|City of license||Cleveland, Ohio|
|Broadcast area||Greater Cleveland
|Slogan||Cleveland's Blazin' Hip Hop and R&B|
(also on HD Radio)
|First air date||April 5, 1958|
|ERP||16,000 watts (horizontal)
15,000 watts (vertical)
|Callsign meaning||W "The ENd" Z|
|Former callsigns||WNOB (1958–70)
|Owner||Radio One, Inc.
(Blue Chip Broadcasting Licenses, Ltd.)
|Sister stations||WERE, WJMO, WZAK|
WENZ (107.9 FM) – branded Z 107.9 – is a commercial mainstream urban radio station licensed to Cleveland, Ohio, serving Greater Cleveland and much of surrounding Northeast Ohio. Owned by Radio One since 1999, the WENZ studios are located in Downtown Cleveland near Burke Lakefront Airport, while the station transmitter resides in Russell Township in Geauga County. Besides a standard analog transmission, WENZ broadcasts over a single HD Radio channel.
The station debuted on April 5, 1958 as WNOB (Northern Ohio Broadcasting), was started by several people from WNEW in New York. When the companion AM license was not granted, the station found itself in a precarious position, because standalone FM stations in the 1950s did not make money.
In 1961, the station filed for bankruptcy. A machine operator, Phillip Kerwin, purchased WNOB for $16,000. In 1963, WNOB became one of the first FM stations in the US to broadcast in stereo. In 1968 the signal was upgraded; the station purchased a new transmitter and antenna system. Two years later, in 1970, Multicom Inc. (owner of WELW AM 1330 in Willoughby, Ohio) purchased the station for $330,000. The call letters were then changed to WELW-FM. WELW played a top 40 Drake type format for almost two years, then switched to country music.
In 1975, Beasley Broadcast Group purchased the station from Multicom for $550,000, and changed the call letters to WDMT ("Dyno-mite", which happened to be a well known catch phrase on the popular sitcom Good Times). In 1976, the station switched to the then-popular disco format and took the moniker Disco 108. This is where the urban influence started, and in 1978, the station switched to an "Urban Contemporary" format as "WDMT-FM 108. WDMT one of the first urban-formatted FM stations in the country. It is during this era that the popular "Club Style" show was initiated, where street jocks from Cleveland got the chance to mix live on the air. Carol Ford, Freddie James, Mike Love, Matt Morgan, Lady Skill, Brenda Love, Hot Rod See, Dean Rufus and even the 'Ghoul' were popular DJs during this period. In 1985, the air staff appeared with Arsenio Hall on the first 'Urban Music Awards' show.
In 1987, the call letters were changed to WPHR, and the station branded itself Power 108 along with a switch to Top-40. In 1988, the station was sold to Ardman Broadcasting in Washington DC for $2.8 million. Personalities during this period included Jim Bosh, Maria Farina, Liz Luke, John Landecker, Gina St. John, Cat Thomas, "Little Stevie Z" Steve Szabo, Rick Michaels, Cathy Cruise, Scott James, Mark Allen, Downtown Eddie Brown, and Sunny Joe, among others. WPHR moved to Playhouse Square in late 1988.
107.9 The End
In June 1992, the station changed its callsign to WENZ and flipped its format to alternative rock, branding itself 107.9 The End. Both the branding and callsign reflected the station's position on the FM dial. It is around March of 1996 when Ardman would sell the station to Clear Channel Communications. Both the inception and the demise of The End were stunted: with both format changes, the station broadcast a 24 hour loop of R.E.M.'s song "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)". There was a documentary film made about The End, entitled The End of the World As We Knew It, released in 2009. It featured many of the former staffers and jocks.
On January 15, 1999, WENZ was purchased by Radio One, a company that owns and operates radio stations, most of which target African American communities. On May 14, 1999, the station relaunched as Kiss 107.9, with a Mainstream Urban format featuring hip-hop and R&B. However, legal action from Clear Channel Communications – which claimed exclusive rights to the "Kiss" brand in the state of Ohio through CHR station WAKS (104.9 FM) – forced Radio One to drop the "Kiss" brand at WENZ. On September 1, 1999, WENZ branded itself Z 107.9.
WENZ is the Cleveland affiliate of the nationally syndicated The Rickey Smiley Morning Show (via Syndication One). The rest of the day features local DJs Ro Digga (middays), Colby Colb (afternoons), Tropikana & DJ Steph Floss (evenings hosting The Trop House), and lil'D (overnights).
- "Station Guide: Cleveland, OH". HDRadio.com. HD Radio. 2011. Retrieved January 15, 2011.
- Feran, Tom (May 26, 1999). "One station may have to kiss name goodbye". The Plain Dealer (The Plain Dealer Publishing Co.). p. 1E - Entertainment.
- Feran, Tom (September 25, 1999). "Swoboda backs to news as anchor on TV-5 at 11". The Plain Dealer (The Plain Dealer Publishing Co.). p. 6E - Entertainment.
- "Affiliates". The Rickey Smiley Morning Show. 2012-02-08. Retrieved 2013-04-10.
- "Show Schedules | Z 107.9". Zhiphopcleveland.com. Retrieved 2013-04-10.
- "Rickey Smiley Morning Show debuts in Cleveland". Radio-Info.com. June 7, 2010.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to WENZ.|
- Official website
- Query the FCC's FM station database for WENZ
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for WENZ
- Radio-Locator information on WENZ
- Aerial photo of WENZ transmitter from Google Maps
- Cleveland Broadcast Radio Archives: WENZ timeline