|Broadcast area||Memphis metropolitan area|
|Branding||Sports 56 WHBQ|
|Slogan||Real Sports Talk|
|Affiliations||Fox Sports Radio|
|Owner||Flinn Broadcasting Corporation|
|KHGA, KXHT, WGSF, WHBQ-FM, WIVG, WMPS, WMSO|
First air date
|March 25, 1925|
|Power||5,000 watts (daytime)|
1,000 watts (nighttime)
|Translator(s)||98.5 W253DF (Memphis)|
|Repeater(s)||96.1 WIVG (Tunica, MS)|
WHBQ (560 AM) - branded Sports 56 WHBQ - is a commercial sports radio station licensed to serve Memphis, Tennessee. Owned by Flinn Broadcasting, the station covers the Memphis metropolitan area, and is the local affiliate for Fox Sports Radio, the Memphis Redbirds, and Ole Miss Rebels football and basketball. The WHBQ studios and transmitter are located in the city of Memphis. Besides a standard analog transmission, WHBQ is available online. The station is also simulcast over the audio channel of WPGF-LP, VHF analog channel 6, a low-power television station licensed to serve Memphis. WPGF-LP's audio channel, transmitting at 87.75 MHz, lies within the FM band; as a result, WPGF-LP can and does operate as a radio station at 87.7 FM.
On March 25, 1925, WHBQ first signed on the air. It was among the earliest stations in Memphis and had its studios in the historic Hotel Claridge. During the 1930s, it broadcast at 100 watts on 1370 kilocycles.
After the North American Regional Broadcasting Agreement (NARBA) went into effect in 1941, WHBQ switched to 1400 kHz, powered at 250 watts. WHBQ moved its studios to Hotel Gayoso. In the 1940s, WHBQ became a network affiliate of the Mutual Broadcasting System. At the end of the 1940s, WHBQ moved to its current spot on the dial, 560 kHz. It got a boost in power to 5,000 watts days and 1,000 watts nights.
In 1954, WHBQ was acquired by RKO General, which later turned it into a leading Top 40 station. Its reputation was developed by Dewey Phillips, a disc jockey who played rhythm and blues music on his night time show, "Red, Hot and Blue." In 1954, Phillips played a recording of "That's Alright Mama" by Elvis Presley, a young truck driver and budding musician, marking the first time an Elvis recording was broadcast on the radio.
For many years, WHBQ was considered a "farm team" for RKO's larger stations. Young, aspiring DJs, such as Rick Dees and game show host Wink Martindale worked there with hopes of being moved up to RKO's larger markets, like Boston, New York City, San Francisco, or the biggest Top 40 station in the chain, KHJ in Los Angeles. In the 1960s, under the guidance of programmer Bill Drake, WHBQ became Boss Radio, known for playing the hottest hits with the most popular DJs.
Disc jockey George Klein was indicted and convicted of mail fraud in 1977. Klein, a former Program Director for WHBQ, went to trial after being indicted on four counts of conspiring with a former postal employee to steal Arbitron diaries. Klein admitted to filling out diaries in order to inflate WHBQ's ratings. Klein was found guilty of conspiracy and sentenced to 60 days in federal prison.
By the early 1980s, the once-mighty Top 40 station could no longer compete with the increasing popularity of FM-band contemporary music stations. WHBQ tried playing oldies from 1981 to 1983 before switching to a full service talk radio format. It used local talk hosts as well as syndicated programming from NBC Talknet and ABC TalkRadio.
In 1988, RKO sold WHBQ to Flinn Broadcasting, a local media company. Flinn tried oldies again, then country music and even heavy metal late at night. In 1992, WHBQ switched to all sports. For a time it was affiliated with CBS Sports Radio, then NBC Sports Radio. When NBC discontinued full-time sports programming at the end of 2018, WHBQ switched to Fox Sports Radio.
In October 2020, WHBQ began simulcasting on FM translator W253DF 98.5 FM Memphis, while WPGF-LP dropped its simulcast with WHBQ and began stunting with Christmas music as "Santa @ 87.7". The arrangement will last until the end of December 2020; in January 2021, it began running a rock format known as "Drake Hall Memphis Radio." The station will then have until July 2021 to convert to digital and end its radio operations.
WHBQ serves as the Memphis area home for the University of Mississippi's Ole Miss Rebels football and men's basketball, and is also the main outlet for the Memphis Redbirds of baseball's Pacific Coast League.
The station's hosts include: Peter Edmiston, David Basham, Dave Woloshin, Greg Gaston, Eli Savoie, Rob Fischer, Brett Norsworthy, Keith Parker, Elliot Wender and John Hardin. Nights and weekends, WHBQ carries programming from Fox Sports Radio.