WHK (AM)

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WHK
WHK logo.png
City of license Cleveland, Ohio
Broadcast area Greater Cleveland
Branding AM 1420 The Answer
Slogan News. Opinion. Insight.
Frequency 1420 kHz
First air date March 5, 1922
Format News/talk
Power 5,000 watts (daytime)
5,000 watts (nighttime)
Class B
Facility ID 313743
Transmitter coordinates 41°21′30.00″N 81°40′3.00″W / 41.3583333°N 81.6675000°W / 41.3583333; -81.6675000
Callsign meaning HK. Carpenter
Former callsigns WHK (1922–2001)
WHKK (2001)
WCLV (2001–03)
WRMR (2003–05)
Former frequencies 830 kHz (1922–24)
1060 kHz (1924–27)
1130 kHz (1927–30)
1390 kHz (1930–41)
Affiliations Akron Zips
Cleveland State Vikings
Lake Erie Monsters
Saint Ignatius Wildcats
Salem Radio Network
United Stations Radio Networks
Westwood One
Owner Salem Communications
(Common Ground Broadcasting, Inc.)
Sister stations WFHM-FM, WHKW
Webcast Listen Live
Website whkradio.com

WHK (1420 AM) – branded AM 1420 The Answer – is commercial news/talk radio station licensed to Cleveland, Ohio, serving Greater Cleveland. WHK was the first radio station to broadcast in Ohio, and is the 15th oldest station still broadcasting in the United States.[1] Currently owned by Salem Communications, WHK serves as the Cleveland affiliate for the Salem Radio Network and The Mark Levin Show. The WHK studios are located in the Cleveland suburb of Independence, while the station transmitter resides in neighboring Seven Hills. Besides a standard analog transmission, WHK is available online.

History[edit]

Experimental license[edit]

WHK began on July 26, 1921 when experimental station 8ACS signed on under a license obtained by Warren C. Cox in the name of Cox Mfg. Co.[2] He broadcast on a wavelength of 200 meters (which translates to a frequency of 1500 kHz) from his home at 3138 Payne Avenue.[3] Only about 1000 listeners were able to hear the first broadcast, and most of them were members of the Cleveland Radio Association.[4] By 1922, licensees were barred from broadcasting on 200 meters,[2] so Cox applied for a commercial broadcasting license.

WHK (1922–2001)[edit]

Warren Cox received a commercial license for his station on February 21, 1922 with the callsign WHK (the Commerce Department was still issuing mostly three-letter callsigns to commercial radio stations before April 4, 1922),[5] and HK standing for the station's first vice-president and general manager, H. K. Carpenter.[6][7] It was only the 52nd commercial radio license issued by the Commerce Department.[8]

The station broadcast at a wavelength of 360 meters[2] (a frequency of 830 kHz) which was the standard broadcast frequency for entertainment radio stations at the time. The station started broadcasting on March 5, 1922 from facilities located in the rear of a Radiovox store at 5005 Euclid Avenue.[3] By 1924, WHK broadcasts had moved to 1060 kHz.

Warren Cox sold the station to Radio Air Service Corporation in 1925.[3] In the following years, the station facilities underwent a series of moves, including 5105 Euclid Avenue, the Hotel Winton at 1025 Bolivar Road (later the Hotel Carter), the Standard Building at St. Clair and Ontario, the top floor of the Higbee Company on Public Square, and Carnegie Hall at 1220 Huron Road. By 1927, the station broadcasts were heard at 1130 kHz, and the station was broadcasting with 500 watts at night. By 1928, the station was located in the Engineer's Building at 1370 Ontario Avenue.[4]

WHK became a CBS affiliate in 1930 and increased its power to 5000 watts for both day and night transmission. It was broadcasting on 1390 kHz. On March 9, 1931, the station moved to the Terminal Tower, and celebrated its move with the live broadcast of Faust from its auditorium.[4]

United Broadcasting Company ownership[edit]

Radio Air Service Corporation sold WHK in 1934 to Forest City Publishing Company, the parent company of The Plain Dealer. Forest City then organized United Broadcasting Company as the station owner. WHK was broadcasting with a daytime power of 2500 watts and a nighttime power of 1000 watts. WHK broadcast a full season of Cleveland Indians baseball games in 1936, with announcers Jack Graney and Pinky Hunter.[4] On October 30, 1936, United Broadcasting also purchased station WJAY, which had been broadcasting since January 5, 1927 at 610 kHz.[9] WJAY's callsign was changed to WCLE, and its studios are relocated to the Terminal Tower to join sister station WHK.[10]

WHK switched its network affiliation in 1937 from CBS to the NBC Blue Network and the Mutual Broadcasting System which had started three years earlier. In the 1940s WHK, like most Mutual affiliates, became a participant in network programming. Rhythm and Rhyme Time was a Saturday night band concert on Mutual that originated from the Terrace Room of the Statler Hotel through the WHK's facilities. In 1943, when the NBC Blue Network was sold to Edward Noble to eventually become ABC, the Blue Network switched its affiliation to WJW radio, leaving WHK with the Mutual affiliation. Mutual brought its popular Queen for a Day program to Cleveland Music Hall on April 5, 1946 for a two days of broadcast with local contestants chosen by WHK.[4]

On March 29, 1941, WHK like most radio stations changed its frequency as a result of the North American Radio Broadcasting Agreement. WHK moved from 1390 to 1420 kHz, the frequency it occupies today.

In 1945 as the FCC began implementing a ruling limiting station owners to a single AM outlet in a market, United Broadcasting moved WCLE to Akron[10] and changed to callsign to WHKK and the frequency to 640 kHz. In turn, United moved the 610 frequency to Columbus to create WHKC from WAIU (formerly WBAV) which had been broadcasting daytime only on 640.[11] WHKC became WTVN in the 1950s. WHKK became WHLO in 1962.

In August 1946 WHK received one of the earliest experimental FM licenses, under the call W8XUB, broadcasting at 107.1 MHz. Upon receipt of a commercial license, the station became WHK-FM at 100.7 MHz, and later in 1968, WMMS.

WHK would also obtain a construction permit for television station WHK-TV on Channel 19,[12] but the station never made it on the air, due to the problems at that time of launching a UHF station in a VHF market such as Cleveland. Ironically, the channel 19 position was later occupied by WOIO, which was purchased in 1985 by WHK's eventual owner, Malrite Communications.

WHK moved its studios in 1951 to 5000 Euclid Avenue, a location that it would continue to occupy for the next 26 years, and presently the site of the Agora Theatre and Ballroom and Lava Room Recording.

Metromedia ownership[edit]

United Broadcasting sold WHK in 1958 to Metropolitan Broadcasting Corporation,[4] which became Metromedia two years later. The new owners soon adopted a rock and roll Top 40 format. Morning man Ernie Anderson was let go because he did not fit into the new format. Ironically, Anderson would later find local fame with his Ghoulardi character that would have been ideally suited as an early rock disk jockey. Pete "Mad Daddy" Myers, another early iconic rock DJ, was lured away from rival WJW for a successful stint in WHK's early rock-and-roll years, before he left for New York.

WHK Centaur interview at the Space Power Chamber (December 1963)

By the early 1960s WHK was Top 40 powerhouse, adopting the slogan "Color Radio" and "Color Channel 14." The station soared with fast-talking deejays like Johnny Holliday, who broadcast from "the glass cage" at 5000 Euclid, and dubbed the station's echo-chamber reverberation its "stratophonic sound." The "Action Central" newsroom included young reporters Tim Taylor and Dave Buckel. When The Beatles made one of their North American tours in 1964, WHK outmaneuvered rival KYW-AM to sponsor the Beatles appearance at Cleveland Public Auditorium on September 15, 1964. The station offered free tickets to listeners with an on-air promotion; the winners were selected in what is believed to be the first automated audience selection. Those receiving tickets were selected by an IBM computer.[13] In the mid-1960s, the WHK DJs adopted the name the "Good Guys" and included Joe Mayer. On the cover of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper album, a doll wears a sweater emblazoned with "Welcome The Rolling Stones" and "Good Guys", a possible reference to the WHK DJs.[4]

Late in 1967, WHK stopped rocking to become "The Good Life Station," with easy-listening music and phone-in shows aimed at older listeners. Possibly the biggest reason for the format change at WHK, was the pressure put on the station by newcomer WIXY, an AM station at 1260 which started playing top 40 music in 1966.

In 1968 the FCC mandated that FM sister stations could no longer duplicate their AM sister's programming, and WHK-FM adopted a new progressive rock sound, one of a handful of commercial stations in the country to try that format. The callsign of WHK-FM was changed to WMMS on September 28, 1968.

From 1968 through 1984, WHK was the flagship station of the Cleveland Browns radio network. Gib Shanley provided play-by-play commentary for the majority of the Browns' run at WHK; he was succeeded by Nev Chandler. Color commentary duties were first held by Jim Graner, then Jim Mueller, and finally Doug Dieken, who continues in that position to this day.[14]

Malrite years[edit]

Metromedia sold WHK and WMMS in 1972 to Malrite Broadcasting of Ohio (later Malrite Communications), and Malrite moved its headquarters to Cleveland. WHK dropped the beautiful music and tried a modified Top 40 format briefly again in 1973, called Cover Hits and developed by consultant Mike Joseph. The station ended up settling on a country music format in 1974 featuring controversial morning show talk host Gary Dee and famed Cleveland disk jockey Joe Finan as the "housewife's friend" from 10 am to 2 pm, until the eventual format change in '84.

Another notorious personality, Don Imus, also returned to Cleveland in 1978 to do afternoon drive on WHK- one of the few times that he would ever host a non-morning drive position in his entire career. Imus had previously had a morning show on WGAR (AM) for 1½ years, ending in 1971, and lasted at WHK until September 1979 when he returned to WNBC in New York.

On February 14, 1977, WHK and WMMS moved their studios from 5000 Euclid Avenue to the Statler Office Tower near Playhouse Square.[4] WGAR (AM), which signed on there in December 1930, had moved to the suburbs at their transmitter site in Broadview Heights.

Seeking to recapture its past glory again, WHK returned to a nostalgic 1950's and 60s Top 40s music on April 24, 1984 using the designation from their dial position (1420AM)...making it "14K WHK Solid Gold", becoming the first "oldies" totally formatted station in Cleveland, Ohio. Prior to the format change, long time morning man, Gary Dee, was relocated to Malrite's sister station in Washington DC and newly hired Program Director, Bill Stedman, who was brought in (from WLW Cincinnati) with a new DJ lineup that consisted of: Chip Binder from cross-town rival WGAR (6am-10am), Dennis Day from WDRQ Detroit (10am-3pm), John E. Douglas from WIBC Indy (3pm-7pm), and Bill Schiel (7pm-midnight). Others that would grace the format until it ended in November 1988 were Bernie Kimble(who went on to program the highly popular jazz formatted Cleveland/Elyria based WNWV-FM station), Al Wynter (from WHB Kansas City), Barbara Lincoln, Vickie Sue Winston and JD Harlan. WHK then adopted a news/talk format aimed heavy on business news using the name "AllNewsPlus."[15] Even still, the "14K" format was partly the inspiration for WMJI's conversion into a full-time rock-and-roll oldies outlet in 1991.

In 1992 studios were moved to the Skylight Office Tower, and on August 10, 1992, popular talk show hosts Merle Pollis and Joel Rose left WERE and joined WHK, but weren't there for long.

Later years[edit]

Unable to service its growing debt, Malrite exited the radio business by selling off all their stations to Shamrock Broadcasting (Roy Disney's family-owned broadcasting company) in 1993.[16] Shamrock in turn spun off WHK and WMMS to OmniAmerica, headed by former Malrite executive Carl Hirsch, on April 1994. Shortly thereafter, on May 16, 1994,[17] WHK adopted a sports talk format featuring Tom Bush, Les Levine, Tony Rizzo and Pat McCabe, and dubbed itself "The Sports Voice of the Fan." WHK's programming was highly regarded by many listeners, and it slowly developed a devoted following. In its latter days under this format, WHK simulcast sister station WMJI's Lanigan, Webster and Malone show in morning drive.

The Word[edit]

Station logo as "The Word"

In 1996, WHK was sold to Salem Communications, while longtime sister station WMMS was sold to Nationwide Communications – the first time ever the two stations operated under separate ownership.[18] In August 1997, Salem Communications eliminated all local programming during the transition, and adopted a religious format as The Word – the new programming was simulcast over Akron-Canton area radio station WHK-FM (98.1 FM), itself formerly WTOF-FM. The WHK studios were moved to Independence, joined by Akron's WHLO and Parma's WCCD. During this time, the station callsign was treated as an acronym for "Word of His Kingdom".[7]

2001 "frequency swap"[edit]

For more information on the July 3, 2001 exchange involving seven Northeast Ohio radio stations, see 2001 in radio.

On July 3, 2001, WHK was one of seven Northeast Ohio radio stations involved in a complex exchange between three radio companies. Although generally reported as a "frequency swap", in reality these seven radio stations mostly traded callsigns along with their respective formats and staffs – all to facilitate the transfers of ownership of four of the seven stations. As part of this complex exchange, Salem Communications sold WHK to Radio Seaway; both companies retained their respective on- and off-air staff. Radio Seaway then changed the WHK callsign to WCLV; and changed the station's format.[19]

WCLV (1420 AM)[edit]

Not to be confused with Cleveland market radio station WCLV.
Station logo as WCLV

Radio Seaway's intent for WCLV (1420 AM) was to simulcast the classical programming from WCLV-FM (104.9 FM). Instead, WCLV (1420 AM) picked up an adult standards format previously held heard on WRMR (850) – this was done in response to a significant outcry from loyal WRMR (850 AM) listeners faced with losing the adult standards format. Radio Seaway acquired the intellectual programming and music library of WRMR (850 AM) from Salem for an undisclosed amount. Jim Davis – who again both programmed and assumed on-air duties – along with Ted Hallaman, Carl Reese, Bill Rudman and eventually John Simna, Bill Randle and Ted Alexander hosted music shows.[20]

The long-running Irish Hour with Gerry Quinn, a WRMR (850 AM) staple, also made the move to WCLV (1420 AM) on Sunday mornings. WCLV-FM (104.9 FM) news director Hugh Danaceau also did live drive-time newscasts on the AM station until his death in 2003. Many of WCLV-FM's long-running specialty shows, including Weekend Radio, the City Club of Cleveland's weekly forum, and Footlight Parade were also aired. Footlight Parade host Bill Rudman also would helm the Saturday afternoon shift on the AM station up until its 2004 signoff.[21]

Other radio shows brought included When Radio Was, The Twilight Zone with Stacy Keach, and American Standards by the Sea with Dick Robinson. The station also boasted two syndicated shows spotlighting Frank Sinatra: Sounds of Sinatra with Sid Mark, and Frank and Friends with Joe Raposa. It was briefly affiliated with the CBS Radio Network before signing with AP Radio News.

The 1420-AM facility was initially branded WCLV Classic Pops 1420-AM, with an emphasis on songs and showtunes from the 1930s and 1940s, in an attempt to make the format hold a more sophisticated sound along the lines of WCLV-FM's classical format.[20] On January 1, 2003, the call letters were changed to WRMR – a move to reinforce the station format's link to WRMR (850).

WRMR (1420 AM)[edit]

For the Cleveland radio station which identified as WRMR from 1985 to 2001, see WKNR.
Station logo as WRMR

Re-branded The Songs You Love, WRMR's music programming reverted to the adult standards format, once again placing an emphasis on pop music and contemporary ballads from the 1950s and 1960s. On November 2003, WRMR's lineup significantly changed: Ted Alexander replaced Ted Hallaman in the morning slot, WCLV staffer John Simna assumed the mid-morning slot, and Jim Davis and Carl Reese were moved to the afternoon and evening slots, respectively.[22] Yet by July 2004, it became apparent that the standards format, under such conditions, could not work and the AM station was sold back to Salem Communications and on July 6, 2004 the format changed once again to its current Newstalk format, featuring programs from the Salem Radio Network and other conservative hosts weekdays and local programming on the weekends.

The permanent sign-off of WRMR was made more poignant just days later after the death of signature WRMR personality Bill Randle, on July 11, 2004. The final day of programming on WRMR was punctuated with the final installment of a long-running music program hosted by Randle that had been pre-recorded just days earlier. Carl Reese hosted the final air shift from 7 pm until sign-off at midnight; fittingly, he was also one of the first voices heard on WRMR when it signed on back in June 1985.

Salem changed the station's format to an all-syndicated talk lineup programmed mostly by the Salem Radio Network as NewsTalk 1420 WHK, but the WRMR callsign would stay until April 5, 2005.

WHK (2005–present)[edit]

NewsTalk 1420[edit]

After not being able to replicate the success of WRMR when the standards format was on AM 850, AM 1420 was sold back to Salem in 2004. The call letters were officially restored to WHK on April 5, 2005 and introduced the current talk format, mostly consisting of conservative talk. Small reminders of WRMR remain on the station, such as Gerry Quinn Irish Radio. The religious programming on AM 1220 was continued, and once 1420 reclaimed the WHK call letters, the call letters for 1220 were changed to WHKW. Veteran local personality Jim McIntyre serves as news anchor,[23] with national news provided by SRN Radio News. WHK's transmitter facility, heavily renovated under WCLV/WRMR ownership, has been in Seven Hills, Ohio since 1937, and still contains many historical artifacts from previous decades.

AM 1420 The Answer[edit]

As of April 15, 2013, WHK has been rebranded AM 1420 The Answer.

Current programming[edit]

Salem Radio Network provides most of the weekday programming, with shows hosted by Bill Bennett (morning drive), Mike Gallagher (late mornings), Dennis Prager (middays), Michael Medved (afternoons), Hugh Hewitt (early evenings), and Steve Deace (late nights). Other weekday programs include The First Word with Karen Moskow and John Bascom early mornings (Bloomberg Radio via United Stations Radio Networks), The Mark Levin Show late evenings (Westwood One),[24] and local program The 11th Hour hosted by Tom Kelly and Jim McIntyre late evenings.[25]

Local weekend programming includes Saturday shows Real Law Radio hosted by Bob DiCello. Sundays feature Inside the Great Outdoors hosted by Joe "Kastaway" Kulis, The Avenue Radio Show hosted by Darvio "The Kingpin" Morrow, Brittany Williams, Doug Magill and "The" Andre Cato, Gerry Quinn's Irish Radio hosted by Gerry Quinn, Ed Fitzpatrick, and Colleen Corrigan-Day, and Kelly and Company hosted by Tom Kelly.

Sports play-by-play programming on WHK includes being a co-flagship station for the Lake Erie Monsters with WKNR,[26] the flagship station for Cleveland State men's basketball,[27] being co-flagship with WHKW and FM sister station WFHM-FM for St. Ignatius High School football,[28] serving as the Cleveland affiliate for University of Akron football,[29] and airs select Bowling Green Falcons football games as a backup for sister station WHKW (the primary Cleveland Bowling Green affiliate).[30]

References[edit]

  1. ^ White, Thomas H. (January 1, 2002). "United States Pioneer Broadcast Service Stations". Retrieved September 2, 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c Anon. (May 1922). "Radiophone Broadcasting Stations of the United States". The Consolidated Radio Call Book (4th ed. ed.). p. 267. Retrieved 2007-01-01. 
  3. ^ a b c Van Tassel, David D., ed.; John J. Grabowski, ed. (1996). "WHK". The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History (2nd ed. ed.). Bloomington: Indiana University Press. p. 1058. ISBN 0-253-33056-4. Retrieved 2007-01-01. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h "WHK History". Cleveland Broadcast Radio Archives Project. Retrieved 2007-01-01. 
  5. ^ White, Thomas H. (January 1, 2006). "Mystique of the Three-Letter Callsigns". Retrieved 2007-01-01. 
  6. ^ Nelson, Bob (December 4, 2006). "Call Letter Origins". Retrieved 2007-01-01. 
  7. ^ a b "Call Letters". Cleveland Broadcast Radio Archives Project. Retrieved 2007-01-01. 
  8. ^ White, Thomas H. (January 1, 2002). "United States Pioneer Broadcast Service Stations: Actions Through June 1922". Retrieved 2007-01-01. 
  9. ^ "WJAY History". Cleveland Broadcast Radio Archives Project. Retrieved 2007-01-01. [dead link]
  10. ^ a b "WCLE History". Cleveland Broadcast Radio Archives Project. Retrieved 2007-01-01. [dead link]
  11. ^ Fybush, Scott (February 26, 2004). "More Columbus". Tower Site of the Week. Retrieved 2007-01-01. 
  12. ^ Jones, Vance A. "North American Radio-TV Station Listings". U.S. and Canadian Television Stations as of 1958. Retrieved 2007-03-01. 
  13. ^ Computer Picks Beatle Audience. Billboard. June 27, 1964. Retrieved July 5, 2010. 
  14. ^ "The voices of Browns games past". The Plain Dealer (The Plain Dealer Publishing Co.). November 10, 2002. p. J6 – Sunday Arts. 
  15. ^ Dyer, Bob (November 6, 1988). "Two AM Stations to Change Formats". Akron Beacon Journal. pp. B2. Retrieved 2007-04-29. 
  16. ^ "Shamrock to sell radio stations". Wall Street Journal. November 4, 1993. pp. C22. Retrieved 2007-01-01. 
  17. ^ Dolgan, Bob (May 17, 1994). "WHK has a mixed first day in sports". The Plain Dealer. pp. 5D. Retrieved 2007-01-01. 
  18. ^ Brown, Roger (April 26, 1996). "WHK sold to West Coast firm". The Plain Dealer. pp. 6E. Retrieved 2007-01-01. 
  19. ^ Quinn, Jim (June 29, 2001). "It's time to reset your radio dial: Seven stations will get new frequencies Tuesday". Akron Beacon Journal (Beacon Journal Publishing Co.). p. B1 – Entertainment. 
  20. ^ a b Internet Archive Wayback Machine. Web.archive.org (August 3, 2001).
  21. ^ Internet Archive Wayback Machine. Web.archive.org (February 3, 2002).
  22. ^ WCLV-AM Program Guide, February 2002. (Archived on July 20, 2009).
  23. ^ About WHK - WHK Radio.com
  24. ^ Mark Levin on Westwood One - Westwood One.com
  25. ^ WHK schedule - WHK Radio.com
  26. ^ Monsters radio network - Lake Erie Monsters.com
  27. ^ CSU on WHK - CSU Vikings.com
  28. ^ St Ignatius on WHK - WHK Radio.com. Whkradio.com.
  29. ^ Zips football radio network - ISP Sports.com
  30. ^ WHK Sports Schedule - WHK Radio.com

External links[edit]