WLIF (101.9 FM, "Today's 101.9") is a commercial FM radio station licensed to serve Baltimore, Maryland. The station is owned by Entercom through licensee CBS Radio WLIF, Inc. and broadcasts an adult contemporary format. Its studios are located on Clarkview Road in the Mount Washington neighborhood of Baltimore, while its broadcast tower is located near Loch Raven Reservoir near Towson. at ().

History

The station first signed on as a beautiful music in the late 1950s as WTOW. In 1963, it became WAQE-FM, and was owned by Booth Broadcasting. On December 24, 1970, after Sudbrink Broadcasting bought the station, it began featuring SRP programming (Stereo Music Productions, created by Jim Schulke).

Over the years, 101.9 FM was one of the highest-rated stations in Baltimore, playing mostly instrumental renditions of popular songs. Featured artists included Percy Faith, John Fox, Chet Atkins, Richard Clayderman, Frank Mills, Henry Mancini, Ray Anthony, Floyd Cramer, and many others. The station played four vocal selections per hour and they were only smooth vocal stylings of artists like Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Nat King Cole, Neil Diamond, Tony Bennett, Patti Page, Dionne Warwick, Barbra Streisand, and others. Its slogan was "The Beautiful Place In Your Life" branded as FM-102. On December 31, 1971, the station changed call signs to WLIF. By the 1980s, WLIF began playing more soft rock hits, such as those by Linda Ronstadt, The Beatles, The Temptations, Elton John, along with the previously played artists. During morning and afternoon drives, the station was about half instrumental and half vocal, while other times the station continued to play one vocal every quarter-hour. In the late 1980s, the station shifted to roughly half vocalists and half instrumentals. Early in 1991, WLIF dropped all instrumentals and shifted to a soft adult contemporary format and rebranded as Lite 102. By 1993, WLIF began mixing in current material in its playlist.

In 2001, the station changed branding again, to 101.9 Lite FM. Today, its lineup consists of adult contemporary hits during the day and love songs at night. In the late 2000s, the station carried the syndicated Delilah radio show to complement the popular local love songs programming that was (and still is) hosted by Fran Lane; however, Delilah aired during the late-night hours, and this resulted in its eventual elimination from the station. On the weekends, WLIF featured "The Flashback Weekend" featuring former WQSR announcers Dave Alan, John Summers and Diane Lyn playing the greatest hits of the 1960s and 1970s. However, in recent years, these songs have been replaced by music from the 1980s, thus creating an "All-80s Weekend"; the eighties songs were mixed in with the sixties and seventies hits during the latter part of the "Flashback Weekend" era.

In addition, WLIF (along with WWIN) also played jazz music during the weekends for many years. WLIF continued to play jazz until 2004, when WSMJ became Baltimore's full-time Smooth Jazz station (that station has since changed formats, first to Alternative in 2008, then to Top-40/CHR a year later).

On December 29, 2013, at Midnight, after playing "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" by Johnny Mathis, WLIF rebranded as Today's 101.9, with its first song being "Hey Soul Sister" by Train. Like its AC sister stations KEZK-FM in St. Louis, WDOK in Cleveland, and KVIL in Dallas, WLIF retooled its format to more hot adult contemporary-leaning fare to attract a new generation of listeners, even though it also continues to play the standard AC songs from the 1980s to present.[2] It was the last surviving "Lite FM"-branded station to be owned by CBS Radio, with the moniker having been dropped from KVIL in Dallas and WLTE in Minneapolis (with the latter station also undergoing a format change to country at the time).

On February 2, 2017, CBS Radio announced it would merge with Entercom.[13] The merger was approved on November 9, 2017, and was consummated on the 17th.[14][15]

Commercial-free Christmas

WLIF is well known for its Christmas programming. For decades, WLIF began mixing in Christmas music the week before Thanksgiving and went to wall-to-wall Christmas music about 2 weeks before Christmas. They would remain all Christmas music until the middle of December 26 or later and would keep mixing in Christmas music until New Year's Day.

Beginning in 2001, every year, starting the week before Thanksgiving, the station plays nothing but Christmas music, well into December 26 or 27. There are no advertisements all day on Christmas Day. Since 2007, WLIF has played wall to wall Christmas music not only before Thanksgiving but all the way until New Year's Eve. They are the last station left playing Christmas music at New Year's. Most stations in this market that feature Christmas music continue mixing it in throughout the last week of the year, unlike many places that end cold turkey on the 26. In 2010, WLIF dropped Christmas music early on December 27 but continued mixing a few in rather than remaining wall-to-wall until January 1. Since 2014, WLIF has dropped Christmas Music at midnight on December 26, which received negative feedback from some listeners.

HD Radio

WLIF began HD Radio broadcasts in 2006. WLIF-HD2 aired a country format, branded as New Country @ 106.1. The format began on October 25, 2013 at Noon, replacing the 1980s hits "Flashback" format that has aired since WLIF began HD Radio operations. The programming was simulcast on translator W291BA (106.1 FM), which is owned by Hope Christian Church of Marlton, and is being leased to CBS to operate it.[3] WLIF-HD3 airs an adult standards format, branded as The Strip, while WLIF-HD4 airs programming from "HOPE FM" as part of an agreement between CBS and Hope Christian Church where CBS will operate W291BA and another translator, W248AO (97.5 FM), which airs an alternative rock format branded as "HFS @ 97-5" (that format has since been moved to another translator owned by Hope, W285EJ (104.9 FM)).

On April 9, 2015, Radio One announced that they will assume operations of W291BA from CBS, and flipped the format to urban gospel, branded as Praise 106.1, on May 1.[4]

Translators

The following translator is licensed to Hope Christian Church of Marlton, Inc and simulcasts the programming of WLIF-HD2:

Call signFrequency
(MHz)
City of licenseERP
W
Height
m (ft)
ClassFCC info
W291BA106.1Baltimore, Maryland250279 m (915 ft)D