1540 was founded by Patrick J. Stanton, former general manager of WDAS on December 25, 1946. The daytime only station operated out of the ballroom of the St. James Hotel in center city Philadelphia. The format was middle of the road music and religious programming. The call letters reportedly stood for "Jesus, Mary, and Joseph."
Sally Starr was a popular host at the station begining in the late 1940s. Her shows were often broadcast from local record shops throughout the Delaware Valley.
In August, 1965, WJMJ was sold to Rust Craft Broadcasting, a division of the Rust Craft Greeting Card Company. Calls were changed to WRCP and studios were eventually moved to 2043 Locust Street in Philadelphia (referred to as the "Rittenhouse Ranch.") The calls have been variously described as meaning "Rust Craft Philadelphia" and "Real Country Power." A "Modern Country" format was instituted in 1967 under program director John Mazer. In the 1960s and early 70s, a WRCP stagecoach with staffers dressed as cowboys/cowgirls was used as a promotional tool. Some of the station's country DJs in this period included Don Paul, Dave Stanley, Nick Reynolds, Shelly Davis, Bob Steele, and Jack Gillan.
On October 17, 1977, WRCP AM and FM split into completely separate programming. The FM side, with new calls WSNI, went with a "beautiful country" format while the AM continued with a more traditional country format. In 1980, the FM dumped country for adult contemporary, making WRCP-AM the only country station in Philadelphia at the time. In 1981, after WFIL adopted a country format, WRCP switched to "Philadelphia gold" oldies from the 60s and 70s with jocks Ron Cade, Jay Patrick and Tom McDonnel.
In 1983, the calls were changed to match sister station WSNI. Program Director Don Cannon, whose WSNI-FM morning show was simulcast on 1540, instituted a short-lived "Beatles and Mowtown" format. Some of the jocks during the oldies format included Mike St. John, Hy Lit, Harvey Holiday, Tommy McCarthy, Jerry Blavat, and "Armand In The Morning." The following year, the calls were changed to WPGR, "Philly Gold Radio."
In 1992, the oldies station was sold to a group of local investors under the name All Star Radio. (Eric Farber, Marina Kats, Robert Rovner, Bob Daniels and Anthony Corradetti) The station was renamed "Geator Gold Radio" with Jerry Blavat as operations manager. In 1994, WPGR received permission to operate 24 hours a day, although at very low power after dark. A number of veteran Philly jocks came and went during this period including Bob Charger, Georgie Woods and Sally Starr (who had worked at the station some 40 years earlier.)
The last broadcast as WPGR was with Georgie Woods on June 30, 1995. The last song was Hope That We Can Be Together Soon by Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes. As the song faded out, Woods said the final words on WPGR: "We are now signing off the air at WPGR. This is the end of WPGR. The new station will be known as WNWR. And with that, god bless you, it's been a pleasure, and mazel tov."
In 1995, the station was sold to Global Radio for $1.4 million, with new calls WNWR and time-brokered ethnic and multicultural programming. Time was made available to any person or entity willing to pay, so over the years, a large variety of programs came and went. One mainstay was Barry Reisman, who had been on the air at various Philadelphia stations since the early 1960s.
In June, 2011 it was announced that all programming on WNWR would be moving to WWDB 860 AM effective June 14th. At that point, WNWR began simulcasting China Radio International.
"WJMJ, Philly, to Debut Dec 25.", The Billboard, 11/16/1946, p. 9