|Broadcast area||Southeast Michigan|
|Branding||News Talk 760 WJR|
|Affiliations||Fox News Radio|
Michigan State Spartans
First air date
|May 4, 1922(as WCX)|
Former call signs
|833 & 619 kHz (1922)|
750 & 619 kHz (1922–1923)
750 kHz (1923)
580 kHz (1923–1927)
680 kHz (1927–1928)
750 kHz (1928–1941)
Call sign meaning
|Former owner Jewett Radio & Phonograph Co.|
|Power||50,000 watts unlimited|
|Repeater(s)||96.3 WDVD-HD2 (Detroit)|
WJR (760 AM) is a commercial radio station in Detroit, Michigan, owned by Cumulus Media, with a news/talk format. Most of WJR's broadcast studios, along with its newsroom and offices, are in the Fisher Building in Detroit's New Center area. A tower atop the Fisher Building relays WJR's audio to the transmitter site, and at one time WJR-FM (currently WDVD) also used this tower. There is an additional satellite studio in the Wintergarden of the GM Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit.
WJR is a Class A clear channel station, operating with 50,000 watts, the maximum power for AM stations in the United States, and is Michigan's primary entry point station for the Emergency Alert System. At night it can be heard throughout much of eastern North America. WJR's 1934 transmitter building — which has been called "one of the best Art Deco transmitter buildings ever" — and transmitter tower are located off Sibley Road in Riverview, Michigan.
WJR programming is streamed via the web, and is simulcast on WDVD's 96.3 FM HD2 subchannel. WJR is also licensed to broadcast a digital hybrid (HD) signal.
WJR airs a mix of local and nationally syndicated talk shows and local sports. Weekdays feature WJR morning personality Paul W. Smith, afternoon personality Mitch Albom and late morning host Kevin Dietz and Tom Jordan. It is the Detroit outlet for Westwood One syndicated talk shows Dan Bongino, Mark Levin, Ben Shapiro and Red Eye Radio. WJR is the flagship station of the Michigan State Spartans. Late nights and weekends, world and national news from Fox News Radio begins each hour.
In 2006, WJR picked up the nationally syndicated Handyman Show with Glenn Haege, which originates from Detroit, and previously aired on WXYT and WDFN. The Handyman Show is a nationally syndicated show, originating from WJR's own studios, as is also the case with several other weekend shows such as The C.A.R. Show and The Real Estate Insiders. Music programming on WJR has been phased out almost entirely over the past two decades. As of June 2014, the only music-oriented show on the station was the Renfro Valley Gatherin', aired early Sunday mornings.
WJR traces its history to May 4, 1922. Effective December 1, 1921, the U.S. government for the first time adopted regulations formally defining "broadcasting stations". The wavelength of 360 meters (833 kHz) was designated for entertainment broadcasts, while 485 meters (619 kHz) was reserved for broadcasting official weather and other government reports. On May 4, 1922, the Detroit Free Press newspaper was issued a license, with the randomly assigned call letters of WCX, for operation on both broadcasting wavelengths.
WCX made its debut, broadcasting from the Free Press Building, on the same day it was licensed. The inaugural broadcast included an address by Michigan governor Alex J. Groesbeck. 1922 saw a rapid expansion in the number of broadcasting stations, most sharing the single entertainment wavelength of 360 meters, which required progressively more complicated time sharing schedules among stations in the same region. The Detroit News, which operated station WWJ, bristled at having to suffer the "handicap" of being required to give up some airtime to WCX, which had, in the words of the News, decided to "break in".
In late September 1922 a second entertainment wavelength, 400 meters (750 kHz), was made available for "Class B" stations, which had higher powers and better quality equipment and programming. Both WCX and WWJ qualified to use this new wavelength on a timesharing basis, and WCX ended use of the 485 meter "market and weather" wavelength. In early 1923 the United States further expanded the broadcast station frequencies into a band running from 550 to 1350 kHz. The Class B frequency of 580 kHz was designated for use by qualified stations in the "Detroit/Dearborn" area, and both WCX and WWJ were assigned to this frequency.
On December 8, 1924, WCX opened studios atop the new Book-Cadillac Hotel in downtown Detroit, with transmitter facilities on the roof. Hometown poet Edgar A. Guest and the Jean Goldkette orchestra participated in the program. In January 1925, WWJ's reassignment to 850 kHz left WCX as the sole station remaining on 580 kHz.
On August 20, 1925, the Jewett Radio & Phonograph Company received a license for a new station, WJR. The company also took over WCX, consolidating operations in Pontiac, Michigan, as WJR-WCX on 580 kHz.
On January 1, 1927, the station was taken over by George A. Richards, a local Oakland-Pontiac automobile dealer. Richards would later also assume control of WGAR in Cleveland and KMPC in Los Angeles. WJR adopted the slogan "The Goodwill Station" and on May 9, 1927, began carrying programs from the recently formed NBC Blue network.
In mid-1927 the joint stations moved to 680 kHz. On November 11, 1928, the Federal Radio Commission implemented a major AM band reorganization, under the provisions of its General Order 40. This reallocation divided stations into three classes, which became known as "Clear", "Regional" and "Local". WJR-WCX was assigned as the sole North American occupant of the clear channel frequency of 750 kHz.
On December 16, 1928, the station moved from the newspaper's offices to its current location in the Fisher Building in uptown Detroit, and began identifying as "WJR Detroit, from the Golden Tower of the Fisher Building". In 1929 the license was transferred to "WJR, Goodwill Station, Inc.", and on April 22, 1929, "WCX" was formally dropped from the dual call sign, with the station becoming just WJR. In 1931, WJR raised its power to 10,000 watts. The station switched network affiliation from NBC Blue to CBS on September 29, 1935, and at the same time station officials formally dedicated WJR's new 50,000 watt transmitter. On March 29, 1941, the station moved from 750 to 760 kHz, in accordance with the North American Regional Broadcasting Agreement frequency reallocations.
Although station owner George A. Richards purchased the Detroit Lions professional football team in 1934, WJR did not begin to broadcast their games until the 1938 season.
WJR signed on an FM outlet in 1948 at 96.3 MHz. This station was known as WJR-FM until 1982, when it became WHYT. The station is now WDVD.
Richards died in May 1951, and in 1964 Goodwill Stations was sold to Capital Cities Communications, which later merged with ABC and still later with the Walt Disney Company. Upon the sale, WJR's slogan became "The Great Voice of the Great Lakes". Also in 1964, WJR acquired full rights to Detroit Tigers baseball games, with announcers Ernie Harwell and George Kell, who had begun broadcasting Tiger games in 1960. Previously, WJR had carried only night games with day games on WKMH and WJBK. The station became the flagship of the Tiger Baseball Network.In the late 1960s, WJR also became the flagship station for Detroit Red Wings hockey and Detroit Pistons basketball.
The station's advertising campaigns and jingles included "W-J-R ... Radio 76 ... Cares About Detroit" and "This is America's finest - AM stereo 76". J.P. McCarthy regularly stated, in a nonchalant way, "This is the world's greatest radio station, WJR Detroit", with a manner that made it seem like the most obvious of facts.
WJR broadcast in C-Quam AM Stereo from 1982 to 2006, and was received in stereo at great distances at night. WJR's Detroit Tigers home games were broadcast in stereo, as were the Thanksgiving Day Parades.
For much of its history, WJR served as a powerhouse in Michigan sports radio. However, in 2001, the station lost its longtime flagship rights to the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Red Wings, both of which moved to CBS-owned WXYT and WXYT-FM. Then, in 2005, the station dropped its status as the flagship station for Michigan Wolverines football and basketball in favor of a flagship rights deal with the Michigan State Spartans. WJR had served as flagship for Michigan State prior to 1976.
WJR was sold with other ABC Radio stations to Citadel Broadcasting in January 2006. Citadel merged with Cumulus Media on September 16, 2011.
WJR broadcast an HD Radio signal for about a two-year period (2006–2008) (also on WDRQ's HD2 digital subchannel), eventually eliminating night time HD radio use, then dropping it completely on both WJR and WDRQ-HD2, returning to only its signal.
On November 20, 2015, WJR announced it would take over as flagship station of the Detroit Lions in 2016, with the team moving over from WXYT-FM. The live sporting events meant that regular programming might be pre-empted. (During parts of the season when Michigan football and Tiger baseball were both on, Tiger baseball took precedence, and if a Michigan football game was either just beginning or really good when Tiger baseball came on, an announcement would come on as the football game faded out, stating the need to switch due to contractual obligations. Otherwise, the announcement would just simply state the station is leaving the Michigan game for the Tigers. Either way, listeners were directed to CKLW 800 AM in nearby Windsor, Ontario, for the conclusion of the game.)
On December 18, 2020, the Detroit Lions announced that Audacy signed a deal for WXYT-FM to become the flagship station for the 2021 NFL season after a five year partnership.
For many years, WJR aired Rush Limbaugh in early afternoons.
Main article: Charles Coughlin
Father Charles Coughlin was a local Roman Catholic priest, whose controversial weekly radio sermons largely originated at WJR. At the height of his popularity, Coughlin reported receiving thousands of letters daily. He was also extremely polarizing, described by one biographer as "a man of kindness and beautiful understanding", while another labeled him "the father of hate radio".
Father Coughlin made his radio debut on October 17, 1926, speaking over WJR via a microphone installed by the station at the altar at the Shrine of the Little Flower. His commentaries initially addressed perceived social ills, opposing prohibition, divorce and birth control as damaging to American society. During the Great Depression he moved heavily into political issues. On October 5, 1930, he began a weekly broadcast carried over the CBS network that originated at that network's Detroit affiliate, WXYZ. But a year later CBS dropped him for being too divisive, by implementing a ban on commercially-sponsored religious programs. With the assistance of WJR station manager Leo Fitzpatrick, Father Coughlin responded by forming his own network, with WJR as the key station. "The Golden Hour" broadcasts began on October 4, 1931, initially on about 20 stations. By October 16 of the next year this expanded to 26 stations, said at the time to be "the largest independent network ever arranged", and by early 1938 the network had grown to 58 stations.
Coughlin's fervent anti-communism led to the perception that he was in favor of the rise of fascism in Europe, and he was accused of being anti-Jewish. Although initially supported by the local church hierarchy, his personal attacks on political figures eventually resulted in official restrictions and rebukes. In 1939 the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) adopted a code of conduct that included restrictions on controversial commercial broadcasts, which was seen as primarily directed toward Coughlin, and WJR vice president John F. Pratt argued that "the provision on controversial subjects seems to many of us the first shackle on freedom of speech on the radio". The NAB code led to a loss of participating stations, and this, combined with subject matter restrictions imposed by his church superiors, resulted in Coughlin ending his radio broadcasts.
Past WJR personalities included J.P. McCarthy, Jimmy Launce, Warren Pierce, Mike Whorf, Murray Gula, Joel Alexander, Jay Roberts, Charles Coughlin and many others. WJR Program Directors during the Capital Cities era included Joe Bacarella, Curt Hahn and AC radio consultant Gary Berkowitz.