|Broadcast area||Metro Detroit|
|Branding||97.1 The Ticket|
|Slogan||Detroit Sports Talk All Day|
(also on HD Radio)
|First air date||May 10, 1941|
|Format||Analog/HD-1: Sports talk|
HD-2: WWJ simulcast
HD-3: WXYT simulcast
|HAAT||272 meters (892 ft)|
|Callsign meaning||WXY Talk Radio|
(homage to WXYZ-TV callsign)
|Former callsigns||W8XWJ (1936-1941)|
|Affiliations||CBS Sports Radio|
Westwood One Sports
Detroit Red Wings
(Entercom License, LLC)
|Sister stations||WDZH, WOMC, WWJ, WXYT, WYCD|
WXYT-FM (97.1 MHz), 97.1 The Ticket, is a commercial sports radio station owned by Entercom, licensed to Detroit, Michigan and serving Metro Detroit. Most programming is local with CBS Sports Radio supplying overnight and some weekend shows. (Sister station WXYT 1270 AM carries the CBS Sports Radio Network around the clock.)
WXYT-FM's studios and transmitter are located in suburban Southfield, off Lincoln Drive. It transmits its signal from an antenna 891 feet (272 m) height above average terrain with an effective radiated power of 15,000 watts.
97.1 FM began broadcasting as an experimental Apex band station called W8XWJ in 1936. In 1940, the station ceased broadcasting while owner Evening News Association (parent company of WWJ 950 and The Detroit News) waited for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to approve its move to the newly created FM band. Approval came in late October 1940 and on May 10, 1941 the station (now renamed W45D) signed on at 44.5 MHz with 3,000 watts of power, becoming the first FM radio station in Michigan and the seventh in the United States. When the FCC created the new 88-108 MHz broadcast band, W45D was moved to 96.9 as WENA in September 1945. By 1947, the station had settled on its present 97.1 home as WWJ-FM, originally simulcasting WWJ. By the end of the 1960s WWJ-FM had separated programming and begun airing a beautiful music format with programming coming from Schulke Radio Productions (SRP), with which it enjoyed high ratings despite a glut of easy-listening competition in the market from stations such as 95.5 WLDM, 96.3 WJR-FM, 100.3 WNIC and 104.3 WOMC. In addition, during the 1970s WWJ-AM simulcast WWJ-FM's programming during overnight hours.
In November 1981, WWJ-FM changed its call letters to WJOI, which helped it distinguish itself more from its AM all-news sister station. WJOI's format remained beautiful music, although the station changed syndicators from the "FM 100 Plan" (distributed by Chicago's successful beautiful music station WLOO) to the Bonneville and later Schulke packages.
WJR-FM's change to "Hot Hits" WHYT in September 1982 left WJOI (nicknamed "Joy 97") as Detroit's only beautiful music station. As a result, WJOI enjoyed consistent top ten or top five showings in the Arbitron ratings through most of the rest of the 1980s, and even reached #1 12+ in the Arbitron results in the spring 1984 book (1), topping WJR, at a time when the beautiful music format had nearly disappeared in other markets. Listenership eroded slightly in the late 1980s with the success of former Top-40 giant CKLW-AM's "Music of Your Life" format but Joy 97 remained a consistent top performer in the ratings.
However, most of the station's listeners were older than the demographics usually courted by advertisers. Thus, in early 1991, the station made some adjustments to its format, dropping the syndication and going to a staff of live announcers and at the same time adding more soft pop and mellow rock vocals to the mix while replacing many of the traditional orchestra-based instrumentals with new-age and smooth jazz cuts. The "freshening up" of the format, however, did not reverse the station's fortunes, and ratings steadily declined. By early 1994, the station was essentially a mostly-vocal soft adult contemporary format.
With the soft AC approach failing to make the station a contender against WNIC and WLTI, WJOI became WYST (aka "Star 97") on September 2, 1994, and featured a 1970s oldies/classic hits format. WYST positioned itself as "The Greatest Hits of the '70s," although the station did branch its playlist out somewhat into the late '60s and early '80s. WYST was also Detroit's outlet for syndicated morning show host Don Imus.
On February 3, 1997, Imus' show moved to AM sister WXYT 1270, making room for The Howard Stern Show. WYST switched its format to Active Rock, as "97ROCK" (later taking the call letters WKRK and the on-air identifier "97-1 K-Rock" in June of that year). Competing with WRIF (Detroit's other active rock station), "K-Rock" caught the ears of fans of harder rock and metal. However, K-Rock's penchant for making fun of WRIF, mostly for long stretches between songs, turned off many a listener just as quickly. Ratings continued to be less than impressive, and on August 31, 1998, WKRK repositioned itself as "Extreme Radio" with its format evolving toward Hot Talk.
By March 1999, the majority of the station's music programming on weekdays was gone and the station soon took on the name "97-1: Detroit's FM Talk Station". This was later changed to simply "97.1 FM Talk". During this period it carried syndicated talk shows such as Loveline, The Tom Leykis Show, and Mancow's Morning Madhouse, as well as local shows. WKRK relaunched as "Live 97.1" in May 2003. In August 2004, WKRK became the flagship radio station for the Detroit Lions.
In October 2005, WKRK added the "Free FM" identifier being used by CBS Radio on many of its hot-talk properties across the country. Once Howard Stern left for Sirius Satellite Radio on January 3, 2006, WKRK began airing Rover's Morning Glory in morning drive. Rover continued as the morning show until September 2006, when low ratings led to a switch to the syndicated Opie and Anthony.
On October 1, 2007, at 3 PM, WKRK ended its eight-year run as a hot talk station, and flipped to an all-sports format, simulcasting with 1270 WXYT, and changing its call letters to WXYT-FM, with the simulcast being named "97-1 FM & 1270 AM: Detroit's Sports Powerhouse". Of its "Free FM" lineup, Deminski & Doyle were moved to mornings, and Bill McAllister remained.
On November 6, 2007, the simulcast was renamed "97-1 FM The Ticket." The 1270 AM frequency was then only mentioned at the top of the hour. Another change was the names of the midday show "The Big Show" and afternoon show "The Sports Inferno". Both of the shows names were dropped, with both being renamed to "Karsch & Anderson", and "Valenti & Foster", respectively. A few months later, after Deminski & Doyle left for WCSX, current morning show "Motor City Mornings" was renamed "Jay Towers & Bill McAllister Mornings". This was all done to "promote the personalities." Jay Towers left WXYT in December 2009, and the show then renamed "The Morning Show" with Bill, Sara and Mike "Stoney" Stone filling in. In November 2010, the morning show was renamed "Stoney & Bill".
On February 5, 2009, WXYT acquired the rights to become the Detroit Pistons flagship station starting in the 2009-2010 season. WWJ 950 AM covered Pistons games when they conflicted with The Ticket's coverage of Lions, Tigers, or Red Wings games. 1270 AM also provided, and continues to provide, coverage of Tigers or Red Wings game in case of conflicting schedules.
In January 2013, the station added longtime WDFN personalities Jamie Samuelsen and Bob Wojnowski, for the early evening shift (6pm-8pm).
On November 20, 2015, it was announced that the Detroit Lions would move to WJR beginning in the 2016 NFL season, ending the team's 20-year relationship with CBS Radio. Officials stated that CBS had dropped the Lions over demands that it censor on-air content that was critical of the team. In particular, the Lions specifically demanded that the station fire popular on-air personality Mike Valenti as a condition of any extension to its broadcast rights, which the station refused to do; Valenti has had a history of making remarks critical of the Lions and their poor performance.
In September 2016, McAllister left the morning show and was replaced by Jamie Samuelsen. Kyle Bogie replaced Samuelsen for the evening show alongside Wojo. Weeks later, Terry Foster retired from afternoon drive co-hosting duties with Mike Valenti after a brief return. Valenti continues to host afternoons solo.