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CityMemphis, Tennessee
Broadcast areaMemphis metropolitan area
Branding"K 97.1"
Slogan"Memphis' Only Hip-Hop and R&B"
Frequency97.1 MHz (also on HD Radio)
97.1-HD2: Classic Hip-Hop
First air date2 December 1959
FormatUrban contemporary
ERP100,000 watts
HAAT162 meters (548 ft)
Facility ID54916
Callsign meaningW Harold R. Krelstein (executive of former owner Plough Broadcasting)
AffiliationsPremiere Radio Networks
OwneriHeartMedia, Inc.
(CC Licenses, LLC)
WebcastListen Live

WHRK (97.1 MHz "K97.1") is a commercial FM radio station licensed to Memphis, Tennessee. The station is owned by iHeartMedia, Inc. and it airs an urban contemporary radio format. The station carries the nationally syndicated weekday morning show, The Breakfast Club, from co-owned Premiere Networks and based at WWPR in New York City; the rest of the schedule is hosted by local DJs.

WHRK's studios and offices are located on Thousand Oaks Boulevard in Southeast Memphis;[1] the transmitter site is off Benjestown Road in North Memphis.[2]

WHRK broadcasts in the HD Radio format, with its HD-2 subchannel carrying a classic hip-hop format.[3]


Classical WMPS-FM[edit]

On 2 December 1959, the station first signed on as WMPS-FM.[4] It was the FM counterpart to AM 680 WMPS (now WMFS) and ran at only 6,600 watts, a fraction of its power today.

WMPS-AM-FM were owned by the Plough Corporation, a pharmaceutical firm founded in Memphis that also had a radio division, with stations in Chicago, Atlanta, Boston and other cities. At first the two stations mostly simulcast, but during the 1960s and 1970s, WMPS-FM was separately programmed with a classical music format. In the 1970s, WMPS-FM got a boost to 100,000 watts.

Switch to Rhythmic and Urban[edit]

In the mid-1970s, the owners decided that the classical format was underperforming in ratings and revenue. In October 1976, the station flipped to a Rhythmic Contemporary format that featured disco music, utilizing the same formula that its counterpart in Philadelphia, WCAU-FM, was using at the time; the call sign was changed in 1977 to WHRK, to honor Harold R. Krelstein, who had been the President and CEO of Plough Broadcasting, Inc. Krelstein retired in 1976. In 1977 he was awarded the National Association of Broadcasters Distinguished Service Award for his contributions to broadcasting and especially, radio, he died in July 1977.

WHRK's success with Disco also paid off ratings wise during the last four years (1976 to 1980) of the genre's period. By 1981, a year after disco's demise, the station moved in a more urban direction, featuring hip-hop, freestyle, new jack swing, dance music and R&B, along with some pop hits; when Billboard introduced its Crossover Chart in February 1987, WHRK was added to the panel as one of its reporters. By the end of the 1989, WHRK had evolved to a mainstream urban contemporary sound.

New Ownership[edit]

In 1985, Adams Communications bought the top AM and top FM stations in Memphis, aimed at the African American community: WHRK and AM 1070 WDIA, which airs a full service format for black listeners, including R&B, soul music and gospel, plus news, sports and talk. In 1988, noted African American radio executive Regan Henry bought WHRK and WDIA for $13 million.[5]

In 1996, WHRK and WDIA were purchased by Chancellor Broadcasting.[6] Chancellor also acquired WHRK's former urban competitor, 101.1 KJMS. KJMS was moved to an urban adult contemporary sound, while WHRK continued as a more youthful urban station. A short time later, Chancellor switched its name to AMFM, Inc., and was acquired by Clear Channel Communications in 1999. In 2014, Clear Channel became iHeartMedia, the current owner of WHRK, WDIA and KJMS.

Station management[edit]

  • General Manager: Michael Oppenheimer
  • Program Director: Devin Steele
  • Community Affairs Director: Jae Henderson


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 35°13′23″N 90°02′35″W / 35.223°N 90.043°W / 35.223; -90.043