Sunday, July 23, 2006

What's in a name?

There's an interesting thread on Radio-Info about the meanings behind the call letters of local radio and television stations. There is a rhyme and reason behind why a station chose its call letters. For example...

  • WBRE: Baltimore Radio and Engineering, the station's original owners.
  • WYOU: Working for YOU. Never heard this one, myself.
  • WNEP: North East Pennsylvania - or - We're North Eastern Pennsylvania.

    But given recent developments in this market, perhaps the following would be more appropriate...

  • WBRE: Bring Resumes, Eeverybody!
  • WYOU: What, You Operate Understaffed?
  • WNEP: Where Nobody's Ever Pleased.

    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    What about the University of North Texas radio station?

    What do its call letters look like?

    5:44 PM  
    Blogger Tom Carten said...

    Probably not much worse than the Hispanic station in Bridgeport CT, WCUM, 1450 (formerly, for many years, WNAB).

    6:36 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...


    6:43 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...


    6:45 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    The "W" does not stand for anything. Every TV and radio station east of the Misssissippi River starts with a "W." All TV and Radio stations west of the Mississippi start with a "K."

    7:38 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Hey wait, I think Pittsburgh's KDKA-TV is east of the Mississippi. I could be wrond though... oh wait...

    11:41 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Not so fast... that is generally the rule, save for KDKA in Pittsburgh. I am unsure about the history there, and why they are a Kay and not a Dubya.

    12:24 AM  
    Blogger Tom Carten said...

    In reply to 7:38pm:

    W stands for USA, as does K.

    AFAIK, ships operating in the Pacific had "W" callsigns, just like radio/tv stations; b/c stations west of the M River had "K" calls to distinguish them.

    The opposite for east of the M River.

    ex: WBET, Brockton MA, is owned by the Brockton Enterprise-Times, previously by the Boston Evening Tribune (or Transcript) ... but originally was a ship callsign and I think was in the Pacific "W" area.

    12:55 AM  
    Blogger Howard Beale said...

    I am unsure about the history there, and why they are a Kay and not a Dubya.

    KDKA was assigned its call sign in 1920, when the government handed out call signs randomly. When more stations sought licenses, the government came up with the K-for-west and W-for-east scheme. Existing stations with geographically-incorrect call signs were grandfathered into the system. For example:

    KDKA, Pittsburgh
    KYW, Philadelphia
    WCCO, Minneapolis, MN
    WOWT, Omaha, NE
    WOAI, San Antonio, TX
    WHO, Des Moines, IA

    1:05 AM  
    Anonymous hugh g rection said...

    Radio stations east of the Mississippi with a K at the beginning of the call sign are as follows:


    End of story.

    5:53 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    WDAF Kansas City
    WDAY Fargo
    WHB Kansas City
    WBAP Dallas
    WFAA Dallas
    WRR Dallas (I think that's still there)

    9:09 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    KDKA and KYW are also TV stations...

    Now, you know the rest of the story...

    9:16 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    KDKA - First licensed radio station in the country, correct?

    KYW - Was part of some sort of ownership swap ordered by the FCC. Details a little fuzzy right now.

    9:31 PM  
    Blogger Tom Carten said...

    KLM, Netherlands.

    10:04 PM  
    Blogger Tom Carten said...

    9:31 said: KDKA - First licensed radio station in the country, correct?

    AFAIK, there are three, depending on how you slice it.

    KCBS is listed in the Broadcasting Yearbook as the oldest, at 1909. It was Doc Herrold's high school ham station which evolved into a b/c station and now regarded as the first.

    KKDA was --I forget whose; Conrad's?-- ham station in Pittsburgh which had the choice of staying amateur or going b/c. It was the first to do real b/c stuff, basically the election returns.

    WWJ was, I think, the first station to have a regular sked; something like three times a week. They say this makes them the first b/c station in the sense that you could tune in and listen regularly.

    WBAX is supposedly the sixth licensed station in the US.

    10:35 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    KLM, Netherlands.

    10:04 PM


    10:40 PM  
    Anonymous Joe said...

    This website has all of the information about the history of the "K" and "W" calls.

    Pretty fascinating stuff for radio geeks.

    11:25 AM  
    Blogger gumbee said...

    My favorite local radio station is a classical music station. It is WUOL. I'm not entirely sure what it stands for. It's in Louisville, so perhaps University of Louisville? I kind of like "We're a Universe Of Love".

    1:44 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    WBRE stands for...


    7:13 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    WBRE stands for...


    7:13 PM

    More like Exploited.

    11:43 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...



    1:05 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Not true, Meester 7:38 p.m. Ever hear of KDKA in Pittsburgh?

    9:37 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Only one like it. First radio station and all that ya know.

    6:50 PM  

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