|City of license||Kent, Ohio|
|Broadcast area||Akron metro area|
|Branding||WNIR 100 FM|
|Slogan||The Talk of Akron|
|First air date||February 19, 1962|
|Callsign meaning||"WINneR 100"
|Former callsigns||WKNT-FM (1962–79)|
|Affiliations||Cumulus Media Networks
Salem Radio Network
|Sister stations||W35AX, WAOH-LP, WJMP|
WNIR (100.1 FM) – branded WNIR 100 FM – is a commercial talk radio station licensed to Kent, Ohio, serving the Akron metro area. Owned by Media-Com, Inc., the station is the local affiliate for programs hosted by nationally syndicated personalities Jim Bohannon and Mike Gallagher. The WNIR studios are located in Franklin Township, while the station transmitter resides in Kent. In addition to a standard analog transmission, WNIR is available online.
The station began on February 19, 1962, as WKNT-FM. It shared the call letters with its sister AM station WKNT/1520 (now WJMP) which signed on two years later, and most programming was simulcast on both stations. The stations were owned by the publisher of the Kent Ravenna Record-Courier newspaper and primarily served the Portage County area with an adult contemporary format.
The stations were purchased in 1972 by Media-Com, Inc., a family-owned business headed by Richard Klaus. Klaus lured a young Howie Chizek from Youngstown to man a five-hour midday talk show, changing the station's history forever. The call sign for the FM station was changed to WNIR on April 19, 1979, and it was branded Winner 100. Eventually, the AC music was dropped, and the station became all talk, adding Joe Finan in late afternoons in 1985 to replace a "GameRadio" afternoon drive show, hosted by Bob Roberts and Joey Harper.
A cult favorite of the late 1980s and early 1990s was WNIR's Dating Show. The program was hosted nightly by Jim Albright. Albright would pick one "contestant" from the phone lines and talk to that person about their life for about 10 minutes. At the end of the conversation, Albright would ask late-night listeners of the opposite sex if they would like to meet the contestant. He would then answer, often live on the air, potential "date" calls. Jim Albright would sort through the prank calls and pick three potential dates for the contestant. After some talking back and forth, the contestant would pick a date and exchange phone numbers off the air.
Howie Chizek (1947–2012) was Northeast Ohio's "Dean of talk radio" with multiple #1 rankings for over 38 years. Chizek died June 17, 2012, in Florida at the start of his annual trip to Disney World with underprivileged children. Joe Finan retired in December 2004 and was replaced by former Cleveland Browns player Bob Golic. WNIR remains unique in this day and age dominated by corporate syndicated radio - live local programming from morning to night.
WNIR began internet audio streaming of its programming on January 2, 2009, and launched an improved website. On January 14, 2011, a WNIR app for the iPhone is now available. WNIR announced that an app for the Droid and Blackberry will follow soon.
MediaCom was founded by Richard "Dick" Klaus, who died on January 28, 2006, at the age of 86. Sons Robert and William continue today with the family ownership and management of the station.
Inside Radio noted that, during Summer 2005, WNIR was the highest rated FM talk station in America in terms of market rank and market share.
When WNIR became a talk station in the 1970s, it was unusual in that it is an FM talk station, whereas most talk stations were AM. Now, talk stations on FM are fairly common, many of them aimed at younger audiences. However, WNIR has always operated as more of a traditional, AM-style talk radio station with hourly newscasts and an affiliation with ABC Radio. WNIR does not broadcast in stereo.
WNIR's weekday schedule consists primarily of locally hosted programming. The station airs The Morning Buzz during morning drive time with Chris Fox, Angela Bellios, Steve French and Phil Ferguson. Long time morning host Stan Piatt retired in September 2013, the same month that Maggie Fuller resigned. Former Cleveland Browns Pro Bowl nose tackle Bob Golic hosts the afternoon drive show.
Longtime WNIR voice Tom Erickson was heard in the evenings until his death in 2012. Longtime NE Ohio radio personality and newspaper writer Jim Isabella was then brought in to fill the timeslot.
Longtime midday host Howie Chizek died in June 2012. After a couple of months of guest hosts filling the midday slot, on August 10, 2012, longtime Chizek show caller John "Couch Burner" Denning became the new full-time midday host. Overnight programming consists of nationally syndicated shows hosted by Jim Bohannon (from Dial Global) and Mike Gallagher (from Salem Radio Network) respectively.
The station's weekday personalities also host Saturday programs until 7 p.m. Long-time fill-in host Bob Earley hosted a live, local weekend show until he resigned in February 2014.
It was announced on June 3, 2011, that longtime Morning Show newsman Jim Midock was retiring from WNIR due to health reasons, but remains with the station hosting the Midock Minute featuring interviews with various local WNIR sponsors.
- Official website
- Query the FCC's FM station database for WNIR
- Radio-Locator information on WNIR
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for WNIR