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WHKW
1220 AM The Word WHKW
Broadcast area Greater Cleveland
Branding AM 1220 The Word
Slogan Cleveland's Christian Talk
Frequency 1220 kHz
First air date April 13, 2005
(May 15, 1924 as WDBK)
Format Christian
Power 50,000 watts
Class B
Callsign meaning WHK The Word
Former callsigns WHKZ (2005)
WHK (2001-2005)
WHKC (July-August 2001)
WKNR (1990-2001)
WGAR (1930-1990)
WFJC (1927-1930)
WDBK (1924-1927)
Owner Salem Communications
Sister stations WFHM, WHK, WHKW
Website www.whkwradio.com

WHKW is an AM radio station in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, operating on 1220 kHz. The station is owned by Salem Communications and carries religious programming from the company's radio network. The bulk of WHKW's programming is simulcast on WHKZ (1440 kHz) in Warren, Ohio.

The 1220 frequency in Cleveland was the home to AM radio station WGAR for 50 years. It then served as the home of WKNR prior to a massive local frequency swap in 2001.

Contents

History

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WGAR

Today's WHKW signed on the air as WDBK on May 15, 1924 with 250 watts of power. The station was owned by Stanley Broz, in the name of the M.F. Broz Furniture, Hardware and Radio Co., and was located at 13918 Union Avenue in Cleveland. The station moved to Boltan Square Hotel on Carnegie Avenue in 1925, and was using the slogan, "Broadcasting from Cleveland." In September 1927, Broz sold the station to William F. Jones, and WDBK was taken off the air. The station relocated to the Akron Beacon Journal building in Akron, and resumed broadcast operations in November 1927 as WFJC, the new call letters being derived from the owner's initials. Sam Townshend was listed as co-owner, and the first two announcers were Cyril Jones and Jerry McKiernam.

Jones sold the station to George A. Richards of Detroit in September 1930, and Richards moved the station back to Cleveland.[1 ] He obtained a new callsign based on his initials, and WGAR signed on the air on December 15, 1930. WGAR was part of the Goodwill Station group that included WJR and KMPC, both also owned by Richards.

In 1937 WGAR became Cleveland's CBS affiliate. On October 30, 1938 it broadcast Mercury Theatre's "War of the Worlds," and it was left to a young staff announcer named Jack Paar to go on the air and calm Cleveland listeners by telling them that the program was only a dramatization. WGAR produced some programs for the CBS network, one of the notable ones being Wings Over Jordan, a popular Sunday morning CBS show that had the widest audience of any African-American broadcast.

Originally at 1450 kHz, the switched to 1480 kHz on March 29, 1941 during the NARBA frequency shift, and then to 1220 kHz on June 4, 1944. On July 4, 1947, WGAR increased its power from 5,000 to 50,000 watts during daytime hours. WGAR was the flagship station for Cleveland Browns broadcasts 1946–1949, 1954 and 1956–1961. Richards died in May 1951, and WGAR was purchased in 1953 by People's Broadcasting Corp., a company that had been founded seven years earlier by the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation to serve rural communities. People's Broadcasting became Nationwide Broadcasting, a subsidiary of Nationwide Insurance in 1954. (WJR was sold to Capital Cities Communications and KMPC was purchased by Gene Autry.)

With the demise of network radio, the rise of television, and the emergence of Top 40 powerhouses like KYW, WERE and WHK in the 1950s, WGAR had to try various music formats as a result. The station settled into an adult contemporary format throughout this whole time, with literary professor Tom Armstrong in the morning slot for much of this period. FM installations at 99.5 MHz were launched in 1948, but WGAR-FM never saw more than a few hours of operation per week.

In 1970, new management was brought in to WGAR, and both the AM and FM stations made several dramatic moves. Long only on the air for pure technical purposes, WGAR-FM then went to a 24-hour operation as WNCR, and adopted a progressive rock format that was tapped two years earlier by WMMS. The AM side saw a format shift to adult contemporary and several new personalities, including "Emperor Joe" Meyer, Bob Vernon, Chuck Collier (still with WGAR today), Norm N. Nite, and Ron Parks. The station's most noteworthy hire was morning host Don Imus. Imus left a little more than a year later to go to WNBC in New York (though he returned briefly to do afternoons on WHK after being fired from WNBC in 1977 ), he was replaced by John Lanigan. Lanigan, who himself was nearly as controversial as Imus, had a very successful run in mornings until he left for a radio station in Tampa prior to resurfacing at WMJI in 1985.

WGAR abandoned adult contemporary for country music on July 15, 1984. The station soon donated its entire collection of jazz recordings to WCPN, the new public radio outlet that was going on the air the following September. WGAR soon simulcast with its FM sister station, which again became WGAR-FM, starting in 1986. In 1990, the AM station was sold to Douglas Broadcasting and Cablevision Systems Corp. The FM station carried on as WGAR, while the call sign for the AM facility was changed to WKNR. A five-minute sendoff produced by several WGAR-FM staffers, including tributes by Don Imus and Jack Paar, aired on 1220 AM just before the changeover took place on July 13, 1990. [2] After it aired, WKNR picked up a satellite-based oldies feed.

WKNR

While WGAR continued its' format at 99.5 MHz, WKNR slowly assembled several blocks of locally-based sports talk shows, starting in January 1991. Eventually, the station evolved into an all-sports format, and in 1992, lured the Cleveland Indians broadcasts away from long-time flagship WWWE. For several years in the mid 1990s, WKNR was home to Cleveland Indians, Cleveland Browns, and Ohio State football and basketball broadcasts.

The fortunes of WKNR, however, started to sour when the Cleveland Browns relocated after the 1995 NFL season. Despite a successful outcry by the community and competing sports stations WKNR, WHK and WWWE, the intellectual property of the team was to lay dormant for three years, leaving a void in WKNR's play-by-play lineup. WKNR was left to carry Cincinnati Bengals football from 1996 to 1998. The station was then forced to overbid to beat WTAM (the former WWWE) into a renewal of its Cleveland Indians contract, effective with the 1997 season.

While this allowed WKNR to air the World Series run of the 1997 Indians, the deal put financial strain on WKNR—Cablevision's lone radio property. (Ironically, the current owner of the Cleveland Indians, Larry Dolan, is the brother of the president of Cablevision, Charles Dolan.)

On August 19, 1997, Jacor announced the purchase of WKNR from Cablevision Systems Corp[3]. Jacor, which also owned WTAM, moved the Cleveland Indians broadcasts back to WTAM beginning with the 1998 season and the Cleveland Browns rights transferred to WMJI and WTAM for the 1999 season, leaving significant holes in WKNR's programming.

Jacor swapped WKNR with Capstar Broadcasting’s WTAE in Pittsburgh in 1998 as part of a Justice Department settlement involving Jacor's purchase of Nationwide Communications, who had sold WGAR (AM) in 1990 and still owned WGAR-FM[4]. On July 13, 1999, Chancellor Media merged with Capstar Broadcasting to form AMFM Inc., at that time the nation's largest radio station owner with 465 stations. AMFM sold WKNR to Salem Communications on July 20, 2000 as part of a required divestiture when AMFM merged with Clear Channel Communications.[5 ]

WHK

On July 3, 2001, a seven-way frequency swap occurred involving four stations in Cleveland. Salem Communications moved the WHK calls and religious format from 1420 AM to 1220 AM, the WKNR calls and sports talk format were moved from 1220 AM to 850 AM (where it remains to this day), and Radio Seaway took over the 1420 AM frequency from Salem and rebranded it WCLV, with the adult standards format from the 850 AM frequency.

Seaway's WCLV-FM moved from 95.5 FM to 104.9 FM, Clear Channel's WAKS moved from 104.9 FM in Lorain to 96.5 FM in Akron, Clear Channel's WKDD moved from 96.5 FM in Akron to 98.1 FM in Canton, and Salem's WHK-FM moved from 98.1 FM in Canton to 95.5 FM in Cleveland, becoming WFHM.

WHKW

The calls on 1220 AM changed again on April 13, 2005 to WHKW after Salem reacquired the 1420 AM facility and placed the WHK calls on its original frequency. Accordingly, the call letters of co-owned 1440 AM in Warren changed to WHKZ.

WHKZ simulcasts WHKW throughout much of the broadcast day, but does break away in the late evenings to air Warren native Hugh Hewitt's talk show, which is syndicated by Salem Communications. Some other infomercials and religious programming air separately between the two stations.

Sports Coverage

(*) - shared with sister station WHK

References

  1. ^ "Encyclopedia of Cleveland History:WGAR". Case Western Reserve University. http://ech.case.edu/ech-cgi/article.pl?id=W4.  
  2. ^ Phillips, Paul. "LAST MOMENTS OF THE MIGHTY 1220". 440 International. http://www.440.com/favesw.html.  
  3. ^ "Jacor: Acquires Sports Leader WKNR, Cleveland". Corporate Financials Online, Inc.. August 19, 1997. http://www.cfonews.com/jcor/c081997a.txt. Retrieved 2009-08-28.  
  4. ^ "U.S Department of Justice". U.S. Department of Justice. August 10, 1998. http://www.usdoj.gov/opa/pr/1998/August/362at.html. Retrieved 2009-08-28.  
  5. ^ "U.S Department of Justice". U.S. Department of Justice. July, 2000. http://www.usdoj.gov/opa/pr/2000/July/415at.htm.  

External links

Preceded by
WRMR
AM 850 in Cleveland, Ohio
June 11, 1985-July 3, 2001
Succeeded by
WKNR
Preceded by
WKNR
AM 1220 in Cleveland, Ohio
July 3, 2001-April 15, 2005
Succeeded by
WHK
Preceded by
WHK
AM 1220 in Cleveland, Ohio
April 15, 2005-Present
Succeeded by
Incumbent
Preceded by
WHK
AM 1420 in Cleveland, Ohio
March 5, 1922-July 3, 2001
Succeeded by
WCLV (2001-2003)
WRMR (2003-2005)
Preceded by
WRMR
AM 1420 in Cleveland, Ohio
July 3, 2001-April 15, 2005
Succeeded by
Incumbent

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