History of Philadelphia radio station 93.3 WMMR (Beasley Broadcast Group)

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    WMMR is a rock radio station in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, broadcasting at 93.3 MHz FM. The station is owned by Greater Media.

    Philadelphia's radio market is ranked the seventh largest in the United States by Arbitron's ranking system, and WMMR was the leading rock format station in the market, with a market share of 4.9, in August 2008.[1]

    Rolling Stone magazine, in its annual ranking of best rock music stations, consistently ranks WMMR among the top such stations in the nation and several times as the best such station.[citation needed]

    WMMR's transmitter is located atop One Liberty Place, the second tallest skyscraper in Philadelphia which allows WMMR's signal to stretch from Lancaster County, PA to Ocean County, NJ.

    WMMR tag line

    WMMR's tag line, which appears on station advertising and is mentioned periodically by station DJs, is: "93.3 WMMR: Everything That Rocks" and, sometimes, "Philly's First Rock Station", or "MMR Rocks". In the past they have used: "WMMR, the home of rock and roll." as well as "MMR Means More Rock!" They used to go by the slogan "The Big Murmur in the Heartbeat of Philadelphia.". In the 1970s, during its early years as a free form "progressive rock" station the dominant slogan was simply "At 93 point 3 FM, You're listening to WMMR, Philadelphia...The Radio Station." Vintage station IDs with "The Radio Station" slogan can still be heard from time to time on WMMR. This series, along with the overnight hours of programmed music known as "OPUS" (2 a.m. - 6 a.m.), was produced by then Production Director, Paul Messing.


    WIP-FM was the initial broadcaster at this frequency, starting on April 20, 1942. It simulcast its parent WIP (AM)'s programming, which was middle of the road (MOR) music.

    The station changed its call letters to WMMR sometime around 1966; they signified the station's owner, MetroMedia Radio. The WMMR call sign had previously belonged to a student radio station at the University of Minnesota.[2] The MOR format was still being used, but with different programming than the AM side, although the AM disc jockeys' announcements were used for both stations.

    Beginning in 1968 WMMR began adopting a progressive rock radio format, similar to that of several Metromedia-owned stations including New York's WNEW-FM (these two stations had a close relationship, ran the similar promotions, and sometimes featured each other's disc jockeys on the air) and Cleveland's WMMS. KMET in Los Angeles and KSAN in San Francisco were also part of the Metromedia chain and followed similar paths in the 1960s.

    Dave Herman was WMMR's first rock DJ. His show dubbed "The Marconi Experiment" debuted on April 29, 1968. Before Herman's arrival WMMR ran an automated "beautiful music" format during the day featuring programs like Sinatra and Company. The Marconi Experiment was very much an experiment for the station, one that succeeded. The first song played on the show was "Flying" by The Beatles over the intro of which Herman recited these words: "Arise my heart, and fill your voice with music. For he who shares not dawn with his song, is one of the sons of ever darkness". This was known as the incantation and continued as the regular show open for "The Marconi Experiment" on WMMR.

    Michael Cuscuna, from University of Pennsylvania's WXPN replaced Herman in 1970 but was quickly hired away by WABC-FM (now WPLJ) in New York. Micheal Tearson, also from WXPN, replaced Cuscuna and remained a mainstay at WMMR for over 20 years. Herman went on to WABC-FM and then to WNEW (now WWFS) where he remained for over 30 years.[2]. Tearson currently works at WMGK, also in Philadelphia.

    WMMR's major Philadelphia area competitors in the late 1960s were WIFI at 92.5 and WDAS-FM. Neither station stayed with the rock format. WIFI later became Top-40 and then changed to Country Music and is now known as WXTU. WDAS-FM switched to Urban contemporary in the early 1970s.

    Later in the 1970s, two other Philadelphia radio stations became competitors: WYSP (formerly WIBG-FM) and WIOQ. WYSP, later became Classic rock, while WIOQ is now considered to be a Pop music radio station.

    One of WMMR's most influential disc jockey during the 1970s was Ed Sciaky, who was known for playing and boosting the careers of new artists such as Billy Joel and Yes. Most of all he introduced Bruce Springsteen to Philadelphia, and decades later the city remains one of Springsteen's strongest fan bases and the scenes of many of his best-received concerts. Other alumni include two National Public Radio hosts: David Dye, still a local radio personality and host of the syndicated World Cafe, and Nick Spitzer, now a New Orleans resident and host of American Routes. John Debella was the morning drive disc jockey of most note, alongside news man and sidekick Mark "The Shark" Drucker (later of KYW AM), while some WMMR jocks such as Dave Herman and Carol Miller would later became more famous on New York stations. Late 1970s morning and midday personality Dick Hungate would in 1981 create and implement the nation's first classic rock format at WYSP, another Philadelphia station.

    Pierre Robert

    Most notable in WMMR's current lineup is midday (10:30 a.m.-3 p.m.) host Pierre Robert (pronounced 'row-bear'), one of the nation's most influential rock disc jockeys. In November 2006 Robert celebrated his 25th anniversary at the station. He has held the midday airshift for about 20 of those years, starting his stint at WMMR with a brief stay on the overnight shift and spending March 1993 through June 1996 as host of the morning show.

    A breakthrough station

    Throughout its existence, WMMR has broadcast live rock music shows and interviewed leading rock music stars. In addition to the role it played in expanding the mainstream audience of Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel and Yes, the station has helped elevate many other leading rock bands. It was one of the first East Coast stations to play acts such as Grateful Dead, U2, and Van Halen. The station also has featured local, Philadelphia-area rock music acts, such as The Hooters and George Thorogood, helping promote them to national status within the music industry. The station also has heavily promoted the grunge rock band Pearl Jam; at 10pm every night during the week it plays a set of Pearl Jam songs in what the station calls "The Ten Club." While Pearl Jam is known as a Seattle band, WMMR was one of the stations that gave it broad, East Coast exposure and played a role in the band's breakthrough popularity. It is a very popular WMMR segment among listeners.

    The station also is closely associated with Grateful Dead. Routinely, before playing a Grateful Dead song, WMMR disc jockeys will say: "God Bless the Grateful Dead," a station saying that has endured over two decades. Most major rock bands and musicians have recorded tag lines for the station, including Mick Jagger and others. Springsteen once recorded a version of his song "Growin' Up", intermixing the lyrics "Growin' up in Philadelphia" and referencing WMMR in the song.

    As with most rock radio stations, over time WMMR morphed into an album-oriented rock format, and in the early 1990s leaned towards classic rock. WMMR's current format is simply called Rock. A blend of energetic classic rock and up-tempo current rock. Though more oriented toward the heavier end of the music spectrum today than in its earlier days, WMMR remains true to its heritage, playing new and old music, exposing local music, broadcasting with live, local personalities 24 hours a day and staying heavily involved in the community. As of today, WMMR is an active rock station since January 2007.


    WMMR holds annual events and concerts, including:

    • Preston and Steve’s Camp Out for Hunger - Started in 1998, Preston and Steve brought the event with them from Y100 when they made the move to WMMR. Preston and Steve spend a week living in a RV broadcasting their show and collecting food and money for Philabundance, a hunger relief organization serving the Delaware Valley.
    • MMRBQ - Annual concert started in 2007 to kick off the summer concert series at the Susquehanna Bank Center (formerly known as The Tweeter Center). Inaugural 2007 show featured Velvet Revolver, Evanescence, and Buckcherry among others. The 2008 show, which served as the station's 40th birthday party, featured a reformed Stone Temple Pilots, Staind, Everclear, The Hooters, Ashes Divide, Airbourne, and Silvertide.
    • MMRBQII - Annual concert started following MMRBQ to close out the summer concert series at the Susquehanna Bank Center (formerly known as The Tweeter Center). This second 2007 show featured Three Days Grace, Seether, Breaking Benjamin, Collective Soul, Live , Silvertide and Jealousy Curve Local Shots Live - Hosted by Jaxon on Tuesday nights at Doc Watson's Pub in Philadelphia to showcase local bands. Previously known as Thursday Night Rock Show and Tuesday Night Rock Show at Grape Street
    • MMR's Mini Masters - The first ever Mini Masters was held in 2007 at Philly's Electric Factory. A huge mini golf course was set up on the floor of the building and the winning golfer was awarded a new Mini Cooper with $2,500.


    Because the Philadelphia marketplace is the seventh largest in total population in the U.S., and also because the city and its suburbs comprise one of the largest and most passionate rock music regions in the nation, WMMR has typically reported exceptional ratings in its core demographic audience, but several other successful rock and contemporary rap stations also thrive in Philadelphia and its surrounding areas, including:


    The Philadelphia rock radio landscape changed drastically in the year 2005, when most of the stations that competed with WMMR for listeners changed formats. One of WMMR's primary competitors was WYSP, which broadcasts at 94.1 MHz FM. WYSP played slightly more heavy metal music than WMMR, while WMMR prominently featured leading rock, grunge acoustic and heavy metal. In the Philadelphia region, listeners most commonly identify with one or the other station and there has historically been little over-lap.

    This has been even more true since 2006, with the departure of Howard Stern from WYSP. WYSP then changed to the hot talk-based Free FM format by parent company CBS Radio, making it less of a head-to-head competitor with WMMR. This made WYSP an all-talk station during the week, although the station still played rock on the weekends. Though the stations still tended to attract from the same demographic, WYSP's format meant it could no longer properly be considered a competitor of WMMR. WYSP dropped it's talk format and became a rock music station yet again. Still, at some times, especially during the evening and weekend listening hours, there was a sense of competition. WYSP, for instance features its "Mandatory Metallica" broadcast each weekday evening at 10:00 p.m., while WMMR has countered with its "Ten Club" broadcast at the same time, which is a Pearl Jam set, with listeners at that hour forced to choose between a series of popular grunge music songs on WMMR and a series of heavy metal music songs on WYSP by two very popular rock bands.


    North of Philadelphia, in Upper Bucks, and in the Lehigh Valley, WMMR competes somewhat with WWYY, known on air as "107 The Bone", which is an Active Rock station serving the Lehigh Valley and the Poconos.


    North of Philadelphia, in Bucks County, Montgomery County, and the Lehigh Valley, WMMR competes somewhat with WZZO, an Allentown, Pennsylvania-based hard rock station with a very strong local following. WZZO broadcasts at 95.1 MHz FM and its Nielsen ratings in the young adult and mid-adult ages are commonly the best in the Lehigh Valley.[citation needed]

    WPHI: 100.3 The Beat

    WPLY, known as Y100, was another competitor to WMMR, but it too disappeared in 2005 when it was replaced at the 100.3 frequency with WPHI. The Preston and Steve Show which occupied the morning drive slot at Y100, and Matt Cord who was the afternoon drive host, joined WMMR when WPLY changed call letters and flipped to an urban format. Rumors of that format flip had circulated for several years in the radio industry. When Preston and Steve announced they were leaving WPLY to do mornings at WMMR, the long rumored format change soon followed. Matt Cord was picked up by MMR for the 7 p.m. to Midnight slot, replacing Dee Snyder, former Twisted Sister front man turned DJ. After only 11 months of doing the shift via digital ISDN lines from his home in Long Island, New York, Snyder vacated the shift. In a long, on-air goodbye to his listeners Dee said that the show was interfering with his family time.

    Radio 104.5

    WMMR's new direct competitor is new alternative rock station, WRFF, Radio 104.5, and is a competitor for new music.


    WMMR competes with WBBO "G-Rock" on the Eastern Edge of the market such as NE Philly and Lower Bucks County, and in the Ocean County area in New Jersey. The station broadcasts on 106.5 FM. G Rock has an Alternative rock format, which is very similar to that of Radio 104.5 WRFF. WBBO also broadcasts on 106.3 FM WHTG north of Ocean County, which makes them a competitor in North Jersey as well.


    Like WMGK, WCHR-FM (known on the air as 105.7 The Hawk), is a Classic Rock station that competes with WMMR on the Eastern edge of the market, such as Lower Bucks County and North East Philadelphia, as well as the Ocean County area in New Jersey. WCHR-FM tends to dig deeper, and heavier than WMGK, making WCHR-FM a competitor to WMGK as well.


    The station also competes in the Philadelphia marketplace with sister station WMGK, which broadcasts at 102.9 MHz FM. WMGK plays classic rock, though its listening demographic tends to be older than that of WMMR and WYSP.


    In 2007, the station was nominated for the Radio & Records magazine Active Rock station of the year in a top 25 market award . Other nominees included WIYY in Baltimore, WAAF in Boston, KBPI in Denver, WRIF in Detroit, and KISW in Seattle. [3]

    1. "StationRatings.com - Allentown/Bethlehem, PA". Retrieved on 2008-09-22.
    2. [1]
    3. "2007 Industry Achievement Awards". Radio and Records. September 28, 2008.

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  • Discuss 93.3 WMMR Philadelphia

    Comments? Corrections? Worked there? Please let us know!

    1. Posted at 9:11 AM on 3/26/2010 by Joe K.:
    DO you want to know why ipods are so popular? Because ALL radio stations beat songs to death for a few months and never play variety. THe last I checked, an album has 10+ songs, but all the radio stations play 2 songs from those albums at best. I'd rather listen to KYW and get 24 hour news.....at least the news changes from time to time....

    2. Posted at 5:03 PM on 6/1/2010 by Denise Stone:
    Looking for Original Rolling Stones interviews - five nights in a row! - in ~1970

    3. Posted at 8:21 AM on 5/10/2013 by TOM MCCLOUD:

    4. Posted at 3:02 PM on 9/21/2013 by kenton shoemaker:
    I went to college in Williamsport, Pa. We would listen to "rock blocks" over our lunch period. Yes we could listen in Williamsport!

    5. Posted at 11:37 AM on 10/29/2013 by CityPickerAntiques:
    Just bought a couple hundred Vinyl albums with WMMR & "Keiser" written on them. Many are labeled "Disc Jockey Demo" Who/what is Kieser?

    6. Posted at 10:34 AM on 7/18/2014 by michael rice:

    7. Posted at 2:30 PM on 1/18/2015 by steve:
    Can anyone direct me to an archive site where I can listen to the old Marconi Experiment shows with Herman? Now THAT was radio!

    8. Posted at 2:33 PM on 4/19/2015 by Steve Mullin:
    Every rock artist you play wrote more than the three songs played all the time.How about a deep cuts weekend? or maybe a deep cuts week,huh?

    9. Posted at 7:20 AM on 3/7/2016 by Steve Derer:
    I know Carol Miller went to xm radio but what happened to Johnny Kraft. Errol Bailey used to be on MMR also went to xm radio. My question is where are the disc jockeys from 68-70. Long time MMR listener.

    10. Posted at 2:14 AM on 4/18/2016 by Alana Morris:
    Johnny Craft went back to the suburbs to his wife and baby daughter. Maybe you remember that he played Stevie Wonder's "Isn't She Lovely" the day she was born. Many of us scattered like seeds but are sometimes in touch.

    11. Posted at 5:00 PM on 3/16/2018 by ATedK:
    Back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, WMMR featured a program, 'Opus' starting at midnight lasting through till Morning. Easily my favorite all time radio program. I don't see the name of Jonathan Takeoff who was one of the DJs covering a time slot at the same time as Michael Tearson in the late 1960s. There was a lady DJ at the same time, whose name escapes me at the moment. When John Hartford released "Hey Babe you wanna boogie?" and the FM airwaves were playing it during the early 1970s; one night, she played Hartford's song three times in a row. Then she explained that she only played it to satisfy the sickos demanding she play the song; but that she would never play it again. Never heard it during her shift, again. She was just another of WMMR's great DJs. Back, during the late 1960s, WMMR played the greatest WMMR radio commercials. e.g. WMMR played on commercial advising the length to adjust radio antennas for best reception, then after stating "for antennas internal to windshields", one heard the sounds of breaking glass.

    12. Posted at 5:43 PM on 8/28/2018 by Rick Del Rio:
    Every early WMMR aircheck that are on the internet were recorded by me "RICK DEL RIO" including the original "Marconi Experiment" Dave Herman airchecks. I have & own all of the master reels.

    13. Posted at 6:18 PM on 9/26/2018 by Patrick Curran :
    rick, Any chance I'd be able to hear any of those air checks??? Let me know!

    14. Posted at 4:40 PM on 10/20/2018 by Martin Smith:
    I remember Steve(Stevesky) Sutton and the lunch songs he would play at noontime. These were songs from popular artists like the Rolling Stones and the lyrics were changed to fit the lunch time theme. For example, 'Beast of Burden' was rearranged and the lyrics were, "Don't ever leave your pizza burning'. I spent my lunch time on many a day rushing out to my car to turn the radio on to hear this hour of music that Mr. Sutton would play at noon.

    15. Posted at 8:41 PM on 10/30/2018 by Tom Yentsch :
    Did WMMR EVERY HALLOWEEN rebroadcast the War of the Worlds? Starting when to when. In particular 1970-1971

    16. Posted at 10:24 PM on 1/19/2019 by Ron Messner:
    I heard War of the Worlds on WMMR FM Halloween 1970. Don't know if it was played any other year. Johnny Craft was and is my all time favorite DJ. Post # 10 - Alana Morris- did the news in the times of " The Radio Station". She ended the news with " I'm Alana Morris and we're WMMR". Almost all on air people said " we're WMMR", except Johnny Craft- he would say "your tuned to FM 93.3, WMMR Phila. I'm Johnny Craft, good morning.

    17. Posted at 12:40 AM on 4/5/2019 by Mark S Setar:
    I remember moving to Philly after college in the mid 80s and listening to WMMR at 6am (the start of the morning show) on a Monday and they would introduce the show with a countdown (similart to that before a rocket would be flown into space). In the background you'd hear Debella saying he didn't get enough sleep, etc., etc. Really hilarious---I'm now in Pittsburgh for 25 years and was trying to search for this on youtube. Is there any way I could hear that again----really funny s--t!

    18. Posted at 5:41 PM on 4/20/2019 by mike:
    I loved steve sutton (way before pierre did the noon shift) when he did the lunch songs too. Does anyone know if you can find them online anywhere?

    19. Posted at 7:35 AM on 5/25/2019 by Jerry V Di Trolio:
    I enjoyed reading about various AM/FM Radio Stations and the History in the Delaware Valley,and Nationally it's facinating!

    20. Posted at 4:15 PM on 5/31/2019 by Vera Nelson:
    I used to listen to WMMR all the time in the 80's.. I'm trying to find the song that they used to play every Friday at sign off of the Morning show.. Can anyone tell me where I could find it please? Trying to let my son hear it, as he is a big fan of The Morning Show with Preston and Steve. Thanks..

    21. Posted at 12:57 AM on 6/26/2019 by Ron Messner:
    I think your remembering "always look on the bright side of life", by Monty Python, from the movie Life of Brian.( some things in life are bad,they can really make you mad, other things just make you swear and curse)

    22. Posted at 7:46 PM on 6/29/2019 by ron messner:
    On second thought, Friday ( Hawaiian shirt gonzo Friday) ended with Nikki Hoi by Flo and Eddie.

    23. Posted at 4:01 AM on 8/27/2019 by Diego:
    I am trying to compile a list of local Philly groups from the 1980s. I remember hearing a lot back then but don't remember much now, especially because I don't live in the region anymore. Can anyone add to the list? Hooters Beru Revue A's Robert Hazard and the Heroes I also remember a WMMR music contest and one of the bands was called the Zebras, but I can't find anything on it. Does anyone recall?

    24. Posted at 11:10 AM on 8/29/2020 by L j:
    Diego,My favorite Philly band back then was Dynagroove. There was also the Daves, and the Front Street Runners.

    25. Posted at 10:42 AM on 2/24/2021 by dw:
    What is the name of the weird, intriguing, other world, stoner, radio soap opera played later at night in 1970’s? Not, Dr. Who.

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