WSKQ-FM, known on-air as Mega 97.9, is a radio station in New York City owned by Spanish Broadcasting System (SBS). Currently located at 97.9 FM, the station has a tropical format, which consists of such musical styles as salsa, merengue, bachata, and reggaeton. The station has a transmitter atop the Empire State Building.
The 97.9 FM facility's heritage goes back to 1941, when the Muzak Corporation went on the air as W47NY at 44.7 MHz. The call letters changed to WGYN in 1943, and the frequency ended up at 97.9 MHz on the new FM band in 1947.
Norman B. Furman was general manager of WEVD from 1968 to 1972. He initiated a variety of programs to serve the many ethnic communities in New York. The call letters were announced as WEVD, "the station that speaks your language." These languages included Yiddish, Hebrew, Italian, Greek, Portuguese, German, Russian, Japanese and Irish, all serving their various communities. The "Forward Hour", a popular variety show, was MC'd by Furman for many years. He had a major role in developing and procuring the most popular of all Jewish jingles: "Joe and Paul a fargenigen ... A suit, a coat kenst du krigen."
In October 1983 SBS brought WVNJ in Newark, New Jersey, and converted what had been big band/adult standards-format into a Spanish adult contemporary music station with the callsign of WSKQ. Known on-air as Super KQ, the station was led by Rafael-Diaz Gutierrez, Raul Alarcon (former DJ in Cuba), and Adriano Garcia Sr. (CEO of SAR Records). WSKQ would become the New York market's fourth full-time Spanish station at that time, after WADO, WJIT (now WZRC), and WKDM.
In 1988, SBS negotiated a deal that would enable them to acquire the 97.9 FM frequency that was occupied by ethnic WEVD. SBS had acquired the 1050 AM frequency in October 1988, as the frequency's previous occupants, WFAN, had just replaced WNBC on the 660 AM frequency. Since it was illegal in 1988 for the same company to own two AM stations in a market, there was a problem in regards to what to do with the 1050 frequency. To solve this problem, the FCC allowed SBS to operate the 1050 frequency as a non-commercial station. The call letters would be WUKQ, and would play Spanish adult contemporary music without commercial interruptions, while 620 AM would become a Spanish oldies station. Finally, on February 1, 1989, the deal between SBS and WEVD closed, and SBS instituted a Spanish music format with the call letters WSKQ-FM on 97.9 FM, while WEVD moved to 1050 AM.
The Spanish oldies music format on 620 AM would remain for several years after the deal, and in 1995, that station would take on a tejano format as WXLX. A couple of years later, SBS would sell the station to One-on-One Sports (now Sporting News Radio), and it would become a sports-talk station.
As for WSKQ-FM, the Spanish adult contemporary format initially obtained mediocre ratings. Then in 1993, with the hiring of Vice President and General Manager Alfredo Alonso, the station moved to an upbeat tropical format playing a lot of salsa, merengue, and dance music and using the name "Mega 97.9". At that point the station would flourish; as of 2005, it was one of the highest rated radio stations in New York City. Its morning show, the syndicated El Vacilón de la Mañana, has sometimes reached number one among all morning shows in New York. The shows, such as the Luis Jimenez-era El Vacilon and its former Sunday night programs "On Fuego: The Daddy Yankee Show" and TRL Latino, were syndicated by CBS Radio and ABC Radio Networks.
The Spanish adult contemporary format was resurrected in January 1996, when SBS acquired WPAT-FM's license and transmitter.