WDTW-FM (106.7 FM, "106-7 The D") is a radio station licensed to Detroit, Michigan; broadcasting a classic rock format. The station is owned by IHeartMedia, Inc.. In addition to a standard analog transmission, WDTW-FM broadcasts over HD Radio and is available online via iHeartRadio; the HD2 digital subchannel airs alternative rock via the Premium Choice network as "The Alternative Project." WDTW-FM studios are located in the Detroit suburb of Farmington Hills, while the station transmitter resides atop Cadillac Tower in Downtown Detroit.
The station began operations on October 16, 1960, as WDTM, airing classical and jazz music, like many other FMs of the time. Gordon McLendon purchased the station in 1966, changed the call letters to WWWW ("W4"), and installed a beautiful music format. The station was at that time located at 2930 E. Jefferson Avenue in Detroit, in a building now housing the marijuana law firm Cannabis Counsel, P.L.C.
W4 Stereo/W4 Quad
By 1970, McLendon changed W4's format from easy listening to "Solid Gold" (oldies-oriented Top 40) as "W4 Stereo," with an airstaff that included Don Schuster and Detroit radio legend Tom Clay. During its oldies period, W4 was one of the first stations to pick up Detroit radio veteran Casey Kasem's newly syndicated countdown show, American Top 40.
In 1971, "W4" became an album oriented rock station. In 1974, it briefly styled itself "W4 Quad" during its brief use of quadrophonic transmission. In the late 1970s, album-rock W4 was one of the top-rated radio stations in Detroit. It is most remembered today as one of the early radio jobs for Howard Stern. Stern was the morning DJ in 1980. Shamrock Broadcasting purchased W4 in July 1979 and faced with increasing competition. W4 was one of four Detroit stations broadcasting in the AOR format.
Shamrock changed the station's format to country music on January 18, 1981. The new management reportedly planned to brand then morning host Howard Stern as "Hopalong Howie," which he declined after two weeks, moving to WWDC-FM in Washington, D.C. In the film "Private Parts", Stern announces his departure in the middle of a song claiming he didn't understand country music.
The move to country music paid off though. The Detroit market, the nation's fifth largest at the time, was bereft of FM country music stations despite the market containing a sizable percentage of population whose families hailed from the Southern United States and grew up with the genre. W4 Country's first years coincided with the rise in popularity of country music as a whole from a genre concentrated in the South and other parts of rural America into one with a nationwide following. At the time of the country format's launch, the immediate Detroit area's only country music station was an AM station, WCXI on 1130 kHz. WWWW became the first FM country station in Detroit since WCAR-FM's and CKLW-FM's brief tries at the format in the mid-1970s, and as a result, WCXI's ratings fell. By the early 1990s, AM 1130 was being used as a simulcast for W4. From 1982-1986, W4 had competition from WCXI-FM - coincidentally, the former WCAR-FM - separately programmed from the AM, but the FM station never took off.
"W4 Country" lasted for almost two decades and did reasonably well in the ratings, under the leadership of programmer Barry Mardit, who joined the station in late 1981. The station posted a #1 finish in the Fall 1992 Detroit Arbitron ratings with an 8.7 share. The following year, the station gained a strong competitor in WYCD, and thereafter, WWWW fell into the lower reaches of the top ten. Recording artist Holly Dunn served as morning co-host on W4 Country during the late 1990s. The dropping ratings, combined with low advertising revenue, led owners AMFM (which became part of Clear Channel in August 2000) to drop the country format on September 1, 1999 at 6 PM. The final song played on "W4 Country" was "The Dance" by Garth Brooks, followed by "The Star-Spangled Banner."
Alice 106.7/The Drive
Then, on September 3, 1999, at 2:05 PM, after two days of stunting with a 400-Hz tone, which also involved a contest to correctly guess the day and time that the tone would end, the station relaunched as "Alice 106.7," featuring "Rockin' Hits of the '80s and '90s" with "All Right Now" by Free being the first song played.
The WWWW calls remained for another year until the new calls WLLC were adopted on October 2, 2000. Emphasis was eventually put on the "C" during reciting the legal ID ("WLL..See") due to listeners mistakenly believing the station picked up call letters WLLZ, which used to be for 98.7 (now WDZH). In September 2000, the WWWW callsign was moved to 102.9 MHz in nearby Ann Arbor by Clear Channel as they relaunched "W4 Country" on that frequency. It had been a rock station prior to that as WIQB.
While WYCD was the chief ratings beneficiary of the death of "W4 Country," ratings for "Alice" remained anemic, and in July 2002, the station changed its calls to WDTW and relaunched as "106.7 The Drive," with not much change in format. "The Drive" featured mainly classic hard rock tracks from the 1970s through the 1990s with some more recent material, with a more upbeat and harder-rocking presentation than classic-rock rival WCSX. Yet, the station's ratings continued to be poor.
106.7 The Fox
At noon on May 17, 2006, "The Drive" signed off with "Too Late For Love" by Def Leppard followed by an announcement by legendary Detroit TV news anchor Bill Bonds stating that they were "building a brand new radio station" at 106.7 and "letting you, the listeners, choose the music." For the next week the listeners who registered at 1067needshelp.com picked first the new radio format, then the station's name, logo, voice of the station and number of commercials per hour.
On May 19, after playing two days of music from many formats, then narrowing it down to just rock and country, it was announced at 3 PM that the format was country music. The first official song played under the country format was "Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)" by Big & Rich. By May 22, the name of the station would be "106.7 The Fox" and the new logo for the station was picked on May 24. (The logo was very similar to Vancouver rocker CFOX-FM.) Finally, on May 26, 2006, the format change appeared complete as the voice of the station and minutes of music per hour were announced. Radio insiders believed the station had adopted a country format only to steal listeners from competitor WYCD, which was starting to challenge Clear Channel's adult contemporary WNIC in revenue and ratings. But ratings for The Fox remained low during its entire run and never really took away from WYCD's audience. On April 29, 2009, in a similar move to what had been done at sister station WDFN, WDTW dropped all on-air talent, and soft-relaunched under the branding of "Detroit Fox Country 106-7." The station also began putting more focus on newer country tracks.
106-7 The Beat of Detroit
On September 4, 2009, at Noon, after three years of struggling with the country format, The Fox was dropped in favor of Rhythmic Adult Contemporary as "106-7 The Beat of Detroit". The final song on "The Fox" was "Shuttin' Detroit Down" by John Rich, while the first song on "The Beat" was "Into The Groove" by Madonna. The station also began running 10,000 songs in a row commercial free. In an announcement made by Til Levesque, president and market manager of Clear Channel Radio Detroit, the station described the new sound as "a unique AC (adult contemporary) format, built especially for Detroit, to become 106.7 The Beat." The station targeted the 25-54 adult audience with "an upbeat mix of today's hits and feel-good memories ...", mostly current Rhythmic and Dance hits with a balanced emphasis on recurrents from the 1980s and 1990s and some 1970s disco hits. The station's format was also similar to that of Detroit's own 93-1 DRQ when it relaunched in 1996 as a Rhythmic AC outlet. On October 6, 2009, The Beat finished up their 10,000 songs commercial free. The station would still offer commercial free hours.
About a year after WDTW's flip to Rhythmic AC, its playlist and direction switched over to a conventional Rhythmic Top 40 direction by adding more currents and cutting back on the heavy amount of gold. This change was likely due to changes in the Detroit radio landscape involving sister station WKQI's shift to a broader CHR-Pop presentation and competition with CBS Radio's WDZH, which changed formats from smooth jazz a month after The Beat was launched. WDTW still featured many Rhythmic AC elements in its music. The station would reintroduce some 1980s and 1990s gold back into rotation to the tune of two or three songs per hour, although 1970s disco music was no longer in rotation; the station featured many "old school" '80s and '90s rhythmic hits with the "Back In The Day Lunch Party" at Noon and the "90's at 9" every evening. In addition, it blended in a few Dance cuts as well. Sean "Hollywood" Hamilton's syndicated Remix Top 30 aired on Sunday evenings. The Beat also brought in very well known personalities including 93-1 DRQ vet Lisa Lisa Orlando for mid-days, Joe Rosati of Z100 in New York for afternoons, and Jevon Hollywood, also from WDRQ, for late nights. Mornings and evenings were voicetracked by Paul "Cubby" Bryant out of WKTU in New York and Billy The Kidd of 106.1 Kiss-FM in Dallas, respectively. Former WDRQ morning host Jay Towers was hired as program director.
Ratings throughout The Beat's history were moderate, usually peaking in the mid-3 share range or lower. In the last ratings book as a Rhythmic Top 40, WDTW was ranked #18 with a 2.2 share of the market. This is most likely because WDTW and WKQI had a very similar playlist as WDTW complimented WKQI, which hurt them from gaining any ratings strength.
106.7 The D
On November 4, 2011, at 10 AM, WDTW changed their format to classic rock, branded as "106.7 The D". The final song on "The Beat" was "End of the Road" by Boyz II Men, while the first song on "The D" was "For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)" by AC/DC. The station described the new format as "The Next Generation of Classic Rock", meaning the station includes more 1980s rock along with the usual 1960s and 1970s rock tracks, as well as early 1990s' rock material. The station remained automated until early 2012, when the station began assembling an airstaff. The station brought in radio vet Sheri Donovan for mid-days and WGRD vet Dave Dahmer for afternoons.
By December 2012, the station dropped its "Next Generation Of Classic Rock" slogan for "Rockin' The D." In summer 2013, the station changed its slogan to "Detroit Rock City." In the summer of 2014, the station once again changed its slogan to "Anything that Rocks", which would later be modified to "Whatever Rocks."
106.7 The D currently ranks at #14 (3.2) in the Detroit market according to the August 2014 PPM Rating release.
106.7 The D goes against the established Classic Rocker 94.7 WCSX.
WDTW-FM's HD2 format has changed several times since its inception in 2006. From January 2006-December 2009, the HD2 channel was known as "The Mother Trucker" and featured a mix of country and rock music. In December 2009, the format was changed to Clear Channel's Pride Radio which featured mainly dance music geared toward the LGBT community. On November 4, 2011, after The Beat's format change to classic rock, the HD2 format changed as well. This time, the station became a simulcast of Clear Channel's "Alternative Project" feed from iHeartRadio.
The current lineup (As of April 2, 2014) is as follows
- Morning Show (6 a.m.-10 a.m.): The Alan Cox Show - Alan Cox
- Mid-Days (10 a.m.-2 p.m.): Casey Krukowski
- Afternoons (2 p.m.-7 p.m.): Michael Rafferty
- Nighttime (7 p.m.-12 a.m.): Sixx Sense - Nikki Sixx & Jenn Marino
- Weekend's/Fill-ins: Clobber, Anne Erickson, Chad “Tanner” Haney, Mike Jones & Corey Rotic
- Station Voice: Rob Naughton
- Program Director/Music Director: Casey Krukowski