WMJS, A Brief History
A history of the “original” WMJS-FM (92.7) by our very own Marty Madden.
During the early 1970s, as FM radio was making its meteoric rise to eclipse AM (Standard) radio as the listeners’ preferred choice, a 3,000-watt FM with a frequency of 92.7 megahertz went on the air in Calvert County. The original owner obtained the call letters WESM (We Entertain Southern Maryland). Toward the middle of the decade, a couple from Philadelphia, Mel and Ada Gollub, purchased the station for a modest sum. The Gollubs changed the call letters to WMJS—the latter letters representing their three children—Mark, Judy and Susan. They operated corporately as MJS Communications. The station’s middle of the road format was changed to easy listening and later to country with Broadway show tunes featured at night. Sometime during the mid-1970s the Gollubs were granted a license for an FM station in Rehoboth Beach, DE. It was also on the 92.7 mhz frequency. WMJS had its format changed about as frequently as cars have their oil changed. In early 1980, with the Gollubs in Delaware and a hired general manager running the Prince Frederick operation, WMJS was country, with a rock and roll oldies show on weekends and plently of paid religion on Sundays and weeknights. Later that year, they sold the Rehoboth Beach station and moved to Calvert to manage WMJS fulltime. During the summers of 1981, 1982, 1983 and 1984, WMJS hosted free concerts showcasing local country bands and cloggers. The shows drew thousands. In 1985 the control room turntables were removed and replaced with stereo cart machines. The format was changed to adult contemporary. In 1986, a taller tower was installed at the studio and transmitter site off Route 231. The tall tower (the tallest in the Southern Maryland region at the time) remains at that site today (it hovers over the county fairgrounds). The format was modified Christmas Day 1987 to easy listening with instrumentals mixed in with soft vocals. A big band show was also added. WMJS also ramped up its coverage of local news at this time. Around 1990, a new, smaller transmitter was installed. The Gollubs applied for and received, FCC permission to increase power to 6,000 watts.
A big change occurred in 1993. The FCC eased up on their strict requirement that a human being be on site to “maintain the transmitter” when stations were broadcasting. Automation equipment was installed. Amazingly, the station downsized its staff by attrition rather than by abrupt terminations, a true rarity in the broadcasting business. With the automation, WMJS began broadcasting 24 hours a day. The music format was changed to oldies in 1993 and modified to a softer music format in 1995. In 1994, WMJS began broadcasting the Bowie Baysox games. Three years later, the station became part of the Baltimore Orioles network. The station also broadcast VA. Tech football and men’s basketball, Bowie State men’s and women’s basketball, and George Mason University men’s basketball. WMJS also broadcast away games for the Chesapeake Ice Breakers, an ill-fated minor league hockey team that played its home games at ShowPlace Arena (the owner prohibited broadcasts of home games). That was during the 1997-1998 season.
In late November 1999, MJS Communications announced it was selling 92.7 WMJS to Mega Communications for $5.4 million. Mega is a Spanish format broadcaster. The sale was completed in early March 2000 and the station signed off the day the transaction was finalized.
Mel Gollub is a member of Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia.
Among the lengthy local news happenings covered by 92.7 WMJS during its history were: local election night results throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Hurricane Gloria, Hurricane Floyd, the Blizzard of March 1993 and the February Ice Storm of 1994.
Among the notable and notorious WMJS employees were:
- Joe Lehan, a familiar voice in Southern Maryland who is the PA announcer at Southern Maryland Blue Crabs’ home games
- Gary Pendleton, former North Beach councilman, nature writer, artist and musician
- Tim Flaherty, now of GMP Cable in St. Mary’s County
- Dave McGowan, Camden Yards’ PA announcer
- Mike McMearty, WTOP news director
- Dave Statter, WUSA police beat reporter
- Gary Dillman, famed Charles County UFO chronicler
- Bob Rawlings, former Maryland State Police Barrack commander
- Leslie Downs, incumbent orphans court judge
- Bill McCaffery, ex-state delegate and local tabloid sports curmudgeon
If you have a memory to share or a question to ask about the days of 92.7 WMJS, drop me a line.
– Marty Madden (92.7 Program Director from May 1980 to March 2000)