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WCLV 104.9 WCLV Classical FM
City of license Lorain, Ohio
Broadcast area Greater Cleveland
Branding WCLV 104.9 FM
Slogan "Northeast Ohio's Classical Music Station"
Frequency 104.9 (MHz) (also on HD Radio)
First air date station: November 4, 1962
frequency: July 3, 2001
Format Classical Music
ERP 6,000 watts
HAAT 100 meters
Class A
Facility ID 70109
Callsign meaning CLeVeland
Former callsigns WCLV-FM (2001-2003)
WAKS (1999-2001)
WMTX (1999)
WZLE (1975-2001)
Affiliations BBC World Service
Associated Press
Owner WCLV Foundation
(LMA'ed to Radio Seaway)
Webcast Listen Live

WCLV is an FM radio station broadcasting at 104.9 MHz serving the Cleveland, Ohio radio market (though technically licensed to Lorain). It programs classical music, and is one of the few remaining commercial classical music stations in the U.S. Although the station is supported by paid advertising, it is licensed to a non-profit organization, the WCLV Foundation. Its transmitter is located in Avon, and studios are at its former transmitter site in Warrensville Heights.




WCLV's Early Years

WCLV began in 1961 at 95.5 MHz as WDGO, deriving its call letters from its principal owner Douglas G. Oviatt. The correct call sign for the station caused confusion among some listeners since the station used a Scotty dog as a logo, causing the letters sometimes to be transposed as WDOG.

The station was purchased in 1962 by C. K. "Pat" Patrick and Robert Conrad as an outlet for classical music. At the time, most large American cities had at least one commercial radio station that devoted either a large part or all of its broadcast day to classical programming; most non-commercial classical stations were operated by colleges and universities, established years before the advent of the National Public Radio network.

Patrick and Conrad formed Radio Seaway, Inc., taking its name from the St. Lawrence Seaway, which had opened in 1959 and had made Cleveland an ocean port. The new owners wanted to shed the "WDOG" image and wanted a new callsign that would reflect their orientation toward community service to the greater Cleveland area. The initial choice was WCLE, as CLE was the International Air Transport Association airport code for Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. Those call signs also had a previous history in the market, as they were used on a daytime-only station owned by United Broadcasting, a company organized by the Cleveland Plain Dealer's parent company, Forest City Publishing, in the 1930s. At the same time, United Broadcasting also owned WHK, which now broadcasted on a full-time basis. Due to new regulations enacted that prohibited duopolies in a single market, WCLE was relocated to Akron, Ohio as station WHKK, which today broadcasts as WHLO.

However, the WCLE calls had already been taken by a station in Cleveland, Tennessee, and the WCLD calls were in use by a station in Cleveland, Mississippi. As a result, Patrick and Conrad chose the callsign WCLV, and they christened the station "WCLV 95/5" on November 1, 1962. (During WCLV's years on 95.5 FM, the forward slash was always used in print instead of a point on the frequency number in station promotions and identification.)

The station immediately launched an impressive, for its day, line-up of classical music programming. FM stereo broadcasts were begun on February 4, 1963, just three months after the debut. Two hour-long evening programming blocks also were unveiled within months of each other: first, the Symphony at Seven sponsored by Cleveland Trust on October 5, 1964, and the Heinen's Concert Hall on February 1, 1965. Concert Hall ended its run in 2003, while Symphony at Seven continues to this very day, its sponsorship carried over by Cleveland Trust's successors (Ameritrust, Society Bank and KeyBank).

One of WCLV's booth announcers, Martin Perlich, debuted the Perlich Project in late 1966 - a mixture of classical music with the early selections of progressive rock along with Perlich's own personal comments and editorials on events of the day. His show would gain renown as one of the earliest such shows on commercial radio, and as a model for the progressive rock medium itself.

In 1965, the station began broadcasting concerts of The Cleveland Orchestra on Sunday afternoons at 4:00 p.m. That time slot has remained virtually unchanged since. WCLV eventually started national distribution of the Orchestras' broadcasts to stations throughout the country, through its subsidiary syndication arm Seaway Productions. WCLV and Seaway also started to syndicate other programs, including Karl Haas' Adventures in Good Music (which ran from 1970 until 2007), and concert broadcasts of the Detroit Symphony, the Royal Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Rotterdam Philharmonic, and the San Francisco Symphony.

Studios were moved from the original location in the Eastgate Shopping Center in Mayfield Heights to downtown Cleveland's Terminal Tower in 1968 and, finally, to its present location in Warrensville Heights in 1986.

The station did continue one traditional program from the old WDGO days. On Saturday night, WCLV broke away from its usual classical music programming to present an eclectic program of folk and novelty music and comedy called WCLV Saturday Night. (The program was rebroadcast on Wednesday afternoon under the title WCLV Saturday Night on Wednesday Afternoon.) The program also initiated some friendly feuding with rival classical music station WCRB in Boston. Hosted by WCLV President and longtime Cleveland Orchestra commentator Robert Conrad, WCLV Saturday Night spawned an hourlong syndicated version in 1982 titled Weekend Radio; it is still heard on numerous NPR-affiliated stations elsewhere in the U. S. By 1990, Conrad decided to retire the full three or so live hours on WCLV in favor of the hourlong version. At about the same time, he reformatted the show, substituting light classical pieces for the folk and novelty songs of past years.

Since 1970, the station has pre-empted regular programming for a week in September to broadcast requested concert recordings of the Cleveland Orchestra as a fund-raiser for the Orchestra. The event is known as the "Cleveland Orchestra Marathon."

104.9 FM Lorain's History

The 104.9 frequency was used in the early 1950s by a station identified as WLAL, licensed to Lakewood, Ohio, outside Cleveland proper [1]. It is not known whether this station actually went on the air or, if it did, for how long.

In 1975, regular transmissions on 104.9 FM began as station WZLE, licensed to Lorain, Ohio, signed on. Initially owned by Gene Sens, WZLE's first studios were located in the Sheffield Shopping Center, in a former shoe store. The station was programmed by Jeff Baxter with David Mark as its production voice (Baxter was Jack Riley's radio partner at WERE in the 1960s and Mark was the promotional voice of many TV stations across the country from the 1970s into the 21st century). By 1990, WZLE and AM station WRKG came under common ownership, with studios in the historic Antlers Hotel in downtown Lorain. A pop standards station when started, WZLE eventually adopted a Christian Contemporary format by the mid-1980s.

WZLE was sold to Jacor Communications in late 1998, which itself ended up becoming Clear Channel Communications. On May 20, 1999, WZLE suddenly dropped its Christian Contemporary format for automated Top 40 under the branding "Kiss 104.9." Studios were moved to downtown Cleveland in the Tower City Center's Skylight Office Tower, along with sister stations WMVX and WMMS.

However, a slogan fight then erupted between Clear Channel and Radio One for rights to the "Kiss" name. Weeks earlier, Radio One changed WENZ from alternative rock to hip-hop/R&B under the branding "Kiss 107.9," copying the slogan from their Washington, D.C. hip-hop outlet WKYS. Clear Channel claimed ownership of the slogan, basing it on Los Angeles Top 40 giant KIIS, and used it for its similarly-formatted stations in Dayton and Cincinnati.

Radio One eventually acquiesced that October, and changed WENZ's branding to "Z-107.9." Clear Channel then changed WZLE's callsign on September 17, 1999 to WAKS, calls that were previously used on a sister station in Miami. (For four days prior to becoming WAKS, the WMTX calls - previously used on what is now WCPZ in Sandusky, Ohio, were legally placeholder calls on 104.9 FM.)

WCLV's Recent History

On July 3, 2001, a seven-way frequency swap occurred involving four stations in Cleveland, precipitated by the establishment of the WCLV Foundation (see below). WCLV moved from 95.5 in Cleveland to 104.9 in Lorain. Clear Channel's WAKS moved from 104.9 in Lorain to 96.5 in Akron, Clear Channel's WKDD moved from 96.5 in Akron to 98.1 in Canton, and Salem Communications' WHK-FM moved from 98.1 in Canton to 95.5 in Cleveland and became WFHM.

At the same time on the AM portion of the dial, Salem moved the WHK calls and religious format from 1420 to 1220, the WKNR calls and sports talk format were moved from 1220 to 850, and Radio Seaway took over the 1420 frequency from Salem and renamed it WCLV (whereas the 104.9 frequency had to officially take the WCLV-FM callsign). Radio Seaway initially intended to program the AM station as a direct simulcast of 104.9 FM (hence the WCLV calls), but instead wound up acquiring the intellectual property of WRMR, a big band and standards station that Salem gave up for WKNR's move to 850 AM.

While the calls for 1420 AM were first WCLV-AM (branding "WCLV Classic Pops 1420 AM"), Radio Seaway changed the callsign back to WRMR (branding "The Songs You Love") on January 1, 2003, with WCLV-FM dropping the "-FM" suffix that same day. By July 2004, it became apparent that the standards format was not working (probably due to a very elderly demographic base, something largely unattractive to advertisers), and Salem reacquired the AM station, changing the format to syndicated talk under the original WHK calls.

Since the frequency change, WCLV has struggled with the coverage provided by its west side transmitter in Avon, Ohio, which provides poorer reception to the extreme eastern parts of the Cleveland area, particularly in Lake County. From 2001 to 2006, WCLV tried to remedy the problem by having an AM station located in nearby Painesville, WBKC 1460 AM, broadcast most of WCLV's schedule, but when its owners sold another AM station they owned in the market and moved that station's format to WBKC, the arrangement ended.

On November 1, 2001, Radio Seaway donated WCLV to the non-profit WCLV Foundation. In large measure, Robert Conrad and partner Rich Marschner (Patrick had retired nine years earlier) arranged the transaction in response to what they and others felt was a disturbing trend in major markets toward corporate buyouts of historically classical-formatted commercial stations, with the new owners invariably discontinuing the format.

In addition to assuring the station would maintain its classical music format, WCLV's move to non-profit status has provided funding for local arts organizations. Portions of the station's profits have been donated to The Cleveland Orchestra, The Cleveland Institute of Music, The Cleveland Museum of Art, The Cleveland Playhouse and The Cleveland Foundation. Conrad kept his involvement with the station intact through the change, continuing his duties as before, although he has reduced his day-to-day workload in recent years.

Since 1996, the station's programs have also been webcast on (see link at bottom of page), one of the first stations in the market to have done so. On August 4, 2003, the station began HD Radio broadcasts of its signal on 104.9, second only to Elyria-licensed WNWV.

On June 29, 2007, WCLV broadcast the final Adventures in Good Music episode. The program, which had been airing at 8 p.m. weeknights, had actually discontinued production some four years earlier, two years before the death of host Karl Haas, who began the show on a Detroit radio station in 1959. Syndication of the show to other (mostly NPR-affiliated) classical-format stations was ended at that time as well. Essential Classics, another program of recorded music, replaced Adventures on the WCLV schedule.

Today, WCLV and WNWV are the only locally-owned commercial FM stations based in the Cleveland market.

External links

Preceded by
FM 95.5 MHz in Cleveland, Ohio
November 1, 1962-July 3, 2001
Succeeded by
Preceded by
FM 96.5 MHz in Akron, Ohio
July 3, 2001-Present
Succeeded by
Preceded by
FM 98.1 MHz in Canton, Ohio
July 3, 2001-Present
Succeeded by
Preceded by
FM 104.9 MHz in Lorain, Ohio
July 3, 2001-Present
Succeeded by


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