WGAY and WQMR Washington's Quality Music Radio

ED WINTON Creator of Beautiful Music format for WGAY and WQMR Washington DC

The station signed on December 7, 1946 as WGAY,  under manager co-owner Joseph L. Brechner, WGAY was popular, and was soon owned by food broker John W Kluge ( who was to command WTTG-TV in DC and  the Metropolitan Broadcasting MetroMedia empire in later years). Kluge sold to Connie B. Gay a country music entrepreneur. It was believed that WGAY was named for Connie B. Gay, though it was merely coincidental. It was later purported that the station initially broadcast government job openings, and that WGAY stood for "Government And You." 

Connie B. Gay and operators, Ted Dorf, Ed Winton and Bill Doty and later Alan Campbell and Bob Chandler, are credited with creating the beautiful music format there, which was mostly instrumental music, with orchestral covers of showtunes, soundtrack excerpts, and standard popular songs. On February 1, 1960, the WGAY calls were moved to the FM band at 99.5 MHz, while the AM station became WQMR, for "Washington's Quality Music Radio." On Sunday afternoons at 1:00 p.m., Matinee at One played a complete Broadway show soundtrack with an explanation of the plot by Manager Ed Winton and produced by Bill Doty.  Initially operated as an experimental country music station (C. B. Gay was a country and western music promoter) but started simulcasting WQMR beautiful music fulltime around 1961. These simulcasts would usually end nightly at sunset when WQMR had to sign off as required by the FCC, and WGAY-FM contnued by playing country music operating from a 45rpm singles jukebox in a hallway closet just off the production  studio. WGAY-FM was rarely mentioned on the air or in advertisements. When Alan Campbell was hired in the fall of 1961 the FM station dropped country music in the evenings and went with the AM beautiful music format.
original studios, offices at transmitter site on Kemp Mill Road, Wheaton, Md.

Studios and offices World Building, Georgia Ave, Silver Spring, Md:

 WQMR soon increased in power from 1000 watts on the AM band, while WGAY would upgrade from 20 kilowatts monophonic on the low power FM band to a 50 kilowatt stereo signal. Both WQMR and WGAY moved to the World Building, located on Georgia Avenue, just north of the intersection of Maryland Route 410 (East-West-Highway) in Silver Spring, in 1966. This simulcast arrangement continued well into the 1980s, as WQMR call sign reverted back to WGAY. In the 1970's Chandler was known to arrange for recordings of music that he did the station did not have in the the library. C B Gay and co-owner manager Ted Dorf sold the station on September 1, 1984 to Greater Media.

also go to....


A great American Songbook

A great American Songbook
musical standards directory