|Broadcast area||Baltimore metropolitan area|
|Frequency||600 kHz (HD Radio)|
|Owner||iHeartMedia, Inc. |
(iHM Licenses, LLC)
|WPOC, WQSR, WZFT|
First air date
|May 6, 1922|
WCAO (600 kHz "Heaven 600") is a commmercial AM radio station in Baltimore, Maryland. It broadcasts an urban gospel radio format and is owned by iHeartMedia, Inc. The studios and offices are located at The Rotunda shopping center in Baltimore.
WCAO is powered at 5,000 watts. To protect other stations on AM 600, it uses a four-tower array directional antenna at all times. The transmitter is off Garrison Forest Road at Caves Woods Road in Owings Mills, Maryland. Programming is also heard on the HD-2 digital subchannel on co-owned 102.7 WQSR.
One of the oldest radio stations in Maryland, WCAO first signed on the air on May 6, 1922. In the 1930s, it was powered at 1,000 watts by day and 500 watts at night, with studios at 811 West Lanvale Street. It was owned by the Monumental Radio Company and was a CBS Network affiliate during the 1930s and 1940s. In that era, WCAO carried CBS dramas, comedies, news, sports, soap operas, game shows, children's shows and big band broadcasts during the "Golden Age of Radio."
From May 1937 until May 1957, Radio announcer Charles Purcell and theatre organist Roland Nuttrell hosted a nightly live broadcast known as "Nocturne." Roland would play calming melodies on the organ at the Parkway Theatre or the Century Theatre, while many miles away in the WCAO studios located at the Upton Mansion, Charles would read from his book compiled of poetry entitled Book Of Golden Dreams. Nocturne received many positive reviews from listeners, noting it was far more effective at putting people to sleep than taking sleeping pills. The 20-year run of this program made it the longest -running radio program in Baltimore at that time.
In 1947, it added an FM station, 102.7 WCAO-FM. At first it mostly simulcast the AM station. But in the 1960s and 70s, it aired its own classical music format. Today that station is co-owned WQSR.
From the 1950s through the 1970s, WCAO was a one of Baltimore's most popular stations, broadcasting a Top 40 format. WCAO disc jockeys were noted radio personalities for many young listeners such as Johnny Dark Kerby Scott Jack Edwards Les Alexander Bob Bartel Frank Luber Donn Keller Paul Rodgers Alan Field and Gene Creasy .
At the time, WCAO-AM-FM were owned by Plough Broadcasting, a subsidiary of the Schering-Plough pharmaceutical coompany. By 1980, many contemporary music listeners had switched to FM radio to hear the latest hits.
WCAO flipped to a country music format in 1982. But it had trouble competing with FM counterpart 93.1 WPOC. The country sound lasted nine years.
On November 25, 1991, WCAO switched to its current urban gospel format. It is now a competitor to similarly-formatted WWIN-AM "Spirit 1400".
Eddie Hubbard was a popular WCAO disc jockey. He later gained fame as a radio personality in Chicago.