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WCRW is a Chinese News/Talk formatted broadcast radio station licensed to Leesburg, Virginia, serving Metro Washington, D.C..[2] WCRW is owned by Potomac Radio Group, Inc.[4] and leased full-time by Chinese government-owned China Radio International.[5][6]

CityLeesburg, Virginia
Broadcast areaMetro Washington, D.C.
Branding"China Radio International"
Frequency1190 AM kHz
First air dateMarch 6, 1958[1]
FormatChinese News/Talk[2]
Power50 kW daytime
1.2 kW nighttime
Facility ID54876
Transmitter coordinates39°2′28.0″N 77°26′42.0″W / 39.041111°N 77.445000°W / 39.041111; -77.445000
Callsign meaningChina Radio Washington
Former callsignsWAGE (1958-2011)[3]
Former frequencies1290 kHz (1958–1995)
1200 kHz (1995–2011)
AffiliationsChina Radio International
OwnerPotomac Radio Group, Inc.
Sister stationsWUST
WebcastWCRW Webstream


In 1958, the station first went on the air as WAGE, on 1290 kHz.[7] The station was founded by Richard Field Lewis Jr., who also founded WINC in Winchester and WFVA in Fredericksburg. The original studio and transmitter site was a field behind Loudoun County High School in Leesburg. To this day, the street on which the studio stood is named Wage Drive.[8]

An anecdotal story claims that CBS newscaster and Leesburg resident Arthur Godfrey was the original owner, and the call sign stood for Arthur Godfrey Enterprises.[9] In fact, the construction permit was owned by Lewis and passed to his widow upon his death in 1957. The callsign was reassigned from what is now WHEN in Syracuse, New York and was almost certainly sequential as it had no known meaning in either city.[10] Once built, the station was sold first to William T. Stubblefield and again in 1962 to a group headed by James and Valeria Symington.[11][12]

In 1995, WAGE moved to 1200 kHz, allowing the use of a stronger full-time signal.[7]

WAGE was sold to WUST owner New World Radio Group, through its subsidiary Potomac Radio, Inc., in 2005. Local programming ended in 2007.[8]

On October 29, 2008, WAGE received a permit from the Federal Communications Commission to move to 1190 kHz and increase its power to 50,000 watts. If the move had occurred, it would have caused Annapolis-based WBIS, currently on 1190 kHz, to shut down.[4] While the station covered local news throughout its history, the music format changed over the years, going from classical music, to easy listening music, to country, to light rock and pop.[7]

Logo used until August 2009.

On August 2, 2009, WAGE fell silent due to "tough economic conditions" and an ongoing attempt to move the station to AM 1190 and up the power to 50,000 watts.[13] On April 21, 2010, the FCC approved WAGE's application to increase its daytime power to 50,000 watts and its nighttime power to 1,300 watts from different antenna sites, along with the frequency shift to 1190 kHz. The station was also forced to move out of Leesburg as the existing transmitter site was not large enough to accommodate the required towers.[14][8]

WCRW returned to the air on April 11, 2011, with programming from China Radio International (CRI), the Chinese state broadcaster.[15] On November 2, 2015, the FCC announced it would investigate allegations that WCRW is controlled by CRI.[16] Reuters reported that 60 percent of the station's airtime is leased by a subsidiary of CRI.[17]

WCRW was granted 1.2 kW of night power in 2017, upgrading from class D to class B in the process. The station received permission to begin test operations at night on May 4, 2018.[18]

New World Radio Group sold WCRW to the unrelated Potomac Radio Group, Inc., partially owned by Marquee Broadcasting owners Brian and Patricia Lane, in September 2018.[19]


  1. ^ Broadcasting Yearbook 2010 (PDF). ProQuest, LLC/Reed Publishing (Nederland), B.V. 2010. p. D-566. Retrieved July 8, 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Arbitron Station Information Profiles". Nielsen Audio/Nielsen Holdings. Retrieved July 8, 2015.
  3. ^ "Call Sign History". Federal Communications Commission, audio division. Retrieved July 8, 2015.
  4. ^ a b "WCRW Facility Record". Federal Communications Commission, audio division. Retrieved July 8, 2015.
  5. ^ McKelvey, Tara (2019-01-15). "The churchgoing patriot who spied for China". BBC News. Retrieved 2019-11-02.
  6. ^ Feng, Zhaoyin; McKelvey, Tara (2019-10-11). "An invisible battle between China and US". BBC News. Retrieved 2019-11-02.
  7. ^ a b c Cheney, Catherine (August 13, 2009). "Loudoun's Radio Station Signs Off". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 5, 2013.
  8. ^ a b c Hager, Hannah (25 May 2010). "WAGE Radio, once dark, may soon see the light". Loudoun Times-Mirror.
  9. ^ White, Thomas. "Washington, D.C. AM Station History".
  10. ^ "From Hogs to Hurricanes, WAGE Stays Tuned to the County". Washington Post. 3 March 2002.
  11. ^ "WCRW History Grid". FCCData.
  12. ^ "Changing hands" (PDF). Broadcasting. April 2, 1962. p. 131.
  13. ^ "Leesburg's WAGE Suspends Operations". August 2, 2009. Archived from the original on February 15, 2012. Retrieved August 2, 2009.
  14. ^ "WAGE Gets Approval For New Nighttime Signal". April 22, 2010. Retrieved May 5, 2013.
  15. ^ Hager, Hannah (April 13, 2011). "WAGE orients itself to Asian market". Loudoun Times Mirror. Retrieved April 14, 2011.
  16. ^ FCC, Federal Communications Commission -. "EDOCS Search « EDOCS « FCC". Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  17. ^ "Special Report: Exposed - Beijing's covert global radio network". 2 November 2015. Retrieved 26 October 2017 – via Reuters.
  18. ^ "WCRW Facility Data". FCCData.
  19. ^ "D.C. AM Pair Sold". All Access. 19 September 2018.

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