107.3 WRQX Washington, DC flips to “K-Love,” callsign now WSOM, to be WLVW soon (audio)

A popular nationwide Christian contemporary radio network has debuted in Washington, DC, leaving the nation’s sixth-largest radio market without a hot adult contemporary-formatted station.

107.3 WRQX Washington, DC, known for years as hot adult contemporary “Mix 107-3”, flipped to “K-Love” at 7:00 PM May 31, following a live farewell show hosted by longtime morning show host Jack Diamond.  WRQX, along with radio stations in New York, Atlanta, San Francisco, Savannah, and Syracuse, were recently purchased by Educational Media Foundation as part of a major multi-market station deal announced in March, making them the newest members of the 440+ station K-Love network.

At 7PM, listeners watching a live video simulcast of Diamond’s last show on the program’s Facebook page watched Diamond send off the station with their legal ID, followed by a fancy song about the morning show.  Those listening on 107.3 FM at the same time, however, only got to hear a second or so of the song before dead air cut in.  The audio feed was then abruptly switched over to the national K-Love broadcast, which was already in the middle of a song.  After a few songs, DJs acknowledged the addition of WRQX and other stations to the K-Love umbrella.

Click here to hear the format flip:

The intellectual property of WRQX, including its call letters, station name, and logo, still belong to Cumulus.  The former signal owners temporarily parked the WRQX calls on one of their co-owned AM radio stations in Ohio and put that station’s calls, WSOM, on DC’s 107.3, according to RadioInsight.com.

wsom_ID
FCC records indicate the callsign of DC’s 107.3 is now WSOM.  The callsign will change again to WLVW in the coming weeks.

EMF, however, is not referencing WSOM in their new K-Love legal ID. Instead, they are identifying DC’s 107.3 as WLVW, a call sign that will become official in the coming weeks.  Until that happens, however, EMF is technically airing an incorrect legal ID for their new signal.  WSOM is the first new callsign for DC’s 107.3 since 1979.  The WLVW calls used to be on 105.5 FM in Salisbury, MD.  That station is now WLSW.

Click here to hear the new WLVW legal ID:

Making things even more complicated, as of midnight June 1, the call letters seen on HD Radios tuning in the station’s digital signal still display the old WRQX calls, even though the signal is identifying as WLVW and its real callsign is WSOM.

wqrx_HD_callsign
Mistaken identity: 107.3 WSOM Washington, DC is identified on-air as WLVW, and its HD Radio callsign is WRQX.

News of impending sale was not actively mentioned on WRQX until May 28, when Diamond announced it on his morning show.  Afterward, farewells poured into the station, both on-air and on their social media accounts.  Although no specifics were given at the time, Diamond allued to his show being resurrected on another area radio station after the flip.

wrqx_facebook_farewell
WRQX morning host Jack Diamond can be seen here telling listeners about the format flip in a video recorded during his morning show broadcast on May 28.

The current incarnation of 107.3, WSOM, does not air RDS anymore, although it did hours earlier in the same day as WRQX.  I expect this to change soon, given that RDS is in heavy use with other K-Love signals that I have received in other locations.

The former Mix 107.3 website now redirects to the website of cross-town iHeart-owned 99.5 WIHT.  A message on the station’s website welcomes former Mix 107.3 listeners to their station.  WRQX’s former Facebook and Twitter pages were still operational an hour after the format flip, but were taken down as of 9:15 PM May 31.

The format change leaves a gaping format hole in the Nation’s Capitol.  As of June 1, there are no signals within 40 miles of Washington broadcasting an hot AC format.  None of the few hot AC signals located 40-60 miles away from DC provide a reliable signal into office buildings in the city.  The closest Washington has to the format is local adult contemporary 97.1 WASH, which airs more 80s music and softer tunes than what was heard on WRQX.

This farewell graphic was seen on WRQX’s website during its last week as a hot AC station. Credit: WRQX/Cumulus.

Since Cumulus still owns the WRQX callsign and intellectual property, they can debut it on any other signal they own.  In Washington, Cumulus owns 105.9 WMAL Woodbridge, VA and they lease 99.1 WDCH Bowie, MD to Bloomberg Radio.  It is unclear if the company plans to flip one of those stations to “Mix” as WRQX, or if they would do so on a completely unrelated station they own outside of Washington.

Today’s format flip presents a huge opportunity for another station group in the Washington market to flip one of their own signals to hot AC to undermine Cumulus and derail any chances of WRQX returning to the airwaves on a different frequency.  Ironically, this is the second time within a year that Washington has lost a hot AC-formatted signal.  94.7 WIAD Bethesda, MD, which was hot AC for nine years, flipped to 80s-leaning classic hits in October 2018.

The K-Love network has been absent from the Washington region up until now, save for a random translator here and there.  In 2017, EMF purchased rimshot 94.3 WWXX Buckland, VA and turned it into a K-Love signal as WLZV.  This, however, didn’t result in much exposure to the Washington market, since DC has a low power FM signal on the same frequency in the city that blocks WLZV’s signal.  It is unclear if WLZV will remain with K-Love or switch to sister network Air 1 now, given how strong WRQX’s signal is in the region and WLZV’s broadcast area.

WRQX has aired an hot AC format as “Mix 107.3” since 1990, save for when it was CHR between 2013 and 2015.  In the late 70s and throughout the 80s, it was CHR as “Q107.”

My Local FM Stations page has been updated with the new station information.