WMGC-FM is a radio station in Detroit, Michigan broadcasting at 105.1 MHz, and is currently airing a classic hip hop format as "105.1 The Bounce." The station is owned and operated by Greater Media, and broadcasts with 50,000 watts of power from a transmitter tower located near Eight Mile Road and Wyoming Avenue in Royal Oak Township, Oakland County, Michigan. The studios are in Ferndale.

Station history

Classical music as WQRS

For nearly four decades, 105.1 was home to Detroit's commercial classical music station, WQRS, which signed-on on March 6, 1960. During its early years, WQRS was commercial-free, listener supported radio, a precursor to NPR. Operated by volunteers headed by Richard Hughes, it had tiny studios at the top of the Maccabees Building near Wayne State University. It also featured folk and other adult-appeal forms of music. Classical music was one of the most common formats on the fledgling FM dial during the 1950s and 1960s, but WQRS continued with fine-arts programming long after many other stations had dropped it. Personalities such as Geri Brooks, Dave Wagner and Dick Wallace were well-known to fans of fine music in the Motor City. Dave Wagner was noted for an irreverent sense of humor that might have fit just as well on a pop music radio station – regarded by fans as something different in a format often derided as "staid" or "stuffy". Voted "The Classiest Lady in Detroit" by the Detroit Free Press, Geri Brooks had a devoted listenership who warmed to her charming on-air style and delightful English accent. She served additionally as a program host for the Michigan Opera Theatre.

Never a ratings powerhouse, WQRS nevertheless attracted a loyal audience of affluent adults, as was often the case with classical radio stations. WQRS was also the flagship station for radio broadcasts of Detroit Symphony Orchestra concerts, and the program schedule included such popular features as the "Sousalarm" (a broadcast of a John Philip Sousa march heard every weekday morning at 7:15) and the Wednesday-night "Film Classics" program hosted by Jack Goggin, which highlighted scores from classic motion pictures. Dave Wagner and Jack Goggin are currently on-air hosts on Detroit.

The Edge/The Groove

A rapid-fire series of sales of the station in the mid-1990s was the first inkling to the listeners of WQRS that the station's classical format was on thin ice. Marlin Broadcasting sold the station to American Radio Systems in 1996; American Radio Systems sold the station to Secret Communications that same year, and then Secret Communications sold its Detroit holdings (including WQRS and urban contemporary stations WJLB-FM and WMXD) to Evergreen Media Corporation (which later was absorbed into AMFM, which was subsequently absorbed into Clear Channel Communications). Evergreen was now over FCC ownership limits in Detroit and let go of WQRS, trading the station to Greater Media for $9.5 million and in exchange for WGAY-FM in Washington, D.C.

On November 21, 1997, at 5 p.m., the playing of "Closer" by Nine Inch Nails signified the end of classical music on 105.1 after over 37 years and the beginning of alternative rock station 105.1 The Edge.[2] The station adopted the new calls WXDG the following month. Detroit already had two alternative rock stations in CIMX (88.7) and WPLT (96.3), and "The Edge", although it sounded more "progressive" and "free-form" than the competition and did attract a loyal audience, was an overall failure in both ratings and revenue. The WQRS calls reappeared on two stations in 2006—WQRS in Salamanca, New York and an AM in Morgantown, West Virginia.

Former WQRS personality Dick Wallace has surfaced at WIAA, the Interlochen Center for the Arts' classical music station in Interlochen, Michigan. Dave Wagner can still be heard in the Detroit market hosting mornings and evenings at the Detroit Public Schools' classical and jazz station, WRCJ. Another former WQRS personality, Jack Goggin, is a fill-in host at WRCJ and has revived his popular "Film Classics" show (now heard Sunday nights). Geri Brooks died in April 2008 at the age of 78 in Carlsbad, California. She was surrounded by her four children.

On April 4, 1999, 105.1 abruptly pulled the plug on "The Edge" and switched to the fad format sweeping the nation at the time – Jammin' Oldies.[3] For the first few months of the new format, the station was known as Classic Soul 105.1 but later adopted the name 105.1 The Groove and, in October, the new call letters WGRV. The station was launched by a collaboration of Greater Media talent, including market manager Tom Bender, legendary Boston programmer Harry Nelson, WCSX's Jon Ray, and Greater Media Boston's JJ Wright (who did voiceovers for the station). Shortly after launch, they hired Bill Fries as Program Director from WOCL in Orlando. Bill Gable, formerly of CKLW, hosted The Groove morning show along with Mitzi Miles. Randi Myles (no relation to Mitzi) hosted middays and Doc Reno hosted the afternoon show. The station showed immediate ratings improvement and drew large crowds at Detroit concerts and events. Built around an uptempo combination of Detroit's musical heritage and "groovin' oldies", the station struggled to get its racially balanced audience to recognize it in Arbitron ratings. After much research, it was determined that while the station was very popular in Detroit, ultimately, because of the diverse listener base and mechanics of the Arbitron ratings system, it could not garner the ratings to win advertisers in large national buys. Other similarly formatted stations around the country shared the same issues and ultimately changed formats as well. Towards the end of the format's life, the playlist was shrunk to about 300 songs, which were mostly slow jams, resulting in a high burnout factor. This turned many listeners away.

Magic 105.1/Soft Rock 105.1/Today's 105.1

At 9 a.m. on June 30, 2001, after playing Boyz II Men's "End Of The Road", Greater Media returned its trademark "Magic" adult contemporary format (first used in Detroit on 94.7 as Magic 95, from 1976 to 1987) to the Detroit airwaves on 105.1, with the new calls WMGC-FM. The first song played on the new "Magic 105.1" was "Because You Loved Me" by Celine Dion.[4] As an AC station, WMGC competed primarily against WDVD, CHYR, and the Detroit market's AC mainstay, Clear Channel-owned WNIC. Fries continued as station PD, while noted AC consultant Gary Berkowitz consulted the station. Greater Media also hired Jim Harper, Linda Lanci and Cyndy Canty away from WNIC to host the station's morning show. WMGC stole listeners away from top-rated WNIC almost immediately, jumping to #1 in the Arbitron ratings, and gave the station its first real AC competitor in a long time.[5] The ratings battle between the two stations continued for 12 years.

Like rival WNIC, WMGC typically switched to a format of continuous Christmas music in November and December of each year. In 2009, the station billed itself as "The New Home for the Holidays".[6]

In August 2011, WMGC modified its positioning statement from "Detroit's Best Variety of Yesterday & Today" to "Detroit's Only Variety..." under new Program Director Brian Figula, to reflect its status as Detroit's only remaining traditional AC station after competitor WNIC's switch to a more contemporary hot AC format as Fresh 100.3 (they rebranded as Fresh 100.3 in December 2010, but remained AC for eight months according to Nielsen BDS).

On October 28, 2011, WMGC shifted to Christmas music; unlike in years past, it dropped the "Magic" moniker and began referring to itself as "Christmas 105.1." On December 23, morning show host and longtime Detroit radio fixture Jim Harper retired.[8] On December 26 at 12:00am, the station rebranded as "Soft Rock 105.1." The first song on "Soft Rock" was "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey.[9][10] In contrast to WNIC's "Fresh" presentation, "Soft Rock 105.1" was more gold-based and initially played few current songs. By July 2012, the station increased the number of current hits, although the station focused on more retro songs, cutting "Soft Rock" from its name and branding itself as just "105.1 FM" over the last 2 weeks of the month as a stunt. It rebranded again, this time to "Today's 105.1", at 5 PM on August 10, 2012, with the first song being "Don't Turn Around" by Ace of Base.[11] The station sound was very similar to WDVD and CHYR-FM with newer Top 40 hits added to the playlist, while eliminating most pre-1980 songs and placed the station in a Modern AC direction, while still playing very select hits from 1975-1980. WNIC reverted to their former AC format in September 2012. In response to lower ratings before Christmas, WMGC re-added many songs from the 1970s. Despite all of the changes, the station has generally held a 3 share in the market, as compared to WNIC, who was ranked with a 3.2 share as of July 2013.

Detroit Sports 105.1

On August 12, 2013, at 3 PM, WMGC-FM dropped the AC format (NSYNC's "Bye Bye Bye" was the last song played), and flipped to a sports talk format as "Detroit Sports 105.1." The station became an affiliate of ESPN Radio, whose talk and live event programming was previously heard in Detroit on WCAR before that station affiliated with NBC Sports Radio just a few weeks prior.[2][2]

Local hosts on the station included former WRIF morning show co-host Drew Lane, Matt Dery, Drew Sharp, Sean Baligian, Tom Mazawey, Marc Fellhauer, Ryan Ermanni, Rico Beard, Lindsey Hunter and Dave Shore.[2][2][2]

In April 2014, WMGC-FM announced a broadcast deal with the NBA's Detroit Pistons, with the station serving as flagship to the Pistons' radio network starting with the 2014–15 NBA season. The agreement is the first local pro sports deal for "Detroit Sports 105.1", which will replace CBS Radio-owned WXYT-FM as the Pistons' radio home.[2]

105.1 The Bounce

On June 29, 2016, at 6 p.m., WMGC-FM dropped the sports format and began stunting with oldies music, while promoting sister station WCSX-HD2. The change came due to continuous low ratings during the past three years, as the station was usually ranked below a 1 share of the market (in the May 2016 Nielsen ratings report for the Detroit market, WMGC-FM held a 0.9 share, far behind competitor WXYT-FM).[2][2][2][2] Greater Media registered 16 web domains for the station, some of which have "Bounce" in the name and pointing towards either a Classic hip hop or Rhythmic AC direction (the latter format was last heard in the market on WDTW-FM from 2009 to 2011).[3] At Noon on July 1, WMGC-FM officially flipped to classic hip hop, branded as "105.1 The Bounce." The first song on "The Bounce" was "The Real Slim Shady" by Detroit native Eminem.[3][3] The station will continue to be the flagship station of the Pistons for the upcoming 2016-17 NBA season in order to fulfill the last year of the stations' three-year contract with the team.

HD Radio

WGRV/WMGC-FM was one of the first radio stations in the country to broadcast in HD Radio. Starting in 2000, a company called Ibiquity installed one of the first HD transmitters on 105.1 to test and develop HD radio technology. Ease of collaboration with leaders in the auto industry may have been the reason for the test site in Detroit.

  • HD1 is a simulcast of the analog (traditional) signal.
  • HD2 is a channel called "Detroit Sports 105.1 HD-2" featuring the same format as the main station but mostly broadcasting ESPN Radio programming.[3]

Previously, the HD2 channel broadcast "80's on 105.1 HD2" for 6 months after main station's switch to a sports/talk format. The 80's format was a carryover from the WMGC-FM's soft rock format and had been in place since early 2012 when WMGC-FM rebranded as "Soft Rock 105.1"; prior to that, WMGC's HD2 feed was known as "More Magic Radio" and featured a format of Soft AC hits, ballads, and pop standards. This was launched in August 2005.[3]

During the holiday season, when the station's format was soft rock, the HD2 channel would assume the normal WMGC format while the main channel played Christmas music, and briefly continued with Christmas music after the main station switches back to its normal AC format after the holidays.