|City of license||Akron, Ohio|
|Broadcast area||Akron metro|
|Branding||Fox Sports 1350|
(also on HD Radio)
|First air date||April 8, 1925|
|Format||Sports radio (Analog/HD)|
|Power||5,000 watts (unlimited)|
|Callsign meaning||W A "Radio Free Ohio"
|Former callsigns||WADC (1925–65)
|Affiliations||Fox Sports Radio
NBC Sports Radio (weekends)
|Owner||Clear Channel Media and Entertainment|
|Sister stations||WHLO, WHOF, WKDD, WRQK-FM|
WARF (1350 AM) – branded Fox Sports 1350 – is a commercial sports/talk radio station serving the Akron, Ohio metro area. WARF is the Akron affiliate for Fox Sports Radio and NBC Sports Radio. AM 1350 also serves as the flagship station for both the Akron Aeros minor league baseball team and the University of Akron Zips.
The station previously had a progressive talk format, and before that was sports-focused, having been affiliated with both ESPN Radio and Sporting News Radio. WARF is the oldest surviving station in the city otherwise; it was WADC for decades before becoming country music WSLR.
The station traces its history to WADC which debuted as a temporary station for a February 1925 car show at the Central Garage. The call letters were derived from the name of the Automobile Dealers Co. that sponsored the show. After the show ended, Allen T. Simmons, owner of the Allen Theater, bought the station and obtained a permanent license which was granted on March 23, 1925. It was the second radio station in Akron (after WOE which went on the air on April 27, 1922, but was off the air in July 1923). Regular broadcasts began on April 8, 1925 from studios in the Portage Hotel. The station originally broadcast at 1160 kHz with 100 watts, but its signal increased to 500 watts by 1926.
WADC was a charter member of the CBS Radio Network, being one of the 16 stations that aired the first CBS network program on September 18, 1927. The station soon opened new studios in Tallmadge and increased its power to 5,000 watts. Its frequency jumped around from 1160 to 1010 to 1260, and to 1320 after the FRC's General Order 40 went into effect on November 11, 1928. On March 29, 1941 it moved to 1350 kHz as part of the NARBA frequency shifts.
As the CBS affiliate during the 1930s and 1940s, WADC was the leading Akron radio station, rivaled later only by WAKR after it took to the air in 1940. Akron had no NBC Red affiliate, since WTAM's signal from Cleveland covered the area. WADC's success was symbolized by the two-story art-deco WADC Building, which was completed on May 6, 1949 and became a local landmark on the southeast corner of Main and Mill Streets in downtown Akron. The entire second floor of the building was occupied by the station's studios and offices.
WADC was sold in late 1964 to Welcome Radio, Inc. headed by Cleveland lawyer Harrison Fuerst. In January 1965, the station became WSLR, known as "Whistler 1350." It brought a country music format to the area, with morning host Jaybird Drennan. Jaybird died on December 10, 2006. On August 22, 1984, Welcome Radio sold WSLR to OBC Broadcasting, Inc., headed by Richard A. Nicoletti.
Faced with competition from WQMX in Akron, along with WGAR-FM in Cleveland and WQXK in Youngstown, WSLR dropped its country format. On September 1, 1994, station adopted an urban contemporary format delivered by ABC Radio called "The Touch," and it switched to call letters WTOU on September 29.
In October 1999, the station switched to a sports talk format. It first carried programming from ESPN Radio and kept the WTOU calls but dropped "The Touch" nickname and instead went by "1350AM ESPN - Akron's Sports Network." WTOU and sister station WKDD (96.5 FM) were sold by OBC Broadcasting to Clear Channel on August 15, 2000. In September 2001, months after the sale to Clear Channel, WTOU then flipped to Fox Sports Radio as "Fox Sports 1350." The networks' offerings at the time also included Tony Bruno and "Kiley & Booms," co-hosted by Cleveland Heights native Chuck Booms (who broadcast on his end from Clear Channel's Cleveland facilities in Independence, Ohio). WTOU also became the Akron-Canton affiliate for The Jim Rome Show.
Radio Free Ohio
The sports talk format was dropped on June 2, 2005, and the station switched to a liberal talk radio format (albeit with no Air America programming at first), changing its call letters to WARF. Fox Sports Radio programming was picked up by WJMP, who, ironically enough, dropped their own liberal talk format via an Air America feed.
The station became known as "Radio Free Ohio" and carried Al Franken and Randi Rhodes from Air America Radio, and Ed Schultz and Stephanie Miller from Jones Radio. WARF also held the distinction of being the only station in the country to carry Bill Press's radio show when it debuted on June 27, 2005, until KRXA picked up the show on August 22. On February 13, 2006 veteran radio personality Joe Finan (long heard on rival talk station WNIR) began a locally produced talk show 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. weekdays. Finan was released from WARF that October 27, and died that December 20.
WARF changed formats on March 30, 2007 from liberal talk to sports, using Sporting News Radio. Its new logo uses a blue-and-gold color scheme, much like the University of Akron. Throughout the format changes from all-sports to progressive talk and back to all-sports, WARF continues to carry its live sports programming – University of Akron football and basketball and Akron Aeros minor league baseball, though NASCAR races have moved to sister station WHLO. Tony Bruno was originally a part of Sporting News Radio's lineup in mid-mornings, but after his dismissal from the network, WARF picked up the "Content Factory"-syndicated Dan Patrick show.
Fox Sports 1350
In June 2009, WARF switched back to Fox Sports Radio, and brought over The Jim Rome Show as well, while WJMP switched to a news/talk format. The current lineup still includes Dan Patrick's show (now simulcast on FSR) and Tony Bruno; making WARF one of the very few sports stations in the country to have carried most - if not all - of Bruno's network show incarnations.
Beginning in January 2010, WARF started the area's first local sports talk show in nearly 20 years, The Jon Marochino Show. The show featured sports-talk as well as lifestyle opinions, concentrating mostly on local pro (Cleveland Cavs, Indians, and Browns), and college teams (Akron, Ohio State, and Kent State). As of October 2010, the show was re-tooled and branded as Ken And Fish and is hosted by Ken Carman and longtime FM Rock personality, Todd Fisher (who were already co-hosts on The Jon Marochino Show). Jon Marochino was transferred to sister station WKDD (98.1 FM) for afternoon drive and is now heard in morning drive on another WARF sister station, WHOF.
The show went through another change in January 2011, as Fisher was moved to WRQK-FM for afternoon drive, leaving Carman to do the show solo. The Ken Carman Show aired weekday afternoons, but was substituted by Fox Sports Radio's Loose Cannons when Carman is out on other assignments. Carman moved to WKRK-FM 92.3 in Cleveland on August 29, 2011 to become the evening host, as the station switched to a sports talk format. Former Fox Sports Radio host Chuck Booms, once heard on WARF, is heard on WKRK-FM's morning show.
WARF airs mostly FSR programming weekdays, save for afternoons when veteran Akron area sportscasters Joe Dunn and Tom Linder host the local show Big Time Sports. WARF's weekend schedule features programming from both FSR and NBC Sports Radio. Play-by-play coverage includes Akron Aeros; University of Akron football and basketball; area high school football and basketball.
- "HD Radio: Akron Station Guide!". HDRadio.com. HD Digital Radio. 2011. Retrieved March 4, 2011.
- NBC Sports on WARF - Sports Radio 1350.com
- Price, Mark J. "Flight of the Pigeon – Local Radio Station WADC had Birds Carry CBS Messages to New York in November 1945", Akron Beacon Journal, November 14, 2005, p. E1. Retrieved on 2007-01-01.
- Miller, Jeff (December 26, 2006), A Chronology of AM Radio Broadcasting 1900–1960. Retrieved on 2007-01-01.
- Price, Mark J. "On the Air Akron's First Radio Station Crackled to Life in 1922", Akron Beacon Journal, April 30, 2001, p. D6. Retrieved on 2007-01-01.
- "This Week", Akron Beacon Journal, September 30, 2001, p. A15. Retrieved on 2007-01-01.
- U. S. Radio Stations as of June 30, 1925, from U.S. Department of Commerce publication. Retrieved on 2007-01-01.
- U. S. Radio Stations as of June 30, 1926, from U.S. Department of Commerce publication. Retrieved on 2007-01-01.
- Radio Digest, September 1927, quoted in: McLeod, Elizabeth (September 20, 2002). CBS – In the Beginning, History of American Broadcasting. Retrieved on 2007-01-01.
- Dyer, Bob (December 28, 1986). "Only 2 of 8 Radio Stations Still Locally Owned". Akron Beacon Journal. p. C2. Retrieved January 1, 2007.
- Heldenfels, R.D. "WSLR Drops Country, Adds Urban 'Touch' New Adult Music Format Starts at Akron Radio Station", Akron Beacon Journal, September 1, 1994, p. D1. Retrieved on 2007-01-01.
- Feran, Tom. "Akron Stations Change Owner in Radio Swap", The Plain Dealer, March 18, 2000, p. B2. Retrieved on 2007-01-12.
- Feran, Tom. "Final Sale of Stations Paves Way for Merger", The Plain Dealer, August 28, 2000, p. E7. Retrieved on 2007-01-12.
- O'Connor, Clint. "Format flipping bounces listeners around AM dial", The Plain Dealer, July 16, 2005, p. E7. Retrieved on 2007-01-01.
- WARF schedule - Sports Radio 1350.com
- "Big Time Sports" - Sports Radio 1350.com
- Query the FCC's AM station database for WARF
- Radio-Locator Information on WARF
- Query Nielsen Audio's AM station database for WARF