WLQV is a radio station serving the Detroit, Michigan market. The station's fifty-thousand watt daytime signal on 1500 AM 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 on October 7, 1925, licensed to nearby Ypsilanti, on 1290 kilocycles. Two years later, WJBK moved to 1360 and in 1930, to 1370. In 1940, WJBK was re-licensed to Detroit & to 1490 kc.. (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 frequency at 1500 kc. with 10,000 watts. By this time, Storer Broadcasting owned WJBK-AM-FM and had also signed on WJBK-TV on channel 2 as Detroit's CBS TV affiliate. 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 1950s and early 1960s was WXYZ/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 Bellboy"s at Radio 15 during the late 1950s and early 1960s, including Tom Clay (known for creating a romantic aura on the air), Dave Shafer, Terry Knight and Robin Walker. Other popular WJBK personalities included longtime morning host Marc Avery, midday host Clark Reid 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").
In 1962, WJBK was granted 50,000 watts day and 5,000 watts, night.
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. In 1966 the station tweaked to an early version of what would today be called Hot Adult Contemporary, featuring a mix of softer Hot 100 chart hits from the likes of the Mamas & the Papas, B.J. Thomas, Nancy Sinatra and Bob Dylan, and select album cuts. Through the changes, ratings remained low. The station made a second attempt at Top 40 in 1969 with a lineup of disc jockeys that included K.O. Bayley, Lee 'Baby' Simms, Tom Dean, Jim Hampton and CKLW mainstay Tom Shannon, but it lasted only a few months.
At Midnight on December 26, 1969, 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"). Former WJBK personality Marc Avery recalled in 1971, when interviewed for the WDRQ program "The History of Detroit Radio," that WJBK had been considering switching to country as early as the early 1960s. At the time, 1340 WEXL was the only full-time country music station in the immediate Detroit market (with Ypsilanti-based WSDS as its only competitor). WDEE distinguished itself with its slick, contemporary ("countrypolitan") approach to the country format, designed for mass appeal, and was one of the first stations to program country and western music with a Top 40-style presentation. The move paid off with frequent top five showings in the Detroit ratings during the 1970s. 1,000-watt WEXL was unable to compete with 50,000-watt WDEE and left the country format by 1974 for religious programming. WDEE's midday show "The Fem Forum", in which female listeners called in to share their sexual frustrations with host Tom Dean, was a controversial feature for its time but also quite popular. Other personalities on the station during the 1970s included morning mainstay Deano Day, Hank O'Neil, Mike Scott, Dave Williams, Bob Burchett, Ray Otis, Randy Price, Doug Smith, Don Thompson, Jimmy Bare, Rosalee, Paul Allen, Bob Day, Ron Ferris, Dan Dixon and Rick Church.
In the early 1970s, Combined Communications purchased the station. Combined would eventually be purchased by the Gannett Company. Previous to Combined ownership, WDEE was part of a broadcast chain owned by Globe Broadcasting (the Harlem Globetrotters). Also during this time, WDEE-FM changed to news/talk as WDRQ-FM. Charter Broadcasting would purchase WDRQ-FM and switch the format to Top 40 in 1972. Four decades and several formats later, that station is now playing contemporary country music again, under Cumulus Media ownership as "Nash FM."
The WDEE calls later had a brief revival as a daytime-only classic-country music station in Reed City, Michigan, coincidentally also at AM 1500. This station has since gone off the air, but the calls survive on its onetime FM sister station, WDEE-FM, which runs an oldies format as "Sunny 97.3."
In early 1979, WCAR picked up the country format and became WCXI "Country 11", featuring Deano Day and other former WDEE personalities. In the latter part of 1979, after less than a year, due to a terrible directional signal and WCXI overtaking them in the ratings, the country format was abandoned and the station's call sign was changed to WCZY and ran a more contemporary version of sister station WCZY-FM's highly rated easy listening music format (the two stations were paired in the mid 1970s). About a year, later 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 again; unlike its first time as WCZY, this time it was a 100% simulcast of the FM station, which by then had changed from easy listening to adult-oriented CHR. 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 ended during the summer of 1987 when WCZY-AM was sold, returned to a religious format and changed back to the WLQV call letters.
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. "CBSL" owned WLQV until its sale to Salem. Under Yinger's ownership the station went by the name "Victory 1500," using the same brand name as then-sister stations WSNL in Flint and WLCM in Lansing.
In February 2006, 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 to downtown Detroit's Penobscot Building. In mid-September, 2006 the station moved from the Penobscot Building to its new studio site in Ferndale. Except for minor changes in programming and station structure, WLQV still boasts a Christian talk format.
As of May 2016, WLQV is the Detroit-area affiliate of the Rocket Sports Radio Network, broadcasting University of Toledo football and select men's basketball games, as well as the coach's shows for both sports.
On November 18, 2016, sister station WDTK moved its FM repeater from 92.7 FM to 101.5 (W268CN) . Its former repeater on 92.7 (W224CC) was kept active, and repurposed as a repeater for WLQV.
The station's transmitter is located on Dix-Toledo Road just south of I-75 in Lincoln Park. The station has a highly directional antenna system. There had been 12 towers arranged in 4 parallel sets of 3 towers from the time of their upgrade to 50,000 watts in the early 1960s until the demolition or the easternmost three towers (The original mid 1950s Lincoln Park array featured four pairs of two towers). A view of this array is visible in aerial images and topographic maps of the era. This site is just west of Dix Highway, near its intersection with Emmons Boulevard. In the early 1990s, the easternmost set was taken down to make room for a Super Kmart store which opened in 1994. That store closed in 2003 during Kmart's second round of bankruptcy and reopened as a Meijer in 2004.