ("92.9 Dave FM") flipping to sports talk the following month.
The stations' broadcast callsigns were changed on April 11, and the "Wild" format moved to WWPW FM 96.1 HD2, replacing the "Project 9-6-1" format that was eliminated from analog and HD1 by Wild's near-clone "Power 96-1".
HD radio and other outlets
WRDA's digital subchannels offer two different dance formats:
- HD-2: Pride Radio, which plays dance music targeted towards the LGBT community
- HD-3: Club Phusion, which focuses on pure dance 24/7