WRFF (104.5 FM, "Radio 104.5") is an American broadcast radio station located in and licensed to serve Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The station is owned by iHeartMedia, broadcasts a modern rock music format, and is known on-air as "Radio 104.5." A transmitter tower for the station is located in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia, and its studios are located in Bala Cynwyd.
104.5 FM first signed on in February 1965 as WRCP-FM simulcasting WRCP/1540. Both stations offered MOR formats. The stations were owned by Associated Communications, a subsidiary of Rust Craft Greeting Cards. In 1967, the stations switched to country music formats. Tightened Federal Communications Commission (FCC) restrictions on AM-FM simulcasting led to a new format for the FM in 1977.
WSNI, first time
On January 1, 1980, WSNI became known as "Sunny 104" at first, then later "Sunny 104 1/2," and eventually "Sunny 104.5," a name which was reused later on in the station's history. "Sunny" dumped easy listening in favor of an Adult Contemporary format playing the Top 40 hits of the 1960s, Top 40/Adult contemporary crossovers of the 1970s, and the Adult Contemporary hits of the 1980s up to and including then-current product.
6 years later, the stations were sold to Pyramid Broadcasting. The AM sister station, which still had the WRCP call letters, was eventually sold also and got new call letters. In 1988, singer Teddy Pendergrass performed some of the station's jingles.
On December 10, 1990, 104.5's call letters were changed to WYXR and the format switched to Hot AC. The new station was known as "Star 104.5".
In a group deal, WYXR became owned by Evergreen by 1993. The station experimented and leaned CHR in 1996, but kept the "Star" moniker. The station quietly evolved back to Hot AC in 1997 playing more rhythmic cuts than most Hot AC stations. In 1997, WYXR became owned by Chancellor as a result of a merger.
In April 1999, Chancellor (known then as AM/FM) was going to switch the station to a Jammin' Oldies format. This never happened because another station owned by Greater Media beat them to it. As a result, the Hot AC format remained until November 18, 1999 at Noon. After playing Madonna's "Who's That Girl," the station began stunting with a heartbeat for the next 3 hours.
At 3 PM that same day, the station flipped to a Gold-based "Rock AC", branded as "Alice 104.5", WLCE. The first song on "Alice" was The Cars' "Let's Go". The new format was described as "Rockin' Hits" of the 70s, 80s, and 90s. The "Rockin' Hits" format was designed to compete against Greater Media's WMGK. WMGK was Greater Media's most successful station in Philadelphia at the time, and this was viewed as "punishment" against Greater Media after they flipped 95.7 to "Jammin' Gold." Initially, only a couple of current songs were played, but by 2001, the station was playing a large number. By 2001, the station evolved to more of a rock-based Hot AC format. In 2001, as a result of a merger, WLCE came under the ownership of Clear Channel Communications (now iHeartMedia).
WSNI, second time/oldies version
This incarnation of WSNI is locally famous for completely abandoning the format as early as the first week in November to play continuous Christmas music until December 26. The idea was very successful and starting the very next year, B101--which in years past played only 36 hours of continuous Christmas music--copied it and has done it every year since.
"Sunny" was a low-budget station and nearly all the air personalities were voicetracked, meaning the "DJ banter" heard between songs had been recorded in advance in a whole other part of the country and was being played from a hard drive just like the music. The low operating costs helped the station be successful even with only middling ratings. "Sunny 104.5" continued for just over 4 years.
At Noon on Thursday, August 10, 2006, Sunny's sister station WJJZ 106.1 was switched to a Rhythmic AC format, and began identifying itself as "Philly's 106.1." At the same time, Clear Channel dumped Sunny's Soft AC format and started "shadowcasting" the new station at 106.1. The two stations were playing the same songs, but 104.5 was delayed several seconds from what was heard on 106.1. The last song heard on Sunny 104.5 was "Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me" by Elton John. This was followed by a short pause and slow fade in of "Let's Get It Started" by The Black Eyed Peas. There was a short announcement from a female ("This feels like my own radio station") and an awkward segue into "Get Ready For This" by 2 Unlimited, then Michael Jackson's "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'".
As for the lucrative all-Christmas format Sunny brought to Philadelphia, B101 had it all to themselves. Without having to worry about beating the competition to the punch, they tended to make the switch to all-Christmas much later in the season, typically 1 day to 1 week prior to Thanksgiving. In 2007, during Arbitron's "holiday period," the lack of competition provided B101 enormous rating success. So in 2008, three other stations joined in, giving Philadelphia four all-Christmas stations and forcing B101 to share.
In early January 2007, the WSNI call letters went to the former WOQL-FM in Keene, NH.
On August 23, 2006, after 13 days of simulcasting the 106.1 FM signal, 104.5 FM became a Spanish-language radio station known as "Rumba 104.5". This format was launched at noon that day. This was the first Spanish-language station on FM radio in Philadelphia. They had a format focusing on Tropical and Dance Music, very similar to that of WCAA and WSKQ-FM in New York City.
On May 16, 2007, Clear Channel flipped the station to alternative rock as "Radio 104.5," with Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio? by The Ramones as the first song. Because of this, the "Rumba" format moved to 1480 AM, thus ending WDAS's gospel music format, as the station became "Rumba 1480". On HD Radio receivers, Rumba could also be heard at 106.1 HD-2. On May 23, 2007, the WUBA calls moved from 104.5 FM to 1480 AM. On May 23, the station changed call letters to WRFF.
The Radio 104.5 presentation centers heavily on modern rock music from the 1990s as well as current product. Overall, the station comes across as "lighter" than typical modern rock radio stations, which tends to be more appealing to the female demographic. Popular artists are: The Killers, The Foo Fighters, Silversun Pickups, Coldplay, and others. This type of presentation is similar to those at several other Clear Channel operations, but it was implemented at this radio station first.
The Icelandic band, Of Monsters and Men was "discovered" when Radio 104.5 started playing them in August 2011. Mumford & Sons debuted the song "Ghosts That We Knew" live on Radio 104.5 on October 29, 2011. The song was later confirmed on their album, Babel.
WRFF can be heard with a reliable signal as far as Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania to the north, Lancaster and Lebanon Counties to the west, New Jersey Shore to the east, and well into Delaware and Maryland to the south.