Founded in 1926, WWRL originally had a multi-lingual format serving the various ethnic communities of New York City. The station took on a mostly Spanish identity in the 1950s, then became primarily oriented towards the African American community of New York City in the mid-1960s, under the direction of News Director, Dick London, who invited community leaders to voice their concerns publicly on air, as the station became advocates for legislative change. The music and news advocacy was an integral part of the Black American community. WWRL played R&B music from 1964 to 1982 before changing to gospel music and religious programming from 1982 to 1997.
After a brief return to R&B in the late 1990s, WWRL gradually de-emphasized music in favor of more talk radio programming. In 2006, WWRL replaced WLIB as the flagship station for the Air America Radio network and retained a progressive talk radio format for seven years.
From 2014 to 2016, WWRL had a regional Mexican music format before changing to the current Indian programming.
Founded by radio enthusiast William Reuman, doing business as Woodside Radio Laboratory, WWRL began broadcasting at midnight on August 26, 1926 from a studio and transmitter located in his home at 41-30 58th Street in Woodside, Queens, New York on a frequency of 1160 kHz.:188 The station later shared the 1120 kHz frequency with four other AM stations. In its first year of operation, WWRL broadcast live musical performances, usually from Reuman's friends and neighbors. Among them were Astoria singer Ethel Zimmerman, who would later achieve stardom as Ethel Merman.:188
In 1927, the nascent Federal Radio Commission ordered the station to move to 1500 Hz, then the highest AM frequency. Reuman had also begun selling airtime to local merchants. Reuman incorporated as the Long Island Broadcasting Corporation in 1929.:188 With the slogan "The Voice of Queens County," WWRL began to broadcast programs in Italian, German, French, Polish, Hungarian, Slovak, and Czech, as well as English.:188