WVEE (103.3 FM, "V-103") is an urban contemporary formatted radio station in Atlanta, Georgia. It is one of the highest-rated stations of the Atlanta radio market by Nielsen Audio, reaching number one on many reports. WVEE has Atlanta as its city of license, and is owned by CBS Radio, a subsidiary of the CBS Corporation. Its studio is located in Colony Square in Midtown Atlanta along with its sister stations WAOK and WZGC; The CW-owned television station WUPA is located in a separate facility in DeKalb County.
It shares a tower with WPBA TV 30, and in fact shares the same antenna with WSB-FM/98.5 and WSTR-FM/94.1 operating at an effective radiated power of 100 kilowatts in Midtown Atlanta. The three radio stations' transmitters are diplexed together, so that they all feed to the antenna instead of into each other.
The station that became "V-103" began back in the late 1940s as WAGA-FM, on 102.9 with a country music radio format, but migrated to the 103.3 frequency by 1948. It was originally co-owned by Storer Broadcasting with WAGA/590 (now WDWD) and television station WAGA-TV channel 5, a CBS (now Fox) affiliate.
WAGA-FM became WPLO-FM when it moved to 103.3 and simulcast WPLO AM. By now owned by Plough-Shearing, the station simulcast WPLO's successful country programming. In the late 1960s Plough responded to a new FCC 'anti-simulcast' rule by permitting Georgia State University to have unpaid students program then-new "underground" rock music. The arrangement allowed Plough to have an inexpensive FM presence in the years before FM came to dominate the radio spectrum, and created enough interest amongst the student body that the Georgia Board of Regents obtained a license and construction permit for its own station at the university, 88.5/WRAS-FM.
Plough management believed the music programmed by the Georgia State students could become a profitable commercial format if presented professionally. By 1969, WPLO-FM was billing itself as "Atlanta's alternative high," and described its 103.3 frequency as "103-and-a-third." Program directors in this alternative rock era included Ed Shane, Steve Hosford and Chris Morgan.
In 1974, ratings pressures and a changing listening demographic made Plough-Shearing change the station format. Keeping the same call letters, WPLO-FM flipped to country music, although programmed separately from the AM station's ongoing country format.
In October 1976, WPLO-FM changed call letters and formats to urban contemporary and began using the "V-103" moniker with the WVEE-FM call letters. It briefly aired a Disco radio format in the late 1970s. The station then became one of the Atlanta radio market leaders under the leadership of program director, Scotty Andrews. As the first urban station on the FM dial in the region, the "V-103" brand eventually went on to become synonymous with the format through recognition along with then Baltimore sister station WXYV-FM then (1977-1997) also "V-103", establishing its perennial force among the radio listening community.
In the early 1980s, DKM Broadcasting Corporation purchased WVEE-FM and sister station WAOK. On January 1, 1988, WVEE was sold, along with other DKM-owned properties in Denver, Baltimore, Springfield, Lincoln, Akron, Dayton and Dallas, for $200,000,000 to The Summit Communications Group, Inc. In March 1995, Summit sold its interests in WVEE FM and WAOK AM to Granum Communications, Inc. (Herbert W. McCord, Peter Ferrara, and Michael Weinstein). In March 1996, Granum Communications sold both to Infinity Broadcasting.
In 2000, V-103, after many years of operating as an urban contemporary station that only played R&B and classic soul, added hip hop full-time to compete with WHTA (Hot 97.5, now Hot 107.9) in addition to direct competitor WALR-FM (Kiss 104.7, now Kiss 104.1) and to appeal more to the 18-34 demographic alongside the original 25-54 demo. With the gain of more competition, WVEE was one of three adult urban stations between 1998 and 2000 when WAMJ (Majic 107.5) took to the air, although WVEE never called itself an urban AC station.
In 2003, "V-103" changed its longtime station slogan from "The People's Station" to "Atlanta's BIG Station" to signify its dominance of Atlanta urban radio and being #2 (now #1) overall behind radio market leader WSB AM. In 2008, it reverted to the previous slogan "The People's Station" to signify its commitment to the community. From August 2013 to November 2013, they modified their slogan again by adding "The ATL's Home for Hip-Hop and R&B" as the primary slogan, but is now considered a secondary slogan. "The People's Station" slogan was secondary during the brief aforementioned period, but reverted to its primary slogan in November 2013. WVEE is the only FM radio station in Atlanta to have the same frequency and brand name for at least 35 years.
Since autumn 2006, WVEE has aired an HD Radio digital subchannel for playing urban adult contemporary (specifically neo-soul) music, with no branding other than "V-103 HD-2". The HD-3 channel is a simulcast of sister station WAOK AM 1380.
Current format and programming
V-103 has a playlist consisting of a balance of current R&B, soul, and hip-hop songs along with throwbacks and recurrents of all aforementioned genres mixed in during most parts of the day (with the exception of Monday through Saturdays evenings from 6 to 10pm). Also from Sunday through Thursday nights, the station airs slow jams from current and old school R&B and soul songs from 10pm to 2am during its "Quiet Storm" program. WVEE airs a Sunday morning gospel programming until noon. On Sunday afternoons, the station airs a show dedicated exclusively to classic and contemporary soul music (particularly neo-soul) from noon to 3 p.m. It has maintained a very strict rubric to the urban contemporary format since its inception in 1976, which is rare amongst larger-market urban-oriented radio stations who have shifted to the Mainstream Urban or Urban Adult Contemporary formats; this approach has been protected by default only because WVEE has no counter-competing sister stations in Atlanta. Its programming puts it in direct competition with Urban AC's WALR-FM and WAMJ/WUMJ, as well as Mainstream Urban WHTA-FM. In recent years, the station will occasionally spin hit crossover pop songs, so it does also compete with WWWQ, WSB-FM, and WWPW to a certain extent in this respect.
The station did have past competition in the late 1980s from WZGC when it had a short lived urban format, along with WEKS (now WALR) in the late 1980s. Later past competition in the mid-2000s came from Cox-owned WBTS (now WSBB-FM) and WFOX (now WSRV), which were respectively rhythmic and experimental urban stations. No urban radio competitor, past or present, has ever succeeded at topping WVEE's ratings throughout the station's tenure.
WVEE is the largest and flagship urban station under CBS Radio ownership, and the only CBS Radio urban in the top-10 American markets. As of December 2014, WVEE is the only CBS Radio Urban property remaining, as the three other Urbans, two had shifted to Rhythmic: WPGC-FM in Washington, D.C. (which is a larger radio market), reverted to being an Urban-leaning Rhythmic; and WJHM/Orlando, which switched formats from Urban to rhythmic contemporary in February 2012 (and to top 40 as of February 2014); WPEG/Charlotte was sold to Beasley Broadcasting Group via a multi-market swap on December 1, 2014.
From 1998 to 2012, WVEE had been home for Frank Ski and Wanda Smith in the Morning (originally named The Frank Ski Morning Show), when Ski took over the reigns from Mike Roberts and Carol Blackmon when Roberts retired and Blackmon left radio temporarily (now at WAMJ/WUMJ). It consistently maintained one of the highest ratings in listenership in the Atlanta region, leading the number-one position among morning shows in Atlanta. While the show has almost always been local, it was briefly syndicated to Baltimore (Ski's adopted hometown) on sister station WXYV, as well as in Charleston, South Carolina. (Of note, Ski was a former host on WXYV (then known as V103) before relocating to Atlanta in 1998 after a two-year stint at WERQ.)
In 2008, WVEE entered a partnership with WUPA to broadcast the Frank and Wanda Television Show, recapping highlights from Frank and Wanda in the Morning for television viewers each night. The theme song for both programs is performed by singer and Atlanta native Monica. The morning drive success has also been met with criticism among current and former radio listeners who claim Ski and Smith did not appeal to the audience properly due to Ski's perceived egotistical issues and Smith's perceived lack of education in her speech. Another criticism was the high ratings come by default only because WVEE is the only urban station to have a full market signal based on its location and coverage.
On December 13, 2012, Ski and Smith announced that they both would be leaving WVEE after 14 years. In spite of their longterm success, both wanted to concentrate on other ventures; Ski wanted to focus more on family and continue to run his restaurant, while Smith wants to return to stand up comedy. There were talks with CBS Radio on evolving the show to syndicated status upon renewing their contract with the station but fell through, as WVEE wanted to stay local unlike its competitors. The last Frank and Wanda in the Morning show aired on December 20, 2012.
On January 2, 2013, former afternoon host Ryan Cameron was chosen to replace them and assume duties as host of The Ryan Cameron Morning Show. In January 2014, Wanda Smith returned to the station to co-host the morning drive alongside Cameron. As for Frank Ski, he continues to reside in the Atlanta region although he returned to radio as afternoon host for Washington, D.C. station WHUR until August 2015. As of June 2016, Ski returned to WVEE to host weekend shows for the station.
In popular culture
- V-103 was mentioned in the 1998 movie The Players Club directed by hip-hop rapper/actor Ice Cube.
- V-103 was shown in Tyler Perry's 2009 movie "Madea Goes to Jail".