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WKHR: Wikis


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City of license Bainbridge, Ohio
Broadcast area Geauga County, Ohio
Frequency 91.5 (MHz)
First air date May 6, 1977
Format Standards/Big Band
ERP 750 watts
Class A
Callsign meaning Kenston High School Radio
Owner Kenston Local School District

WKHR is a non-commercial FM radio station in Bainbridge Township, Ohio serving the eastern portion of the Cleveland, Ohio radio market, operating on 91.5 MHz.

The station originated as a high school broadcast class at Kenston High School in May 6, 1977, broadcasting at 88.3 MHz. Initially, with only 10 watts of power, the station could only be heard clearly barely beyond the high school parking lot, with luck on your side it could be heard within a couple miles of the transmitter. The station featured a general rock format and was managed by high school students and both a paid adult Station Manager and a full-time paid English teacher as a part of the English department curriculum. One of the first steps to cementing the station's future was to involve the community by adding adult volunteers on weekends. By 1983 power had increased to 100 watts which increasing the ability to clearly hear the station to a range of several miles.

The school district ran into some tough financial times and began making system-wide cuts. Unfortunately, the station's courses were axed as was the funding for the paid Station Manager. The English program was dropped and the teacher returned to "regular" coursework. On the brink of being shut down completely, one of the adult volunteers (Scott McVay) stepped forward at a school board meeting and personally funded the remainder of that school year (to the tune of approximately $7000. The station was reorganized under a nonprofit company, WKHR Radio, Inc. by McVay, in 1990, allowing it to stay alive financially. All major funding for the station was provided by this non-profit including new studios, new broadcast equipment, and a new tower.

The station kept up its student-run alternative rock format for the next two years but was forced to transition from a station managed by students to a station managed by adult volunteers for district liability reasons. The format was a dual format, featuring alternative rock all day and a nostalgic Big Band music format featuring recordings from the 1930s through the 1950s every weekday morning from 7am to noon and 7am to 4pm on Saturdays. Students would air the alternative rock format from noon to 9pm weekdays. The station was dark the remainder of the time and on Sundays.

McVay continued to work with the district Board and Superintendent regarding the reinstatement of the courses. A compromise was reached when the district discovered they could bring back a teaching program under a "vocational" status, allowing funding assistance from the State of Ohio.

In 1992 a new Operations Director working for the non-profit began extending the broadcast day with the use of volunteers from a local broadcast school. This allowed the station to begin Sunday programming as well as 24-hour programming on weekends with the alternative rock format, at this time called "THeEDGE." With a cease and desist order in hand from a major market broadcast company who stated THeEDGE format was robbing their local commercial affiliate of listeners due to its cutting edge programming, WKHR made the decision to fully adopt the Big Band/Nostalgia format.

In May 1995, the station received permission from the FCC to increase its power to 1000 watts. The increased power along with an improved antenna allowed WKHR to be heard for the first time throughout the eastern portion of the Cleveland market. To avoid interference with Baldwin-Wallace's WBWC in Berea, the station moved from 88.3 to 91.5 in September 1995 in a frequency swap deal that involved WKHR and cousin-station WSTB (Streetsboro, OH), broadcasting with its current power of 750 watts. In 1996 the station made the final programming expansion to fulltime broadcasting, 24 hours a day. Its Big Band music format is also available through streaming audio from its web site.

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