Open main menu

WDAS (1480 kHz) is an AM radio station in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Owned and operated by iHeartMedia, the station airs a variety hits/health features format. WDAS's studios and offices are located in Bala Cynwyd. It is jointly operated with the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

WDAS 1480Breakthrough logo.png
CityPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania
BrandingBreakthrough Radio 1480
Sloganpowered by Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Frequency1480 kHz
Translator(s)See table below
Repeater(s)105.3 WDAS-FM-HD2
First air dateJuly 1922 (as WIAD at 1200)
FormatVariety hits/Health features
Power5,000 watts (daytime)
1,000 watts (nighttime)
Facility ID71315
Callsign meaningDannenbaum (&=And) Steppacher, former owners (1934-1950)
Former callsignsWIAD (1922–1929)
WELK (1929–1934)
WDAS (1934–2007)
WUBA (2007–2011)
Former frequencies1200 kHz (1922-1928)
1370 kHz (1928-1941)
1400 kHz (1941-1956)
(AMFM Radio Licenses, L.L.C.)
Sister stationsWDAS-FM, WIOQ, WISX, WRFF, WUSL
WebcastListen Live

WDAS's transmitter is located near Fairmount Park, off West Ford Road.[1] By day, the station is powered at 5,000 watts. But to avoid interfering with other stations on AM 1480, it reduces power to 1,000 watts at night and uses a directional antenna at all times. WDAS programming is also heard on two FM translator stations, 102.3 W273DO in Philadelphia and 104.1 W281BI in Trenton, New Jersey.



Early YearsEdit

WIAD in Ocean City, New Jersey, signed on the air in July 1922, originally broadcasting at 1200 kilocycles. The station was owned by Howard R. Miller. WIAD eventually relocated to Philadelphia. In 1928, per order of the Federal Radio Commission, the station moved to 1370 AM. In 1929, the call sign changed to WELK.

In 1934, Miller sold the station, and the new owners, silk manufacturers Dannenbaum & Steppacher, adopted the WDAS call sign, with the letters spelling out the company's initials. A.W. Dannenbaum served as the station president. The studios were located at 1211 Chestnut Street.[2]

WDAS broadcast ethnic programming in languages such as Italian, Yiddish and Polish. In 1941, WDAS moved to 1400 AM, then about 15 years later to its current frequency of 1480 AM.

In 1950, candy manufacturer Max Leon purchased the station for $495,000 from William Goldman, a theater chain owner. The programming at the time consisted of big band music, ethnic and cultural shows. Leon, the founder and conductor of the original Philly Pops Orchestra, added an all-night classical music show.

Switch to R&BEdit

In 1951, Leon promoted his son-in-law, Bob Klein, to general manager. Klein saw an opportunity in the marketplace and adopted programming geared toward the local African-American community. The music consisted of rhythm & blues and jazz. WDAS added a number of young personalities, including Georgie Woods, Jimmy Bishop, Carl Helm, Butterball Tamburro, Jocko Henderson and Hy Lit. The station also added black-oriented public affairs and news programs, and provided coverage of the unfolding civil rights movement, featuring award-winning and groundbreaking journalists Joe Rainey and Jim Klash, along with Walt Sanders, Carl Stubbs, Bill Adams, Dave Colman, Jimmy Carter and reporter Ed Bradley (later of CBS's 60 Minutes).

The station employed many black professionals, in on-air, office and management positions. The station also took on an activist role. WDAS was commended by many in the industry and in the civil rights movement. In 1959, Leon and Klein signed on an FM sister station, 105.3 WDAS-FM. By the early 1970s, the FM station would launch a groundbreaking and influential urban adult contemporary format still heard today.

WDAS 1480 retained its R&B format throughout the 1960s and 70s, while adding gospel music with Louise Williams on Sunday mornings. Many people involved in the civil rights movement, including Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, visited and were heard on the station. Following his return from Mecca, Malcolm X visited the station on December 29, 1964. He was interviewed by Rainey under heavy armed police guard due to assassination threats.[3]

Klein filed a class action lawsuit against the Arbitron rating service in 1972, on behalf of all black radio stations, protesting that black radio listenership was undercounted. Arbitron settled the suit after four days of testimony and amended its methodologies and policies to make a better effort to survey African-American listeners and other minorities.

Changes in OwnershipEdit

Leon sold the station in November 1979 to the minority-owned Unity Broadcasting Network. In the 1980s, WDAS added the National Black Network (NBN) for hourly newscasts, and tried a news format in the mornings, anchored locally by Karen Warrington, E. Steven Collins and Wynne Alexander) and afternoons via the NBN feed. With music listening shifting to FM, 1480 WDAS wanted to compete with all-news 1060 KYW. This was unsuccessful, and the station returned with a mix of gospel, R&B and talk shows. In 1988, as more listeners were choosing FM urban contemporary stations, WDAS 1480 switched to a full-time gospel music and religious format.

Beasley Broadcasting purchased WDAS and WDAS-FM in 1994. Two years later, the stations were sold to Evergreen Media, which soon merged with Chancellor Broadcasting, which later became AMFM Inc. In August 2000, after a series of mergers, the two stations would become properties of Clear Channel Communications. Clear Channel changed its name to iHeartMedia after its successful iHeartRadio internet platform in 2014.

Flip to Spanish TropicalEdit

On May 16, 2007, WDAS and the all-gospel format ended when sister station "Rumba 104.5" moved its Spanish Tropical format and WUBA call sign to 1480 AM, becoming "Rumba 1480." (104.5, meanwhile, flipped to alternative rock.) The WDAS call sign was officially retired on the AM band on May 23, 2007, with only the FM station keeping it. WUBA served as the Spanish language flagship radio station of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Return as WDASEdit

On November 22, 2011, Clear Channel announced that the frequency would once again become WDAS, effective at noon the following day. The station initially broadcast R&B-style Christmas music, with its new R&B oldies format debuting December 27.[4][5] The R&B Oldies format lasted two years.

Smooth JazzEdit

At Noon on June 10, 2013, Clear Channel flipped the station to smooth jazz, branded as "Smooth Jazz JJZ". The call sign remained WDAS, even though on-air imaging used the "JJZ" call letters.[6] The final song on WDAS as an R&B oldies station was "Please, Please, Please" by James Brown, while the first song on "JJZ" was "Peace on Earth" by Paul Hardcastle.

This was the third time the JJZ branding has been used in the market. The first incarnation lasted from March 13, 1993 to August 10, 2006 on 106.1 FM (now WISX), while the second incarnation lasted from November 17, 2006 to September 5, 2008 on 97.5 FM (now WPEN-FM).

Pope Info RadioEdit

On September 13, 2015, iHeartMedia announced that the station would carry a temporary 'micro-format' as "Pope Info Radio." It began on September 19, in advance of Pope Francis's visit to the United States, which took place in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and New York City from September 22–27. The station aired the Pope's masses and speeches, as well as traffic reports for drivers going to and from the events. The station returned to its smooth jazz format after the visit.[7]

Breakthrough RadioEdit

On September 11, 2017 at Midnight, after playing "I Call It Love" by Lionel Richie, WDAS flipped to a hybrid variety hits/health features format, branded as "Breakthrough Radio 1480." The station's programming became a partnership between iHeartMedia and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. The first song on Breakthrough Radio was "Despacito" by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee.[8] The station airs pop hits and messages from the hospital on health and children's issues.

HD RadioEdit

WDAS formerly broadcast in HD IBOC format. The HD transmission was turned off when WDAS flipped to urban oldies at the end of 2011. The station is simulcast on WDAS-FM 105.3-HD 2.[9][10]





  1. ^
  2. ^ Broadcasting Yearbook 1945 page 146
  3. ^ Russ, Valerie (February 21, 2012). "When Malcom Came to Town". Philadelphia Daily News. pp. 6–8.
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ iHeartMedia & Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Partner For Breakthrough Radio 1480 Radioinsight - September 11, 2017
  9. ^ "History of WDAS provided by". Archived from the original on 2007-11-02. Retrieved 2008-01-22.
  10. ^ HD Radio Guide for Philadelphia

External linksEdit