A Century of Broadcasting: WCBM Celebrates 100 Years on the Air in Baltimore

When the radio crackled to life for the first time on March 28th, 1924, few could have predicted the incredible journey ahead for Baltimore’s WCBM. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the station taking to the airwaves, making it one of the oldest continuously operating radio stations in the United States.

From its modest start broadcasting from a cramped room at the Kuntz Building on North Charles Street using a repurposed wireless voice transmitter, WCBM has grown into an indelible part of the cultural fabric of Baltimore. Its familiar call letters and programming have connected generations of Baltimoreans through times of war, social upheaval, technological transformation, and each era’s biggest moments.

WCBM’s centennial is a testament to the vital role radio has played in keeping communities informed and entertained for a century.

That legacy saw its earliest roots in 1923 when the station was founded as an amateur radio club by Constantine J. Lambdin and other technology enthusiasts. A year later in 1924, it made broadcasting history as Lambdin uttered the first words heard over WCBM’s inaugural transmission using the slogan “The Coastal City of Maryland.”

In its first decade, the station pioneered early radio programming by broadcasting music from paper scroll recordings, local church services, university lectures, and sporadic news updates. Its reach expanded in 1927 when it upgraded to a new 100-watt transmitter tower.

Over the decades that followed, WCBM brought Baltimore some of its most iconic and longstanding shows like The Buddy Young Program which aired for over 40 years starting in the 1940s. The station was also home to beloved personalities like Johnny Badart, whose late-night talk show kept night owls company for three decades.

WCBM adapted, adopting new formats from Top 40 hits to all-news. It was among the first to embrace the talk radio boom of the 1980s.

While ownership, formats, and frequencies changed over the years, WCBM remained a constant for Baltimore listeners by keeping them informed during events and record-setting Chesapeake Bay hurricanes. More recently, it was a crucial source of live updates during the unrest of 2015.

Baltimore has changed immensely in the last 100 years, but WCBM’s mission to serve as the eyes, ears, and voice of the community has never wavered. We’ve been honored to share Baltimore’s journey through triumph and tragedy.

Today, WCBM broadcasts with a talk radio format featuring local hosts discussing the latest news and issues affecting Baltimore along with nationally-syndicated programming. The next century will undoubtedly bring more changes in technology and listening habits, but WCBM’s commitment to its community endures.

To commemorate its centennial, the station has events planned and giveaways throughout 2024 to celebrate 100 years of bringing Baltimore together over the airwaves. However you listen, chances are WCBM’s resilient signal will remain a constant companion for generations to come.