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  1. #1

    Default Detroit's TV and Radio Call Letters

    WJBK, WDIV, WXYZ, WWJ, (WXON), WTVS, (WDWB), WADL, (WGPR)?

    What do all of the call letters mean?

  2. #2

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    They don't mean anything. They are just tags requested by the stations from the FCC used to identify the station. The first letter is country specific. Canadian stations start with a C. In the USA, they either start with K or W. That letter used to signify if a station was east or west of the Mississippi river. Three letter stations are usually older than 4 letter stations. Other than that they are meaningless.

  3. #3

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    Call letters do mean something.

    Like W-JBK-Fox 2 means "Jesus Be Kind" The can W can be added as a code for "Watt" in the east (except for Station KDKA in Pittsburgh) as in K for "Kilowatt" in the midwest western areas. However most TV and Radio stations use W and K for something else. Like "WGN" Channel 9 meaning "World's Greatest Newspaper".

    For WJBK it started as a Christian owned Radio Station. By 1948 WJBK Radio started their television station under channel CBS and DuMont Television Network 2 as their Affliate. By 1994 CBS went to WGPR to become WWJ-CBS 62 and Fox Network moved from TV 50 to Channel 2.

  4. #4

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    WDIV is an easy guess. D for Detroit and IV for roman numeral 4 (channel 4).

    Amazon Echo (Alexa) has a problem recognizing WWJ. It plays some other radio station instead. You have to tell it to "play WWJ News Radio." I'm just guessing the three-letter call letters confuses it.

    Plus what ndavies said about C, K & W. I didn't know about the kilowatt and watt significance. Makes sense though.

  5. #5

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    I thought they were like telephone numbers, random.

  6. #6

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    They are assigned by the FCC at random, but some companies requested 'vanity' licenses the same as vanity phone numbers (1-800-IRS-1040) and personalized vehicle plates.

  7. #7

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    WKBD, channel 50, was started as part of Kaiser Broadcasting, so KBD = Kaiser Broadcasting Detroit. WTVS, like most PBS stations, was originally operated as an educational TV station, providing classroom programming for schools. Thus TVS = television school. Believe it or not, WGPR originally = Grosse Pointe Radio. After the radio station was sold to the black Masons and began to run primarily religious programming it became Where God's Presence Radiates. Of course the first African-American operated TV station in the U.S., channel 62, which was also heavy on religious programming, also took those call letters. WADL was founded by Franklin Z. Adell and Adell Broadcasting.

  8. #8

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    Well, WJBK was requested by the founder, John Booth (middle two letters, should you be dylexic )

    Old WKNR was the brainchild of that founder, Fred Knorr, who was also the owner of the Detroit Tigers back then.

    I don't know who owned WXYZ in its radio days, but they picked those letters because they were available and they were also connected with the first three letters of the broadcasting company they belonged to, ABC, the American Broadcasting Company. The thought was they had both ends of the alphabet locked up. Indeed, they do.

    WDIV was originally WWJ-TV, but they picked the new call sign when the dashes were eliminated. Was Detroit Channel Four. W D (Det) IV (Roman numeral four, for channel four.)

    WGPR was selected and granted for W-Grosse Pointe Radio, where the transmitter was located.

    I vaguely recall WTVS was requested to represent W-Television Station. PBS station, eh?

    Hey, the old grey cell still work from a half century ago or more. Top that, you young foo-foos!!!!

  9. #9

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    If only they could have been more creative and used vanity call letters for Public Service radio instead of KQA-414 and KQA-205.

  10. #10

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    The WJR call letters, introduced in 1925, stand for the Jewett Radio and Phonograph Co. It was originally a joint venture with the Free Press station, WCX. The WXYZ letters were introduced in 1930, replacing WGHP. It was originally a CBS affiliate, until 1932.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Danny View Post
    WJBK, WDIV, WXYZ, (WDWB), WADL, (WGPR)?

    What do all of the call letters mean?
    WJBK: Jesus Be Kind
    WDIV: Detroit, roman numeral 4
    WXYZ: Last four letters of the alphabet, on the opposite end of the range from network affiliate ABC
    WDWB: Detroit's WB (a now defunct network)
    WADL: Adell Broadcasting, their owners
    WGPR: Grosse Pointe Radio

  12. #12

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    And WDET like du-uh.

  13. #13

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    WJLB. The station began operations on May 7, 1941 It was owned by John Lord Booth, who was born in Detroit on June 13, 1907, and died in Grosse Pointe Farms on November 11, 1994, at the age of 87. "Frantic" Ernie, Martha Jean "The Queen", Leon "The Lover". I always had one push-button set to 1400.

    Name:  m7 WJLB_1968-09-09_2.jpg
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    Last edited by CassTechGrad; September-13-19 at 08:09 AM.

  14. #14

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    WGPR was later changed to Where God's Presence Radiates.

  15. #15

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    Danny - thank you for starting this. Very cool and interesting topic!

  16. #16

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    The WXYZ call letters, according to Wikipedia (but no source given), were acquired from an Army radio station. This happened in 1930, 13 years before formation of ABC network.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Burnsie View Post
    The WXYZ call letters, according to Wikipedia (but no source given), were acquired from an Army radio station. This happened in 1930, 13 years before formation of ABC network.
    Another story the call was to represent the "Last word in radio" as WXYZ is also the last 4 letters in the English alphabet. On the Windsor side of the Detroit metro area, CKLW stood for Canada, Kitchener, London and Windsor. CBE (AM/FM) CBEFT (78/54) and CBET(9) stands for Canadian Broadcasting Essex, Canadian Broadcasting Essex French Television, and Canadian Broadcasting Essex Television (Essex is the county of Windsor ON).

  18. #18

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    Yes, cool topic. I've been a radio music and talk listener for years, following several of the stations mentioned. Speaking of WDET, Nkenge Zola passed away last month:

    https://wdet.org/posts/2019/08/27/88...zola-has-died/

    Quote Originally Posted by bartocktoo View Post
    Danny - thank you for starting this. Very cool and interesting topic!

  19. #19

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    I LOVED WGPR 107.5 FM former format. Mojo and the old-school run down, etc. Great playlists. They were one of the first stations to play multiple songs in a row without interruption as did WCSX!

    Quote Originally Posted by Former_Detroiter View Post
    WGPR was later changed to Where God's Presence Radiates.

  20. #20

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    After multiple format changes, WJBK radio went to a Country format and became WDEE, for We've Done Everything Else.

    WWWW (W4) abandoned the AOR format for country, and guaranteed the leaving for New York of an aspiring DJ named...

















    ...wait for it...




















    HOWARD STERN!

  21. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by pjbear05 View Post
    After multiple format changes, WJBK radio went to a Country format and became WDEE, for We've Done Everything Else.

    WWWW (W4) abandoned the AOR format for country, and guaranteed the leaving for New York of an aspiring DJ named...

















    ...wait for it...




















    HOWARD STERN!
    Thank god for small miricles!

  22. #22

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    Yep, anyone requesting one can pay the FCC a bit more for a vanity call sign. There are similar rules for amateur radio operators.

    In NYC, where most of the national radio and TV networks originated, their call signs reflect the original broadcasters. WCBS = Columbia Broadcasting Service. WABC = American Broadcasting Company (it's original callsign was randomly assigned WJZ) WNBC = National Broadcasting Company.

    As others have posted, the local network operators often would ask for a callsign reflecting the name of the company that ran the affiliate.

  23. #23

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    I remember listening to WABX back in the day. I wasn't able to find out what the call signs meant but it's interesting to read what was going on there in 1972. Name:  wabx2.jpg
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  24. #24

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    I've been told that WOMC back in the 1950s originally was intended to represent Wayne-Oakland-Macomb Counties, the station's coverage area. There was also a station in Mt. Clemens, WBRB, that supposedly stood for something like "Where Big Records Begin."

  25. #25

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    101.1 WRIF the letters stand for the riff of a guitar. The owners of 101.1 (ABC) at the time originally wanted for 101.1 in Detroit to be called WDAI (Detroit Auto Industry). At the time WRIF was proposed to be assigned to WABC-FM in New York, but thanks to a series of mistakes, Detroit got WRIF, and Chicago got WDAI.

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