Encyclopedia Of Detroit

WJR-760 AM

WJR, known as “NewsTalk 760,” is a Detroit-based AM radio station broadcast throughout metro Detroit, southeast Michigan, and parts of northern Ohio. It can even be heard throughout most of the Midwest, the eastern United States, and eastern Canada at night, making it one of the most powerful radio stations in the United States. Currently, WJR occupies studios and offices on the seventh and eighth floors of the Fisher Building in Detroit, Michigan. It is also the home of morning personality Paul W. Smith, it is the flagship station of radio personality Mitch Albom and Michigan State University athletics, and it is the highest rated talk station in Michigan. 

WJR was born out of a newspaper rivalry in the early 1920s. When WWJ was established by the Detroit News in 1920, E. D. Stair, the owner and publisher of its rival newspaper, the Detroit Free Press, felt pressured to keep up with his competitor.  On May 4, 1922, operating at 580 kHz, WJR held its first broadcast from a studio located on the ninth floor of the Free Press Building, under the call sign WCX, which became known as “The Call of the Motor City.”

On August 16, 1925, Pontiac’s Jewett Radio and Phonographic Company officially bought WJR, moving the station to the Book-Cadillac Hotel, and renaming it WCX/WJR. Also by 1925, WJR was operating at 850 kHz, and broadcasting at 5,000 watts of power.  On November 11, 1928, it moved to 750 AM as a result of the FRC’s General Order 40. 

On December 16, 1928, WJR moved from the Detroit Free Press Building to the Fisher Building, and began to broadcast with the slogan, “WJR Detroit, from the Golden Tower of the Fisher Building,” which is still used today. WJR was acquired by Goodwill Stations, Inc. in 1929, and became known as “The Goodwill Station.” It increased its power to 10,000 watts in 1931, and began broadcasting at its current level of 50,000 watts in 1935.  On March 29, 1941, it moved from 750 to 760 kHz in accordance with the North American Radio Broadcasting Agreement (NARBA) frequency reallocations. 

The 1960s were an important decade for WJR. Goodwill Stations, to which WJR belonged, was sold to Capital Cities Broadcasting Corporation in 1964, after which the station began using the slogan, “The Great Voice of the Great Lakes.” Also in 1964, WJR acquired full rights to Detroit Tigers baseball games, with announcers Ernie Harwell and George Kell, who had begun broadcasting Tiger games in 1960.  Even though this flagship right was later lost by WJR, listeners still associate the station with Ernie Harwell and the Detroit Tigers.

WJR has changed its programming rather drastically over the last two decades.  It has dropped most of its news programming (mainly overnight), leaving WWJ as the main AM source for radio news in southeast Michigan.  In addition, music programming on WJR has been almost completely phased out, with the only music-oriented show being the Renfro Valley Gatherin,’ as of July 2006.  The current programming schedule on WJR is dominated by nationally-syndicated right wing conservative personalities such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, and Adam Bold. WJR is also the flagship station for the radio show of author and Detroit Free Press columnist, Mitch Albom.

Written by Chris Paris and Julia Teran

 


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