|City of license||Toledo, Ohio|
|Broadcast area||Toledo, Ohio|
|Branding||Fox Sports Radio 1230 WCWA|
|First air date||April 10, 1938|
|Callsign meaning||W C-WA (after the St. Lawrence Seaway)|
WCWA is a radio station licensed to and serving Toledo, Ohio. It is the second-oldest radio station in Toledo, and during AM radio's heyday it was a close second in popularity to WSPD-AM for many years.
The station signed on in 1938 as WTOL-AM, founded by former Toledo prosecutor Frazier Reams (whose family would continue to own the station all the way until 1996). Originally licensed for daytime operations only, WTOL was granted authority for around-the-clock operations in 1939 and affiliated with NBC's Blue network (later to become ABC) shortly thereafter. Programming on WTOL until the mid-1960s was a typical full-service hodgepodge of news, information, sports, ABC network programs and various types of music, including pop, country, jazz, and, by the early 1960s, some rock and roll. The station started broadcasting 24 hours a day in 1962 with the new format "Demand Radio 123". The format was very tightly controlled, and the announcers said very little, other than time and weather. there were scripted intros for songs. The playlist contained about 200 popular favorites of the 40s and 50s. The tight format wore out in less than two years. In 1964 WTOL became a personality driven full service facility, and played popular music, while avoiding "hard rock". You could hear the Beatles, and the Stones, but only songs like Yesterday, Michelle, and As Tears Go By. For many years, WTOL was a family of three broadcast stations which included TV-11 and FM-104.7. Channel 11 remains WTOL to this day and is the most popular television station in Toledo.
The call letters were changed in 1965, when the two radio stations split from Channel 11. The call sign "WCWA," or "seaway," was meant to pay tribute to the St. Lawrence Seaway, of which Toledo is a major port (and the seaway itself a major boon to the city's economy. The call sign was originally assigned to a German merchant ship (the MS Karl Trautwein) which gave up the call sign for a modest payment. The easy listening format continued. In 1969, Station Manager Garry Miller persuaded Former WCWA DJ Jim Felton to leave CKLW in Detroit and return to program the station. The new format included PAMS jingles, and a slightly more Top 40 approach, while still avoiding the "harder rock'. The playlist contained the biggest variety of music available, and gained a much larger audience, even topping the ratings of local station WSPD, which remains as a news/talk station, and Detroit stations like WJR and CKLW. Meanwhile Felton, and his boyhood friend, Dennis Moon, who was now working in the engineering department, attempted to move WCWA-FM to "Album Rock", a format which was taking hold all over the country. The idea was met with great disdain by Frazier Reams, Jr. who asked if the two were out of their (bleeping) minds? (The FM finally switched to "Album Rock" some years later, and became an enormus success as WIOT.) Felton left in 1971. Moon remained, and is, to this day, the finest engineer any radio station ever had.
WCWA went through many Format changes in the early 1970s, causing it to be known as "which way radio". One person who loved to call it by that name wound up running the station in the mid-70s. That person was the legendary Bob Martz. Bob worked at almost every station in Toledo at one time or another, and always left his mark. The station was always fun to listen to, mostly because of his fantastic sense of humor. Martz switched the format to oldies, and brought in friends like Terry Shaw, Bob Kelly, Lou Hebert and Mike Shaw. Kelly and Hebert were a very popular morning duo for several years. Kelly later paired with Dennis Staples, and the two worked successfully at WCWA and various other stations in Toledo for 17 years until Staples' death.
In the early 1980s, WCWA Manager, Dan Dudley, took the station in another direction with help from consultant Jim Felton, who was working at CFTR in Toronto at the time. They mixed the oldies with country music cross-over songs. The Urban Cowboy craze was in its heyday, and the fit worked very well. They also brought veteran newsman Don Edwards in to run the news department. Mornings were handled by John Mack Brown, a controversial host, who was counterbalanced by the impressive image of Don Edwards. Deejays were Larry Fletcher, Jay Richards, Larry Weseman and radio legend Don King who hosted Sports Talk every evening. The format did extremely well for about two years, but the "cowboy" fad faded, and WCWA with program director Mike Sheppard, took on another format change, "Nostalgia". The "Music of Your Life" format was making ratings headway across the country as baby boomers began to feel their age. WCWA kept this format in both live and satellite delivered versions until 2002.
The last live version of WCWA in the nostalgia format originated from the Fort Industry Square studios, (designed and maintained by the infamous Denny Moon) from 1997 until 2002. The staff included the legendary Bob Martz, program director Jim Felton, Suzanne Carroll, Bill Charles, Michael Drew (Mike) Shaw, and Dennis Williams. The ratings increased with the live programming, but sales and management claimed they couldn't sell advertising time easily on a station which catered to "old people". Translation: anyone over 50.
After two decades playing nostalgia/standards, WCWA changed format to talk radio in November 2002. The station's ratings subsequently crashed, and the current sports-talk format was adopted in May 2004; although this change also did nothing to help the station's ratings. Along with abysmal ratings, the format change away from music brought much heated protest within the community, specifically from an organization known as CORRAL.
WCWA is owned by iHeartMedia, Inc., and is part of that company's Toledo cluster. WCWA (and its predecessor WTOL-AM) was owned by Frazier Reams for many years prior to radio deregulation in 1996. Other stations in the Clear Channel Toledo cluster are: WSPD 1370 AM, WVKS 92.5 FM (KISS FM), WRVF 101.5 FM (The River), WCKY-FM 103.7 FM, and WIOT 104.7 FM.
WCWA transmits at a power of 1,000 watts, from studios located atop the Fort Industry Square building on Summit Street in downtown Toledo. The station's advertising offices are located at Superior and Lafayette. The transmitter is located near the intersection of Hawley & Whittier Streets and can be easily seen from the Anthony Wayne Trail. WCWA also streams its signal and available on the IHeartRadio app
WCWA is the Toledo affiliate of Fox Sports Radio.
Play by play
WCWA is the flagship station for Toledo Mud Hens baseball, with all regular season games, playoffs and the Triple-A All-Star Game broadcast. Jim Weber is the play-by-play voice of the Mud Hens, having called the team's games since the mid-1970s. The Cleveland Indians' weekday (and a few weekend) games are heard on WCWA, with all weeknight and other weekend games on its news-talk sister, WSPD.
WCWA is also the flagship of the Toledo Walleye ECHL hockey club, which played its inaugural season in 2009-2010. Matt Melzak is the play-by-play announcer for the Walleye. WCWA also carries University of Toledo women's basketball, with Jim Heller calling the plays courtside.
Since 1969, the station engineer at WCWA and WIOT (named Chief Engineer in 1974) has been the legendary Dennis Moon. WCWA was known for having a clearer, fuller sound than most AM stations that offered music programming. This has been attributed by many who have worked there to Moon's decades-long devotion to WCWA's audio quality. The "Moon-unit" updated WCWA to digital HD Radio (IBOC) in the summer of 2007. With just 7 watts of digital power, the station can be received in hybrid digital all the way to the Michigan border.
WCWA has also featured a large schedule of ethnic and religious programming for most of its history. This includes shows devoted entirely to Polish, German, Mexican, and Irish music, as well as immensely popular Polka, Jazz, and Gospel programs. In addition to these specialty music programs, WCWA is also the home of several spoken-word religious shows covering many different faiths. Some of these religious shows have been on WCWA since its inception. All or most of these programs survived the format switch, and can mainly be heard on weekends.
Former on-air staff
- Terry (Gottschalk) Shaw
- Bill Charles
- Bill Stewart
- Rich Hoffer
- Dennis Williams
- Bill Thomas (Niederman)
- Michael Drew Shaw
- Bob Martz
- Jim "Uncle Felty" Felton also at WLYV and CKLW and WKLO and CFTR
- Bob Kelley
- Lou Hebert
- Dennis Staples
- Bob Malik
- Larry Weseman
- Mike Shepherd
- Jay Richards
- Larry Fletcher
- Cliff Jeffries
- Suzanne Carroll
- Duane Stacker
- Don Edwards - longtime newscaster
- Gary Siegel
- Bruce Wild
- Jim Cayce
- Jim Carney
- Tom Waniewski
- Don King (Saturday Morning LIVE)(The Scoreboard Show)
- David Domanski (Saturday Morning LIVE)
- Joe Zalewski (Polka Spotlight Show)
- Bob Earl Jr. (Polka Spotlight Show)
- Janet Gawle (Melodies of Poland)(STILL ON THE AIR)
- Denny Kutylowski (Melodies of Poland)
- Lyn Casye
- Pete Petersen (German/American Hour)(Retired after 33 years - August, 2011)
- Kate Preston
- Fr. Raphael Biernacki (Melodies of Poland)(Orthodox Hour)
- John Connelly (Echoes of Ireland) (STILL ON THE AIR)
- Sylvester Duran
- Mike Morrin
- Sir Bernard J. Quayle
- Mike Cook
- Lee Fowler
- Bob Brown
- Paul W. Smith - later at KYW-AM Philadelphia and WJR Detroit.
- Charley Frederick
- Bill Gill
- Ken Cahoo
- Art Edgerton
- WCWA's official website
- Query the FCC's AM station database for WCWA
- Radio-Locator Information on WCWA
- Query Nielsen Audio's AM station database for WCWA