||This article includes a list of references, related reading or external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks inline citations. (November 2014)|
|City of license||Minneapolis, Minnesota|
|Broadcast area||Minneapolis-St. Paul|
|Branding||Classic Hits 100 WLOL
Hitradio WLOL 99 & A 1/2 FM
Musicradio WLOL 99 & A 1/2 FM
WLOL 99 & A 1/2 FM Almost Perfect Radio
Easy Rockin' FM 100 WLOL
|Slogan||"Get Me Up, WLOL!"
"Today's Best Music, Custom Mixed Every Hour, 99.5 WLOL"
"Classic Hits 100 The New WLOL, It Feels Good To Be Home!"
|Frequency||99.5 FM (MHz) (1956-1991)
100.3 FM (MHz) (1999-2002)
|First air date||1945 (FM)|
|Format||AC (1973-1981) CHR (1981-1991) CR (1999-2002)|
|Callsign meaning||Wonderful Land Of Lakes, We Love Our Listeners!|
|Former callsigns||WMIN-FM (1945-56)|
|Owner||99.5: Emmis Communications (1983-1991)
100.3: Clear Channel Communications
The current inhabitant of the 99.5 FM frequency is KSJN, owned by Minnesota Public Radio, which purchased the station in 1991. Since then, the WLOL call letters have been used by several AM and FM stations in the area. The WLOL call letters currently reside at 1330 AM, the original station to hold them.
The 99.5 frequency dates to 1945 when AM station WMIN started broadcasting on the new FM band. WMIN-FM was sold in 1956 to the owners of WLOL, becoming WLOL-FM, which remained until being sold to MPR in 1991.
The history of the WLOL call letters is intertwined with many other area stations. WLOL was first used in 1940 by 1300 AM and was a part of the Mutual Broadcasting System. The station moved up to 1330 in March 1941 as required by the North American Radio Broadcasting Agreement (NARBA) under which most American, Canadian and Mexican AM radio stations changed frequencies.
For many years, WLOL-FM had a variety of formats. The original classical music format gave way to easy listening in 1973, then later soft rock as "Easy Rockin' FM 100 WLOL". The AM station was sold to MPR in 1980 and became KSJN-AM. The owner held on to WLOL-FM, and in 1981, the station dumped soft rock and became "The New Musicradio WLOL 99 & A 1/2 FM", the only Twin Cities FM station at the time playing Top 40 music. The new WLOL became a massive success, eventually achieving a 10-share in the Arbitron ratings.
Get Me Up, WLOL!
WLOL was noteworthy for its presentation. The station combined typical top-40 programming philosophies with a local touch and relied heavily on unusual jingle packages, including the now iconic "Get Me Up!" jingle, which was written by Kyrl Henderson of the now defunct Reel Good Productions. Local artists such as Prince & The Revolution, Morris Day & The Time, Information Society, Alexander O'Neal and others received support.
The station was purchased by Emmis Broadcasting in 1983. New competition arrived later that year when longtime AM top-40 station KDWB returned to its co-owned FM frequency after several years playing album oriented rock. WCCO-FM briefly switched to top-40 in the fall of 1982, but with dismal results, it reinvented itself as Adult contemporary WLTE. WLOL and KDWB became bitter rivals throughout the 1980s, with WLOL dominating the format for the next five years. In 1988, KDWB, which had been in a slump for years, hired a new program director and new airstaff, updated the on-air presentation and promotion, and created a new logo.
By the end of the 1980s, the tables were turned. Some listeners felt WLOL had grown stale and KDWB had become the hip new CHR station. From that point on, KDWB led WLOL in listenership, and became the dominant CHR station in the market. Playing catch-up, WLOL started tweaking the programming and airstaff, shook up its longtime morning show, and finally, in May 1990, teased a format change. On May 11, WLOL became a rhythmic top 40 station, dropping rock product from bands like Aerosmith and replacing it with dance music, commercial Hip-Hop and R&B. It aired dance mixes of songs, sometimes creating in-house custom mixes. Labeling itself as "Today's Best Music", the new "99.5 WLOL" hired a new airstaff and rejuvenated itself in the minds of many listeners.
The end of WLOL, and relocation of KSJN
After the retooling, ratings started to improve for WLOL, and they almost caught up to their rival KDWB (whom WLOL personalities derided on-air as "K-DWeeB"). Unfortunately, Emmis, the station's owner, fell on financially tough times due to their purchase of baseball's Seattle Mariners. They started selling off some of their most successful stations, including WFAN in New York and KXXX in San Francisco. In 1991, Emmis found a buyer for WLOL. The shocking news was that the buyer was MPR, who desired to use it as the new location for KSJN (while moving their news/talk station KNOW from 1330 AM). After years of trying to purchase another FM station in the market, MPR agreed to buy the station for $12.5 million. This meant that WLOL would be no more. Pop music fans in the Twin Cities were furious as WLOL slowly counted down to their last day, February 26, 1991. The staff spent WLOL's last day paying tribute to the station by playing assorted music and jingles from the CHR station's entire ten-year history. Former air personalities dropped by or recorded farewell messages. And in a move seen by some as ghoulish, other stations such as KQRS-FM, K102 (where longtime WLOL morning man John Hines was just hired) and even longtime bitter rival KDWB bought advertising time on WLOL, inviting listeners to tune into their stations. Finally, WLOL signed off just after 6PM, with the last song being "Miss You Much" by Janet Jackson. Then, the last words on 99.5 WLOL were: "That's the end?" "Yes." At 7 PM, it started playing music without live jocks for a period, after which WLOL officially signed off with 1999 by Minneapolis native Prince fading out. The next morning, 99.5 FM became the new home of KSJN, and 91.1 was now KNOW-FM.
Future locations of WLOL call letters
Shortly after WLOL's demise on 99.5, KXLV, a station located north of the Twin Cities in Cambridge at 105.3 FM, picked up the WLOL call letters for its Hot AC format. When the station was purchased and turned into WREV, its new sister station at 1470 AM became the new parking spot for the historic calls. This continued until 1999, when AMFM Broadcasting (soon to be absorbed into Clear Channel Communications purchased the WLOL calls for a new station to make its debut at 100.3 FM, in an attempt at bringing back the WLOL 80s-era excitement, albeit with a 1970s-oriented classic hits format. The new WLOL lasted until 2002, when it flipped to smooth jazz. Hubbard Broadcasting considered putting the call letters on one of their stations, even putting a ten-day hold on them with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), but eventually declined. In 2005, when Starboard Media sought out new call letters following their purchase of 1330 AM, they decided on the unclaimed WLOL, hence bringing the well-travelled call letters back to their place of origin.
Technical aspects of 99.5
- Forrest Powers (14 August 1974). "Station to go Classical". The Minneapolis Star. Retrieved 17 November 2014.
- Mark Durenberger (1999). Early quad-casts and other fun. The Broadcast Archive: War Stories.
- Radiotapes.com Historic airchecks of WLOL and other Twin Cities radio stations
- WLOL studio exterior photo, 1966 from the Minnesota Historical Society
- 1983 aircheck
- 99½ WLOL Minneapolis/St. Paul tribute page
- A recollection by Jim Stokes, an announcer during WLOL-FM's classical music period
- KARE-TV 11 news report about WLOL-FM morning show with Hines and Berglund (and Roger, too), 1984
- KMSP9-TV news report about WLOL-FM new format, Spring 1982
- Hear the last 10 hrs (minus one) of 99.5 WLOL-FM on Feb. 26, 1991