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WKNR is an AM all-sports station in Cleveland, Ohiomarker, broadcasting at 850 kHz with its transmitter in North Royalton, Ohiomarker and studios at the Galleria at Erieview. The station is the successor to two legendary stations, has begun broadcasting on July 13, 1990 on the 1220 kHz frequency formerly WGAR-AM. In 2001, after a massive trade/purchase swap, WKNR switched frequencies to 850 kHz—originally the home of WJW (AM), and later to WRMR.

WKNR is the Cleveland affiliate of ESPN Radio and The Jim Rome Show, and features local sports talkers Mark "Munch" Bishop, Tony Rizzo, Michael Reghi, Kenny Roda, and Greg Brinda, on weekdays. The station airs local pre-game and post-game shows around Browns games.

WKNR is the flagship station (along with sister station WWGKmarker) for the Lake Erie Monsters of the American Hockey League, and serves as the Cleveland affiliate for Ohio State Buckeyesmarker football and basketball.

The station – and sister station "AM 1540 KNR2" WWGKmarker – is owned by Good Karma Broadcasting, LLC. Good Karma is headed by Craig Karmazin, son of Sirius Satellite Radio CEO Mel Karmazin.

History

WJW Radio

Early years

WJW (AM) began broadcasting as WLGV in Mansfield, Ohio, on November 13, 1926 under the ownership of John F. Weimer. In 1928, the call letters were changed to WJW, reflecting the owner's initials. By 1931, the station had been sold to Mansfield Broadcasting Association, and it was broadcasting at 1210 kHz with 100 watts.

WJW moved to Akron in 1932. By 1936, the station was owned by WJW, Inc., with studios located at 41 South High Street. On March 29, 1941, WJW, like most stations around the country changed its frequency with the implementation of the North American Radio Broadcasting Agreement. By 1942, the station was broadcasting at 1210 kHz with 250 watts.

Matchbooks advertising the Blue Network affiliation of WJW along with WISH in Indianapolis, from the collection of E.O.
Costello.
November 13, 1943, William M. O'Neill purchased the station and moved it to Cleveland, with facilities in the Guardian Building (now the National City–East 6th Building at 619 Euclid). WJW became Cleveland's fifth radio station (after WHK, WTAMmarker, WGAR and WCLE). The frequency was moved to 850 kHz, and power was increased to 5,000 watts. The station became an affiliate of the Blue Network, soon to be ABC. WJW also brought the Metropolitan Opera radio broadcasts to Cleveland. The station also featured news commentary by Dorothy Fuldheim, and for a short period in the early 1950s was home to a disc jockey called Soupy Hines, later known as Soupy Sales.

WJW opened an FM outlet WJW-FM at 104.1 MHz in 1948[166939].The new FM station went on the air just as the Cleveland Indians began their world championship season. WJW was the flagship of a six-station Ohio network that carried the games in 1947 and 1948. However, the full games were often carried on WJW-FM, since the AM outlet did not have available air time due to its ABC network commitments. As a result, Cleveland became an FM hot bed, and more FM radio sets sold in Cleveland than in any other market in the country in 1948.

O'Neil sold WJW to Storer Broadcasting on November 17, 1954. Storer also purchased television station WXEL and changed the call letters to WJW-TVmarker. Within two years, radio and television operations were consolidated at new studios at 1630 Euclid Avenue, near Playhouse Square, in a remodeled Georgian building that formerly housed the Esquire Theater. WJW dropped its ABC Radio Network affiliation in 1957, and became an independent station, although the station later had a brief affiliation with NBC before becoming independent again. By 1959, WJW broadcast with 10,000 watts daytime, and 5,000 watts at night - which would last for the next forty years.

Alan Freed

A young disc jockey named Alan Freed joined WJW in 1951 from WAKRmarker in Akron, Ohiomarker. Shortly thereafter, Alan began making broadcasting history with his shows in which he was known as the "Moondog." Freed played rhythm-and-blues music by black artists for a largely white teen-age audience. He is purported to have given the music the name by which it is known today—rock and roll.

In addition to his radio program, Freed also organized local concerts by early rock artists, called the Moondog Coronation Ball, which many consider to be the first rock concert in American history. The concert on March 21, 1952 at the Cleveland Arena turned into a riot when far too many listeners filled the hall, causing Freed to apologize on the air the next day.

Freed left WJW in September 1954 for WINSmarker New York, but he had established WJW as the premier rock and roll outlet.

Pete “Mad Daddy” Myers

In January 1958, Pete "Mad Daddy" Myers joined the station from WHKK 640 AM in Akron. His "Mad Daddy" persona later was adapted by Ernie Anderson for his "Ghoulardi" character on sister station WJW-TVmarker in 1963. Myers' show was heard nightly from 8 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Myers had a brief but meteoric career at WJW, lasting only until May 13, 1958, when he resigned to go to Metromedia's WHK which was establishing itself as the new Top 40 powerhouse in Cleveland.

WJW enforced a 90-day noncompete clause, and "Mad Daddy" could not be heard on WHK until August 10. To keep his name in front of the public while he was off the air, Myers concocted a publicity stunt on June 14, 1958, parachuting from a Piper Cub 2200 feet over Lake Erie, and composing a poem on his way down.

He was fished out the waters shortly thereafter, and handed out copies of the 45 record "Zorro" to hundreds of fans who greeted him when he got to shore. Some iniital reports of the stunt incorrectly stated that Myers did not survive the jump, but they were quickly revised.

"Mad Daddy" reached the peak of his popularity at WHK, hosting record hops and live after-midnight shows dressed in a Dracula costume. In July 1959 he moved to WHK's sister station in New York, WNEWmarker 1130 AM, where "Mad Daddy" was not well received. He played it straight as Pete Myers there until 1963, when he moved to WINSmarker and resumed the "Mad Daddy Show." This show was syndicated to other stations until WINS changed format to all-news in 1965.

As again just Pete Myers, he returned to WNEWmarker once more. Myers lived until November 4, 1968, when he took his own life in New York City, shortly after he had been let go at WNEWmarker.

Later years

WJW abandoned its Rock and Roll format and settled into a format featuring news, talk and middle-of-the-road music during the 1960s, featuring personalities such as Ed Fisher during the morning hours. In the late 1960s, WJW-FM was spun-off to become WCJW, and now operates today as adult-contemporary WQAL.

In the fall of 1976, Storer sold WJW radio (then known on-air as "JW Radio 85") to Lake Erie Broadcasting, which was headed by Cleveland Browns owners Art Modell and Al Lerner with WEWS TV sportscaster Gib Shanley as a minority owner. Storer retained WJW-TVmarker whose calls were changed to WJKW. The new owner continued the format highlighting talk shows and adult popular music. The adult standards music format continued under General Manager Richard Bremkamp and Program Director Dick Conrad featuring several legendary Cleveland broadcasters, including Conrad, Carl Reese, and David Mark.

WJW was sold to Booth American Broadcasting in 1985, and its news/talk format moved over to WWWEmarker, which Lake Erie simultaneously acquired from Gannett in the process. As a condition of the sale, the WJW calls were exchanged in favor of WRMR on June 11, 1985. With the abandonment of the historic three-letter call sign by the AM outlet, the television station was able to change its call letters from WJKW back to WJW-TV, then to just WJWmarker shortly after it became a Fox owned-and-operated station.

WRMR

For the complete history of WRMR's intellectual property, see 'WRMR.
The new music format (under ownership of Booth Broadcasting) for WRMR was initially middle of the road, aimed at the 40 to 49 year-old age group, flopped. In 1988 Booth Broadcasting convinced Cleveland veteran programmer, Jim Davis (formerly of 3WE and WBBG) to return to the Cleveland airwaves with his version of the "Music of Your Life". The Davis mixture of 40's, 50's and 60's ballads, standards, big band tunes and Broadway and Movie Musicals, sprinkled with newer artists of the day, such as Harry Connick, Jr., and Diana Krall proved successful. Under Davis (Program Director and an on-air host)the station (changing ownership; Booth Broadcasting to Embrescia Broadcasting) grew to become top AM stick in the Cleveland market and gained national promimence. During this period Davis, also serving as the Director of Operations for the nationally syndicated Al Ham "Music of Your Life" format (1991 to 1996), brought such legendary personalities as Bill Randle, Carl Reese, Ted Hallaman, Ronnie Barrett, Chris Daniels, Ray Marshall and Ted Alexander into the on-air talent stable.

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 WNTJmarker AM 850 in Johnstown, Pennsylvaniamarker, imparing the signal to the south and as close in as Cuyahoga Fallsmarker and Akronmarker [166940].

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[166941].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[166942].

Under Salem ownership, Jim Davis returned to the programming chair, as well as an on-air shift and WRMR started to segue into playing more contemporary ballads, which were billed on the air as "easy-listening oldies." WRMR also started to air long blocks of brokered talk shows in the evenings and weekends, most of which were carried over from brokered talk station WEREmarker 1300-AM.

In May 2001, Salem officially announced plans to move the WHK calls and religious format from 1420 kHz to 1220 kHz, and the WKNR calls and sports talk format were to move from 1220 kHz to 850 kHz. 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. A last-minute arrangement by Salem Communications and WCLV parent company Radio Seaway led to WRMR's intellctual property being traded to WCLV for an undisclosed amount, and the format ended up moving to the 1420 kHz signal.

WKNR

The call letters WKNR (formerly used in the 1960s for a Top-40 formatted station in Dearborn, Michigan as "Keener 13") were introduced to Cleveland on July 13, 1990, when Douglass Broadcasting acquired WGAR 1220-AM and Nationwide Communications used the WGAR call letters exclusively to identify its FM outlet at 99.5 MHz. WKNR slowly assembled several blocks of locally-based sports talk shows, starting in January of 1991. Within a few months, the new station gradually adopted a sports talk format, and lured the Cleveland Indians broadcasts away from long-time flagship WWWEmarker, starting with the 1992 season.

For several years in the mid 1990s, WKNR was home to Cleveland Indians, Cleveland Browns, and Ohio Statemarker football and basketball broadcasts. At this time, the station was owned by Cablevision Systems Corp, but was sold to Jacor Communications on August 19, 1997.. Jacor, which also owned WTAMmarker, ended up moving the Cleveland Indians broadcasts back to WTAMmarker beginning with the 1998 season. In addition, the Cleveland Browns rights were then transferred to WMJI and WTAM for the 1999 season, leaving significant holes in WKNR's programming.

Jacor then swapped WKNR with Capstar Broadcasting’s WTAE in Pittsburgh in 1998 as part of the Justice Departmentmarker settlement when Jacor purchased Nationwide Communications— coincidentally, the same people who sold WGAR (AM) in 1990 and still owned WGAR-FM.. 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[166943].

Following WKNR's move to the 850 kHz location, it inherited much of WRMR's brokered talk show lineup in morning drive, evenings, and much of the weekends for several months. Otherwise, WKNR's sports hosts included the midday team of Greg Brinda and Kendall Lewis (the former moved from morning drive due to the brokered programming situation), Jim Rome, Kenny Roda, Bruce Drennan (who ended up taking the morning slot in late August), the late John Antus, Bob Karlovec and Ken Silverstein. The station's program director at the time was Steve Legurski, who had held the post since 1999.

A series of budget cutbacks by Salem in January 2004 led to the dismissal of Brinda, Lewis, Silverstein, Legurski and several other staffers, with Micheal Luczak taking over as program director. Bruce Drennan was reassigned to the midday slot, while ESPN Radio's flagship program Mike and Mike in the Morning took Drennan's place. Greg Brinda was brought back to the station one week after his dismissal to do fill-in work and host several specialty shows, but wound up taking Drennan's slot following his sudden (and controversial) departure in October 2004.

A number of divestures and format changes with other Salem-owned sports talk stations in the past few years (such as WBOB in Cincinnatimarker and KHHOmarker in Tacomamarker, which was LMA'ed to Clear Channel) left WKNR the only remaining sports station in Salem Communications' portfolio.

On July 2006, ESPN Radio cancelled its affiliation with WKNR with a 90-day notice effective that October 8, following Beaver Dam, Wisconsinmarker-based Good Karma Broadcasting's purchase of daytime-only station WABQ and new affiliation deal. With that change, WKNR became the Cleveland affiliate for Fox Sports Radio that October, while WABQ relauched as "ESPN Radio 1540" WWGKmarker. Several weeks later, Good Karma would end up purchasing WKNR for $7 million weeks later on December 4, 2006, which now formed a two-station duopoly. A local marketing agreement immediately began for WKNR, with the deal officially being closed that January.

On February 23, 2007, it was made official that WKNR would regain its former ESPN Radio affiliation and be rebranded as "ESPN 850 WKNR." As a result, Fox Sports Radio switched over to WWGK, now known as "Cleveland's AM 1540 KNR2," a play on ESPN2. Since then, the station has made a series of schedule overhauls, adding WJW-TV sports anchor (and former WHK show host) Tony Rizzo in the late morning slot, former WMMS/WMJI sports director Mark "Munch" Bishop in afternoon drive (and subsequently being promoted to sports director and given a morning show), and former Cavaliers TV play-by-play voice Michael Reghi to host their post-game call in show, then succeeding Bishop in afternoon drive following the latter's promotion to sports director (and move to mornings).

The studios for WKNR and WWGK were officially moved from WKNR's former transmitter site in Broadview Heights, Ohiomarker on October 29, 2007 under a $500,000 combined facility at The Galleria at Erieview, effectively ending 30 years of continuious use by WKNR and by WGAR-AM.

Current programming

Program Host Time
Munch in the Morning (Local) Mark "Munch" Bishop with Jeff Thomas 5 a.m. - 6 a.m.
Mike and Mike in the Morning (ESPN) Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg 6 a.m. - 9 a.m.
The Really Big Show (Local) Tony Rizzo with Aaron Goldhammer and Jeff Thomas 9 a.m. - 12 p.m.
The Jim Rome Show (Premiere) Jim Rome 12 p.m. - 3 p.m.
The Michael Reghi Show (Local) Michael Reghi with Darryl Ruiter 3 p.m. - 6 p.m.
In The Zone (Local) Kenny Roda with Chris Fedor 6 p.m. - 9 p.m.
ESPN Radio
The 10th Inning (Local)*
KNR Overtime (Local)*

---
Greg Brinda with Eddie Mularz
Greg Brinda with Eddie Mularz

9 p.m. - 12 a.m.
Sportscenter Nightly (ESPN) Doug Brown 12 a.m. - 1 a.m.
All Night with Jason Smith (ESPN) Jason Smith 1 a.m. - 5 a.m.
Buckeyes Roundtable (OSU Radiomarker) Paul Keels and Jim Lachey 6 p.m. - 8 p.m. (Mon. during football season)
The DQ-52 Show (Local) D'Qwell Jackson and Michael Reghi 6 p.m. - 7 p.m. (Tues. during football season)
The Jim Tressel Call in Show (OSU Radio) Jim Tressel, Paul Keels, and Jim Lachey 8 p.m. - 9 p.m. (Thur. during football season)
Inside Football (Local) Kenny Roda, Mark "Munch" Bishop, and LeCharles Bentley 5 p.m. - 7 p.m. (Fri. during football season)
ESPN Radio weekends


(*) - WKNR airs The 10th Inning or KNR Overtime following the conclusions of either Indians or Cavaliers games, respectively. (In the event of weekday afternoon Indians games, The 10th Inning will air instead on WWGK.) On weekends, these programs will also air featuring various hosts. When there is no Indians or Cavaliers game, ESPN Radio programming will air during this time.

Specialty progamming

During the Cleveland Browns season, the station will air a five-hour local pregame show as well as Browns React with Michael Reghi after the game.

During high school football season, WKNR will air a "Game of the Week" Friday nights, along with High School Hysteria which airs Friday nights before the games, and another version airs Saturday mornings reviewing all the games played the previous night.

Play by play

The station is the flagship for Lake Erie Monsters hockey (shared with sister station WWGKmarker), and is the Cleveland affiliate for Ohio Statemarker football and basketball (the basketball coverage is shared with WWGK). On Ohio State football game days, WKNR airs a local pre-game and post-game show before and after OSU network game coverage, with evening host Kenny Roda, sports director Mark "Munch" Bishop, and former Buckeye LeCharles Bentley.

WKNR (along with WWGK) also carries select Sunday afternoon (when it doesn't conflict with the Browns), and most prime-time NFL football games during the regular season as well as all postseason games from the NFL on Westwood One package, NCAA basketball from Westwood One, Major League Baseball on ESPN Radio, The NBA on ESPN Radio, and NASCAR coverage from PRN and MRN.

References

  1. WJW-AM History, Cleveland Broadcast Radio Archives Project. Retrieved on 2007-01-01.
  2. Letter of reception to a listener in Connecticut. Attributed to station president John Weimer. From the National Radio Club website. Retrieved on 2007-04-29.
  3. Alan Freed Biography, from Alan Freed website. Retrieved on 2007-04-29.


External links




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