Thursday, March 14, 2019


WSAN in the 1970s
We have often written about the powerful mix of podcasts and radio. Today we have a new twist on the concept. 

iHeartMedia has just debuted the first all-podcast radio station in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

WSAN AM 1470 is 100% podcast powered. WSAM in one of five stations IHeart owns in Allentown.   

WSAN has tried Spanish-language programming and Sports but neither caught on the listeners. 

So, you might say the all-podcast format is the programming of last resort.”

WSAN now bills itself “The iHeartPodcast Channel” because all of the podcasts are owned by iHeart. 

The station describes itself this way:

“The iHeartPodcast Channel” on AM 1470 is a carefully curated experience that brings you the most creative stories from over 25,000 podcasts available on our free iHeartRadio app,"

"From true crime to history, comedy to food, we’ll cover dozens of topics every week." 

Holy hyperbole!

You can hear the station online [link].


Photo on the WSAN billboard contest in 1982
A film about WSAN radio will be released soon but it has nothing to do with iHeart. Back in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, WSAN was a hot Top 40 station. The film – Billboard – tells the story of a famous promotion WSAN sponsored in 1982.

The station staged a contest with a new mobile home as the grand prize. The winner would be the participant who stayed the longest on a billboard on the main street in Allentown. Two final to  contestants lived on the billboard 24/7 for more than six months. The stunt was covered on the national news and thousands of people came by to see “the people on the billboard.”

Billboard is the latest film from director Zeke Zelker. It stars John Robinson, Heather Matarazzo and Eric Roberts. National distribution of Billboard begins April 5 in New York, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. More information is available here.

Ironically, the story of the WSAN was first told nationally by Roman Mars in the podcast 99PercentInvisible [link].


  1. I would think you'd have to say NCPR's WREM has WSAN beat by a few years on that "all podcast radio" front. WREM has been airing PRX Remix 24/7 since 2011.

  2. Even earlier there was an AM station in San Francisco (Green 960?) that was all-podcasts. I remember listening to it -- I've misplaced the link from Wikipedia but maybe someone can find it.

  3. It was 1550 AM. One of a bunch of attempts at finding a way to get listeners to AM .

    The two stations simulcasted until September 13, 1999, when the AM station switched to a talk format as "Yada Yada Radio 1550", consisting of syndicated shows from hosts Don Imus, G. Gordon Liddy, Tom Leykis, Jim Bohannon, Opie & Anthony, Larry King, Bruce Williams, and "America in the Morning".[3][4] The talk format performed poorly, and rarely appeared in the Arbitron ratings books. On May 16, 2005, KYCY adopted a unique format that had never been tried on terrestrial radio before: an all-podcast format, branded as "KYou Radio".
    KYCY logo

    KYOURadio was the first radio station to have output that is 100% based on podcasts, or user-generated content. Announcing the change of format, CBS Radio chief executive Joel Hollander described the new format as something of an experiment. The first program was from podcast veteran Dave Winer.

    All content was submitted by listeners, and in the two weeks before launch, the station attracted over 400 submissions, and a month after launch it was broadcasting around 1,200 podcasts a week. All material was screened to ensure it conformed with US federal guidelines on decency. The station manager, Stephen Page, claimed that after six months he had over 2,000 people offering to create content for the station. These contributors were unpaid.

    Around 20% of the content was speech-based, with the rest based on music.

    From 2006 to 2008, KYCY was the flagship station of the Oakland Athletics Major League Baseball team; in 2008, it shared that distinction with KFRC-FM.

    On May 17, 2007, CBS flipped sister station KIFR from the "Free FM" hot talk format to oldies with call sign KFRC-FM. They also announced the move of some of their programs to 1550. One month later, three of KIFR's former programs debuted on KYCY,[5] with the all-podcast format continuing outside of those shows.