|City of license||Cleveland, Ohio|
|Broadcast area||Greater Cleveland|
|Branding||Radio Disney AM 1260|
|Slogan||Your Music, Your Way!|
(also on HD Radio)
|First air date||April 30, 1950|
|Power||10,000 watts (daytime)
5,000 watts (nighttime)
|Callsign meaning||MicKey Mouse|
|Former callsigns||WDOK (1950–65)
|Owner||The Walt Disney Company
(Radio Disney Group, LLC)
WWMK (1260 AM) – branded Radio Disney AM 1260 – is a commercial children's radio station licensed to Cleveland, Ohio, serving Greater Cleveland. Owned by The Walt Disney Company through licensee Radio Disney Group, WWMK is the Cleveland affiliate of Radio Disney. The station's studios are located in the Cleveland suburb of Broadview Heights, and the five-tower WWMK transmitter is located in neighboring Brecksville. Besides a standard analog transmission, WWMK broadcasts over a single HD Radio channel.
The station began on April 30, 1950 as WDOK when Wayne Mack resigned his position at WGAR (AM) to establish the station with Frederick C. Wolf and chief engineer Morris Pierce, who became station president. Wolf himself was a longtime ethnic broadcaster on Cleveland stations WHK, WJAY and WGAR (AM), in addition to being the founder of Cleveland Recording Co. for the production of spot commercials, nationality music and auditions.
Early programming was highlighted by Wayne Mack's imaginary concert programs such as "Hometown Band Concert", "Candlelight Concert" and "Waltz Palace." WDOK's format was soon simulcast full-time on WDOK 102.1-FM, which originated as WEWS-FM in 1950. Throughout the 1950s and early 1960s the station maintained a format of adult standards, although it did buck contemporary music trends by broadcasting two hours of classical music programming each night. By 1957 WDOK also was the radio home for eighteen different nationality programs, most of them broadcast on Sundays. Wolf sold his stake in WDOK and WDOK-FM to Transcontinent Television Corp. of New York in 1962.
Meanwhile crosstown, in the early 1960s Top 40 radio was flourishing led by KYW and WHK. In July 1964 three account executives at WHK – Norman Wain, Bob Weiss and Joe Zingale – quit their jobs to form Westchester Corporation. They purchased WFAS in White Plains, New York (located in Westchester County, hence Westchester Corporation) in December 1964 and honed their skills in running a Top 40 station. They returned to Cleveland the following year and purchased WDOK and WDOK-FM in November 1965.
On December 12, 1965 the AM station changed its callsign to WIXY, branding itself as WIXY 1260 (pronounced "Wicksy Twelve-Sixty"). The new call sign was similar to WXYZ in Detroit - and which also used the "Wixie" nickname - and also was selected for its rhyming with the 1260 frequency. The initial on-air lineup included Al Gates, Howie Lund, Johnny Michaels, Johnny Canton, Mark Allen and Bobby Magic. Allen later moved on to Chicago's WCFL under the name Bob Dearborn. The news staff included Bob Engel, Fred Griffith and Gary Ritchie.
WIXY soon began to dominate Top 40 radio in Cleveland, despite its having a weaker signal than either WKYC (formerly KYW) or WHK. In 1966 WIXY sponsored The Beatles second concert in Cleveland on August 14. (WHK had sponsored the first concert in 1964.) DJs who are remembered for their stint at WIXY during the late 1960s and early 1970s include Mike Reineri, Dick "Wilde Childe" Kemp, Larry "the Duker" Morrow (who settled in Cleveland after a stint as "Duke Windsor" on CKLW), Billy Bass, Lou "The King" Kirby, Bob Shannon, Chuck Dunaway and Jackson Armstrong (a.k.a. Big Jack Armstrong "Your Leader" ).
WDOK-FM was, however, left untouched and still programmed by Wayne Mack. When Westchester Corporation saw the growing and devoted listener base that their largely ignored FM station was developing, WDOK was branded "Stereo Cleveland – Beautiful Music for the land of the Western Reserve." While the FM station soon passed over into separate ownership, Wayne Mack stayed at WDOK until 1980, and died in October 2000.
In 1969, Westchester Corporation took the format to the Pittsburgh market, purchasing WMCK in suburban McKeesport, Pennsylvania and changing the calls to WIXZ. The Pittsburgh-area station used the same graphics and jingles as the Cleveland station - it was called "WIXZ 1360" (pronounced "Wick-zee Thirteen Sixty") - but failed to impact Pittsburgh as it had Cleveland, putting only a dent in the dominance of Top 40 leader KQV. One of the jocks at WIXZ, Jeff Christie, later went on to national fame under his real name of Rush Limbaugh. The Top 40 format at WIXZ lasted in various forms until 1974, and the call letters remained in place until it became talk station WPTT in 1999.
The local ownership of WIXY was gobbled up by larger communications corporations in the 1970s. Wain, Weiss and Zingale merged Westchester Corporation into Globetrotter Communications for $14.3 million in December 1971. Combined Communications (later Gannett) purchased Globetrotter in May 1975.
Talk, oldies, big band
With the emergence of FM radio, the era of AM Top 40 radio drew to a close. On July 19, 1976, WIXY became WMGC (or "Magic"), and the format switched to "adult rock," an early iteration of what would become known as adult contemporary. The station adopted the slogan "Get Your Rock Soft", which raised some eyebrows when it appeared in ads and billboards around town. Although it never caught on with a large audience, WMGC was home to several of the area's top broadcasters, including General Manager Dick Conrad, Program Director Jeff Baxter, and DJ's Dan Bradford and Lady J. Also on the air as the most popular of the WMGC personalities was Dave Sanderson. In reality, Sanderson was well-known local broadcaster David Mark who had to assume the Sanderson name due to contractual obligations to WKSW FM and WEWS TV.
The adult rock format lasted less than three years. On April 14, 1979, the station became WBBG and switched to talk radio, under the name "SuperTalk 1260". The original lineup included several veteran Cleveland radio personalities – Bill Gordon, Merle Pollis, Ted Alexander, Bill Randle, Ed Fisher, Bruce Drennan with Sportstalk, and Cynthia Smith with the overnight program NightFlight 1260.
WBBG's talk format never caught on, so the station turned to an oldies format briefly before finding success with a big band-based music format programmed by local radio veteran Jim Davis. The station enjoyed much success including "Billboard Station of the Year" (for its format) in 1983 with a nomination of "Program Director of the Year" going to Davis. During its glory years (July 1981–October 1987) on-air talent, in addition to Davis, included Al James, Tom Armstrong, Bill Randle, Carl Reese, Ronnie Barrett, Dick Conrad, John Webster, Ted Alexander, Joe Black and Jack Renyolds.
Ownership of WBBG and sister FM station WWWM passed from Embrescia Communications (led by Tom Embrescia) to Robinson Communications (led by local civic leader and jeweler Larry Robinson) on October 27, 1981. (WWWM's calls changed to WMJI six months later.) Robinson, in turn, sold the stations to media giant Jacor Communications on September 19, 1984.
WBBG's call letters (originally stood for "Boys from Bowling Green")  soon took the meaning "Big Band Grandstand." After an attempt by Robinson to repurchase WBBG so that Jacor could buy WWWE collapsed, the big-band format was dumped on October 29, 1987, and Jacor simulcast the air signal of WMJI-FM 105.7 on the AM station. The AM call sign was changed to WMJI on November 24, 1987 to match the FM station's (which legally became WMJI-FM for the interim). The big band format - and program director Jim Davis - soon migrated over to crosstown station WRMR.
After a few months of FM simulcasting, Jacor sold the station to Gore-Overgaard Broadcasting (led by Harold W. Gore and Cordell J. Overgaard), a Christian organization who brought a format of religious programming and gospel music. The call sign was changed to WRDZ on July 1, 1988. Under Gore-Overgaard ownership, the station received permission to double its daytime power from 5,000 to 10,000 watts, although the upgrade was not accomplished until Divine Mercy Communications, Ltd. purchased and installed the new transmitter provided for in the license change.
In early 1995 the station was purchased by Divine Mercy Communications Ltd., and it brought the format of Catholic programming. Under new call letters WMIH (for Mary's Immaculate Heart), which were adopted on February 23, 1995, the station was purported to be the first commercial Catholic radio station in the country.
The station inaugurated its new format on February 22 by broadcasting a noon mass live from St. John's Cathedral celebrated by Bishop Anthony Pilla. Regular programming centered on a live morning drive-time program called "Genesis", hosted by Fr. Wally Hyclack and Cleveland broadcast veteran Bob Tayek, which featured NBC Radio news and local newsmaker interviews, and an evening drive program, named "Homeward Bound", with a local call-in format on current topics.
Mid-day programming included a live local two-hour talk show called "Ave Maria", a local information and spiritual support program called the "Living Word" with Cleveland nun Sr. Juanita Sheely, broadcasts of various Catholic speakers, in a program called "Catholic Classroom", which included Bishop Fulton J. Sheen's programs from the 1950s. In addition, the station produced live daily Mass from St. John's Cathedral and carried regular installments of the English versions of Vatican broadcasts.
WMIH also produced live play-by-play coverage of Cleveland St. Ignatius high school football and basketball games, both home and away, as well as live remotes from Cleveland-area Catholic events, such as the Feast of the Assumption in Cleveland's Little Italy. The station also provided its own live, on-location coverage of Pope John Paul II's entire trip to New York and Baltimore in 1995, with coverage anchored by owner Steve Kurdziel and local reports from Cuyahoga County Commissioner Lee Weingart.
Radio Disney AM 1260
Despite the innovative programming produced by WMIH, and the devoted listenership from the Catholic community in Cleveland, Divine Mercy ended up having serious financial trouble in maintaining that original programming, which emphasized local hosts and remote coverage of sports and other events.
At the same time, ABC Radio was looking for an outlet for its Radio Disney in the Cleveland market, and it purchased the station. It took over the station on May 1, 1998., and the call sign was changed to WWMK on December 4. Since then, the station has relayed the network on a 24-hour basis. The only local show of note on WWMK is the public-affairs show The Backyard Show, at 7 a.m. on Sunday mornings, along with the usual local contest remotes of most Radio Disney stations during programming breaks.
- WDOK (AM) History, Cleveland Broadcast Radio Archives Project. Retrieved on 2007-01-01.
- Van Tassel, David D., ed.; John J. Grabowski, ed. (1996). The Dictionary of Cleveland Biography. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. pp. 493–94. ISBN 0-253-33055-6. Retrieved 2007-01-01.
- WIXY/WMGC History, Cleveland Broadcast Radio Archives Project. Retrieved on 2007-01-01.
- WBBG History, Cleveland Broadcast Radio Archives Project. Retrieved on 2007-01-01.
- WMJI-FM History, Cleveland Broadcast Radio Archives Project. Retrieved on 2007-01-01.
- Call Letters, Cleveland Broadcast Radio Archives Project. Retrieved on 2007-01-01.
- Dyer, Bob (July 22, 1987). "Larry J.B. Robinson buying WBBG Radio". Akron Beacon Journal. pp. B5. Retrieved 2007-03-19.
- Dyer, Bob (August 5, 1987). "Modell Reaps Tidy Profit on Radio Stations". Akron Beacon Journal. pp. C8. Retrieved 2007-03-19.
- Dyer, Bob (October 29, 1987). "WBBG Changing its Tune: Sister Station's Signal Carried". Akron Beacon Journal. pp. C14. Retrieved 2007-03-19.
- Call Sign History for WWMK, from FCC'S AM station database. Retrieved 2007-01-01. Note that it only goes back to WMJI (AM).
- Santiago, Roberto (October 29, 1994). "Station going Catholic". The Plain Dealer. pp. 10E. Retrieved 2007-01-01.
- WMIH History, Cleveland Broadcast Radio Archives Project. Retrieved 2007-01-01.
- Brown, Roger (September 27, 1995). "Focus helps keep WZJM jamming". The Plain Dealer. pp. 5E. Retrieved 2007-01-07.
- "Local GOP gets Wires Crossed". "Perspective" (The Plain Dealer). October 8, 1995. pp. 3C. Retrieved 2007-01-07.
- Brown, Roger (October 13, 1997). "Buying Frenzy to Begin for Top Stations". The Plain Dealer. pp. 6E. Retrieved 2007-03-18.
- Santiago, Roberto (May 11, 1998). "FCC May say Six Stations are too Many for Jacor". The Plain Dealer. pp. 3E. Retrieved 2007-03-18.
- "Station Guide: Cleveland, OH". HDRadio.com. HD Radio. 2011. Retrieved February 11, 2011.
- Morrow, Larry (2010). This is Larry Morrow. Cleveland, OH: Gray & Company, Publishers. ISBN 9781598510690
- Olszewski, Mike (2011). WIXY 1260: Pixies, Six-packs, and Supermen. Kent, OH: Kent State University Press. ISBN 9781606350997
- Wolff, Carlo (2006). Cleveland Rock and Roll Memories. Cleveland, OH: Gray & Company, Publishers. ISBN 9781886228993
- Official website
- Query the FCC's AM station database for WWMK
- Radio-Locator Information on WWMK
- Query Nielsen Audio's AM station database for WWMK