The call letters for the station, like its AM counterpart which went off the air in 1984, were chosen to honor Bishop Alma White, who was the founder of the Pillar of Fire Church.
WAWZ began airing its current format as Star 99.1 on February 3, 2003. Its original format was traditional and classical music and church services. In later years inspirational contemporary Christian music and mostly syndicated Christian teaching and talk shows were added. In this format its tagline was WAWZ - Your Voice of Faith and Inspiration
As of 2010, its daily on-air schedule includes Scott and Sam (6:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.), Mysti Jordan in Middays, Afternoons with Rick Hall and Sharon Davis in the evening, 6 to 10.
The weekend schedule includes ""Keep The Faith"", ""Your Favorite Songs" and the regular format for the rest of the day.
WAWZ was founded in 1931 by Bishop Alma White and the Pillar of Fire Church. Formerly headquartered in Denver, Colorado, the organization was given land in 1906, in Franklin Township, Somerset County, New Jersey.
The station was first assigned a frequency on 1350 AM, sharing time equally with three other stations, WCDA, WBNX and WMSG. In later years, on 1380 AM, it shared time with WBNX in New York City. WAWZ was the second station owned by the Pillar of Fire Church. (KPOF in Denver was the first).
On September 1, 1984, WAWZ sold its part-time AM operation over to New York station WBNX (now christened WKDM.) On WAWZ's final day, they produced a special program recalling the station's 53 years of religious broadcasting, and by electrical transcription, once again featured the voice of Alma White.
The station began broadcasting on FM on August 22, 1954. The broadcast format was eighteen hours a day of classical music along with Pillar of Fire church services. In the 1980s there was a challenge to its license. The challenge alleged that the station did not serve the public good. Allen Lewis was hired as the new program director and it became a 24-hour station. For many years WAWZ carried teaching programs, talk shows, church services, and traditional Christian music. The station ran the tagline, WAWZ-Your Voice of Faith and Inspiration and featured mostly syndicated evangelical Christian teaching and talk shows and inspirational music. Local news, AP World News, public affairs programs and several call-in shows added a New Jersey feel to the station as it attempted to serve its license area it had just vigorously defended. Most of the schedule consisted of programming came from area church services and outside ministries via the state-of-the-art Chicago-based Moody Broadcasting Service satellite subscription. Among these was a local program called Search Light which served tri-state area prison inmates. The station ran Share-a-thons twice a year to solicit support from listeners. During the 1980s WAWZ began moving from a conservative format of traditional hymns and classical music to a format which included music by contemporary Christian artists. By 1990 the music mix was about half traditional and half contemporary By 1994 the music format was nearly all contemporary. However, the majority of the schedule consisted of non-musical programming.
Major changes began on Thanksgiving Day in 2002, WAWZ began playing wall-to-wall traditional and contemporary Christmas music. After Christmas, the station started airing hot adult contemporary Christian music with non-musical elements reduced to four hours per day. Finally on February 2, 2003, WAWZ renamed itself STAR 99.1. The station also began selling time to commercial advertisers, but as it remains owned by a 501C3 they continue to have an annual "Radiothon".
With its polished family-friendly contemporary sound, Star 99.1 aims at Christians and nonbelievers alike. A casual listener scanning the radio may not easily differentiate it from secular stations that play Phil Collins or U2.
The National Religious Broadcasters honored WAWZ with Station of the Year awards in 2007 and 2008 and the National Association of Broadcasters honored them with the 2008 Crystal Radio Award for community service.
On April 2006, WAWZ-FM started HD radio operations with Star 99.1-2. The eight-hour block of teaching programs resembles the station's mid-1990s format, including the use of the former tagline, WAWZ-Your Voice of Faith and Inspiration. In 2007, 99.1-3, The Energy, was launched to coincide with the station-sponsored annual youth festival, Autumn Blaze 2007. The Energy playlist and consisted of various genres of Christian-themed, youth-oriented music (e.g., Rock, Hip-Hop, Rhythm & Blues). In 2014, The Energy ceased broadcasts on HD and online.