|This article needs additional citations for verification. (June 2013)|
|City of license||Cleveland, Ohio|
|Broadcast area||Greater Cleveland
|Slogan||Real Life. Set To Music.|
(also on HD Radio)
|First air date||August 1952|
|Format||Country music (Analog/HD1)
Classic country (HD2)
|Callsign meaning||W "George A. Richards" –FM|
|Former callsigns||WGAR-FM (1952–70)
|Affiliations||City Club of Cleveland
Total Traffic Network
|Owner||Clear Channel Media and Entertainment
(Citicasters Licenses, Inc.)
|Sister stations||WAKS, WHLK, WMJI, WMMS, WTAM|
WGAR-FM (99.5 FM) – branded 99.5 WGAR – is a commercial country radio station licensed to Cleveland, Ohio, serving Greater Cleveland and much of surrounding Northeast Ohio. Owned by Clear Channel Media and Entertainment, WGAR-FM is the Cleveland affiliate for nationally-syndicated radio personality Blair Garner. The WGAR-FM studios are located in the Cleveland suburb of Independence, while the station transmitter resides in nearby Parma. Besides a standard analog transmission, WGAR-FM broadcasts over two HD Radio channels, and is available online via iHeartRadio.
WGAR-FM began broadcasting in August 1952, simulcasting the programming of its AM sister station, WGAR (1220 AM), as was the case for most FM stations at the time. Hours of operation were very limited, usually at the bare minimum of two hours per week.
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (June 2013)|
In 1970, WGAR-FM underwent several massive changes. It started broadcasting in stereo that April 1, and became WNCR (which stood for either Nationwide Communications Radio or North Coast Rock) on July 2. The original air staff was Mitch Michaels-mornings, Chris Gray-midday, Steve Scott-afternoons, Ginger-evenings and David Elmore-overnight. The PD was Jerry Dean. By August, all of the air staff, tired of being at odds with management about the huge amount of commercials and attempts to commercialize the station sound, went on strike. All were fired after a midnight meeting with the GM mediated by Don Imus. Ginger went to Columbus, then to WMMS. Michaels followed him in short time. This ushered in the Second Era of WNCR. While a considerable success at first, conflicts between management and staff prompted key members of WNCR's on-air staff - including Program Director Billy Bass and personalities Martin Perlich, and David Spero - to jump over to a new WMMS. The station was owned by the Peoples Broadcasting Company, an affiliate of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company and sister station of WNCI in Columbus. Peoples Broadcasting Company later became known as Nationwide Communications.
When WNCR began broadcasting, US market penetration of FM Radio receivers per household was only 7%. By its third year of broadcasting, the WNCR Progressive Rock Format was being employed by FM broadcasters throughout North America. Consequently, the penetration ratio per household of FM radios grew to 73% nationally, and WNCR was the number one FM per capita radio station in the USA.
On January 1, 1973, WNCR gave up the progressive rock format and changed to an automated country format. In 1975, the format was changed to beautiful music/easy listening using Jim Schulke's format. A few months later, the call letters changed to WKSW and the station's slogan became, "WKSW, FM 100. All music. All the time." For a brief period, no local announcers were used. Instead, recordings of Philadelphia announcer Nelson Hobdell were used for all station breaks. Eventually, WKSW went to all local personalities, including David Mark (who had the highest ratings the station ever achieved), Tom Mart, Jim Field, and Ted Lux. With the lone exception of David Mark, whose ratings in Cleveland were bested only by Cleveland Indians baseball on WWWE and rock music on WMMS, the station was never quite able to equal or better the ratings at competitors WQAL and WDOK, and the format was switched back to country by 1980. The country format brought in Jon Olson as Program Director from sister station WPOC, Baltimore. Bob McGee, who had been with WKSW since 1977, was appointed music director and also had the evening time slot.
On July 15, 1984, it switched its calls to WGAR-FM. It has continued its country music format since then. The country music programming was simulcast on the AM outlet for a time during 1986 before WGAR (AM) was sold off and became WKNR (1220 AM).
WGAR-FM was sold to Jacor Communications in 1997 as part of a $620 million purchase of Nationwide Communications and its 17 stations by Jacor. In May 1999, Clear Channel Communications completed its $6.5 billion purchase of Jacor and its 454 stations, including WGAR-FM.
From 1992–2010, the WGAR-FM morning show starred longtime personality Jim Mantel, along with various sidekicks and co-hosts through the years. In addition to the morning show, the on-air staff included the noted Marconi Award winning Chuck Collier, whose broadcast career extended over four decades in Cleveland between radio stations WGAR-FM (1986–2011), WGAR (AM) (1970–90), and WMJI. In March 2009, Chuck Collier was inducted into the Country Radio Hall Of Fame in Nashville, one of only 60 personalities in the history of country radio to achieve this honor. Collier was the music director/afternoon host until his death on September 22, 2011 due to a heart attack.
WGAR-FM personalities Brian Fowler and LeeAnn Sommers host the weekday morning show. WGAR-FM personalities Shotgun Taylor (Charley Connolly) and Kat Jackson host the afternoon and evening music shifts, respectively; other music shifts are either voice-tracked out-of-market specifically for WGAR-FM or programmed via Premium Choice. Blair Garner hosts After Midnite with Blair Garner overnights via Premiere Networks. Weekend programming includes Bob Kingsley's Country Top 40 via Dial Global. The HD2 digital subchannel broadcasts a classic country format via Premium Choice under the brand Foggy Mountain.
- "Corrections and Clarifications". The Plain Dealer. August 1, 2009. Retrieved September 1, 2013. "The Cleveland Clear Channel stations using the Premium Choice programming package are WAKS, WGAR, WMJI and WMMS. Each station uses it overnight on weekdays, and for selected hours on weekends."
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to WGAR-FM.|
- Official website
- Query the FCC's FM station database for WGAR
- Radio-Locator information on WGAR
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for WGAR
- Aerial photo of WGAR-FM transmitter from Google Maps