|Broadcast area||Baltimore metropolitan area|
|Branding||WBAL Newsradio 1090 and FM 101.5|
|Translator(s)||W268BA (101.5 MHz, Baltimore)|
|Repeater(s)||WIYY-HD2 (97.9 MHz)|
|First air date||November 2, 1925|
|Class||A (clear channel)|
|Callsign meaning||W BALtimore|
|Former frequencies||1220 kHz (1925–1927)|
1050 kHz (1927–1928)
1060 kHz (1928–1941)
|Affiliations||ABC News Radio|
Fox News Radio
|Sister stations||WBAL-TV, WIYY|
WBAL (1090 kHz) is a commercial AM radio station licensed to Baltimore, Maryland and owned by the broadcasting division of the Hearst Corporation. Airing a News/Talk radio format, WBAL broadcasts on a Class A clear-channel frequency, with 50,000 watts from a transmitter facility in Randallstown, Maryland. Listeners in and around Baltimore can also hear the station on FM translator station W268BA at 101.5 MHz.
The station shares its studios and offices with sister stations WBAL-TV (channel 11) and WIYY (97.9 FM) on Television Hill in Baltimore's Woodberry neighborhood. WBAL and WIYY are the only two radio stations owned by Hearst, which is primarily a publishing and television company, also co-owned with the television station; they are also part of a triopoly.
WBAL is non-directional by day but uses a directional antenna at night to protect the other Class A stations on 1090 AM, KAAY in Little Rock and XEPRS in Rosarito, Mexico. With a good radio, WBAL's nighttime signal can be heard in much of Eastern North America, reaching as far as Finland, Sweden, Nova Scotia and Bermuda. Its daytime signal easily covers most of Maryland as well as the Washington metropolitan area, and parts of Delaware, Virginia and Pennsylvania.
On weekdays, WBAL airs 9 hours of all-news blocks, some of them simulcast from co-owned WBAL-TV. During middays, two local talk shows are heard, Clarence M. Mitchell, IV (known as "C4") at 9 a.m. and Brent Hollander at 1 p.m. Evenings often feature sports programming. And overnights, the nationally syndicated Lars Larson Show is heard.
Weekends include local shows and syndicated programs, including Dana Loesch, Brian Kilmeade, Meet The Press, This Week from ABC and Bill Cunningham. Some weekend hours are paid brokered programming. WBAL carries national news from ABC News.
Since the Baltimore Orioles began their inaugural season in 1954, WBAL was their flagship station for most of that team's history, though not continuously. For example, it carried Orioles games every season from 1987 to 2006, after which the team's games were broadcast on crosstown rival WJZ-FM. Orioles games returned to WBAL from 2011 to 2014 before the team switched back to WJZ-FM in 2015. Ravens games have been broadcast on WBAL and WIYY since the 2006 season.
WBAL began broadcasting after being dedicated on November 2, 1925, as a subsidiary of the Consolidated Gas Electric Light and Power Company, a predecessor of Constellation Energy. WBAL's initial broadcasting studio was located at the utility's offices on Lexington Street. It was an affiliate of the NBC Blue Network. On January 12, 1935, with radio becoming more commercialized, there was little justification for a public service company to own a radio station. WBAL was sold to the Hearst-controlled American Radio News Corporation, which operated it along with two daily newspapers, The Baltimore News-Post and The Baltimore American (later merged as the Baltimore News-American).
In the 1930s, WBAL became the flagship station for the international broadcast of radio evangelist G. E. Lowman, whose shows originated in Baltimore until 1959. During the 1960s, WBAL had a full service Middle Of The Road music format stressing personality and news. The station played a mix of standards with some softer songs from the Top 40.
Among its personalities during that period were program host Jay Grayson, Harley Brinsfield, who had a long-running Saturday night jazz music program, The Harley Show, and White House-accredited newsman Galen Fromme. In the early 1980s, WBAL began running talk shows evenings and overnights, and continued to play some music during the day. Music gradually decreased and in the fall of 1985, with WBAL transitioning to its current news-talk format, winning 19 national Edward R. Murrow Awards since then, the most of any local U.S. radio station. Since the mid-1990s, the station has become increasingly conservative, both in its on-air personalities and its editorial disposition.
In 2010, WBAL switched its morning and afternoon drive time shows to an all-news format, titled Maryland's Morning News and Afternoon News Journal respectively. (The shows has since been renamed to Maryland's News Now and later to "WBAL News Now.") The all-news blocks include national newscasts from ABC News every 30 minutes. Previously, the national feed had been provided by CBS at the top of each hour until 2014. Also in 2014, the station was re-branded as WBAL News Radio 1090, to better reflect its status as Maryland's radio news leader.
Anchors, reporters & hosts
- Bill Vanko
- Bryan Nehman (morning anchor)
- Steve Fermier
- Brett Hollander (afternoon host)
- Anne Kramer
- Robert Lang (anchor & public affairs host)
- Clarence M. Mitchell, IV (C4)
- Jimmy Mathis
- Doug McIntyre
- John Patti
- Jim Russ (traffic reporter)
- Brian Kilmeade
- Dana Loesch
- Scott Wykoff (morning reporter)
- Phil Yacuboski
- Troy Johnson
- Liz Drabick (traffic reporter)
- Stacy Lyn
- Brenda Carl
- Dave Gegorak
- Jacob Young
- Tyler Waldman
- Christine McEntire
- Bill Cunningham
Notable former on-air staff
- Ron Smith – died, at the age of 70, on December 19, 2011, after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer.
- Allan Prell - Along with Smith, the leading voice of WBAL in the 1980s and 90s. Left the station in 1999, died in 2016.
- Dave Durian - hosted the morning show from 1990 to 2012; died at age 72 on January 28, 2019, from complications of lung cancer and a stroke.
- "Detour Dave" Sandler - longtime traffic reporter, died in 2019.
- FCC History Cards for WBAL
- King, Thomson (1950). Consolidated of Baltimore 1816–1950: A History of Consolidated Gas Electric Light and Power Company of Baltimore. Baltimore: Consolidated Gas Electric Light and Power Co. pp. 246, 274.
- O'Connor, Thomas H. Baltimore Broadcasting from A to Z (1985), p. 23.
- Zurawick, David (July 24, 2009). "WBAL radio manager is leaving". The Baltimore Sun. p. 3.
- "WIYY Drops HD Only Music Channels". AllAccess.com. All Access Music Group, Inc. August 29, 2014.
- "Ron Smith Succumbs To Cancer At 70". WBAL-TV. Hearst Television. December 20, 2011. Archived from the original on January 17, 2016. Retrieved December 20, 2011.
- "Ron Smith 1941–2011". WBAL-TV. Hearst Television. December 20, 2011. Retrieved December 20, 2011.
- Kelly, Jacques; Rasmussen, Frederick N. (December 13, 2016). "Allan Prell, WBAL talk show host, dies at 79". The Baltimore Sun.
- WBAL website
- Query the FCC's AM station database for WBAL
- Radio-Locator Information on WBAL
- Query Nielsen Audio's AM station database for WBAL
- Query the FCC's FM station database for W268BA
- Radio-Locator information on W268BA
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for W268BA
- Isaacs, Stan. "The Orioles Play Stop The Music," Sports Illustrated, October 8, 1979.
- FCC History Cards for WBAL