|Broadcast area||Atlanta metropolitan area|
|Frequency||90.1 MHz (HD Radio)|
|Branding||90.1 FM WABE (FM & HD-1)|
WABE Classics (on HD-2)
WABE News (on HD-3)
HD3: BBC World Service
|Affiliations||National Public Radio|
American Public Media
Public Radio Exchange
|Owner||Atlanta Public Schools |
(Board of Education, City of Atlanta)
|Founded||September 13, 1948|
First air date
|September 13, 1948|
Call sign meaning
|Atlanta Board of Education|
|HAAT||1,096 feet (334.1 meters)|
WABE FM 90.1 is a radio station in Atlanta, Georgia, that is affiliated with National Public Radio (NPR). WABE's format features mostly news/talk programming. It carries the NPR flagship programs Morning Edition and All Things Considered, with locally produced City Lights hosted by Lois Reitzes and Closer Look hosted by Rose Scott.
The station is licensed to the Atlanta Board of Education (hence the "ABE" in the broadcast callsign). In September 1994, a nonprofit corporation, the Atlanta Educational Telecommunications Collaborative, Inc., was founded to provide financial, promotional, and volunteer support for WABE (as well as WPBA-TV and Atlanta Public Schools cable channel 22). WABE's signal reaches practically all of the northwestern and north-central parts of the state. It is the dominant public radio station in metropolitan Atlanta, but starting on June 30, 2014, has been joined during the daytime by Georgia Public Broadcasting's Atlanta feed on 88.5 WRAS-FM. GPB provides public radio programming to most of the rest of the state.
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 non-commercial radio station in the Southern U.S., at least on the FM broadcast band. Its first radio studios were located in two rooms in the Atlanta City Hall. The station moved, along with its then-new sister television station WETV (channel 30, now WPBA), into facilities in northeastern 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. It was a charter member of NPR in 1971, and the school board saw enough promise in the fledgling venture to cut educational programming to six hours a day. On April 13, 1974, WABE boosted its transmission power from 10,000 to 30,000 watts and began broadcasting in stereo. By 1982, 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 allowing it to expand its power to a full 100,000 watts. It remained on Stone Mountain 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 the area 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.
In January 2022, Public Broadcasting Atlanta rebranded both WABE and its sister station WPBA, as well as its smartphone app, podcasts and website, as one unified entity named WABE, with a new logo and slogan "Amplifying Atlanta." []
Well into the 2010s, WABE continued to air classical music during the day, which was unusual for a market of Atlanta's size; practically all other such cities had at least one full-time news/talk outlet. As a result, many NPR programs that became mainstays after the network's rapid programming expansion in the 1990s, 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. After years of member consultations and the rise of GPB competition on WRAS, WABE dropped daytime classical programming in favor of locally based news programming in 2015. Classical music is now heard on the main channel only on Sunday evenings, as of 2021.
WABE airs Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Here and Now, Fresh Air and Marketplace on its analog signal, and Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!, It's Been a Minute, Radiolab, Reveal, Snap Judgment and This American Life are heard on weekends. A full-time classical HD station and a full-time news station are also available; all three channels stream live on the Internet.
The BBC World Service airs on WABE's HD news channel, as well as overnights on the main WABE terrestrial signal.
|90.1FM||WABE-HD1||90.1 FM WABE||Broadcast stream, News/Talk/Cultural|
|90.1-3FM||WABE-HD3||WABE News||BBC World Service|
Local weekday hosts
Lisa Rayam: hosts Morning Edition.
Lois Reitzes: longtime host of the former morning classical-music program "Second Cup Concert" (now canceled) and of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra broadcasts. She now hosts the local arts and cultural program "City Lights". 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.
Rose Scott: hosts Closer Look
Jim Burress: hosts All Things Considered.
Denis O'Hayer: the former political reporter for WXIA-TV and longtime news anchor at radio station WGST in Atlanta—anchored the afternoon All Things Considered, and Morning Edition (after Goss' retirement). O'Hayer now hosts the WABE podcast "Political Breakfast".
Robert Hubert: hosts Atlanta Music Scene, heard on Sunday evenings.
WABE reporters include Jim Burress, Martha Dalton, Lisa Hagan, Molly Samuel and Johnny Kauffman.
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 late 1970s. He also hosts Blues Classics on Friday Nights. 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.
Political Breakfast: hosted by Denis O'Hayer.
City Lights and Closer Look are also available as podcasts.`
WABE's call sign was WPBA-FM for much of April 1984, at the same time WETV's call sign was changed to WPBA. The radio station's call sign was changed back in May because of listener confusion.
During the 1980s and 1990s, the station's afternoon classical program was named Kaleidoscope, hosted by Jonathan Phelps.