|Broadcast area||Metro Detroit|
|Branding||Detroit's BIN 1130|
|Affiliations||Black Information Network Motor Racing Network|
|WLLZ, WJLB, WKQI, WMXD, WNIC|
First air date
|December 17, 1939|
Former call signs
Call sign meaning
|Detroit's The FaN (former branding)|
|Power||50,000 watts day|
10,000 watts night
Public license information
WDFN (1130 AM) is a radio station in Detroit, Michigan. Owned by iHeartMedia, it broadcasts an all-news radio format under iHeartMedia's Black Information Network, targeting Detroit's African American community. Its studios are located in the Detroit suburb of Farmington Hills, while its transmitter is in nearby Gibraltar.
AM 1130 has been on the air since December 17, 1939, and bore the WCAR calls from its inception until 1979. WCAR was originally licensed to the Detroit suburb of Pontiac, Michigan. It initially broadcast on 1100 kHz with 1,000 watts (daytime only). The owners were "a group of Pontiac citizens," including H.Y. Levinson, who owned half of the stock and managed the station. Levinson also was publisher of the Farmington Enterprise, a weekly newspaper in Farmington, Michigan.
For many years the station aired a middle-of-the-road/adult standards music format, as Levinson insisted that WCAR air only "good music" and refused to allow anything even remotely resembling rock and roll on his station's playlist.
Levinson would eventually relax his anti-rock stance when it became evident that the conservative "good music" approach wasn't making him enough money. By 1970, "W-Car" had transitioned to a personality MOR Contemporary format (what would likely be considered Hot Adult Contemporary today), playing more hit singles and fewer MOR album cuts while shying away from very hard rock, and featuring new jingles and a "hipper" image built around slogans such as "W-Car Cares About Detroit and Its People" (including inventive homemade public service announcements and promos for local businesses such as marriage counselors). By the summer of 1971, the station had added more harder rock and roll records to its adult contemporary format, and that fall the station made the full transition into Top 40 as "All Hit Music, The Giant 1130," similar in presentation to market leader CKLW. This incarnation of W-Car was consulted by Ken Draper, who at the time was programming similar formats on WFDF in Flint (which was known as "Giant 91") and WJIM in Lansing.
W-Car's Top 40 incarnation featured an airstaff including Detroit radio veterans such as Dave L. Prince, Scott Regen, and former CKLW and WIXY (Cleveland) personality Steve Hunter. Hunter recalled on the CKLW tribute Website (http://www.big8radio.com/) that although WCAR sounded good, its locally based ownership didn't have the money needed to sustain cash giveaways and other prizes, and the format was changed just before a new ratings book came in showing promising growth in the station's ratings. W-Car would trudge through several more failed formats during the remainder of the 1970s, including progressive rock (being one of the few AM stations to feature this kind of music, now known as album oriented rock), all-news (using the NBC News and Information service), and another try at adult contemporary with new owners Golden West Broadcasters (who bought the AM and FM in the summer of 1977) switching the station from news and talk back to music in October 1977.
From 1971 to 1974, George Noory, now host of the highly rated Coast to Coast AM syndicated late night radio show, worked at WCAR.
In early 1979, WCAR changed its format to country and adopted the calls WCXI ("Country 11"; the "C" stood for Country, and "XI" is "11" in Roman numerals) in March. General Manager John Risher, who had run popular country station WDEE during the early to mid-1970s, brought back popular award-winning morning personality Deano Day, Bob Burchett and a few others who had worked at "The Big-D" to the air staff. Program Director Bill Ford was held over from the previous WCAR AM 1130 adult contemporary format as well as new music director Bob "R.T." Griffin. After his success with WCXI, Ford left the station to program WKHK in New York. Dan Dixon (later of XM Radio), Larry Patton and Greg Raab were the following Program Directors, with Raab also being the station's Promotions Director from early 1979.
With WDEE gone and its only competitor in the country format being Windsor, Ontario's CKLW-FM (which focused its programming on the Canadian side of the border), WCXI became very popular for a year or two. However, WCXI took a hit once WWWW changed its format from album-oriented rock to country in 1980, becoming (apart from CKLW-FM) Detroit's first live country station on FM since WDEE-FM a decade earlier (WCAR-FM was automated country in 1977 until it became WTWR in early 1978). To better compete with W4 Country, WCXI/WTWR-FM's owner, Gene Autry's Golden West Broadcasters, again changed Top 40/oldies-formatted WTWR to WCXI-FM, and was programmed separately from the AM - but simulcasting Deano Day for a short time when he returned again to the station after a brief run in Los Angeles in early 1982. WCXI-FM was unable to beat W4; new owner Fritz Broadcasting changed format in May 1986 to adult contemporary as WNTM (later becoming WVAE and then WMXD). In the meantime, WCXI was sold to Shamrock Broadcasting, owners of W4, on the same date as the FM station and continued to suffer from low ratings through the 1980s. By the latter part of the decade, the station had adopted the "Real Country" branding and began to focus more on classic country.
Finally, in 1992, WCXI became WWWW, staying with country music but now simulcasting WWWW-FM.
WWWW changed its calls to WDFN in May 1994, and on July 11 of that year, it became a sports-talk station branded as "The Fan". For much of its run in the format, WDFN competed with WXYT (1270 AM), and later WXYT-FM (97.1), for Detroit's sports-talk audience.
WDFN affiliated with Fox Sports Radio since May 2003; before then, it was affiliated with ESPN Radio. The station was the Detroit outlet for national radio broadcasts of NFL games via Westwood One, including Sunday and Monday Night Football, NFL postseason games, and the Super Bowl from 1997 through 2004. When the Detroit Lions were not playing that Sunday, it would occasionally air the afternoon doubleheader.
The WCAR call signs are now in use at AM 1090 in the Detroit suburb of Livonia, Michigan, which airs a sports format. AM 1160 in Fenton, Michigan now uses the WCXI calls, playing oldies and can be heard in much of the Metro Detroit area.
WDFN's afternoon program, Stoney and Wojo, conducted comedic tournaments called "Stoney and Wojo Invitationals" several times each year. Similar to the NCAA Tournament, 64 "teams" would be represented in brackets split into geographic regions. These tournaments have featured such random items as body parts, soft drinks, cartoon characters, and even people with the first name of Mike. To determine the result, listeners called in and picked a winner in each game.
On December 18, 2005, prior to the Detroit Lions' final home game of the season (against the Cincinnati Bengals), WDFN organized a "Millen Man March" outside Ford Field, in support of the many fans outraged by the leadership of then-team president Matt Millen, under whom the Lions were 20-57, with many of the losses coming in heartbreaking fashion. The station also purchased a billboard ad by the stadium which read "Not This Millenium - Rebuilding Since 1957" (the last year the Lions won an NFL championship).
On July 13, 2007, Stoney and Wojo were the substitute hosts on the popular nationally syndicated The Jim Rome Show (for the vacationing Jim Rome).
On January 20, 2009, WDFN's local sports programming was replaced with syndicated programming consisting primarily of Fox Sports Radio. Sean Baligian signed off at noon, leading into coverage of the inauguration of President Barack Obama, with no mention of changes at the station. After several weeks with no local programming aside from Pistons broadcasts, Matt Shepard returned on April 6, relaunching his live morning show, Shep, Shower and Shave. Longtime sports director and University of Detroit Titans basketball announcer Matt Dery left the station for competitor WXYT. Rob Pascoe also joined WXYT after being released from WDFN, and on April 28, 2009, Rob Otto was also given his release. In addition, WDFN would drop the "Fan" branding and rebranded as simply "Detroit Sports Talk."
From the 2001-02 season through the end of the 2008-09 NBA season, WDFN was the Detroit Pistons' flagship radio station. The Pistons qualified for the NBA playoffs during each of the 8 seasons, winning the 2004 NBA Finals. On February 5, 2009, WXYT-FM acquired the rights to become the Pistons' flagship station starting in the 2009–10 season. The move came shortly after the aforementioned layoffs, switching to a line-up of nationally syndicated shows like The Dan Patrick Show and Fox Sports Radio's Myers and Hartman. The Pistons also cited WDFN's weak directional signal, listeners were having difficulty receiving the station without interference.
On October 1, 2010, WDFN dropped the "Detroit Sports Talk" branding and returned to being "The Fan," but in 2013, they altered their on-air program format significantly, deviating from their former sports format.
On May 2, 2017, Matt Shepard, one of the few survivors of WDFN's 2009 layoffs, was released by the station after anchoring the morning drive for more than 8 years. Shepard had also anchored the hourly sports updates from 2001 through 2007, and again starting in April 2008 after a brief stint at WXYT. On November 16, 2017, it was announced that Shepard was coming back to the station, with his morning show relaunched on November 20.
On June 29, 2020, WDFN ended its 26-year run as a sports talk station, and began stunting with speeches by prominent African Americans. The next day, WDFN flipped to all-news radio as Detroit's BIN 1130; it is one of the charter stations of iHeartMedia's Black Information Network — a multi-platform radio network serving the African-American community. The new format will compete with Entercom's heritage all-news station WWJ.