WWDC (101.1 FM) – branded DC101 – is a commercial alternative rock radio station licensed to Washington, D.C., serving the Washington metro area. Owned by iHeartMedia, Inc., WWDC serves as the flagship station for Elliot in the Morning; and the local affiliate for Skratch 'N Sniff and The Side Show Countdown with Nikki Sixx. The WWDC studios are located in Rockville, Maryland, while the station transmitter resides in Silver Spring. Besides a standard analog transmission, WWDC broadcasts over two HD Radio channels, and is available online via iHeartRadio. WWDC formerly also simulcast over Frederick translator W232CB (94.3 FM).
WWDC-FM signed on in 1947 as a beautiful music station. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, it simulcast with its (slightly more contemporary than) MOR AM sister station on weekdays, and played oldies at night and on weekends. In the mid-1970s, it attempted album rock at night for a few months and then flipped full-time to an album rock music format. Its AM counterpart (now WWRC) was the first American radio station to play a Beatles song when it played "I Want to Hold Your Hand" in December 1963.
DC101's most successful era in terms of ratings and revenue was 1987–1990. The station was #1 in Men (Arbitron) and was a printing press when it came to money. One of the premier Album Oriented Rock stations in the country, the air staff featured Greaseman in the morning, Dusty Scott in midday, Steveski in afternoons and Kirk McEwen in the evening. With this lineup and format, DC101 consistently ran in the 6s, dominating Men in the nation's 7th largest market. The sound was a combination of new and classic rock. Other personalities (Boss Jocks) during the 80s included Adam "Smash" Smasher, Ernie D'Kaye, Cerphe, Sandy Edwards, Buddy Rizer, YDB (Young Dave Brown), Sean Donohue (Rusty Brainpan), and Vinnie Brewster.
DC101's rock playlist typically swings toward the hard rock end of the rock spectrum, playing acts like Foo Fighters and Metallica. Early on, though, pop-oriented acts including Elton John, Billy Joel and Rod Stewart often cropped up on-air. During the 1990s, DC101 interspersed more modern and alternative rock acts including Smashing Pumpkins and Stone Temple Pilots into its rotation to compete with its chief rival, WHFS-FM. Originally a mainstream rock station, WWDC changed to their current alternative rock format by 2005 because of WHFS-FM flipping to tropical music as WLZL, but Mediabase & Nielsen BDS had them on the alternative rock panels prior to the WHFS-FM flip. This left the hard rock/active rock playlist for the Washington/Baltimore area to continue on rival WIYY (98 Rock) in Baltimore.
Until 1998, DC101 was among the last independently owned radio stations in the Washington, D.C. market. The station's parent company, Capitol Broadcasting, sold DC101 and its AM sister station, WWDC 1260 (now WWRC), to Chancellor Media, later AM-FM. Eventually, AM-FM was acquired by Clear Channel Communications, which now owns and operates a total of five radio stations in Washington, D.C. Like many other Clear Channel radio stations, DC101 has been criticized for having a limited play list. Listeners can hear the same songs several times throughout a 24-hour period.
DC101's facilities were once located on Connecticut Avenue between Dupont Circle and Farragut Square in downtown Washington, D.C. They later moved to Silver Spring, Maryland, and are now located in Rockville, Maryland. DC101 is known for its prize giveaways. They give tickets most commonly, but also (more rarely) give away larger prizes such as stereos, cars, boats, or trips. By 2011, DC101 added Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd back on the playlist, although they are played sparingly and the station is still not considered as active rock. As of August 2014, the above-mentioned artists have been dropped from the playlist.
Shock jock springboard
DC101 advanced the careers of several famous – and arguably notorious – morning radio personalities. Howard Stern was the morning man from March 1981 to June 1982. When Stern left the station on June 29, 1982, it was falsely reported that he was fired because of his on-air prank of pretending to call Air Florida airlines to book a flight to the 14th Street Bridge only one day after 78 people died when Air Florida Flight 90 crashed into the Potomac River at the bridge. There is a large amount of time between these milestones, as the crash of Air Florida 90 occurred on January 13, 1982, and the firing didn't come until late June. It is probably more accurate to state that Stern was fired because of an impasse met on his compensation, and the fact that he signed with WNBC during the latter part of his WWDC contract. It is at WWDC that Stern was first paired with news anchor Robin Quivers. DC101 is featured prominently in Stern's 1997 bio-pic Private Parts.
Stern was replaced by Doug Tracht, better known as the Greaseman, who spent over ten years at the station, from August 2, 1982 to January 22, 1993, and returned to the station in April 2008, but eventually was laid off again in October 2008 so the station could focus solely on music on weekends without his comedy bits. DC101's current morning program is Elliot In the Morning, led by Elliot Segal. Since beginning his tenure at DC101 in the late 1990s, Segal has been suspended and fined on several occasions for the show's sometimes controversial content.
In 2007, the station was nominated for the top 25 markets Alternative station of the year award by Radio & Records magazine. Other nominees included WBCN in Boston, Massachusetts, KROQ-FM in Los Angeles, KTBZ-FM in Houston, Texas, KITS, in San Francisco, and KNDD in Seattle, Washington.
The morning of May 7, 2002, on D.C. metro area shock jock Elliot Segal's radio program, DC101's "Elliot in the Morning" was conducting a contest. The winners of this contest would be cage dancers at an upcoming Kid Rock concert at George Mason University's Patriot Center. Wanting to be contestants, two sixteen-year-old Bishop O'Connell students, claiming to be eighteen, called the show. Instead of discussing the contest, the students, goaded by Elliot, discussed alleged sexual activity at O'Connell. The students, who had used false names on air, were suspended the same day for their comments. The principal addressed the student body over the PA system and criticized the immoral content of that morning's show. The following day (May 8), Mr. Segal, angered by the students' suspension, personally insulted the principal on air, making lewd insinuations about his family. He also mocked the school's mission statement. The two days of broadcasting were ruled indecent by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). As a result, in October 2003, sixteen months after the incident, DC101's parent company Clear Channel Communications was fined $55,000.