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|Broadcast area||Madison Metro|
|Frequency||1670 kHz AM|
|Branding||96.7FM/1670AM The Zone|
|Slogan||Madison's Sports Talk Station|
|Affiliations||CBS Sports Radio|
Milwaukee Brewers Radio Network
|Owner||Mid-West Family Broadcasting |
(Mid-West Management, Inc.)
|WHIT, WJJO, WJQM, WLMV, WMGN, WRIS-FM, WWQM|
First air date
|1948 (as WISC at 1480)|
Former call signs
|1480 (kHz) AM (1948-1998; simulcast w/ 1670 AM, 1998-2002)|
|Power||10,000 watts day|
1,000 watts night
|Translator(s)||96.7 W244DR (Madison)|
WOZN ("The Zone") is a sports talk radio station licensed to and serving Madison, Wisconsin. Owned and operated by Mid-West Family Broadcasting, WOZN broadcasts on 1670 AM, and is also simulcast on low-powered repeater W244DR (96.7 MHz).
The station began operating in 1948 at the 1480 AM frequency under the call letters WISC, which were eventually changed to WISM. For years, WISM was the popular Top 40 radio station in Madison and was the first station in Wisconsin to broadcast in AM stereo in the early 1980s ("Both Sides Now" by Judy Collins was the first song WISM played in AM Stereo). In 1984, the WTDY call letters were adopted, which originally stood for "Today Radio," a format that featured a mix of music, news, sports and weather, with the station eventually moving to a full news/talk format. WTDY would relocate to the 1670 AM frequency in 2002, and would add an FM simulcast, at 106.7, by the end of 2011 (see below), a simulcast that continues today as WOZN and WOZN-FM.
As a talk station, WTDY featured a schedule with various hosts (national or local) and viewpoints (liberal, conservative, bipartisan, or apolitical). WTDY's schedule over the years featured such national hosts as Tom Leykis, Bill O'Reilly, Art Bell, and Rush Limbaugh (the station was one of The Rush Limbaugh Show's original affiliates). WTDY's local hosts over the years included Debbie Monterrey, Casey Hoff, Shawn Prebil, and Mark Belling, who worked at WTDY in its early period as a talk station before gaining prominence at Milwaukee's WISN. Perhaps WTDY's most recognizable local figure was John "Sly" Sylvester; a longtime Madison radio personality, "Sly" began a 15-year run at WTDY in 1997, and was mainly heard in the morning slot ("Sly in the Morning") except for a brief period in middays in the mid-2000s. Employing an acerbic, provocative style on-air, "Sly" displayed his own wide-ranging political viewpoints, though he gained notoriety for his open support of pro-union protests against the controversial Act 10 legislation passed by the Wisconsin Legislature in 2011.
In addition to "Sly," WTDY's schedule by 2012 included local show Forward with Kurt Baron; full hours of local news at 12PM and 5PM; national shows including Michael Smerconish and America's Radio News; and weekend broadcasts of NFL and college sports from Compass Media Networks and Sports USA.
On November 21, 2012, Mid-West Family Broadcasting management conducted layoffs at WTDY, with "Sly" Sylvester let go along with the station's entire news staff (program director and Forward host Kurt Baron was retained in another capacity); later that day, news/talk programming on both WTDY and WTDY-FM was replaced by automated Christmas music. The Christmas stunting lasted until the weekend of December 29, 2012 in favor of a two-song loop of "Wherever I May Roam" by Metallica and "Welcome to the Jungle" by Guns N' Roses. The loop ended at 11AM on January 2, 2013, when both 1670 AM and 106.7 FM (respectively identifying as WOZN and WOZN-FM) unveiled a sports talk format branded as "The Zone," launching with the CBS Sports Radio debut of The Jim Rome Show ("Welcome to the Jungle" is its opening theme).
"The Zone's" schedule relies mainly on programming from CBS Sports Radio, including The Jim Rome Show. Local and state content on the station includes the call-in show "Joe and Ebo Show" (8-11 AM); "The Bill Michaels Show" (11AM-2PM), which originates from Milwaukee's WSSP; and "Wisconsin Farm Report with Pam Jahnke" (5-6AM), a statewide farm markets program that is the only holdover from WTDY's news/talk schedule. WOZN is also part of the Wisconsin Sports Zone Radio Network which originates from The Zone and provides seven daily sports updates to 13 radio stations throughout the state of Wisconsin. Other local shows on The Zone include the "Wisconsin Football Roundtable" with former Badgers Brooks Bollinger, Gabe Carimi and Matt Bernstein (5-6 PM Fridays). Also the Wisconsin Basketball Roundtable with former Badgers Josh Gasser, Mike Bruesewitz and Charlie Wills. Both the Football and Basketball Roundtable are hosted by longtime Madison sportscaster Jake Zimmermann.
Live game broadcasts on WOZN have included the United States Hockey League's Madison Capitols as well as the Northwoods League's Madison Mallards. Beginning in 2021, WOZN will become part of the Milwaukee Brewers Radio Network, taking over as Madison's radio home of the Brewers from longtime affiliate WIBA.
WTDY, as noted above, was originally at the 1480 AM frequency. In June 1998, the station moved to the 1670 (Extended AM) frequency, though a simulcast on 1480 (which became WTDA) continued until 2002, when WTDY moved solely to 1670 and 1480 became the Spanish language-formatted WLMV.
On December 13, 2011, WTDY began a simulcast on 106.7 FM, its sister station licensed to Mount Horeb, Wisconsin; the FM signal, which would adopt the WTDY-FM call sign, had simulcast the country music format of WWQM-FM (as WWQN). Though the 106.7 FM signal only meets the fringes of Madison (its signal strength covers Western Dane County and Iowa County), the move gave WTDY (and later WOZN) a presence on the clearer FM radio band and continued a trend in recent years of spoken word formats (news, talk, or sports) moving to or simulcasting on FM signals. WTDY-FM would change call signs to WOZN-FM when 1670 AM launched the "Zone" sports format.
WOZN would add a low-power FM simulcast on W244DR (96.7 MHz) in August 2017, a signal that reaches the immediate Madison area. The sign-on of 96.7 allowed Mid-West Family to change WOZN-FM from a "Zone" simulcast to an alternative rock format (with a new call sign of WRIS-FM) on October 31 of that year.
WOZN originates from its Madison, WI, studios at 730 Ray-O-Vac Dr. on the far west side of Madison. Its single tower is located on Syene Rd. in the nearby Town of Madison, sharing a site with WLMV. The station's 1670 AM signal transmits on a non-directional antenna with daytime transmitting power of 10,000 watts reduced to 1,000 watts at sunset.
- Between July 6 and September 22, 2015, WOZN temporary held the WUSW call sign; this was part of a move to assign those calls to the former WQLZ in Springfield, IL.
- Source: WTDY station website, c. 1997 (via archive.org)
- Staff report (21 November 2012). "Sly, WTDY news staff react to their layoffs by Midwest Family Broadcasting". Isthmus. Retrieved 22 November 2012.
- "Radio personality Sly, others out of work at WTDY," from Wisconsin State Journal, 11/22/2012
- Staff report (21 November 2012). "WTDY cuts news staff, including Sly". WISC-TV. Retrieved 22 November 2012.
- "WTDY Madison Dismisses Staff; Flips to Christmas," from Radio Insight, originally posted 11/21/2012 and updated 11/30/2012
- Source: Twitter.com/RadioInsight (12/29/2012 message)
- "Format Changes". Your Midwest Media. 2 January 2013. Archived from the original on 17 March 2013. Retrieved 24 February 2013.
- "WSSP/Milwaukee's Bill Michaels Adds WOZN To Statewide Network As Show Turns 2," from All Access, 7/29/2013
- "Mallards Partner with The Zone," from NorthwoodsLeague.com, 5/31/2016
- "Brewers to air on new stations in Madison, Eau Claire," from wi-broadcasters.org, 11/11/2020
- "Alternative Resistance Emerges in Madison," from RadioInsight, 10/31/2017
- WOZN official website
- WOZN in the FCC's AM station database
- WOZN on Radio-Locator
- WOZN in Nielsen Audio's AM station database