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CityNewark, New Jersey
Broadcast areaNorth Jersey
New York City
Frequency105.9 MHz (HD Radio)
BrandingClassical New York 105.9 WQXR
FormatClassical music
SubchannelsHD2: Contemporary classical
OwnerNew York Public Radio
First air date
October 31, 1962; 59 years ago (1962-10-31)
Former call signs
WCOM (1961–62)
WHBI (1964–85)
WNWK (1985–98)
WCAA (1998–2007)
WQBU (2007)
WCAA (2007–09)
Call sign meaning
Originally used on the former WQXR (1560 AM), now WFME
Technical information
Facility ID46978
ERP610 watts (analog)
29 watts (digital)
HAAT416 meters (1,365 ft)
Transmitter coordinates
40°44′54.00″N 73°59′10.00″W / 40.7483333°N 73.9861111°W / 40.7483333; -73.9861111 (WQXR-FM)
Translator(s)103.7 W279AJ (Highland)
Repeater(s)90.3 WQXW (Ossining)
WebcastFM/HD1: WQXR Webstream
HD2: New Sounds Webstream (HD2)

WQXR-FM (105.9 FM) is an American classical radio station licensed to Newark, New Jersey and serving the North Jersey and New York City area, owned by the nonprofit organization New York Public Radio, which also operates WNYC AM & FM and the four-station New Jersey Public Radio group. New York Public Radio acquired WQXR on July 14, 2009, as part of a three-way trade which also involved The New York Times Company—the previous owners of WQXR—and Univision Radio.[1] WQXR-FM broadcasts from studios and offices located in the Hudson Square neighborhood in lower Manhattan and its transmitter is located at the Empire State Building.

At 8:00 p.m. on October 8, 2009, Univision's WCAA moved to the 96.3 FM frequency while WQXR-FM moved to 105.9 FM, becoming a non-commercial radio station run by New York Public Radio.[1][2] Within that next week WCAA, now on 96.3, changed its call letters to WXNY-FM.


See also: WFME (AM) § History

WQXR-FM is the outgrowth of a "high-fidelity" AM station, WQXR (1560 AM), which was founded in 1936 by John V. L. Hogan and Elliott Sanger. Hogan began this station as a mechanical television station, W2XR, which went on the air on March 26, 1929.[3]

The radio station broadcast mainly classical music recordings. One of the station's listeners was the inventor of frequency modulation, Edwin Howard Armstrong. When Armstrong put his experimental FM station, W2XMN, on the air, he arranged to rebroadcast some of WQXR's programming. This ended in 1939, when Hogan and Sanger put their own experimental FM station on the air, W2XQR, just down the dial from Armstrong at 42.3 MHz. In 1941, the station began transmitting from the top of the Chanin Building, where it remained until 1965 when it moved to the top of the Empire State Building. Remnants of the original tower remain on the Chanin Building.

When the Federal Communications Commission began licensing commercial FM stations, W2XQR moved to 45.9 MHz and became W59NY; the special FM call signs were later dropped and the station became WQXQ.

"The radio station of the New York Times" (1944–2009)

In 1944, Hogan and Sanger sold their holding company, Interstate Broadcasting Company, to the New York Times Company. When the FM broadcast band was moved from 42–50 MHz to its present frequency range of 88–108 MHz in 1945, WQXQ moved to 97.7 MHz. Within a few years, the station had adopted its current callsign, WQXR-FM, and its frequency for the next 64 years, 96.3 MHz.

A 1986 advertisement for the station featuring a logo displaying both its FM and AM frequencies
A 1986 advertisement for the station featuring a logo displaying both its FM and AM frequencies

WQXR was the first AM station in New York to experiment with broadcasting in stereo, beginning in 1952. During some of its live concerts, it used two microphones positioned six feet apart. The microphone on the right led to its AM feed, and the one on the left to its FM feed, so a listener could position two radios six feet apart, one tuned to 1560 and the other to 96.3, and listen in stereo.

During the 1950s, WQXR-FM's programming was also heard on the Rural Radio Network on several stations in Upstate New York, including ones targeting Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Albany. This ended when the RRN stations were sold to Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network. Both the AM and FM sides continued to simulcast each other until 1965, when the FCC began requiring commonly owned AM and FM stations in large markets to broadcast separate programming for at least part of the day. WQXR-FM concentrated on longer classical works, while WQXR (AM) aired lighter classical music and talk programs produced in conjunction with The New York Times. While this plan gave classical music fans two options, it also increased expenses for the stations.

In 1962, the QXR network was purchased by Novo Industrial Corporation but WQXR remained under the New York Times Company ownership.[4]

After briefly attempting to sell the WQXR stations in 1971, The New York Times was able to get a waiver of the simulcasting rules. The stations continued to duplicate each other until 1992, when the AM side changed its programming from classical to popular standards, becoming WQEW (now WFME). In 1998, the Times entered into a long-term lease for WQEW with ABC, a move which brought Radio Disney to New York City. The Times Company also included a purchase clause in the lease contract, and ABC exercised the option in 2007. This left WQXR-FM as the Times′s lone radio station and, following a sale of its group of television stations to the Local TV LLC company that same year, the Times Company's sole remaining broadcasting property.

Sale to New York Public Radio and change of frequency (2009–present)

WQXR's final logo at 96.3 FM
WQXR's final logo at 96.3 FM
WQXR's first logo as WQXR 105.9fm
WQXR's first logo as WQXR 105.9fm

On July 14, 2009, the New York Times Company announced it was trading the 96.3 frequency to Univision Radio in return for the 105.9 frequency of Univision's WCAA. The sale was slated to close in the second half of 2009. The last music played on 96.3 frequency was a live recording of "West Side Story" - Symphonic Dances: 4. Mambo of Leonard Bernstein.[5] At 8 p.m. on October 8, 2009, WCAA and WQXR traded frequencies.

The frequency swap was part of a three-way deal among Univision, the New York Times Company, and WNYC. Univision paid the New York Times Company $33.5 million to trade broadcasting licenses with the Times. WNYC then paid the New York Times Company $11.5 million for 105.9 FM’s license, equipment and the WQXR call letters, music library and website.[2] As a result of the deal, WQXR became a non-commercial public radio station operated by New York Public Radio and now runs three on-air pledge drives a year.

Signal and coverage area

WQXR-FM has less range and population coverage on 105.9 than it had with its old signal on 96.3. WQXR-FM's old and new signals both radiate from the same FM master antenna atop the Empire State Building; however, while WQXR-FM's former signal is 6,000 watts ERP (effective radiated power—the energy concentrated toward the horizon), its current signal is 610 watts.[6] The calculated signal strength of the current signal at 30 miles (covering approximately 14.5 million people) is less than the former 96.3 FM signal at 50 miles (covering approximately 17.1 million people). Further compromising coverage is Hartford's WHCN, which also broadcasts on 105.9 MHz. While WHCN has a directional signal with reduced wattage toward WQXR's transmitter, the two stations do interfere with each other where their signals overlap.[citation needed]

WQXR operates a translator station: 103.7 in Highland, New York. It once had a translator station: 96.7 in Asbury Park, New Jersey, until the owner of the frequency sold it and the new owner moved it out of Asbury Park, forcing WQXR to no longer broadcast at that frequency.[7] WQXR is simulcast on WNYC-FM's HD2 channel at 93.9 FM, and over Time Warner Cable television channel 590 in the Hudson Valley, New York.[8] On July 29, 2013, WQXR began broadcasting on the former WDFH, now WQXW (90.3 FM) in Ossining, New York, covering northern and central Westchester County.[9]

Worldwide, WQXR-FM's standard programming is streamed on its webcast, and the station also streams its HD2 channel, New Sounds Radio, focusing on classical works by living composers. The station also has a streaming only channel, called Operavore, dedicated to opera music, which was launched in 2012.[10]

See also


  1. ^ a b Pérez-Peña, Richard; Wakin, Daniel J. (July 14, 2009). "Times Co. Agrees To Sell WQXR Radio". The New York Times. Retrieved July 31, 2009.
  2. ^ a b Gillette, Felix (July 14, 2009). "The New York Times Sells WQXR for $45 Million; WNYC Will Take Over Classical Music Station". The New York Observer. Retrieved July 20, 2017.
  3. ^ "W2XR – Long Island City, NY". Retrieved July 20, 2017.
  4. ^ "Plan National Programming For 36-Station FM Network". Billboard. Vol. 74, No. 23. June 9, 1962. Retrieved August 9, 2010 (via Google Books).
  5. ^ "WQXR Becomes X96.3 WXNY". Format Change Archive. 2009-10-09. Retrieved 2021-10-17.
  6. ^ "FCC Query Database". Retrieved October 11, 2015.
  7. ^ "WQXR Asbury Park Repeater Update". Retrieved April 8, 2021.
  8. ^ "WQXR FAQ". Retrieved April 9, 2021.
  9. ^ "WQXR Expands its Reach into Westchester with New WQXW 90.3 FM". Retrieved September 22, 2013.
  10. ^ "WQXR Introduces the 'Operavore' 24-7 Opera Web Stream". 2012-01-05. Retrieved November 28, 2017.

Further reading