WEEX (1230 kHz) is a commercial AM radio station in Easton, Pennsylvania owned by Cumulus Media, through licensee Radio License Holding CBC, LLC. Programming is simulcast on co-owned WTKZ (1320 kHz), licensed to nearby Allentown, Pennsylvania. As of January 2016, programming is also simulcast on 1160 WBYN of Lehighton, Pennsylvania. The three stations serve the Lehigh Valley (Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton) radio market.
|City||WEEX: Easton, Pennsylvania|
WTKZ: Allentown, Pennsylvania
|Broadcast area||Lehigh Valley (Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton)|
|Branding||Fox Sports Lehigh Valley|
|Slogan||Lehigh Valley Sports Radio|
|Frequency||WEEX: 1230 kHz|
WTKZ: 1320 kHz
|Translator(s)||94.7 W234AX (Allentown)|
|First air date||WEEX: May 10, 1956|
WTKZ: December 1948 (as WKAP)
|Power||WEEX: 840 watts day|
1,000 watts night
WTKZ: 750 watts day
195 watts night
|Facility ID||WEEX: 8596|
|Callsign meaning||WEEX: Easton EXpress|
WTKZ: TKZ = Talks (formerly a talk radio station)
|Affiliations||Fox Sports Radio|
New York Giants Radio Network
Lehigh Valley IronPigs Baseball Radio Network
|Owner||Cumulus Media |
(Radio License Holding CBC, LLC)
|Sister stations||WCTO, WLEV, WODE-FM, WWYY|
In September of 2018, WEEX and WTKZ flipped to Fox Sports Radio. The station will retain the local “Happy Hour” hosted by Tom Fallon and Matt Markus as well as Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs baseball, New York Giants football, and Lehigh University sports.
On May 10, 1956, WEEX first signed on with a popular music format, simulcast from WEEX-FM (99.9 FM). It is one of the few AM stations to sign on after its FM sister station, which went on the air in 1948. WEEX-AM-FM were owned locally by Easton Publishing Company, which also owned the Easton Express newspaper. WEEX and WEEX-FM evolved into a Top 40 music format in the early 1960s. WEEX 1230 was only powered at 250 watts at the time and served listeners who only had an AM radio and could not receive WEEX-FM.
In the early 1970s, WEEX-FM's simulcast with the AM was broken off under Federal Communications Commission (FCC) changes which ended full-time AM/FM simulcasts in large and medium cities. The FM station switched to Beautiful Music under the WQQQ call sign. Those call letters were chosen because the lower-case Q closely resembled the number 9, representing the station's frequency of 99.9 MHz. WEEX evolved into an adult Top 40 format and later an oldies format focusing on music from the late 1960s mixed in with a few pre-64 oldies an hour along with some '70s hits and current songs.
By 1980, WEEX switched to adult contemporary music. In late 1982, longtime station owner Easton Publishing acquired The Globe Times, a newspaper in nearby Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. To satisfy FCC media ownership rules, both WEEX and WQQQ were sold off to Wilks-Schwartz Broadcasting.
On April 4, 1983, WEEX swapped formats with its FM sister station, WQQQ. WEEX's airstaff and music library was moved to 99.9 FM. The former WEEX format was modified on FM into Mainstream Top 40. WQQQ's Easy Listening format was moved to WEEX but would be more vocally-oriented than on FM. In the mid-1980s, WEEX tried a format of country music. In 1987, WEEX moved to adult standards.
In 1989, Roth Broadcasting acquired WQQQ and WEEX from Wilks-Schwartz. That September, WEEX switched formats to a satellite radio oldies service. WQQQ became a Rhythmic CHR as WHXT. On August 23, 1991, WHXT dropped its CHR format for Oldies. The format played the Hits of the 1950s, 1960s, and a few from the very early 1970s. The call letters became WODE-FM and the station became known as "Oldies 99" under programing consultant Pete Salant. WEEX then became WODE, simulcasting the FM's programming.
On August 9, 1993, the station dropped the WODE-FM simulcast and became a sports radio station, with most of its programming provided by Philadelphia's 610 WIP (now WTEL). To reflect this change, the call letters were changed to WIPI on August 23.
The stations were sold to Patterson Broadcasting in the mid 1990s. The WEEX call letters returned in 1996. On September 2, the station dropped the all-sports format and switched to classic country as an affiliate of the Real Country network. In 1997, Capstar acquired WODE and WEEX, but spun the stations off to Clear Channel Communications, the forerunner to today's iHeartMedia, Inc. Capstar had to do this because the Lehigh Valley has only five FM stations and no one company can own more than half. As a result, a company can only have 2 FM stations in the market. Capstar was already buying 95.1 WZZO and 104.1 WAEB-FM. Under Clear Channel ownership, WODE continued its oldies format. WEEX switched to a talk radio format.
WEEX, along with nine other Nassau stations in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, was purchased at bankruptcy auction by NB Broadcasting in May 2012. NB Broadcasting was controlled by Nassau's creditors — Goldman Sachs, Pluss Enterprises, and P.E. Capital. In November, NB Broadcasting filed a motion to transfer ownership of the stations to Connoisseur Media. The sale to Connoisseur Media, at a price of $38.7 million, was consummated on May 29, 2013.
AM 1320 began operation as WKAP in December 1948, a 1,000 watt daytimer at 1590 kHz. It was owned by Rahall Communications, with R.J. Rahall as president. In the 1950s, WKAP played middle of the road music with some softer songs by rock and roll artists. This format was known as MOR. Throughout the 1960s, WKAP had a Top 40 format, combined with relatively apolitical call-in shows. By 1970, the station evolved to more of an adult contemporary format. In 1972, WKAP moved to Adult Top 40, to compete with the two Top 40 stations in the Lehigh Valley, WAEB/790, which was current music based, and WEEX/1230, which played some oldies mixed with Top 40. WKAP's Top 40 format emulated West Coast giant KCBQ in San Diego. Some of the original WKAP disc jockeys were Kevin Fennessy, Walt Brown, Shotgun Steve Kelly, Mark Stewart, Kris Bailey, Billy Sheridan and J. Robert Taylor. Other DJs around during the late-'70s were "Wolinski In The Morning", Gene O'Brien, "Weird Beard Don Foxx" and "Smokin' Doug Hanley". The station was known as WKAP Radio 13 (rounded off to the nearest hundred). The station was sold to Gulf Broadcasting in the late 1970s.
In September 1978, Mike Jacobs, a local club DJ, came up with an idea to broadcast live an entire evening of music commercial-free from a local nightclub. Program Director Chris Bailey and Station Manager Jerry Duckett were interested in the project to help compete with 790 WAEB and add a boost to WKAP's ratings.
The club was called "The Castle Garden Ballroom," located in Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom in Allentown. The parks owners, Robert Plarr and Robert Ott were also on board for this project. After extensive renovations, Castle Garden was opened for business in the late fall of 1978. Crowds averaged about 300-450 per night and the owners and management were looking for a spark to drive increased patronage. The ballroom had a capacity of approximately 2,000 people and 300-450 looked pretty thin at the time.
The idea was refined and in January 1979, Studio 13 debuted. It was broadcast Saturdays from 9PM to 2AM with Mike Jacobs as the DJ/Host/MC. Bill Sheridan was the mixer and board tech. Pepsi-Cola came on board as the primary sponsor. Commercials were inserted by voicing them while the music played without interruption. The show opened with the Parliament's "Get Off Your Ass and Jam," followed by Bell & James' "Livin' It Up (Friday Night)". The lyrics contained curse words, which resulted in an FCC warning to the station and made the local news. The first night the crowd was 600 people. After the news coverage and word of mouth, Studio 13 averaged 2,000 people per night and could have done more had there not been a fire marshal's limit on the number of people.
WKAP realized a ratings jump from 3.8 to 23.4, Saturday evenings from 9 to midnight in a one-month period and maintained this throughout the summer until the show's conclusion on Labor Day 1979 at the park's request. The management of Castle Garden also invested in and shot a 1-hour video pilot entitled "Castle Garden" that it attempted unsuccessfully to syndicate. The one bright spot was in the fall of 1979 in New York City at the Annual Billboard Disco Forum & Convention. Mike Jacobs received an honorable mention as "DJ of the Year" for the Philadelphia region and was invited to spin at the Roseland Ballroom during the convention. WKAP also fared well at this convention being nominated for "Most Innovative Breakout Radio Show" for the year 1979, but lost out to WCAU-FM inPhiladelphia (now WOGL). Jacobs continued in radio and clubs in the area working at Sunny 1100 WGPA and 96.1 WLEV-FM until 1997. Some of the other WKAP Air-Personalities moved on to other outlets, such as Bill Sheridan to WKRZ in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania and 99 "The Hawk" in Easton, Pennsylvania and Kris Bailey to AM 790 WAEB.
By 1980, WKAP evolved into more of an adult contemporary music format. At the end of the Summer 1982, WKAP dropped the adult contemporary format for an adult standards format, which was known as the "Music Of Your Life." The station featured easy listening vocalists from the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, as well as big band music from the 1930s and 1940s. The station also played a limited number of soft pop songs from the 1970s.
The station stayed with this format through the 1980s. In 1984, Gulf Broadcasting sold WKAP to Holt Broadcasting, which at the time also owned 95.1 WZZO. WKAP stayed with its standards music format, but added a bit more baby boomer pop (such as Elvis Presley and The Beatles). In 1990, though, WKAP switched to a satellite radio oldies music format, playing mostly songs from 1964-1969 with some 1955-64 songs, with some 1970-73 songs mixed in. WKAP continued with this format until 1992, returning to adult standards using Westwood One's "AM Only" Network. This featured mostly standards and pop as well as some soft rock music of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. The decision to abandon oldies music in 1992 was due to 99.9 FM WODE's adopting the format in late 1991.
In 1992, Holt Broadcasting also bought 1470 WXKW, which remained a country music station for another year. In 1993, the station switched to a satellite oldies format when 1320 flipped back to standards. A year later, on October 9, 1994, WKAP changed its call letters to WTKZ and became a talk radio station. This format was dropped on September 3, 1996 in favor of sports radio. In 1999, Holt sold WTKZ to Mega Communications, which changed the station to a tropical music format. Nassau took over the station's operations on August 2, 2004 and made it into a simulcast of WEEX. It bought WTKZ outright on February 15, 2005. WTKZ was acquired by NB Broadcasting in May 2012 in the same bankruptcy auction as WEEX. Both stations were part of the sale to Connoisseur Media.
- Savidge, Mariella (October 6, 1994). "WKAP Switching To All-Talk Radio". The Morning Call. Retrieved November 10, 2012.
- "ESPN Lehigh Valley To Flip To Fox Sports". RadioInsight. 2018-08-24. Retrieved 2019-04-15.
- Broadcasting Yearbook 1958 page A-354
- Broadcasting Yearbook 1988 page B-236
- Reinhard, Katherine (January 30, 1992). "Oldies Are Goodies In Radio Ratings". The Morning Call. Retrieved November 10, 2012.
- Beldon Jackson, Kirk (August 10, 1993). "Sports Talk Replaces Oldies On Area Station". The Morning Call. Retrieved November 10, 2012.
- Mathias, Madeleine (August 24, 1996). "WEEX-AM To Switch To Country". The Morning Call. Retrieved November 10, 2012.
- Frassinelli, Mike (May 3, 1998). "Uncle Bob Is Baaaaack On The Air In The Valley". The Morning Call. Retrieved November 10, 2012.
- McDermott, Radio station will switch to sports center (April 18, 2001). "Radio station will switch to sports center". The Morning Call. Retrieved November 10, 2012.
- "10 Nassau Stations Go To NB Broadcasting LLC". All Access. May 30, 2012. Retrieved November 10, 2012.
- Pierce, David (June 12, 2012). "Pocono radio stations now in the hands of creditors". Pocono Record. Retrieved November 10, 2012.
- "Connoisseur Moves To Assume Debtor's Bid To Buy 10 Nassau Stations, Including WPST". All Access. November 21, 2012. Retrieved November 21, 2012.
- Broadcasting Yearbook 1949 page 218
- Marczley, Diane (August 30, 1996). "WTKZ To Switch To All Sports Talk". The Morning Call. Retrieved November 10, 2012.
- Chavez, Erika (November 9, 1999). "WTKZ-AM Going Hispanic". The Morning Call. Retrieved November 10, 2012.
- "Nassau Closes Purchase of Additional AM Serving Allentown, PA" (Press release). Nassau Broadcasting Partners. February 15, 2005. Retrieved November 10, 2012.
- Query the FCC's AM station database for WEEX
- Radio-Locator Information on WEEX
- Query Nielsen Audio's AM station database for WEEX
- Query the FCC's AM station database for WTKZ
- Radio-Locator Information on WTKZ
- Query Nielsen Audio's AM station database for WTKZ