WIBG Beginnings


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In 1925, Dr. Theodore Elsner of St. Paul's Church in Elkins Park, applied for and received a broadcast license from the Department of Commerce. He chose the call letters WIBG which stood for Why I Believe In God and broadcast his weekly church service over the station.  After Dr. Elsner sold the station, WIBG went thru many changes featuring Dance Band music in the 40's and early 50's.  They lead the way in the mid to late 50's to the "top 40" format; being one of the first stations in America to broadcast a "Rock N Roll" format featuring the great disc jockeys (1956).

For many years, 990 was known as WIBG (pronounced "Wibbage"), and had great success in the ratings playing Top 40 music in the 1950s and early 1960s with popular hosts including Joe Niagara, Jerry Blavat, Hy Lit, Bill Wright Sr., and others.

As "Wibbage", the call became best known for, and most associated with, rock 'n' roll programming. It should be noted that WIBG was the lone Top 40 music outlet in Philadelphia (probably the biggest city in the U.S. with only one station in the format) during the early to mid-60s, and scored huge ratings because of this format monopoly.  All the Philadelphia baby-boomers grew up listening to WIBG and it still holds a special place in our memories.  That's one of the reasons why this site is here.

In September 1966, WFIL moved to a Top 40 format and before long passed Wibbage (hampered by a poor suburban nighttime signal) in the ratings. WIBG soldiered on as a Top 40 station through most of the first half of the 1970s, although they tried progressive rock for a time early in the decade. At mid-decade the station tried a more adult contemporary approach, with sports talk at night for a time and even two years (1975 and 1976) as the flagship station for Philadelphia Phillies baseball. In 1977 management decided that the WIBG image was no longer an asset, and the call letters were changed to WZZD.

The station began to call itself "Wizzard 100", and adopted a heavily researched Top 40 format. Listeners did not respond, and the format was changed to disco, which did not fare much better. In 1980 the station was sold to Christian broadcaster Communicom, which began airing contemporary Christian music and Christian teaching and features similar to sister station 970 WWDJ in Hackensack, New Jersey. But by then, the call letters WIBG had already been reassigned and the WZZD calls were retained. WZZD played music about half the day and Christian programs and features during the other half of the day.

Communicom got out of the radio business in the mid 1990s and in 1994 WZZD was sold to Salem Media. Under Salem, WZZD kept the Christian music and teaching format initially. But by the late 1990s Music was cut back to a couple hours a day. By 2002 WZZD ran nearly all teaching and almost no music at all.

In 2004 WZZD and WFIL's features and programs were merged onto WFIL as WZZD dropped the Christian format in favor of conservative talk and news and changed its call letters to WNTP. Beginning in 2006, WNTP became the flagship station for the Saint Joseph's University Hawks college basketball radio network, and the Salem network occasionally airs Penn State and Drexel University sports broadcasts for a Philadelphia audience.

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