In 1944, Dolly Banks, and her brother William Banks, purchased WHAT-AM from the Public Ledger. The deal included an extremely low profile FM station at 96.5 FM, which simulcasted the AM until the mid 50s.
In 1956, a young man named Sid Mark began hosting an all night music show, the first "live" programming on the FM station. Each morning at the conclusion of the show, two patch cords would be plugged back in to simulcast the AM for the rest of the day. To the surprise of station management, Mark's Jazz show quickly gained popularity. In 1958, the decision was made for WHAT to became the country's first 24 hour, live FM Jazz station, a format it would keep for the next 17 years.
In the late 60s, the call letters were changed to WWDB, representing the owner's initials (William and Dolly Banks) The name change coincided with a gradual diversification of the jazz format to include standards with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Mel Torme, and Henry Mancini. At some point in the early 1970s, the station experimented with an adult contemporary format. On March 17, 1975, WWDB became the country's first all-talk station on FM.
The initial lineup of talk show hosts included Wynn Moore, Sid Mark (who also hosted Sinatra shows "Friday with Frank" and "Sunday with Sinatra") Irv Homer, Ken James, Jay Turner, Merrill Reese, Helen Hagan, and Frank Ford. Most of the time, WWDB turned off its stereo pilot, presumably to increase the station's coverage area. During music programming, the stereo pilot was usually turned on.
When William Banks died in 1979, his sister Dolly Banks assumed full ownership of the station, and was general manager until her retirement in May, 1985. Dolly Banks died that September after which the station was sold for about $6 million to Philadelphia lawyer Ragan A. Henry, who sold it to one of his employees, Charles Schwartz, two months later.
During its heyday in the 1980's, WWDB was often one of the top 10 rated stations
in the market, and was home to such local personalities as Mary Mason, Frank
Ford, Irv Homer, Susan Bray ("The saucy Aussie"), and Jim Corea.
In 1989, WWDB moved its studios from their original location at 3930 Conshohocken Avenue to a new building on Levering Mill Road in Bala Cynwyd. Former sister station WHAT-AM remained behind in the old studios. In January, 1996, WWDB was purchased by Mercury Broadcasting for $48 million. Mercury began to "contemporize" the station by changing the long-standing lineup of hosts and initiating the station's first television ad campaign. In early 1997, Mercury sold the station to Beasley Broadcasting for $65 million.
Beasley continued to make modifications to the schedule that many long time listeners
considered an upheaval. In 1998, management adopted a news-talk format from 5 to
9 a.m., in an ill-fated attempt to challenge all-news stalwart KYW 1060. The
station also flirted with the use of nationally-syndicated hosts and brokered
programming (thinly veiled program-length commercials.) At one point, some of the older hosts were temporarily "exiled" to low-profile sister station WWDB-AM to make room for more contemporary talkers on the FM, but that too proved ineffective. By 2000, rumors were
flying that the station would be changing formats to appeal to a much younger
6, 2000, over 40 staff members were fired including general manager Dennis
Begley, news director Kirk Dorn, sales manager Dan Sullivan, and the station's
news and on-air staff. Meanwhile, an electronic voice counted down to a new
format: all 80's music called "The Point" with new call letters WPTP. After 45 years, Sid Mark
was no longer employed at the station, although his Sinatra show was
subsequently picked up by WPHT-AM.
Over the next few years, the music gradually shifted to Hot AC, but new listeners
were hard to come by. On November 17, 2003, owner Bruce Beasley pulled the plug
on the adult-pop format in favor of a "rhythmic contemporary-hit"
sound heavy on the R&B and hip-hop and aimed at 18- to 34-year-olds. Tagged
"Wild 96.5," the calls were changed to WLDW. Eventually, the name was changed to "Wired 96.5" with calls WRDW. Over the years, the music on Wired has included Top 40 pop, rhythmic, and even some dance thrown in.