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WLW is a clear channel talk radio station located in Cincinnati, Ohiomarker, run by Clear Channel Communications. The station broadcasts locally on 700 kHz AM. WLW's studios are in the Towers of Kenwood building next to Interstate 71 in the Kenwoodmarker neighborhood of Sycamore Townshipmarker, while its transmitter is located in Masonmarker, adjacent to the former Voice of America Bethany Relay Stationmarker.

The station frequently uses its nickname, "The Big One". Sister stations WTAMmarker in Clevelandmarker and WWVAmarker in Wheelingmarker have copied this tagline. WLW also uses its historical tagline, "The Nation's Station."


WLW airs a nearly entirely locally-produced talk format, and is the flagship station for the nationally syndicated shows The Mutual Fund Show with Adam Bold, America's Trucking Network (formerly The Truckin' Bozo), a popular nationwide, overnight program especially for truckers; Live on Sunday Night with Bill Cunningham; and The Weekend with Mike McConnell. McConnell and Cunningham also host weekday programs on the station. America's Trucking Network is syndicated by Clear Channel Radio. Live on Sunday Night with Bill Cunningham; and The Weekend with Mike McConnell are syndicated by Premiere Radio Networks.

WLW is the flagship radio station for the Cincinnati Reds baseball team and a co-flagship station for the Cincinnati Bengals football team. The station also broadcasts Cincinnati Bearcats and Xavier Musketeersmarker games. WLW has a 24-hour local news department and is affiliated with ABC News Radio and Hearst-Argyle's WLWT-TVmarker (the former TV sister to WLW). WLW was also affiliated with Paul Harvey until May 2008.


In July 1921, radio manufacturer Powel Crosley Jr. began 20-watt tests from his College Hill home, broadcasting "Song of India" continuously under the callsign 8CR. Powell already owned a number of enterprises, including the Crosmobile and a refrigerator-freezer company, and for many years, he held ownership of the Cincinnati Reds baseball club. Powell was innovative, personally inventing or funding the development of many then–cutting-edge technological advances in all his ventures.

On March 22, 1922, Crosley and his Crosley Broadcasting Corporation began broadcasting with the new callsign WLW and 50 watts of power. Crosley was a fanatic about the new broadcasting technology, and continually increased his station's capability. The power went up to 500 watts in September 1922, 1000 watts in May 1924, and in January 1925 WLW was the first broadcasting station at the 5000 watt level. On October 4, 1928, the station increased its power to 50 kilowatts. Again it was the first station at this power level, and 50 kilowatts is the maximum power allowed for any station at present.

At 50 kilowatts, WLW was heard easily over a wide area, from New York to Florida. But Crosley still wasn't satisfied. In 1933 he obtained a construction permit from the Federal Radio Commission for a 500 kilowatt superstation, and he spent some $500,000 building the transmitter and antenna. In January 1934 WLW began broadcasting at the 500 kilowatt level late at night under the experimental callsign W8XO. In April 1934 the station was authorized to operate at 500 kilowatts during regular hours under the WLW call letters. On May 2, 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt pressed a ceremonial button that officially launched WLW's 500-kilowatt signal. As the first station in the world to broadcast at this strength, WLW received repeated complaints from around the United States and Canadamarker that it was overpowering other stations as far away as Torontomarker. In December 1934 WLW cut back to 50 kilowatts at night to mitigate the interference, and began construction of three 50ft. tower antennas to be used to reduce signal strength towards Canada. With these three antennas in place, full-time broadcasting at 500 kilowatts resumed in early 1935. However, WLW was continuing to operate under special temporary authority that had to be renewed every six months, and each renewal brought complaints about interference and undue domination of the market by such a high-power station. The FCC was having second thoughts about permitting extremely wide-area broadcasting versus more locally oriented stations, and in 1938, the US Senate adopted the "Wheeler" resolution, expressing it to be the sense of that body that more stations with power in excess of 50 kilowatts are against the public interest. As a result, in 1939 the 500-kilowatt broadcast authorization was not renewed, bringing an end to the era of the AM radio superstation. Because of the impending war and the possible need for national broadcasting in an emergency, the W8XO experimental license for 500 kilowatts remained in effect until December 29, 1942. In 1962 the Crosley Broadcasting Corporation again applied for a permit to operate at 750 kilowatts, but the FCC denied the application.

The three towers being used to keep the 500 kilowatt signal out of Canada were later sold to Stanley Coning of Eaton, Ohiomarker, where they were later combined into a single 150ft. tower used to broadcast Coning's WCTM 92.9FM in 1959, an early adopter and pioneer of FM broadcasting.

Many reports have surfaced over the years of the power fluctuations from those who lived near the 500 kilowatt transmitter. Residents would see their lights flicker in time to the modulation peaks of the transmitter. It was widely reported that the signal was so overpowering some people picked up WLW radio on the metal coils of mattress and boxed bedsprings, similar to KDKA-AMmarker in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvaniamarker. Arcing often occurred near the transmission site.

In 1942, WLW moved its studios into the Crosley Square building, a converted Elks Lodge No. 5 in downtown Cincinnati. WLW's sister television station, WLWTmarker (then branded WLW-T), was founded in the same building. In 1955, WLW and WLWT became the first radio and television station to own a weather radar.

In the 1960s, Crosley assumed the name of its parent company, Avco. WLW remained under Avco Broadcasting Corporation until the mid 1970s. From that point until the 1990s, WLW had different owners, including Queen City Communications, Mariner Communications, Seven Hills Broadcasting and Jacor Communications, before Jacor merged with WLW's current owner, Clear Channel.

From the late 1970s to 1989, WLW's studios were located downtown at 3 East 4th Street, now the site of the National City Bank Tower in downtown Cincinnati. From 1989 to 2005, WLW was located in Mt.marker Adamsmarker, a trendy neighborhood overlooking downtown. The address remained 1111 St. Gregory Street. WLW was originally on the fourth floor, where it shared studios with sister station WEBN. In 1992, as Jacor started to consolidate stations, the fifth floor was taken over for the human resources and traffic departments, along with new studios for 550 WLWA, formerly WKRC-AM. In 1995, Jacor moved all of its stations into the Mt. Adams facility leasing the entire building.

Along with other Clear Channel talk stations, WLW switched from ABC News Radio to Fox News Radio. However, on June 26, 2006, a realignment of network affiliations by Clear Channel's Cincinnati AM stations reunited WLW with ABC News Radio. (WKRC picked up Fox News Radio, while WCKY took CBS Radio.) Not included in the rearrangement was ABC Radio commentator Paul Harvey. WLW continued to carry Harvey's commentaries through all the changes, although after extended absences, Harvey was dropped by WLW in April 2008.

WLW clones

A short-lived attempt at a WLW clone was WLWA, airing on the 550 frequency in Cincinnati, from 1992 to 1994. This frequency is now used for WKRC, branded as 55KRC.

In 1997, WLW owner Jacor purchased 700 KFAM in Salt Lake City. As a joke, they changed the call letters to KWLW and even began to air programming such as The Truckin' Bozo on the station. The call letters and format stayed on the station until 1999. That station is now known as KALLmarker and carries a sports radio format.

"The Nation's Station"

WLW's diamond-shaped radio mast at night
WLW currently broadcasts using 50,000 watts of power, the maximum allowed for an AM clear channel broadcaster under current FCC rules.

The high power broadcasts led WLW to call itself "The Nation's Station." WLW also broadcasts using the HD-Radio digital system.

WLW powered up to higher wattage a few times during World War II in order to send special broadcasts to American troops in Europe, but has not broadcast regular programming at 500 kW since. However, the 500 kW transmitting equipment was used by the US government for broadcasting to Cuba early in the Kennedy administration.

After sundown, the 50 kW signal can be heard across much of the eastern half of the United Statesmarker and Canadamarker, and as far west as Denver, COmarker. In 1985 overnight host Dale Sommers received a call from Hawaii on his overnight program. It is believed WLW can be heard, regularly, in at least 38 U.S. states at night, and the station refers to this in some advertising.

The station's first 50 kW transmitter, made by Western Electric, is still functional and sees occasional service, including on December 31, 1999, when it was powered up and helped to bring WLW into the new year on January 1, 2000. The station's unusual diamond-shaped antenna (designed and erected by Blaw-Knox Tower company) is one of eight still operational in the United States and is featured on the official seal of the City of Mason.

WLW carries games of the Cincinnati Reds, which makes it among the last of the clear channel AM radio stations to carry live Major League Baseball games.

XM Radio simulcast

From March 1, 2006 to March 6, 2009 WLW was simulcast live on XM Satellite Radio channel 173. This broadcast was delay-free, and gave the station a signal that reached the continental United States. Excluded from the simulcast were Cincinnati Reds and Bengals play-by-play coverage, which the station did not own the rights to broadcast nationally. However, college sport play-by-play from the Xavier Musketeers and the Cincinnati Bearcats were broadcast on XM. Fans of "The Big One" enjoyed the ability to hear the station anywhere in America. The concept to place 700 WLW on XM was the idea of Sean Compton, a young Clear Channel Radio executive who was required to re-locate from Cincinnati to CC Headquarters in San Antonio, TX. This way he could still hear his favorite station even in Texas. The XM feed drew a small, but loyal audience. The decision to pull the station from one of several channels on XM (now Sirius XM) programmed (on owned bandwidth) by Clear Channel Communications, was made by Trevor Oliver at CC-owned Premiere Radio Networks in Los Angeles. As of the summer of 2009 nothing new has been added to XM channel 173. It has primarily been simulcasting other talk channels like XM 165.

Former personalities

The station claims many well-known alumni, including Merle Travis, Doris Day, Rosemary Clooney, Ruth Lyons, Bob Braun, Wally Phillips, NBC sportscasters Cris Collinsworth and Al Michaels, longtime "Sportstalk" hosts Bob Trumpy, former morning host Bill Wills (now with WTAMmarker), Dale Sommers (better known as the "Truckin' Bozo"), J. R. Gach (who was fired for referring to Japanese as "yellow monkeys"), Gary Burbank (comedy talk host, impressionist, and creator of the nationally syndicated Earl Pitts monologues) and former Clear Channel radio CEO Randy Michaels. Rod Serling, the creator of the classic TV series The Twilight Zone, worked for WLW from 1950-51 producing historical documentaries, community profiles and commercials, before leaving to pursue other opportunities in the broadcasting industry.

Randy Michaels is credited for developing WLW from an MOR music signal into a successful all-local talk station in the early 1980s; though the station did continue to play some music for several years afterward, the music played became more adult contemporary in nature. Today, Michaels is at Tribune's WGN Chicago. Much of WLW's lineup has remained intact for several years. 700 WLW today is one of the only stations left with original 24 hour locally produced programming making it unique and refreshingly creative. 700 WLW personalities (talk hosts) are stars in The Queen City. They include; Jim Scott, Mike McConnell, Bill Cunningham, Scott Sloan, Steve Sommers and others. Program Director Darryl Parks fills in and hosts a Saturday morning show. WLW Radio has even made mini-stars out of select callers to their local talk shows.


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