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History of Philadelphia radio station 1540 WNWR (Global Radio, LLC)

  • WJMJ

    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.

    WRCP

    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.

    WPGR logo

    WSNI/WPGR

    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."

    WNWR

    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.

    Sources:
    "WJMJ, Philly, to Debut Dec 25.", The Billboard, 11/16/1946, p. 9

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  • Discuss 1540 WNWR Philadelphia

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

    1. Posted at 12:29 PM on 8/19/2010 by Michael McDevitt:
    Miss the old 1540 WPGR days good time Oldies music

    2. Posted at 5:25 AM on 8/27/2010 by Bill Smith:
    I was there a couple of times. (1) 73-76 as transmitter-watch engineer and fill-in jock. (2) 86-88 (PGR): started on the 6p-signoff shift, later did AM drive briefly.

    3. Posted at 10:20 AM on 9/29/2010 by Ben Runkle:
    I have fond memories of WRCP in 1970-71. I had moved to Philly from my native North Carolina and was working at William Moennig & Son a few doors down Locust St. One evening I was listening at home, called the station and had a nice chat with the DJ. We eventually became acquainted and I visited at the studio a couple of times. They promoted a show with Merle Haggard at the old Memorial Hall and it remains one of the best concerts I have ever seen. The station manager at the time was a man name

    4. Posted at 5:25 PM on 11/14/2010 by Neil Rice:
    Hav e great memories of WPGR and Jerry THE GEATOR Blavat when i was outprocessing at Fort Dix in early Aug 1992. Best radio station I have ever listened to. I feel a sense of loss with its demise. Great memories (if only for a week). Enjoy them while they last. Thanks

    5. Posted at 11:25 AM on 4/9/2011 by Steve Dave:
    I hear from creditable scoures that WNWR is Flipping to CRI. Sun Up to Sun Down all CRI all day long. They maybe striking a deal in May. Dont know the details but its going to happen.

    6. Posted at 11:24 PM on 8/3/2011 by Nick Reynolds:
    I have great memories working at WRCP twice during the 60's and 70's. I had the pleasure of interviewing Dolly Parton on the air. I still get cards from my listeners.

    7. Posted at 2:37 PM on 4/6/2014 by Gordon:
    Growing up in berks county Pa, the only radio station that my family listened to in the late 60's and 70's was WRCP, Grew up listening to Country and still do to this day, the best country music was made in those days and nothing like the crap coming across the airwaves today!!!

    8. Posted at 6:09 PM on 5/4/2014 by Nick Reynolds:
    I worked with many great people at WRCP AM & FM including Don Paul, Bob Steele, Neil Howard, Mike Dugan, Shelly Davis in the sixties and again in the seventies. We did concerts at Convention Hall including Capitol Records doing a live recording of the great Merle Haggard. Wonderful memories to share with my thousands of listeners.

    9. Posted at 6:06 PM on 4/14/2016 by Jake:
    Listened to WPGR from Maguire Air Force Base in summer of 1992. Great oldies station. Loved The Geator. Memories that have stayed with me. Boy, do the years fly by.

    10. Posted at 3:52 PM on 10/11/2016 by BOB BOGASKI:
    NICK REYNOLDS & I NEW EACH OTHER BACK IN 1961 BEFORE I WENT IN THE AIR FORCE--- IBUMPED INTO HIM IN HARRISBURG PA. AS I WAS GETTING READY TO SHIP TO VIET NAM,FIRST TOURE ----- MEET AT RADIO STATION ,,THEN WENT OUT FOR A FEW DRINKS----OUT OF SERVICE 1969 ONLY TO CALL HIM AT RADIO WRCP -- TOUCK WIFE & 3 KIDS TO SEE HIM IN THE THANKSGIVING PARADE -- ALYCE & I BUMPED ITO HIM IN NEW JERSEY OFF RT. #9 --- LAST TIME === HAS ANY BODY SEEN HIM OR HIS BROTHER ???? H TRHEY LIVED ON THOMPSON ST. BELOW BRIDSBURG ???????

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