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WRMR
850WRMR.jpg
Broadcast area Cleveland, Ohio
Branding AM 850 WRMR
Slogan Music of Your Life
Frequency 850 (kHz)
First air date June 11, 1985
ceased operations July 3, 2001
Format Pop Standards
Power pre-1999:
5,000 watts
post-1999:
50,000 watts (daytime)
4,700 watts (nighttime)
Class B
Callsign meaning W ReMembeR
Affiliations CNN Radio (1985-2001)
Owner 1985-1990: Booth Broadcasting
1990-1999: Independent Group Ltd.
1999-2000: AMFM, Inc.
2000-2001: Salem Communications
WCLV (AM)/WRMR
WRMR2003.jpg
Broadcast area Cleveland, Ohio
Branding Classic Pops 1420AM
Slogan The Songs You Love
Frequency 1420 (kHz)
First air date July 3, 2001
ceased operations July 11, 2004
Format Pop Standards
Power 5,000 watts
Class B
Callsign meaning W CLeVeland
W ReMembeR
Affiliations CBS Radio (2001-2002)
Associated Press (2002-2004)
Owner Radio Seaway

WRMR was, in different incarnations from 1985 to 2004, a big band / pop standards station in Cleveland, Ohio. The station ceased operations on July 13, 2004.

The WRMR call letters were first used on the 850-AM frequency from 1985 to 2001. The format was moved to 1420-AM in July 2001, and while the call letters became WCLV (AM), the WRMR calls were restored on January 2003. They were officially retired on February 2005 when current owner Salem Communications placed the WHK calls on the signal.

Contents

History

Origins

WRMR's origins dated back to when Booth Broadcasting acquired WJW (AM) from Lake Erie Broadcasting in 1985. WJW dated back to 1927 as a small Mansfield station, whose calls were derived from station founder John F. Weimer. WJW moved to Akron in 1932, and finally to Cleveland in 1943 at 850 kHz. WJW soon came under the ownership of Storer Broadcasting and soon gained a television station in the 1950s, changing that stations' calls to WJW-TV.

Storer sold off WJW (AM) to Lake Erie in 1977, keeping the television station and changing that stations' calls to WJKW-TV. But as a condition of the 1977 sale, the WJW calls had to be retired by the AM station if it were ever sold off again. Consequently, the WRMR calls were selected by Booth and installed on June 11, 1985, and WJKW changed their call sign to just WJW.

While WJW-AM's music format became a mixture of call-in talk shows and easy listening music from 1960 until 1985, WRMR adopted the "Music of Your Life" format, which was a mixture of ballads, standards and big band music of the 1940s and 1950s. Studios for WRMR were moved to One Radio Lane.

WBBG

The pop standards format, however, originally appeared in the Cleveland market on station WBBG. Initially a talk station at 1260-AM, the talk format never caught on in its' three year run. The station was sold to local jeweler Larry "J.B." Robinson in 1982, and WBBG turned to an oldies format before finally changing to - and finding success with - a big band based music format programmed by local radio veteran Jim Davis.

The station enjoyed much success including "Billboard Station of the Year" (for its format) in 1983 with a nomination for "Program Director of the Year" going to Davis. During its glory years (July 1981-October 1987) on-air talent, in addition to Davis, included Al James, Tom Armstrong, Bill Randle, Carl Reese, Ronnie Barrett, Dick Conrad, John Webster, Ted Alexander and Joe Black.

WBBG's call letters (originally stood for "Boys from Bowling Green"), soon took the meaning "Big Band Grandstand." Robinson sold both WBBG and FM station WMJI to Jacor Communications in 1985. Jacor kept both stations' formats in place until they decided to cancel the big band format on October 29, 1987 mere days following a failed repurchase of the station by Robinson. WBBG simulcast the soft AC programming of WMJI-FM - and took the WMJI calls - until Jacor sold off the station six months later.

"Music of Your Life"

WRMR would assume WBBG's former format as "Music of Your Life," a mixture of 1940s, 50s and 60s ballads, standards and big band music, sprinkled with newer artists such as Harry Connick, Jr., and Diana Krall. In 1990, Booth sold the station to Independent Group Ltd., a local group that also owned WDOK and headed by Tom Embrescia, Tom Wilson, and Larry Pollock.

Former WBBG program director Jim Davis also served like duties - including on-air work - for WRMR from 1988 through 1996. The station became the 'flagship' station for the "Music of Your Life" format, with Davis also serving as the Director of Operations for the nationally syndicated Al Ham format from 1991 to 1996.

Other on-air talent included, their first morning man John E. Douglas (6-10a), Ted Alexander (middays), Ray Marshall PD (2-6p); others included at one time or another [Bill Randle]], Carl Reese, Ted Hallaman, Ronnie Barrett, Rick Majors, Frank Macek, Rob Cole, Chris Daniels, Chris Quinn, Allan Parrish, and Rob Schuler. Throughout the 1990s, WRMR achieved high ratings - and even reached number one in the age 12 and over Arbitron ratings for the Spring 1996 period; the last ratings period under Davis’ first programming regime at 850.

On May 15, 1999, WRMR upgraded its daytime signal to 50,000 watts with a new transmitter pattern built at the old WJW/WRMR site in North Royalton. The station's daytime signal is dominant in much of northern Ohio, but it must protect the signal of WNTJ AM 850 in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, imparing the signal to the south and as close in as Cuyahoga Falls and Akron [5].

On August 12, 1998, Chancellor Media Corporation of Texas announced its purchase of WRMR and WDOK from Independent Group Ltd., along with its purchase of five other Cleveland radio stations, WZJM 92.3-FM, WZAK 93.1-FM, WQAL 104.1-FM and WJMO 1490-AM, for $275 million [6]. It was, at the time, the largest radio deal in Cleveland broadcasting history.

Then, on July 13, 1999, Chancellor Media merged with WKNR 1220-AM owner Capstar Broadcasting to form AMFM Inc., at that time the nation's largest radio station owner with 465 stations. AMFM then sold WRMR and WKNR to Salem Communications and WDOK to Infinity Broadcasting on July 20, 2000 as part of a required divestiture when AMFM merged with Clear Channel Communications [7].

Under Salem ownership, Jim Davis returned to the programming chair, as well as a midday on-air shift. WRMR itself started to segue into playing more contemporary ballads, which were billed on the air as "easy-listening oldies." In order to generate more revenue, ownership began airing long blocks of brokered talk shows in the evenings and weekends, most of which were carried over from brokered talk station WERE 1300-AM and the inconsistency proved to be the fatal blow to regenerating the format's success.

On October 2000, a seven station frequency swap was announced. WCLV owner Radio Seaway was to trade their 95.5-FM signal to Salem Communications in exchange for Clear Channel's 104.9-FM signal in Lorain and Salem's 1420-AM facility. Salem, in turn, would trade their 98.1-FM signal in Canton to Clear Channel. Salem Communications, which owned WRMR, sports talker WKNR, gospel WCCD 1000-AM in Parma, and religious WHK 1420-AM, found itself with one less AM signal in the market - meaning that one of their stations had to sign off.

In May 2001, Salem officially announced plans to move the WHK calls and religious format from 1420-AM to 1220-AM, and the WKNR calls and sports talk format were to move from 1220-AM to 850-AM. In turn, the standards format on WRMR was set to sign off, with the brokered talk shows in the evenings to be carried over to WKNR.

Move to 1420-AM

While Radio Seaway intended to program WCLV (AM) as the primary source of its' classical music format (it was to be directly simulcast on the 104.9-FM facility for listeners in Lorain County), it instead wound up acquiring the intellectual programming and music library of WRMR from Salem for an undisclosed amount following a sizable outcry from longtime WRMR listeners [1].

This paved the way for the standards format to relocate to the 1420-AM frequency on July 3, 2001, but still held the WCLV (AM) calls instead of WRMR owing to the last-minute transaction. To ensure continuity between WRMR and WCLV (AM), Jim Davis was hired by Radio Seaway as the AM station's operations manager. Most (but not all) of the brokered programming hours that Salem placed on WRMR were moved to Salem's sisters stations WKNR, WHK or WFHM (or to Radio One's WERE), freeing up the format again on a 24-hour basis.

WCLV ended up reassembling the AM stations' air staff, bringing over "Tall Ted" Hallaman for mornings, Jim Davis in middays and Carl Reese in afternoons[2]. The long-running "Irish Hour" with Gerry Quinn, a WRMR and WBBG staple, also made the move to WCLV (AM) on Sunday mornings. WCLV-FM news director Hugh Danaceau also did live drive-time newscasts on the AM station until his passing in 2003. Many of WCLV-FM's long-running specialty shows, including "Weekend Radio," the City Club of Cleveland's weekly forum, and "Footlight Parade" were also aired on WCLV (AM), while John Simna's "Jazz All Night" on Sunday mornings moved directly to the AM station (it has since moved back to WCLV-FM)[3]. "Footlight Parade" host Bill Rudman also would helm the Saturday afternoon shift on the AM station up until its' 2004 signoff.

Other shows brought to the AM station included When Radio Was, The Twilight Zone with Stacy Keach, and "American Standards by the Sea" with Dick Robinson. The station also boasted two syndicated shows spotlighting Frank Sinatra: "Sounds of Sinatra" with Sid Mark and "Frank and Friends" with Joe Raposa. It briefly was affiliated with CBS Radio Network before signing with AP Radio News for the rest of its' existence.

The 1420-AM facility was initially known as "WCLV Classic Pops 1420-AM," with an emphasis on songs and showtunes from the 1930s and 1940s, in an attempt to make the format hold a more sophisticated sound along the lines of WCLV-FM's classical format[1]. Despite the noteworthy approach by Davis and Robert Conrad, this led to WCLV (AM) sound overly sophisticated and stuffy, further aging the formats' demographics (the adult standards format already holds age 50+ demographics) which failed to attract a large enough listening audience to satisfy advertisers. In addition, confusion was created by listeners between the AM and FM stations, as both stations were known as WCLV but had distinct formats and identities. This resulted in the AM station gradually de-emphasizing mentions of the WCLV call letters up until January 1, 2003, when the call sign was changed back to WRMR.

Re-branded "The Songs You Love," WRMR's music programming reverted to the adult standards format, once again placing an emphasis on pop music and contemporary ballads from the 1950s and 1960s. On November 2003, WRMR's lineup significantly changed: Ted Alexander replaced Ted Hallaman in the morning slot, WCLV staffer John Simna assumed the mid-morning slot, and Jim Davis and Carl Reese were moved to the afternoon and evening slots, respectively[4]. Yet by July 2004, it became apparent that the standards format, under such conditions, could not work and the AM station was sold back to Salem Communications on July 8, 2004.

The permanent sign-off of WRMR was made more poignant as it came just two days after the passing of signature WRMR personality Bill Randle, on July 11, 2004. The final day of programming on WRMR was punctuated with the final installment of a long-running music program hosted by Randle that had been pre-recorded just days earlier. Carl Reese hosted the final air shift from 7 p.m. until sign-off at midnight; fittingly, he was also one of the first voices heard on WRMR when it signed on back in June 1985.

Salem changed the station's format to an all-syndicated talk lineup programmed mostly by the Salem Radio Network as "News Talk 1420 WHK," but the WRMR calls would last until the original WHK calls were restored in February 2005. A small reminder of WRMR remains on the 1420-AM signal, as WHK still airs "Gerry Quinn's Irish Hour" from 10 a.m. - 12 p.m on Sundays.

References

  1. ^ a b [1] "WRMR Format Moves! - WRMR format moves to WCLV 1420 AM in July," June 2001.
    WCLV President Robert Conrad plans to expand the format when it moves to 1420. "We won't simply preserve this existing format. We will add the early classic standards of Cole Porter, George Gershwin and Irving Berlin, along with some Broadway show tunes and music from film scores."
    Retrieved from archive.org on 07-20-09.
  2. ^ [2] "WCLV Airs Popular Cleveland Voices - Popular Cleveland voices to be heard on WCLV 1420 AM," June 2001. Retrieved from archive.org on 07-20-09.
  3. ^ [3] WCLV-AM Program Guide, February 2002. Retrieved from archive.org on 07-20-09.
  4. ^ [4] WCLV-AM Program Guide, February 2002. Retrieved from archive.org on 07-20-09.

See also


Preceded by
WJW
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
WHKW
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
WHK







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