|City of license||Atlanta, Georgia|
|Broadcast area||Atlanta metropolitan area|
|Branding||90.1 FM WABE (FM & HD-1)
WABE Classical (on HD-2)
WABE News (on HD-3)
|Slogan||Atlanta's home for the classics and NPR news|
90.1 HD-2 for Classical music
90.1 HD-3 for News & Talk
|First air date||September 13, 1948|
|HAAT||334.1 metres (1,096 feet)|
|Callsign meaning||Atlanta Board of Education|
|Affiliations||National Public Radio
Public Radio International
American Public Media
|Owner||Atlanta Public Schools / Atlanta Educational Telecommunications Collaborative, Inc.
(Board of Education, City of Atlanta)
WABE FM 90.1 is a radio station in Atlanta, Georgia, that is affiliated with National Public Radio (NPR) and Public Radio International (PRI). WABE's format features mostly classical music, although the station will occasionally play a Beatles tune, a Broadway show tune, a film suite, or a selection from a film such as Star Wars, as long as the piece is in a classical-sounding arrangement. WABE-FM has lately added the short feature Atlanta Sounds (broadcast several times a day) and twice weekly previews of weekend events around the city. Beginning in 2009, its Sunday schedule changed from devoting equal time to news programs and classical music to broadcasting news programs during the daytime and playing classical music on Sunday evenings. It carries the NPR flagship programs Morning Edition and All Things Considered, with newscasts interjected periodically.
The station is licensed to the Atlanta Board of Education (hence the "ABE" in the broadcast callsign), although a non-profit umbrella corporation has been established to oversee the station's daily operations. The station's signal reaches practically all of the northwestern and north-central parts of the state. WABE is the dominant public radio station in metropolitan Atlanta; Georgia Public Broadcasting serves most of the remainder of the state with such programs.
WABE has always been operated by the city school system. The license was donated to the school board by the Rich's Foundation on September 8, 1948. It went on the air five days later as Georgia's first educational radio station. It also may well have been the first-ever noncommercial radio station in the Southern U.S., at least on the FM broadcast band. Its first radio studios were located in the former Atlanta City Hall. The station moved, along with television station WETV (channel 30, now WPBA), into facilities in northeast Atlanta in 1958, where both stations remain to this day.
The school board used WABE strictly as a medium for educational (i.e., in-school) broadcasts until sometime in the early 1970s, when classical music broadcasts (and likely evening broadcasts also) premiered on the station. The early 1970s also saw the beginnings of NPR network programming and an increase of transmission power. By the early 1980s, the educational programs heard during school hours moved, thanks to the development of subcarrier technologies, to subchannels, leaving the main FM frequency free to broadcast music and news shows for adults.
The station finally expanded its hours to around-the-clock service and built a much more powerful transmitter on Stone Mountain, which it used until 2004, when transmission moved to the TV tower next to sister station WPBA in the DeKalb County portion of East Atlanta. The short tower atop one of the highest points in metro Atlanta was and still is that of WGTV, the GPTV (now GPB TV) station for the area. WPBA had to leave when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) forced all television stations to go digital, and the tower was not strong enough to hold four antennae — the other being NOAA Weather Radio station KEC80. (A larger tower was out of the question, as it is scenic and within state-owned Stone Mountain Park.)
Since that time, WABE has grown steadily in listeners served, mainly because Atlanta is one of the nation's fastest-growing metropolitan areas, and the fastest-growing of the largest 15 or so media markets, now ranked seventh in potential radio listeners by Arbitron.
WABE has continued to air classical music during the day, even with NPR's rapid expansion since the 1980s. As a result, many NPR mainstays such as The Diane Rehm Show, Talk of the Nation, Here and Now, On Point, The Story with Dick Gordon and the BBC World Service were not heard in Atlanta until WABE launched an all-NPR news stream on its third HD subcarrier.
However, WABE does air Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Fresh Air and Marketplace on its analog signal, during the morning and afternoon drive-time hours. A full-time classical HD station is also available, as is Ahora, a Spanish-language channel, and all three channels stream live on the Internet.
The station broadcasts the following HD Radio subchannels:
|90.1FM||WABE-HD||90.1 FM WABE||News/Talk/Cultural|
|90.1-2FM||WABE-HD2||WABE Classical||Classical and other music|
Local Weekday Hosts
Lois Reitzes — longtime host of the morning classical-music program "Second Cup Concert" and of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra broadcasts. She came to WABE in 1979 from WFIU-FM in Bloomington, Indiana. Reitzes served as a classical-music host for WFIU while working toward a double major in piano and musicology at Indiana University. Reitzes is also an accomplished pianist.
John Lemley — joined the station's on-air team in 1997 as host of an afternoon classical-music program, Daytime. Years after, its name was changed to Afternoon Classics (see above); Lemley returned to the show in early 2009 after three years as local host of the news programs in the late afternoons. On January 7, 2013, it was discontinued and its place taken by the full-length version of Performance Today, while the evening broadcast of Performance Today, which had formerly been broadcast on WABE in a one-hour version, was replaced by the program Tell Me More, new to the WABE evening lineup.
John Lemley also serves as host of City Cafe, a daily program which features just as much talk as it does classical music. Each week the show features a question that listeners are encouraged to answer based on their own experience, no matter how trivial or silly. Listeners are also encouraged on the show to submit requests of their favorite classical pieces. Lemley can also be heard on WABE's companion television station, WPBA TV, as daytime voiceover announcer. Lemley came to WABE from WBHM-FM in Birmingham, Alabama, where he also served as afternoon host. In Birmingham, from 1987 to 1997, he was also one of the biggest names in the Magic City's theatre scene, performing with Town & Gown Theatre, Summerfest, Birmingham-Southern Theatre, and Birmingham Children's Theatre.
Denis O'Hayer — the former political reporter for WXIA-TV and longtime news anchor at NewsRadio 640 WGST in Atlanta - anchors the afternoon drive time news block of The World, All Things Considered, and Marketplace.
Robert Hubert — a veteran of over two decades on WABE's staff, Hubert hosts the evening classical-music program Nocturne and serves as the station's music librarian. He also hosts Atlanta Music Scene, heard on Monday evenings during his regular program. On the weekends, Hubert can be heard on Concert90 and Aubade.
Local specialty program hosts
Herman "H." Johnson — a legendary Atlanta broadcaster in his own right, he has hosted the Saturday-night Jazz Classics show since the early 1980s. Johnson, known only by his first initial (he has admitted on the air that his actual first name is Herman), for many years was a disc jockey on WAOK-AM, one of Atlanta's heritage African-American stations. The program's theme is a rendition of the Battle Hymn of the Republic by jazz artist and Episcopal clergyman Tom Vaughn.
WABE's call sign was WPBA-FM for a month in 1984, at the same time WETV's call sign was changed to WPBA. The radio station's call sign was changed back because of confusion.
During the 1980s and 1990s the station's afternoon classical program was called Kaleidoscope, hosted by Jonathan Phelps.
- WABE Website
- Query the FCC's FM station database for WABE
- Radio-Locator information on WABE
- Query Arbitron's FM station database for WABE