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CityGrand Rapids, Michigan
Broadcast areaGrand Rapids, Michigan
Branding97.9 WGRD
Frequency97.9 MHz
First air date1962 (as WXTO)
FormatMainstream Rock
ERP13,000 watts
HAAT180 meters
Facility ID55650
Callsign meaningGrand Rapids Daytime (when WGRD was only on-air sunrise to sunset)
Former callsignsWXTO (1962-1971)
OwnerTownsquare Media
(Townsquare Media of Grand Rapids, Inc.)
Sister stationsWFGR, WLHT-FM, WNWZ, WTRV
WebcastListen Live

WGRD-FM (97.9 FM) is a mainstream rock radio station in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The station is owned by Townsquare Media.

WGRD-FM is the flagship station of The Free Beer and Hot Wings Show, a comedy/talk program, on weekday mornings, it consists of four members: Gregg "Free Beer" Daniels, Chris "Hot Wings" Michels, Joe Gasmann, and Steve McKiernan.[1] The show is now syndicated in 38 markets throughout the United States.[2]

WGRD is heard as far south as Kalamazoo/Portage/Battle Creek, as far north as Reed City, Michigan, and as far east as Grand Ledge, Michigan, and occasionally heard as far west as Milwaukee, Wisconsin.[original research?]

Top 40 Era[edit]

97.9 FM began in 1962 as WXTO,[when?] a station owned by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids and operated by Aquinas College; later, the owners of Top 40 music stations WGRD/1410 in Grand Rapids and WTRU/1600 Muskegon (Regional Broadcasters, Inc.) took full control of the station in 1971 and changed its call letters to WGRD-FM. The station's transmitter would remain on the Aquinas College campus until 1974.

In 1971, WGRD/1410, a daytime-only station (hence the call letters, which stood for "Grand Rapids Daytime") which had had a Top 40 music format in place since 1959, was struggling in the ratings against pop-rock competitors WLAV/1340 and WZZM-FM/95.7 (then known as "Z96", now WLHT-FM). WGRD thus moved its struggling Top 40 format onto its new FM station as "The New 98 Rock, WGRD FM", making the stereo FM station the primary frequency while having the AM continue to simulcast; the newly revamped WGRD quickly became the dominant Top 40 station in the market and continued to be for over two decades.

During the mid-1970s, WGRD was frequently the #1 station (12+) in the Grand Rapids market. In the 1979 Fall Arbitron ratings period, WGRD dominated the market with a 19 share. By 1985, the station was known as "98 Rock, WGRD". WGRD earned a 12.2 share (12+) in the Summer 1986 Arbitron ratings with Morning Show host Johnny "Big John" Howell alongside Robert "Radar" Shroll & Jennifer Stephens.

Top 40/Alternative[edit]

In the summer of 1994, the station moniker was "Grand Rapids #1 Hit Music Station, 98 WGRD". By 1995, however, the station had lost significant market share to Muskegon's WSNX, which had flipped from AC to Top-40, programmed by WGRD music director J.J. Duling. WGRD switched that year from CHR to the then-emerging and rapidly growing modern rock format, which it retained for a decade and a half.

In August 2010 a reunion of more than 60 former WGRD staff members was held in Grand Rapids, which included market legend Bruce Grant, the original program director from 1948, and dozens of other personalities from the AM 1410/97.9 history. As of 2010, in response to Regent becoming Townsquare, WGRD began shifting its format direction to active rock, and in response, fill the void when Citadel Broadcasting dropped active rock for sports talk on WKLQ.

WGRD's target demographic is men ages 18–34 and a secondary of Men 25-54 (Arbitron demographics).



  1. ^ Wings, Free Beer and Hot. "Free Beer and Hot Wings: Cast and Crew". Free Beer and Hot Wings. Retrieved 2017-12-02.
  2. ^ Wings, Free Beer and Hot. "Free Beer and Hot Wings: Radio Stations". Free Beer and Hot Wings. Retrieved 2017-12-02.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 42°47′46″N 85°38′56″W / 42.796°N 85.649°W / 42.796; -85.649