Broadcast areaDelaware Valley
Frequency90.9 MHz (HD Radio)
BrandingWHYY NPR
FormatPublic radio
Public Radio Exchange
American Public Media
OwnerWHYY, Inc.
First air date
December 14, 1954; 68 years ago (1954-12-14)
Former call signs
WUHY (1963–1983)
Call sign meaning
"Wider Horizons for You and Yours"
Technical information
Licensing authority
Facility ID72336
ERP13,500 watts
HAAT280 meters (920 ft)
Transmitter coordinates
40°2′30.40″N 75°14′22.60″W / 40.0417778°N 75.2396111°W / 40.0417778; -75.2396111 (WHYY-FM)
Repeater(s)See § New Jersey expansion and controversy
Public license information
WebcastListen live

WHYY-FM (90.9 MHz, "91 FM") is a public radio station licensed to serve Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Its broadcast tower is located in the city's Roxborough neighborhood at (40°2′30.9″N 75°14′21.9″W / 40.041917°N 75.239417°W / 40.041917; -75.239417)[1] 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.[2] It was the first educational station in Philadelphia. The transmitter, originally located at 17th and Sansom Streets in Philadelphia, was donated by Westinghouse Broadcasting.[3] 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.

Programs produced

Entrance to the WHYY building on 6th Street, across from Independence Mall and the National Constitution Center
Entrance to the WHYY building on 6th Street, across from Independence Mall and the National Constitution Center

Format change

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.

CEO controversy

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.[9][10]

New Jersey expansion and controversy

Dorrance Hamilton Media Commons, part of the WHYY building near Franklin Square
Dorrance Hamilton Media Commons, part of the WHYY building near Franklin Square

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.[11]

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.[12]

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.[13] The five stations are:

Call sign Frequency City of license Facility ID ERP
m (ft)
Class Transmitter coordinates
WNJB-FM[note 1] 89.3 FM Bridgeton, New Jersey 48934 2,500 vert, 1 horiz 67 meters (220 ft) A 39°27′35.40″N 75°09′26.70″W / 39.4598333°N 75.1574167°W / 39.4598333; -75.1574167 (WNJB-FM)
WNJM 89.9 FM Manahawkin, New Jersey 48460 250 vert, 1 horiz 69.5 meters (228 ft) A 39°41′53.40″N 74°14′4.50″W / 39.6981667°N 74.2345833°W / 39.6981667; -74.2345833 (WNJM)
WNJN-FM 89.7 FM Atlantic City, New Jersey 48483 6,000 vert, 25 horiz 84 meters (276 ft) A 39°27′40.40″N 74°41′4.50″W / 39.4612222°N 74.6845833°W / 39.4612222; -74.6845833 (WNJN-FM)
WNJS-FM[note 2] 88.1 FM Berlin, New Jersey 48486 80 vert, 1 horiz 287 meters (942 ft) A 39°43′41.40″N 74°50′37.60″W / 39.7281667°N 74.8437778°W / 39.7281667; -74.8437778 (WNJS-FM)
WNJZ 90.3 FM Cape May Court House, New Jersey 48464 6,000 72 meters (236 ft) A 39°06′18.40″N 74°48′4.60″W / 39.1051111°N 74.8012778°W / 39.1051111; -74.8012778 (WNJZ)
  1. ^ WNJB-FM was sold to The Bridge of Hope, Inc., a Delaware-based nonprofit Christian radio broadcaster, and now simulcasts WKNZ.[14]
  2. ^ Sale to the Bux-Mont Educational Radio Association pending.[15]
Map all coordinates using: OpenStreetMap  Download coordinates as: KML

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.[16]

On November 2022, WHYY began to reduce its New Jersey radio footprint by announcing that it would sell WNJB-FM to non-profit Christian Broadcast, The Bridge of Hope, Inc., which owns WKNZ in Harrington, Delaware.[14] The sale was approved by the FCC and was later completed on February 2023.[17]

On March 2023, WHYY also announced that it would sell WNJS-FM to the Bux-Mont Educational Radio Association which owns WRDV for $110,000. The sale to the station is subject to FCC Approval.[15]

Billy Penn

In April 2019 WHYY acquired local news web site Billy Penn (billypenn.com).[18][19] At its 2014 founding, the site was conceived as a "mobile-first" site packaging local news for millennials.[18] The purchase was compared to New York public radio station WNYC buying the Gothamist in February 2018.[19]

See also


  1. ^ "FM Query Results for WHYY". fcc.gov. Federal Communications Commission. Archived from the original on May 8, 2022. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  2. ^ Broadcasting Yearbook 1958 page A-357
  3. ^ "History". WHYY. Archived from the original on March 30, 2019. Retrieved April 11, 2019.
  4. ^ "About 'Fresh Air'". npr.org. Archived from the original on May 5, 2016. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  5. ^ "Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane". WHYY. Retrieved August 27, 2022.
  6. ^ Vadala, Nick. "Out at WHYY, 'You Bet Your Garden' moves production to Bethlehem's PBS39". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved August 27, 2022.
  7. ^ "Voices in the Family". WHYY. Retrieved August 27, 2022.
  8. ^ "About The Pulse". WHYY. Retrieved August 27, 2022.
  9. ^ "Letter to the CEO". Philadelphia City Paper. September 5, 2007. Archived from the original on October 26, 2007. Retrieved February 24, 2008.
  10. ^ Volk, Steve (October 5, 2007). "Dead Air". Philadelphia Magazine. Archived from the original on August 3, 2016. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  11. ^ "WHYY-FM TO EXPAND COVERAGE IN NEW JERSEY AS PART OF AGREEMENT TO TAKE OVER FIVE NJN STATIONS" (PDF) (Press release). WHYY, Inc. June 30, 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 4, 2016. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  12. ^ Grigoriadis, Vanessa (January 14, 2014). "The Time Chris Christie Shut Down a Public Television Station That Did a Tough Story on Him". Intelligencer. Retrieved August 27, 2022.
  13. ^ "WHYY Philadelphia Expands New Jersey Coverage, NJN Is Kaput". Atlantic City Central. July 1, 2011. Archived from the original on September 15, 2011. Retrieved July 1, 2011.
  14. ^ a b Simon, Perry Michael (November 22, 2022). "WHYY/Philadelphia Sells South Jersey Simulcast FM To Bridge Of Hope". AllAccess.com. Retrieved December 22, 2022.
  15. ^ a b Michael Simon, Perry (March 12, 2023). "WHYY/Philadelphia Sells Off Another South Jersey FM". All Access.
  16. ^ "Coverage Area". whyy.org. Archived from the original on June 1, 2016. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  17. ^ New Jersey Expansion. The Bridge of Hope, Inc. November 23, 2022. Retrieved December 7, 2022.
  18. ^ a b Wolfman-Arent, Avi (April 15, 2019). "WHYY acquires local news site Billy Penn". WHYY. Retrieved August 21, 2022.
  19. ^ a b Fernandez, Bob (April 15, 2019). "Public radio's WHYY buys Billy Penn news site". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Archived from the original on December 4, 2019. Retrieved August 21, 2022.