Broadcast areaWashington metropolitan area
Frequency103.5 MHz (HD Radio)
BrandingWTOP Radio; WTOP News
FormatAll-news radio
First air date
September 12, 1948; 75 years ago (1948-09-12)[1]
Former call signs
  • WQQW-FM (1948–1951)
  • WGMS-FM (1951–2006)
Former frequencies
101.7 MHz (1948)[1]
Call sign meaning
carried over from 1500 AM, which was regarded as "the top of the dial"
Technical information[2]
Licensing authority
Facility ID11845
  • 44,000 watts (analog)
  • 2,110 watts (digital)
HAAT158 meters (518 ft)
Transmitter coordinates
38°56′10.6″N 77°05′31.5″W / 38.936278°N 77.092083°W / 38.936278; -77.092083
Public license information

WTOP-FM (103.5 FM) – branded "WTOP Radio" and "WTOP News" – is a commercial all-news radio station licensed to serve Washington, D.C. Owned by Hubbard Broadcasting,[4] the station serves the Washington metropolitan area, extending its reach through two repeater stations: WTLP (103.9 FM) in Braddock Heights, Maryland,[5] and WWWT-FM (107.7) in Manassas, Virginia.[6] The WTOP-FM studios, referred to on-air as the "WTOP Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center",[7] are located on Wisconsin Avenue in the Washington D.C. suburb of Chevy Chase, Maryland, while the station transmitter is located on the American University campus.[8] Besides a standard analog transmission, WTOP-FM broadcasts over three HD Radio channels,[9][10] and is available online.

WTOP-FM is the successor to the original WTOP, an AM station at 1500 kHz, which held the WTOP call sign from 1943 until 2006, and adopted an all-news format in March 1969.[11]


All-news radio accounts for all regular programming on WTOP-FM. Presented in an hourly "wheel", this includes CBS News on the Hour; Traffic and Weather on the 8s; and regularly scheduled sports and business updates twice every half-hour, respectively.

Among the recurring segments on WTOP-FM every week: To Your Health, devoted to health topics and related warnings; Sprawl & Crawl, devoted to road construction updates; Friday Freebies, presenting sales and deals from local stores and businesses; Garden Plot, hosted by Mike McGrath;[12] and Data Doctor's Tech Tips, offers tech advice. WTOP also features two daily commentaries hosted by Chris Core[13] and Clinton Yates.

Two contests air on WTOP: the weekly Mystery Newsmaker Contest, and the daily Winning Word.[14]



Main article: WGMS (Washington, D.C.)

The station debuted in the late 1940s as WQQW-FM, licensed to Washington, D.C., as a companion to an existing AM station, WQQW in Bethesda, Maryland. In 1951, the two stations changed their call letters to WGMS and WGMS-FM. They operated with a commercial fine arts and classical music format until 2006.


On January 11, 2006, WGMS-FM's call sign was changed to WTOP-FM, and the station switched to an all-news format. The HD Radio digital subchannels of the 103.5 signal originally had broadcast Bonneville International's "iChannel" music format, which features unsigned, independent rock bands on the HD2 channel, and the HD3 channel aired continuous traffic and weather updates. Later iChannel was dropped for an LMA of the HD2 to a group that currently airs programming aimed at the South Asian community in the Washington area. Sometime in or before June 2013, that LMA was replaced with the predecessor to what is now Radio Sputnik. As of July 1, 2017, WTOP-HD2 began broadcasting the feed from WFED (1500 AM),[15] after Radio Sputnik moved its Washington DC-area broadcasting to conventional (non-digital) frequency 105.5 MHz.

In 2006, WTOP dropped its long-standing association with The Weather Channel and began airing weather reports exclusively from WJLA-TV all day long. Previously, WTOP had used weather reports from WJLA chief meteorologist Doug Hill during morning and evening rush hours and The Weather Channel all other times. Until 2015, the station used all WJLA meteorologists, not just Doug Hill. WJLA's "Live Super Doppler 7" has been featured in weather reports as necessary.

In 2007, the WTOP radio configuration was realigned once again. WTLP-FM (formerly WGYS) at 103.9 picked up the WTOP simulcast on April 6, 2007, after the adult hits "George 104" simulcast with WXGG (now WPRS-FM, since sold to Radio One) was broken up, and adopted the WTLP calls on July 5, 2007.

Also in 2007, WTOP began broadcasting on WJLA's "Weather Now" digital sub-channel, which is carried on cable systems well beyond WTOP's broadcast area, though this was ended in late July 2009.

In May 2007, WTOP sold the naming rights to its "Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center" (its nickname for its studio) to area business Ledo Pizza.[16] That sponsorship concluded at the end of 2007. Other sponsorship continues, with sportscasts being "fed" by Ledo Pizza.

The former WFED took over the WTOP call sign on the AM dial and became a simulcast of WTOP, with preemptions for sporting events. On June 13, 2009, the 1050 AM frequency changed to a separate news/talk format, operated by Air America Radio as WZAA. On January 26, 2010, following the shutdown of Air America Radio, WZAA returned to the WTOP simulcast. It took back the WTOP call letters on February 1, 2010. WTOP AM left the simulcast on June 23, 2010, as Bonneville leased the station to United Media Group. United Media changed the call letters to WBQH and flipped to Regional Mexican.

In March 2008, WTOP-FM completed a year-long, $2.5-million state-of-the-art renovation of its newsroom and studios, the first since 1989 when the station moved into the building it presently occupies in northwest Washington.

In 2008, WTOP-FM generated $51.75-million in revenue, the sixth-highest total for any radio station in the United States and the only station not based in New York City or Los Angeles to crack the top ten.[17] In 2009, the station generated $51-million in revenue, good for second among all radio stations in the United States, trailing only KIIS-FM in Los Angeles.[18] In 2010, WTOP generated $57.225-million in revenue, making it tops among radio station in the United States.[19] In 2011 WTOP once again generated more revenue than any other station in the United States, this time with $64 million.[20]

WTOP reporter filing story, Inauguration Day 2013

In 2010, WTOP-FM's coverage of the record Washington-area snowfalls in early February earned it record ratings as the only local media outlet on the air and covering the storm live all day and night. During the week of the storms, which dropped two feet of snow in the area, WTOP had a 16.9% share of the area's radio audience, far exceeding its typical weekly average of around 10%. Consumer research company Arbitron estimated a total of 1.49 million people tuned in at some point during the week, 39% of the total local radio audience of 3.8 million.[21]

Bonneville announced the sale of WTOP-FM, WTLP, and WWWT-FM, as well as 14 other stations, to Hubbard Broadcasting on January 19, 2011.[22][23]

In 2011, WTOP-FM brought their traffic reporting in-house, ending their relationship with Metro Networks. This meant that Lisa Baden, the longtime "voice of D.C.-area traffic" and a Metro Networks employee, was forced to leave the station in what WTOP's Vice President of News and Programming Jim Farley said was strictly a business decision. Farley said WTOP tried to bring Baden and other Metro Networks employees to WTOP, but they have clauses in their contracts prohibiting them from working for competitors for one year. Baden said she was "devastated".[24] Shortly after that, Baden joined rival radio station WMAL.[25]

In 2015, WTOP began airing weather reports and using meteorologists exclusively from WRC-TV all day long. The partnership ended in March 2023, as WRC underwent major changes, and just months after some longtime WTOP personalities accepted corporate buyouts from WTOP's parent company. The station then returned to using WJLA-TV meteorologists for their weather reports.

On January 1, 2018, WTOP-FM switched from CBS to ABC for its top-of-the-hour newscasts, pausing a relationship with CBS that, as noted above, dated to the late 1920s.[26] WTOP-FM rejoined CBS exactly two years later.[27]


Callsign Frequency City of license First air date ERP Class HAAT Facility ID Transmitter coordinates Former callsigns
WTLP 103.9 MHz (HD Radio) Braddock Heights, Maryland April 8, 1972; 51 years ago (1972-04-08)[28] 350 watts A 292 meters (958 ft) 47105 39°27′53″N 77°29′43″W / 39.46472°N 77.49528°W / 39.46472; -77.49528 (WTLP) WMHI-FM (1972–75)
WZYQ-FM (1975–88)
WZYQ (1988–95)
WXVR (1995–96)
WWVZ (1996–2006)
WGYS (2006–07)
WWWT-FM 107.7 MHz (HD Radio) Manassas, Virginia March 28, 1966; 57 years ago (1966-03-28)[28] 29,000 watts B 197 meters (646 ft) 21636 38°44′30″N 77°50′8″W / 38.74167°N 77.83556°W / 38.74167; -77.83556 (WWWT-FM) WEER-FM (1966–81)
WXRA (1981–82)
WWWK (1982–84)
WMJR (1984–92)
WRCY (1992–97)
WUPP (1997–98)
WTOP-FM (1998–2006)
WTWP-FM (2006–07)

Translators and HD Radio

Broadcast translator for WWWT-FM-HD2
Call sign Frequency City of license FID ERP (W) HAAT Class Transmitter coordinates FCC info Notes
W275BO 102.9 FM Reston, Virginia 142771 50 102 m (335 ft) D 38°56′56.6″N 77°21′18.1″W / 38.949056°N 77.355028°W / 38.949056; -77.355028 (W275BO) (NAD27) LMS Owned by Metro Radio, Inc.

The HD2 subchannels of WTOP-FM and WTLP relay the programming of WFED (1500 AM), while WWWT-FM's is leased by Metro Radio and airs a Bollywood music format branded "Intense FM". Metro uses the HD subchannel to feed their FM translator W275BO (102.9 FM, Reston, Virginia), which cannot originate programming of its own.[29][30]

The HD3 subchannels of all three stations air a freeform music format branded as "The Gamut", which is also simulcast on WWFD (820 AM digital) and two analog translators.


This section needs to be updated. Please help update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (January 2024)

As of July 2009, WTOP is ranked #1 in the Arbitron ratings among radio stations in the Washington area.

As of November 25, 2014, WTOP is still #1 in Washington, DC according to Arbitron.[31]


This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources in this section. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.Find sources: "WTOP-FM" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (October 2010) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

See also


  1. ^ a b "One Firm Buys All First Week on WQQW-FM" (PDF). Broadcasting. August 30, 1948. p. 60.
  2. ^ "Facility Technical Data for WTOP-FM". Licensing and Management System. Federal Communications Commission.
  3. ^ "FCC 335-FM Digital Notification [WTOP-FM]". fcc.gov. Federal Communications Commission. February 10, 2012. Archived from the original on March 4, 2017. Retrieved March 3, 2017.
  4. ^ "WTOP Facility Record". Federal Communications Commission, audio division. Archived from the original on March 4, 2017. Retrieved September 11, 2013.
  5. ^ "WTLP Facility Record". Federal Communications Commission, audio division.
  6. ^ "WWWT Facility Record". Federal Communications Commission, audio division.
  7. ^ "The story of the 'Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center'". WTOP Radio. August 5, 2010. Archived from the original on January 27, 2020. Retrieved January 26, 2020.
  8. ^ "FM Query Results for WTOP". fcc.gov. Federal Communications Commission. Archived from the original on March 4, 2017. Retrieved March 3, 2017.
  9. ^ http://hdradio.com/station_guides/widget.php?id=8 Archived October 2, 2015, at the Wayback Machine HD Radio Guide for Washington D.C.
  10. ^ "W282BA Facility Record". Federal Communications Commission, audio division.
  11. ^ Pointer, Jack (April 2019). "'You turn us on and we're there': Looking back at 50 years of news on WTOP". WTOP. p. April 1, 2019. Archived from the original on April 5, 2019. Retrieved April 29, 2019.
  12. ^ "Author: Mike McGrath". WTOP. Archived from the original on January 2, 2020. Retrieved January 2, 2020.
  13. ^ "Chris Core: Core Values". WTOP. Archived from the original on January 2, 2020. Retrieved January 2, 2020.
  14. ^ "WTOP Radio Contests and Sweepstakes". WTOP. Archived from the original on January 8, 2020. Retrieved January 2, 2020.
  15. ^ "Radio Sputnik Off WTOP - 6/29". www.dcrtv.com. June 29, 2017. Archived from the original on June 30, 2017. Retrieved July 2, 2017.
  16. ^ "DCRTV.org". Archived from the original on September 28, 2011. Retrieved December 3, 2011.
  17. ^ "WVbroadcasting.net". WVbroadcasting.net. April 13, 2009. Archived from the original on March 6, 2012. Retrieved December 3, 2011.
  18. ^ Clabaugh, Jeff (March 17, 2010). "Bizjournals.com". Bizjournals.com. Archived from the original on June 29, 2011. Retrieved December 3, 2011.
  19. ^ "BIA/Kelsey". Blog.kelseygroup.com. March 28, 2011. Archived from the original on November 29, 2011. Retrieved December 3, 2011.
  20. ^ Clabaugh, Jeff (April 12, 2012). "Bizjournals.com". Bizjournals.com. Archived from the original on April 20, 2012. Retrieved April 13, 2012.
  21. ^ Farhi, Paul (March 3, 2010). "WTOP (103.5 FM) tops ratings with coverage of Washington's Feb. snowstorms". Washingtonpost.com. Archived from the original on June 28, 2011. Retrieved December 3, 2011.
  22. ^ Farhi, Paul (January 20, 2011). "WTOP news radio to be sold to Minnesota broadcaster". Washingtonpost.com. Archived from the original on June 28, 2011. Retrieved December 3, 2011.
  23. ^ "Hubbard deal to purchase Bonneville stations closes". Radio Ink. May 2, 2011. Archived from the original on March 12, 2012. Retrieved May 2, 2011.
  24. ^ "Voice of D.C.-area traffic reluctantly leaves WTOP". Washingtonexaminer.com. Retrieved December 3, 2011.
  25. ^ "Traffic Reporter Lisa Baden Joins WMAL/Washington". June 11, 2015. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved February 16, 2016.
  26. ^ Paul Farhi [@farhip] (January 1, 2018). "A little bit of local media news: All-news station WTOP has ended its affiliation with CBS radio after many decades and has switched its top-of-the-hour newscasts to ABC broadcasts" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  27. ^ Venta, Lance (January 1, 2020). "CBS News Radio Returns To WTOP Washington". RadioInsight. Archived from the original on January 1, 2020. Retrieved January 1, 2020.
  28. ^ a b Broadcasting & Cable Yearbook 2009 (PDF). 2009. pp. D-264, D-563. Retrieved October 9, 2018.
  29. ^ Venta, Lance (September 11, 2020). "Intense 102.9 Debuts In DC's Suburbs". RadioInsight. Archived from the original on September 11, 2020. Retrieved September 11, 2020.
  30. ^ "W275BO Facility Data". FCCData. Archived from the original on January 31, 2018. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
  31. ^ "RADIO ONLINE ®". radio-online.com. Archived from the original on December 20, 2014. Retrieved December 10, 2014.
  32. ^ "2010 Marconi Awards". FMQB. Archived from the original on March 7, 2016. Retrieved December 9, 2016.