WLQV is a radio station serving the Detroit, Michigan market. The station's fifty-thousand watt daytime signal enables it to be heard from Michigan's Thumb area down to Northwest Ohio, and from Lansing, Michigan to Chatham, Ontario, Canada. WLQV has a Christian talk format.
WLQV first signed on as WJBK-AM on October 7, 1925, licensed to nearby Ypsilanti on the 1290 AM frequency. Two years later, WJBK moved to 1360 and in 1930, to 1370. In 1940, WJBK was re-licensed to Detroit on 1490 AM. (An FM station at 93.1 was added in 1947, and is now WDRQ). In the late 1940s, WJBK produced one of Detroit's first radio personalities, or disk jockeys, in Ed McKenzie, known as "Jack the Bellboy". His late afternoon show, which combined the mainstream pop hits of the day with a good amount of R&B (or "race" music as it was referred to at the time), clicked with the youngsters and soon propelled him to #1 in the market. The station also launched the career of Casey Kasem.
In 1954, WJBK moved to its current dial position at 1500 AM, 10,000 watts. In 1962, WLQV was granted 50,000 watts day and 5,000 watts, night. By this time, Storer Broadcasting owned the station. In 1956, WJBK became the first radio station in Detroit to feature the Top 40 format 24 hours a day; WJBK also published Detroit's first printed survey of the station's most popular songs for distribution at local record stores, dubbed "Formula 45" (which became the station's catchphrase). WJBK's chief competitor in the format during the late '50s and early '60s was WXYZ-AM 1270, and the two stations were frequently neck-and-neck in the ratings. Since WJBK had retained ownership of the "Jack the Bellboy" name after Ed McKenzie left the station, there were several more "Jack the Bellboys" at Radio 15 during the late '50s and early '60s, including Tom Clay (known for creating a romantic aura on the air), Dave Shafer, and Terry Knight. Other popular WJBK personalities included longtime morning host Marc Avery and afternoon drive personality Robert E. Lee (who claimed to be an actual descendant of the legendary Confederate Civil War general and opened his show every afternoon with a "Rebel Yell").
Then, WKNR "Keener 13" was launched at 1310 AM on Halloween 1963, burying the Motor City's Top 40 competition - including WJBK - in its wake with a shorter playlist and a tighter, more energetic presentation than any other station in the market. WJBK gave up the fight in 1964 and switched to an easy listening music format. The station made a second attempt at Top 40 in 1969 with a lineup of disc jockeys that included K.O. Bayley and CKLW mainstay Tom Shannon, but this too was unsuccessful.
In 1970, WJBK changed to a contemporary country music format and changed its callsign to WDEE (many joked at the time that the calls stood for "We've Done Everything Else"). Unlike its competitor WEXL, WDEE featured a slick, contemporary ("countrypolitan") approach to the country format, designed for mass appeal. The success of WDEE drove WEXL out of the country format; it changed to religious programming in 1974. WDEE's "Fem Forum" show, in which female listeners called in to share their sexual frustrations with host Deano Day, was a controversial feature for its time but also quite popular. While never a true powerhouse, WDEE enjoyed a fair amount of ratings success.
In the early 1970s, Combined Communications purchased the station. Combined would eventually be purchased by the Gannett Company. Previous to Combined ownership, WLQV was part of a broadcast chain, owned by Globe Broadcasting (the Harlem Globetrotters).
In 1977, the station's call sign was changed to WCZY-AM and ran a more contemporary version of sister station WCZY-FM's format. After one year, due to a terrible directional signal, the format was abandoned and the calls changed to WLQV (the calls were meant to designate the word "love"), and featured a religious format.
In 1985, the station made one last return to playing Top 40 music as it became WCZY-AM again, this time simulcasting WCZY-FM's adult-oriented CHR format. With Z95.5 featuring future Radio Hall of Fame inductee Dick Purtan, much was made of Purtan's "return" to AM radio; however, the simulcast was over by the end of 1986.
In 1986, Gannett purchased the Detroit News, and under Federal Communications Commission guidelines against cross-ownership of stations within a market, sold WLQV to former Gannett president Joe Dorton. In 1987, Mike Glinter's Satellite Radio Network purchased WLQV. Jon Yinger's Midwest Broadcasting Corporation, Too., a small chain of religious stations in the Midwest, bought WLQV in December 1993. Under the ownership of Yinger (a former Gannett GSM and GM of Satellite Radio Network), WLQV retained the Christian talk format and generated a loyal following with a niche group of listeners. The station's programming featured nationally-known evangelists and teachers such as Billy Graham, Dr. J. Vernon McGee, Charles Stanley and others, along with Detroit-area pastors and preachers. This formula stayed in place through the mid 2000s. Yinger owned WLQV longer than any other owner, with the exception of Storer. Yinger oversaw and completed WLQV's longstanding application for increased nighttime power. in 2003, WLQV commenced operating with 9 towers at night, 10,000 watts of power, ending an eighteen year standoff with WTOP and KSTP. By this time, Yinger's company would be known as "The Christian Broadcasting System", a group of nine stations and a satellite network.
In the fall of 2005, WLQV was sold to Salem Communications, the country's top family of Christian-oriented stations; in exchange for a cash sum and two stations in Cincinnati, Ohio. The station's operations were handled thereafter by a subsidiary of Salem, Caron Broadcasting, who moved the studios from suburban Livonia, Michigan to downtown Detroit's Penobscot Building. In mid-September, 2006 the station moved from the Penobscot Building to its new studio site in Ferndale, Michigan. The station's transmitter is located on Dix-Toledo Road just south of I-75 in Lincoln Park, MI. Except for minor changes in programming and station structure, WLQV still boasts a Christian talk format.