WPGB-FM in Pittsburgh gives Rush Limbaugh his Freedom

You might remember WPGB-FM as the flagship of the Quinn & Rose show. It was one of the pioneers in putting Conservative News/Talk on FM to see if young people would listen to Rush Limbaugh – calling young women sluts if they use birth control. Shockingly, ratings are in free fall all over the country.

WPGB-FM has switched to “Hit Country” – country music is now on 1,700+ radio stations with high ratings in most major markets. Country is the new “not black”.

The Beck / Limbaugh / Hannity talk is moving to WJAS-AM, a radio station in a coma for the last 20 years playing Frank Sinatra music. Rush has officially become the voice of old angry white people that don’t buy anything at stores that don’t exist any more.

This sudden change is because a local buyer is buying the station from Rhenda Broadcasting of Las Vegas, who was probably thrilled to unload it. WJAS-AM stopped streaming in 2009 – the new owner seems a bit overwhelmed, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune.

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13 Responses to WPGB-FM in Pittsburgh gives Rush Limbaugh his Freedom

  1. Art Stone says:


    Jack Bogut was liberated also. He had been a fixture on KDKA and then WJAS when it was still a talk radio station and up until this week playing music


  2. Art Stone says:

    It’s plausible that Quinn & Rose might land at WJAS – it’s even possible that’s why WJAS was purchased. WPGB-FM has been running Bloomdaddy in morning drive, an out of market local show from Wheeling, West Virginia. This deal has been underway since May, complicated because WJAS was right in the middle of license renewal.

    • Frank says:

      Art, you might be interested to know that Jim Quinn’s Twitter account, @warroom, changed his bio to, “Soon to be re-employed loud mouth talk show host. You have been warned.” Can’t happen soon enough for this old fart.

      • Art Stone says:

        The logical implication is that he’s going to work at WJAS-AM. I think it likely that’s why the other person bought the station. In the big scheme of things, $1 million is not a lot of money to the Mellons or Fricks.

        WPGB–FM have been running a simulcast of their post from wheeling – West Virginia Bloomdaddy. The WJAS sale was in the FCC pipeline for a long time and people in the radio business expected the format change. I don’t have the dates in front of me, but I think the offer to buy W JAS occurred about the same time that Quinn & Rose were let go.

        There’s a big issue though of how much influence they will have. They won’t be on SiriusXM, I doubt they will reacquire their regional affiliate network as they don’t have the infrastructure of Clear Channel. If you do read something official, let me know.

        An important part of Radio is bringing in revenue to the station – in the end, that’s what determines who is employed and who is not.

        • Frank says:

          I do agree with you. For starters, WJAS may go to those stations that carried Q&R that were not happy with sudden departure. WFRB in Frostburg MD and WYSL in Rochester NY come to mind.

          I hope it happens since I’ve been using an Internet radio for several years and WJAS’s signal is lousy where I live about 30 miles from the ‘Burgh. Only 5k watts I believe.

  3. I know it’s been a while since you’ve lived in Pittsburgh, Art, but does WJAS put out a strong signal? I know what the numbers are but was wondering if you had any first-hand experience.

    • Art Stone says:

      One person I’m in contact with lives in Pittsburgh and reports the signal as not good enough to listen to – part of the risk of moving talk to FM – people will not go back to AM.

      WJAS only has a solid signal over downtown and Oakland. The tower is on the top of the hill next to the Highland park zoo.

      WPGB-FM had a solid signal within the line of sight limits of FM. It covered the entire metro area. KDKA has a solid signal in Cleveland and can be heard most of the way to a Detroit during the day. It will always be the dominant station in Western PA.

      Given Premiere’s exclusivity of their programming, I would expect to see a few new AM affiliates pop up in suburban Pittsburgh to fill the gaps.

      From what I read somewhere, clear Channel emptied out an office in their Pittsburgh Cluster and put a piece of paper on the door saying WJAS. The station’s offices prior to the sale were located on Greentree Road, at the original antenna site, which my cousin remembers visiting as a child in the 1940s. The antenna is long gone, and the land sold off for development. WJAS back in the 1960s was the wannabe top competitor to KDKA. I have a vague memory that WWSW was the all-news station, although some of the time when I think they did talk.

      Westinghouse was based in Pittsburgh and RCA had a big factory nearby. Radio was a big deal.

  4. Little Man says:

    WJAS had a decent signal when it was broadcasting the oldies music. I could pick it up pretty well at home and in the car. But since the change, the signal quality seems to have declined. Also, Renda Broadcasting is a local outfit, not from Las Vegas. http://www.rendabroadcasting.com. It is based in Greentree.

    I think Limbaugh really screwed the pooch when he spent three days talking about nothing but the Sandra Fluke story. At best, it merited 2 minutes of ridicule and then move on. Unless he did it purposely to stir up controversy and get new listeners.

    One article I read said KDKA kept focused on local news, that is why it seems to have regained its dominance. Plus, I’ve read that a lot of older people turn it on by habit first thing in the morning and just leave it on all day.

    • Art Stone says:

      Some clarification and the reason for my statement. While Renda is physically in Pittsburgh, the stations were transferred to a Nevada based corporation in 1996, and the FCC registration is in the name of Renda Broadcasting Corporation of Nevada

      I tend to look at the FCC records and that’s what I remembered. It would be interesting to know why they transferred the stations to an out of state corporation.

      • Frank says:

        Nevada is corporation friendly state, the Delaware of the West. Simple as that. Doesn’t mean headquarters are there, just that it’s easy to incorporate in that state with its business friendly laws.

    • Art Stone says:

      Regarding Limbaugh – and he keeps going back to it, apparently having never read her testimony to Congress and with an appalling lack if understanding of how birth control works and women in general.

      The core of the argument is not whether a [lesbian] woman with severe cramps that debilitate her from going to work/school several days a month should get a “free” annual shot that shuts down her monthly cycles [the situation Sandra Fluke described]. Her friend is paying an insurance premium required by compulsory participation in her University’s group health plan.

      Health insurance is not “I don’t want to pay for that other person’s treatment because God told me so”.

      The end game if that is exactly what Rush originally warned us about – and was right. You pass Obamacare and the definition of what insurance covers changes from what a medical doctor says is “medically necessary” based on best practices to mob rule based people’s emotions and religious notions of what someone thinks Jesus would do 2000 years ago.

      I’m also uncomfortable with Hobby Lobby – not so much because of the specifics but the notion that employers who claim a religion can exclude themselves from laws. If I ran a business and opposed paying for birth control for my employees, I should be able to do that without regard to my choice of religion.

    • Art Stone says:

      CBS is about the only one left that knows how to run radio stations and they make a lot of money doing it.

      While they played along with Cumulus to create CBS sports radio, their success is in local sports talk that is all local sports hosts that are life long fans – not some guy who moved to town 3 months ago to take a radio job.

      They also own the all news format in major markets, with the exception of WTOP in Washington DC

      The big picture problem with the old people who listen to KDKA is they don’t buy very much, so the sales people have to work very hard to convince advertisers. Good sales people are invaluable. Treat them like crap – and screw them out of their commissions – and shockingly, sales people talk to each other and in a year your stations are running PSA’s for autism and pinning your hopes on the flood of automated unsolicited orders for commercials flooding in over the Internet with advertiser created content, since you also fired all of the production staff who is capable of making an effective radio commercial.

      CBS will survive long after Clear Channel and Cumulus are buried on the scrapheap of radio history

    • Art Stone says:

      There is nothing on file with the FCC requesting any change to the transmitter location and power. If you have a portable AM radio, the ferrous coil is directional – the licensed antenna site is on top of the ridge line along the River, close to Highland Park zoo.

      The FCC in general denies conditional transfers where the license transfer is contingent on approving some other application. It’s possible WJAS has a designated backup transmitter that is being used.

      In any case, something had to be cobbled together in a hurry to feed Premiere programming into the WJAS transmitter.

      A note to AckJay (and more generally to others). The only information I publish regarding streaming are links that are in plain view on the websites that are clearly controlled by the licensee. Until WJAS has changed hands and have an official website with a streaming link, I will not publish any information that might be nonpublic and perhaps not authorized. It didn’t take long for me to realize that allowing volunteers to edit that information was a mistake. The Lawyer from Pittsburgh looking at my linkedin profile today is probably just an unrelated coincidence.

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