|Broadcast area||Delaware Valley|
|Frequency||90.9 MHz (HD Radio)|
Public Radio Exchange
American Public Media
First air date
|December 14, 1954|
Former call signs
Call sign meaning
|"Wider Horizons for You and Yours"|
|HAAT||280 meters (920 ft)|
|Repeater(s)||See § New Jersey expansion and controversy|
Public license information
WHYY-FM (90.9 FM, "91 FM") is a public FM radio station licensed to serve Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Its broadcast tower is located in the city's Roxborough neighborhood at () while its studios and offices are located on Independence Mall in Center City, Philadelphia. The station, owned by WHYY, Inc., is a charter member of National Public Radio (NPR) and contributes several programs to the national network.
WHYY signed on the air on December 14, 1954, owned by the Metropolitan Philadelphia Educational Radio and Television Corporation. It was the first educational station in Philadelphia. The transmitter, originally located at 17th and Sansom Streets in Philadelphia, was donated by Westinghouse Broadcasting. In 1957, it added a sister television station, WHYY-TV on channel 35.
In 1963, WHYY-TV moved from channel 35 in Philadelphia to the stronger channel 12 in Wilmington, Delaware. At the time, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations did not allow co-owned television and radio stations to share the same base callsign if they were licensed in different markets. Philadelphia and Wilmington, then as now, are separate radio markets (though 90.9, like most major Philadelphia stations, has long claimed Wilmington as part of its primary coverage area), though they have long been a single television market. As a result, the radio station was forced to change its call sign to WUHY. 90.9 FM regained its original call sign in 1983 after the FCC eased this restriction.
When NPR was formed in 1970, the station became a charter member and was one of the 90 stations that carried the initial broadcast of All Things Considered.
Until 1990, WHYY served the region as a non-commercial station with a format that featured mostly classical music with some jazz and folk music. The management decision to establish a news/talk radio format was a departure from the classical music that most public radio stations were programming. The format switch left the privately owned WFLN as the only Philadelphia classical station and resulted in protests from many of the station's listening audience who were among WHYY's major contributors. After WFLN's new owners also abandoned the classical format in the late 1990s, Temple University's WRTI (90.1 FM) began programming classical music during the day to serve the displaced listeners.
Controversy erupted in the summer of 2007 when station Chief Executive Officer Bill Marrazzo was cited by the watchdog group Charity Navigator as the highest paid CEO in all of public broadcasting.
In an August 2007 article, popular Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Karen Heller called for a boycott of WHYY. And in September 2007 an anonymous group of WHYY employees sent an open letter to Marrazzo, the Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News and Philadelphia magazine, accusing him of "a serious lack of understanding when it comes to creating ... a healthy workplace" and assailing his salary as "excessive and inappropriate." The five-page letter concluded with a call for Marrazzo to resign.
On June 6, 2011, the New Jersey Public Broadcasting Authority agreed to sell five FM stations in Southern New Jersey to WHYY. The purchase was made through an anonymous one-million dollar grant and a non-cash agreement that included scholarships for students and teachers. The five stations were previously the southern portion of the New Jersey Network's statewide radio service.
The transaction was announced by Governor Chris Christie, as part of his long-term goal to end state-subsidized public broadcasting. The governor's critics maintained that scrapping New Jersey Network effectively ended all non-commercial statewide news coverage. It was also noted that the sale eliminated a source of legislative oversight frequently critical of the Christie administration.
WHYY assumed control of the stations through a management agreement on July 1, 2011, pending FCC approval for the acquisition. At that point, the stations began to simulcast WHYY-FM programming. The five stations are:
|Call sign||Frequency||City of license||Facility ID||ERP
|WNJB-FM||89.3 FM||Bridgeton, New Jersey||48934||2,500 vert, 1 horiz||67 meters (220 ft)||A|
|WNJM||89.9 FM||Manahawkin, New Jersey||48460||250 vert, 1 horiz||69.5 meters (228 ft)||A|
|WNJN-FM||89.7 FM||Atlantic City, New Jersey||48483||6,000 vert, 25 horiz||84 meters (276 ft)||A|
|WNJS-FM||88.1 FM||Berlin, New Jersey||48486||80 vert, 1 horiz||287 meters (942 ft)||A|
|WNJZ||90.3 FM||Cape May Court House, New Jersey||48464||6,000||72 meters (236 ft)||A|
The stations all operate at relatively low power due to the crowded state of the noncommercial end of the FM dial in the northeastern United States. They primarily serve areas of southern New Jersey not covered by the main WHYY-FM signal, which itself operates at a relatively modest 13,500 watts. However, their combined footprint extends WHYY-FM's coverage from Berks County to the Jersey Shore.
In April 2019 WHYY acquired local news web site Billy Penn (billypenn.com). At its 2014 founding, the site was conceived as a "mobile-first" site packaging local news for millennials. The purchase was compared to New York public radio station WNYC buying the Gothamist in February 2018.
WHYY-FM is short-spaced to two other Class B stations:
WETA WETA Classical 90.9 FM (licensed to serve Washington, D.C.) operates on the same channel as WHYY-FM and the distance between the stations' transmitters is 128 miles as determined by FCC rules. The minimum distance between two Class B stations operating on the same channel according to current FCC rules is 150 miles. Additionally, WETA is a grandfathered “superpower” station, with an analog effective radiated power (ERP) of 75,000 watts. This exceeds the maximum analog ERP limit allowed for a Class B FM station.
WFUV 90.7 WFUV (licensed to serve New York City) operates on 90.7 MHz, a first adjacent channel to WHYY-FM, and the distance between the stations' transmitters is 92 miles as determined by FCC rules. The minimum distance between two Class B stations operating on first adjacent channels according to current FCC rules is 105 miles.