|City of license||Lorain, Ohio|
|Broadcast area||Lorain County
Greater Cleveland (limited)
|Branding||Kool Kat Oldies 1380 AM|
|First air date||October 26, 1958|
|Power||500 watts (daytime)
57 watts (nighttime)
|Callsign meaning||W "Doug and Lorie Wilber"
|Former callsigns||WWIZ (1958–67)
|Affiliations||Fox News Radio|
|Owner||WDLW Radio, Inc.
(WDLW Radio, Inc.)
WDLW (1380 AM) – branded Kool Kat Oldies 1380 AM – is a commercial oldies radio station licensed to Lorain, Ohio. Owned by WDLW Radio, Inc., the station serves Lorain County and western parts of Greater Cleveland. The WDLW studios are located in the city of Oberlin, while the station transmitter resides in Sheffield Township.
WDLW's roots can be traced back to WWIZ, a modest 500-watt daytime-only station at 1380 kHz. The second AM station in Lorain County, WWIZ was the first to directly serve the city of Lorain. Studios were set up in Lorain's downtown area, and a transmitter was built in adjacent Sheffield Township. Among the early radio hosts at "W-WIZ" included Bob Lockwood, Alan Mink, Jeff Baxter (who doubled as program director), Bob Lee and Bob "BJ" Sellers, later known as "The Polka King" in the morning slot. WWIZ signed on on October 26, 1958, and soon promoted itself as "Lorain's Most Listened to Radio Station." Behind the scenes, however, WWIZ's history was troubled right from the start.
The station was founded by Sanford A. Schafitz, a native of the Youngstown area. Schafitz also started up WFAR in Farrell, Pennsylvania and WXTV-TV in Youngstown a few years earlier. But on September 15, 1958 – one month before the station signed on – Schafitz arranged a deal with The Journal in Lorain. The Journal, as it turned out, was a party that actually tried to get the station assigned in the first place via a complicated straw-man transaction designed to circumvent the legal requirements which prevented Journal Publishing from holding a license. This likely came about after the parent company of The Journal's chief competitor, The Elyria Chronicle-Telegram, acquired Elyria-Lorain Broadcasting (owner of WEOL AM/FM) months earlier.
The station was incorporated as "WWIZ, Inc.", and while the Journal was not the controlling shareholder of WWIZ (the ratio was 55% to 45% in favor of Schafitz, who now held the titles of president and director), it ended up controlling the operations nonetheless. Schafitz, however, told the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that he held total control of the station at the time, and the deal was not made public until announced on February 26, 1959. Harry Horvitz, chief owner of Journal Publishing, then bought the station outright on June 20, 1961.
Both WEOL and the FCC soon objected to the move, as neither was properly notified of the previous action. WWIZ's license was put up for immediate renewal by the FCC in March 1962. After a lengthy court fight, the renewal was denied in April 1964, appealed before the Supreme Court, and revoked in late 1966. The station then operated under a temporary permit until being ordered off the air entirely on July 14, 1967.
Relaunch as WLRO
Because WWIZ's license had been revoked and placed in a trusteeship, any reactivation of the station was treated as a new station application. Therefore, WWIZ and its successor are considered separate stations. The license was open for bidding during the next year, with Lorain Community Broadcasting Co. emerging as the new license holder. Intending to give WWIZ a new and fresh start, the call letters were changed to WLRO, which naturally stood for LoRain, Ohio. The station was silent until December 4, 1969, when WLRO signed on under a temporary permit. (The official license for the station was not granted for over a year.)
WLRO initially had a middle of the road and oldies format. The initial staff composed of Bill King, Bob Ladd, Rodger Glover, sports anchor Jim Allen, news director Bill Wilkens, production director Jeff Baxter and music director Norm N. Nite. During this time, it was also an affiliate of the Mutual Broadcasting System and carried Mutual's coverage of Notre Dame Football throughout the 1970s and 1980s. WLRO also carried Cleveland Indians daytime games in 1971 and 1972.
On July 7, 1984, WLRO was sold by Lorain Community Broadcasting to local real estate developer Jon Veard. Shortly thereafter, on July 13, the call sign was changed to WRKG and a pop standards format was installed. The WRKG calls stood for their new slogan, "WoRKinG for you is our business." The station's studios were moved to the Antlers Hotel in downtown Lorain, of which Veard also owned. The station still remained as a daytime station for many years, with overnight service (via just 57 watts) being added as of the fall of 1986.
Among the air talent that was on "Golden 13 Radio" at this time included Dick Conrad, John Antus, Donovan "D.K." Kent, Charles LuBear, Dave Rush, Lauren Wreath, John Ryan and sportscaster Jim Allen. Newscasts were handled by Craig Demyan, Joan Lowry, Mike Partin and Terry Burnabell. Ethnic programming on Sundays included "The Polka Express" with Jimmy Bryda and the "Ecos Latinos" Hispanic music show hosted by Miguel Berlingeri.
On February 12, 1990, Jon Veard sold WRKG to Victory Radio, Inc. headed by Vernon Baldwin, who was also the owner of WZLE 104.9-FM. (Clear Channel Communications since acquired WZLE in 1999 and changed the music format to Top 40 as "Kiss 104.9.") WRKG's format changed to country gospel during the day with personalities Terry Lee Goffee and Teri Drda, with Hispanic music played in the evening and overnight hours.
By the spring of 1997, WRKG entered into a daytime-only simulcast arrangement with WELW in Willoughby, Ohio. WRKG ended up carrying WELW's mixture of ethnic programming and brokered-time talk shows, plus carried the television audio from WOIO-TV's morning, noon and 6 p.m. newscasts. Accordingly, the callsign was first changed to WELL on June 6, 1997 – but eventually switched it again to WDLW that August 1. The WDLW calls previously were used on a Waltham, Massachusetts station during the 1980s.
This simulcast did not last long, however, and WDLW was flipped into a 24-hour Spanish/tropical format by January 1999. With programming leased over to the Latino Media Group, this move made WDLW the first, and only, such licensed-station in Ohio. WDLW also offered Spanish-language broadcasts of Cleveland Indians baseball and Cleveland Crunch indoor soccer.  The station ended up becoming popular in the Hispanic and Latino community within Lorain, and even in portions of the Cleveland area. The flagship show was their morning show The Milton Rivera Show which starred Milton Rivera and his co-host and producer Chris Haslage.
On January 2, 2002, WDLW was sold to WOBL Radio, Inc.'s owners, Doug and Lorie Wilber (which also resulted in a call letter bacronym). Technical upgrades were made to the air signal, and WDLW's studios were moved from the Antlers Hotel to WOBL's studio/transmitter facility in Oberlin, but the station kept the Hispanic format. But by that November 8, citing a lack of advertising revenue outside of Lorain in order to keep the Hispanic format on a full-time basis, WDLW switched to a 1950s/1960s rock-and-roll oldies format as "Kool Kat Oldies 1380-AM." "Kool Kat" was a play on "Cool Cat," the name of a 1960s Warner Bros. cartoon character, and a popular catch-phrase in that same period. The very first song played after the format switch was The Tremeloes' "Here Comes My Baby."
The station's airstaff currently includes Jeff Vietzen (The Vietz)in mornings, Wally Mintus in middays and Gene Briscoe in afternoons and "Hey Look What I Found!" with Pete Delmonico on Friday nights (from April until August). Newscasts are handled by broadcasters Brian Engle, Christy O'Neil, and Brian Deitz with sports covered by Micheal Strauss. In addition, WDLW still maintains a lengthy lineup of ethnic and variety shows on Sundays.
The best known of these ethnic programs is The Polka Express, whose on-air tenure spans that of 1380-AM's current incarnation with two different hosts – first with Jimmy Bryda from 1969 until his death in 2003, and with Tom Borowicz from 2003 to the present.
WDLW broadcasts high school football, basketball and hockey. Sister station WOBL broadcasts the same, along with Oberlin College football.
- "Bob Sellers". Obituary (The Chronicle-Telegram). August 15, 2005. Retrieved 2007-02-02.
- Heritage Microfilm, Inc (October 24, 1958). "Studio In Lorain: New Radio Station Will Open On Sunday". The Chronicle-Telegram. p. 17. Retrieved 2007-02-02.
- Heritage Microfilm, Inc (March 14, 1956). "In Sheffield Township: Radio Station Site Bought Near Lorain". The Chronicle-Telegram. p. 16. Retrieved 2007-02-02.
- Heritage Microfilm, Inc (October 11, 1966). "WWIZ may go into trusteeship". The Chronicle-Telegram. pp. 1–4. Retrieved 2007-02-02.
- Heritage Microfilm, Inc (February 27, 1959). "Journal Purchases Radio Station Stock". The Chronicle-Telegram. p. 18. Retrieved 2007-02-02.
- Heritage Microfilm, Inc (June 20, 1961). "Newspaper Asks Radio Purchase OK". The Chronicle-Telegram. p. 13. Retrieved 2007-02-02.
- Heritage Microfilm, Inc (March 3, 1962). "Radio Stockholder to Face ICC (sic) Quiz". The Chronicle-Telegram. p. 15. Retrieved 2007-02-02.
- Heritage Microfilm, Inc (June 15, 1967). "WWIZ has 30 days to leave air". The Chronicle-Telegram. p. 29. Retrieved 2007-02-02.
- Heritage Microfilm, Inc (July 15, 1967). "Station WWIZ leaves air". The Chronicle-Telegram. p. 12. Retrieved 2007-02-02.
- Heritage Microfilm, Inc (May 26, 1966). "2 firms seek radio permit". The Chronicle-Telegram. p. 12. Retrieved 2007-02-02.
- Heritage Microfilm, Inc (June 4, 1968). "FCC gives Lorain group WWIZ OK". The Chronicle-Telegram. p. 12. Retrieved 2007-02-02.
- http://www.davidgleason.com/Archive%20BC/BC%201969/BC%201969%2012%2022.pdf (page 60)
- Fybush, Scott (August 7, 1997). "North East RadioWatch: August 7, 1997: A Change of Sale". North East RadioWatch. Retrieved 2007-02-02.
- "SG y WDLW transmiten 1er partido de fútbol en español en la radio". 3 (in Spanish.) (Senor Gol). January–February 1997. p. 1. Retrieved 2007-03-09.[dead link]
- "Radio Station WDLW 1380 To Be Sold" (Press release). LorainCounty.com. January 2, 2002. Retrieved 2007-02-05.
- "WDLW 1380AM To Change Program Format" (Press release). LorainCounty.com. November 7, 2002. Retrieved 2007-02-02.
- FCC case: WWIZ, Inc., 37 FCC 685, 686 (1964), aff'd sub nom. Lorain Journal Co. v. FCC, 351 F. 2d 824 (D.C. Cir. 1965), cert. denied, 383 U.S. 967 (1966)
- Official website
- Query the FCC's AM station database for WDLW
- Radio-Locator Information on WDLW
- Query Nielsen Audio's AM station database for WDLW
- Kool Kat Oldies 1380 AM on LorainCounty.com