After a few years as Pittsburgh's soul station, WZUM AM 1550 in Braddock switched to jazz at noon today, with Bill Hillgrove announcing. Here's their statement, transcribed on the air:
Welcome to the new WZUM from Pittsburgh Public Media. We're a group of ex-WDUQ staffers that started a new service when that station ended five years ago. Since then we've been working bit by bit to bring fulltime jazz service back to Pittsburgh. We started with the Pittsburgh Jazz Channel, online at pghjazz.net, and then we went on the air on 88.1 FM WYZR, which can be heard in the Southern and Western suburbs of Pittsburgh. We've also been providing jazz to public radio stations nationwide, and we're the largest provider of 24//7 jazz in America.
Our hearts have always had a place for that special relationship with the listener members that enjoyed what we did in the past, and now we're starting to bring that back, first with this station, WZUM AM 1550, and in a few months a brand new FM station on 101.1. The FCC has approved it all, and now we need to build the FM station. The sooner we can get the funds in to build it, the sooner it's on the air, and we need you to help. We're an IRS 501-C3 charity, and operate WZUM noncommercially. Please donate today at pghjazz.net, that's pghjazz.net, it's safe and secure.
We're starting this venture in the most humble of ways, and with your help we can grow this service in a way you can depend on as you did before. We have a lot we want to do, community voices, live performances and more, but it only happens with your support. Please help with your donation to get to the next step, build the FM station. Support us now at pghjazz.net. Thanks.
My first recollection of AM 1550 was when they broadcast as WLOA, and my mother liked to listen to their 'beautiful music', sometime in the late 1960s-early '70s. 1550 has tried a number of other program concepts over the years, several varieties of music and talk, including being the Pittsburgh outlet for the Don and Mike Show in the 2000s, as 1550, The Edge.
The WZUM call letters were picked up when the station was in bankruptcy a few years ago, and was bought by the Pittsburgh team that had been managing its operation. They formed AM Guys LLC, who ran the station as a local, automated soul classics station. WZUM had been a popular Pittsburgh AM station from the 1960s, with soul and breaking album rock played by personality DJs.
I welcome our new jazz overlords and wish them well, and hope that the soul format and legacy of WZUM can return on another radio station. My hope is that with the new funding that they can improve the sound on 1550 and add AM stereo to the transmitter.
Here's their announcement at the time of the changeover to jazz.