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WHAT
Broadcast areaPhiladelphia metropolitan area
Frequency1340 kHz
BrandingLa Kalle 99.9
Programming
Language(s)Spanish
FormatContemporary hits and reggaeton
Ownership
Owner
  • Victor Martinez and Matthew Braccili
  • (VM Broadcasting LLC)
History
First air date
October 17, 1922; 101 years ago (October 17, 1922)
Former call signs
WNAT (1922–1929)
Call sign meaning
The hat of the William Penn statue atop Philadelphia City Hall
Technical information[1]
Licensing authority
FCC
Facility ID33686
ClassC
Power1,000 watts
Transmitter coordinates
40°00′6″N 75°12′35″W / 40.00167°N 75.20972°W / 40.00167; -75.20972
Translator(s)99.9 W260CZ (Philadelphia)
Links
Public license information
WebcastListen Live
Websiteelzolphilly.com

WHAT (1340 kHz) is a commercial AM radio station in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The station is owned by VM Broadcasting. It airs a Spanish-language contemporary hit and reggaeton format. It was one of the first radio stations in Philadelphia, going on the air in 1922.

WHAT is powered at 1,000 watts. The transmitter is on Conshohocken Avenue, near Fairmount Park.[2] Programming is also heard on 50-watt FM translator W260CZ at 99.9 MHz.[3] It uses its FM dial position for its moniker "La Kalle 99.9" (The Street).

History

WNAT / WHAT (1922–1944)

On October 17, 1922, a new Philadelphia radio station was authorized, as WNAT, by the government to the Lennig Brothers Co., a radio supply company headed up by Frederick Lennig at 827 Spring Garden Street.[4] The call sign was randomly assigned from a roster of available call letters. In late 1929, the call sign was changed to WHAT.[5]

In the 1930s, WHAT was powered at only 100 watts and was heard on 1310 kilocycles.[6] It had to share time on that frequency with other radio stations. It had studios in the Public Ledger Building.

Ownership of the station changed twice within a two-year span. In 1939, the Bonwit Teller department store replaced The Evening Ledger newspaper as owner; in July 1940, J. David Stern, who published The Philadelphia Record newspaper bought the station from Bonwit Teller. At that time, WHAT operated with 100 watts of power.[7]

Banks ownership (1944–1986)

On February 12, 1944, former radio station WIP salesman William Banks purchased WHAT for $22,500 from the Philadelphia Record and became the station's new president. His sister, Dolly Banks, became program director and expanded on the ethnic format while ending time-brokered programming.

According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, WHAT was known for innovation. "In 1945, WHAT became the first U.S. radio station to hire a full-time black announcer, the first to program a regular show featuring a black woman as hostess and the first station in the city to hire black newscasters. It also was the first in the nation to feature a black as host of a daily talk show."

In 1954, the station moved its studios and transmitters to a new structure at 3930-3940 Conshohocken Ave in Wynnefield Heights and was dubbed "The WHAT Radio Center."

Ownership changes (1986–2007)

In October 1986, Reginald N. Lavong and Miller Parker, owners of Main Line Communications purchased WHAT from Independence Broadcasting for $625,000. The sale included the station's office building and 4.5 acres of land on Conshohocken Ave. Former sister station WWDB-FM was sold to lawyer Ragan A. Henry around the same time. In 1989, the station, now running an African American-oriented talk and Nostalgia format, was sold to Philadelphia radio veteran Cody Anderson. Anderson had been general manager of WDAS-AM-FM and his company "KBT Communications" paid $1.65 million to obtain WHAT. Anderson moved the WHAT offices and studios to North 54th Street near City Line Avenue in nearby Wynnefield.

In 2007, WHAT was sold to Marconi Broadcasting, who ended the station's longtime African American-focus. Known for years as the "Voice of the African American Community," all station employees, including hosts Albert Butler, Elmer Smith, and Mary Mason were let go.

New formats (2007–present)

WHAT programmed an "urban talk" format until 2007. From 2004 to 2006, they were an affiliate of Air America Radio and carried several shows from the network. The station was sold in 2006. On January 19, 2007, after stunting with a variety of music ranging from classical pieces to modern hits, the new owners programmed an alternative rock music format called "Skin Radio".[8] Skin Radio also featured many local musicians and poets. It was seen as a replacement to Y-100, a former modern rock station in Philadelphia. Though no longer on-air, Skin Radio continued, but as an internet-only radio station.

WHAT flipped formats to an adult standards "Martini Lounge" format on August 31, 2007, beginning with a month of Frank Sinatra's music. According to their website The All-Sinatra format aired throughout the month of September. After September 30, the station started an Adult Standards format featuring artists including Michael Bublé, Harry Connick, Jr., Diana Krall and their format predecessors like Tony Bennett and Peggy Lee. Many have considered it the successor to WPEN's format from 1979 to 2004, even hiring former station D.J.s like Bob Craig and Mike Bowe. On November 17, 2008, WHAT dropped the "Martini Lounge Radio" branding but continued with a similar format.

On August 1, 2011, WHAT ceased broadcasting without any announcement, leading to speculation that the station had been sold. One month later, on September 12, 2011 at 12 P.M., WHAT changed their format to Spanish-language music, branded as "El Zol 1340 AM". On September 3, 2018, the station rebranded itself as "Z99.9".

On March 19, 2020, WHAT was sold to investor Matthew Braccili and Programmer Victor Martinez. (VM Broadcasting LLC) rebranded as "La Kalle 99.9".[9]

Previous logos

References

  1. ^ "Facility Technical Data for WHAT". Licensing and Management System. Federal Communications Commission.
  2. ^ Radio-Locator.com/WHAT
  3. ^ Radio-Locator.com/W260CZ
  4. ^ "New Stations", Radio Service Bulletin, November 1, 1922, page 3.
  5. ^ "Alterations and corrections", Radio Service Bulletin, November 30, 1929, page 10.
  6. ^ Broadcasting Yearbook 1935 page 54
  7. ^ "J.D. Stern Enters Radio; Jars Philly" (PDF). Billboard. July 17, 1940. p. 6. Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  8. ^ WHAT Becomes "Skin Radio"
  9. ^ WHAT Philadelphia Relaunches as La Kalle 99.9 Radioinsight - March 19, 2020