WEST (1400 AM) and WHOL (1600 AM) are radio stations broadcasting a Spanish Tropical format, emphasizing Tropical music from the Tropics and Spain. They are owned by Matthew P. Braccili., who operates the radio station from Cheltenham, Pennsylvania. WEST previously employed a Middle Of The Road diversified format for many years under several owners.
WEST began operations in 1936. The station was locally owned and employed a general entertainment format evolving into a popular music format by the late 1940s. At that point WEST-FM signed on at 96.1. For decades, the stations simulcast WEST's Middle Of The Road Popular Music format. In 1973, though, 96.1 became WLEV and began offering a Soft Rock/Adult Contemporary format that was very automated. They played the softer rock hits of the 1960s and 1970s, along with a lot of current music. They were known as "Hit Parade Music" at one point. WEST continued with its MOR format blending artists like Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Peggy Lee, and others with some big bands and softer baby boomer pop sounds from the likes of Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Connie Francis, Neil Diamond, Tom Jones, The Carpenters, and others. Both WEST and WLEV were owned by Sound Media and then by Telemedia Group.
In the late 1970s, WEST would switch to strictly a Big Band and Standards format and dropped the adult contemporary and baby boomer pop songs, but in 1981 switched back to more of a Middle Of The Road format like they had in the mid 1970s. It used a syndicated format called "Hitparade" and played half adult standards and half soft adult contemporary songs. In the late 1980s the station switched to a similarly formatted satellite delivered service called "Stardust", which they remained with until 2001.
Stardust leaned big bands and standards initially but in the 1990s the format focused more on the soft AC and soft oldies artists mixed into the format. WEST had a live morning and afternoon local show as well as hours of specialty programs during the weekends, but the rest of the time used the syndicated "Stardust" format.
In 1995, the station was sold, along with WLEV, to Citadel Broadcasting. Still, the format remained Adult Standards. In 1997, Citadel acquired WFMZ FM, which by then had a format that was evolving to be musically closer to WLEV. In 1997, it was decided that there was no need for two AC stations in the Lehigh Valley, so they combined aspects of the AC formats from both stations and moved the WLEV call letters and format and some of the air staff to 100.7 that July.
WEST, though, would be sold to Maranatha Broadcasting, which previously owned 100.7 FM, in 1997. Maranatha Broadcasting also owned and still owns Channel 69 WFMZ-TV. It was thought that WEST might switch to a religious format but that did not happen. WEST did however simulcast the 5 p.m. newscast that aired on Channel 69. WEST did continue with its MOR format as well as many specialty programs.
In 2001, when WKAP (now WSAN) dropped Westwood One's Standards format for Oldies, WEST switched to Westwood One's similarly format Standards format which evolved to a slightly more soft AC sound in 2002. The specialty shows and the Channel 69 newscasts remained. WEST was rumored to be switching to Oldies in 2006 when WKAP would drop oldies for religious programming. But that also never happened.
In 2007, Maranatha sold WEST to Matthew J. Braccili, who also owns WHOL. That April, WEST's intellectual unit was shut down totally including the satellite standards format and the specialty shows. 1400 WEST then began to simulcast the Spanish language format airing over WHOL.
WHOL began broadcasting as a full-time station at 1230 AM in 1948. Founded by the Allentown Broadcasting Corporation, the station was granted its license in 1946. A suit was immediately brought by a competing applicant, Easton Publishing Co., owner of the Easton Express newspaper, charging that the FCC erred in granting a fourth license to Allentown while Easton had only one radio frequency. The FCC reversed its decision in favor of the newspaper. The case eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which in 1955 ruled the FCC had acted properly. The Express was subsequently awarded the 1230 AM frequency for a new full-time station, WEEX, while WHOL moved to 1600 AM as a daytime station. No longer able to broadcast after sunset, WHOL lost its prominence as one of Lehigh Valley's leading AM stations.