The earliest ancestor to WPRO, WKBF, began broadcasting from Cranston, Rhode Island on June 15, 1924, owned by Dutee Wilcox Flint and operating at 1050 kc.; in January 1925, the call letters were changed to WDWF, reflecting the owner's initials, and the station moved to 680 kc. That December, Lincoln Studios began to share ownership of the station with Flint; Lincoln broadcast its programming under the call sign WLSI. WDWF and WLSI moved to 800 kc. by June 30, 1927, to 1090 kc. in October, to 1150 kc. in November, and to 1210 kc. in February 1928. By 1930, the studios for WDWF and WLSI were located in Providence.
The Cherry & Webb Era (September 1931-April 1959)
Providence department store Cherry & Webb acquired the station in September 1931, and merged the two stations under a single license with the call letters WPRO. The merged station formally relaunched on October 16. The purchase made Cherry & Webb the third department store in Providence to get into radio broadcasting, after the 1922 launches of Shepard Stores' WEAN (now WPRV, a sister station to WPRO) and The Outlet Company's WJAR (now WHJJ). The following February, Cherry & Webb purchased another station at 1210 kc., WPAW in nearby Pawtucket, which had been granted a license in August 1926 as WFCI, owned by Frank Cook Inc. and operating at 1160 kc., moved to 1330kc. by June 30, 1927, to 1240 that August, and to 1210kc. in November 1928, concurrent with the change to WPAW. Following the acquisition, the station used WPAW in tandem with WPRO until 1933. The station moved to its current frequency, 630 kHz, in 1934. WPRO was an affiliate of the short-lived American Broadcasting System in 1935; in 1937, the station joined the CBS Radio Network, replacing charter affiliate WEAN.
Although WPRO's city of license was changed from Cranston to Providence soon after Cherry & Webb took over, the station's transmitter remained in Cranston until its destruction in the 1938 New England hurricane; it then constructed a new transmission facility in East Providence. FM service was added on April 17, 1948 with the debut of WPRO-FM (92.3 Mc.), and a television sister station, WPRO-TV (channel 12), went on the air March 27, 1955.
The CapCities Era (April 1959-1993)
Cherry & Webb exited broadcasting in April 1959, selling the WPRO stations to Capital Cities Television Corporation, which eventually became Capital Cities Communications. Soon afterward, WPRO ended its CBS Radio affiliation and became Providence's top-rated top 40 station, competing against WICE (now WRNI) and, later, WGNG (now WSJW). The station's studios were moved to the transmitter location in East Providence in 1974; WPRO's previous studio location, which until then had also continued to house what had become WPRI-TV even after that station was sold by Capital Cities in 1967, was then donated to public television station WSBE-TV. That same year, WPRO-FM adopted its own top 40 format, and the AM side began a gradual evolution to adult contemporary that would continue through the remainder of the decade. During the 1980s, the station again began to shift its format by gradually adding talk shows to its schedule; it also became an affiliate of ABC Radio by 1984, two years before ABC was purchased by Capital Cities. WPRO discontinued its remaining music programming on March 20, 1989, moving to an all-talk format.
Tele-Media Takes Over/End of the Salty Brine Era; ownership changes (1993-present)
Capital Cities/ABC sold WPRO to Tele-Media in 1993; this put the station under common ownership with WLKW (the former WEAN) and WWLI. Tele-Media, in turn, sold its stations to Citadel Broadcasting in 1997. WPRO added its simulcast on WEAN-FM on March 11, 2008. Citadel merged with Cumulus Media on September 16, 2011.
Much of WPRO's weekday lineup is locally-produced, programming includes News Director Bill Haberman with "The WPRO First News", Gene Valicenti and "The WPRO Morning News", John DePetro late mornings, Dan Yorke afternoons, former Providence mayor Buddy Cianci afternoon drive, and Matt Allen evenings. The addition of Cianci's program on September 20, 2007 came after a bidding war with WHJJ. Syndicated programming includes John Batcehlor and Red Eye Radio.
Weekend programming includes live and local shows: Steve Klamkin and "The WPRO Saturday Morning News", former State Representative and Congressional Candidate John Loughlin with The John Loughlin Show, and veteran broadcast journalist Tara Granahan with The Tara Granahan Show. As well as syndicated shows such as Leo Laporte: The Tech Guy, Dr. Dean Edell, Meet the Press, and Bill Cunningham, .
WPRO is an affiliate of the New England Patriots Radio Network. It also carried Boston Red Sox baseball from 1986 to 2005; in 2006, the affiliation moved to WEEI-FM (now WVEI-FM).
Frequent fill-ins on WPRO include former WLNE-TV investigative reporter Jim Hummel, State Representative Joe Trillo, former State Representative and one-time Congressional Candidate John Loughlin, Former State Representative Jon Brien, Ken Pittman, and longtime fill-in Freddie Mertz.
Former on-air staff
WPRO's longest-serving on-air staff member was Salty Brine, who served as the station's morning host from 1943 until April 28, 1993. Other former WPRO voices include Jimmy Gray, Holland Cooke, Gary Berkowitz, Larry Kruger, Ed Cherubino, Bryan Fustukian (as Vik Armen), Joe Thomas, Gary DeGraide, Davy Jones, Andy "Big Ange" Jackson, Charlie Jefferds, Jack Casey and Brother Bill Goodman. New York media personalities who previously worked at WPRO include WABC host Mark Simone, WMCA "Good Guy" Jack Spector, WCBS-TV correspondent Magee Hickey, CBS staff announcer Hal Simms, and WCBS-FM personality Dave Stewart (as David Spencer on WPRO).