|City of license||Akron, Ohio|
|Broadcast area||Akron metro area|
|Slogan||News! Talk! Sports!|
|First air date||October 16, 1940|
|Power||5,000 watts (daytime)
5,000 watts (nighttime)
|Affiliations||Cleveland Browns Radio Network
Cleveland Cavaliers Radio Network
Cleveland Indians Radio Network
Cumulus Media Networks
Ohio State IMG Sports Network
Wall Street Journal Radio Network
|Owner||Rubber City Radio Group, Inc.
(Rubber City Radio Group, Inc.)
|Sister stations||WONE-FM, WNWV, WQMX|
WAKR (1590 AM) – branded 1590 WAKR – is a commercial radio station licensed to Akron, Ohio, serving the Akron metro area. Locally owned by Rubber City Radio Group, Inc., the station broadcasts a mix of news, talk, and sports. WAKR is also the Akron affiliate for the Cleveland Browns, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Cleveland Indians radio networks, as well as the Ohio State IMG Sports Network. The WAKR studios are located on West Market Street in Akron, while the station transmitter resides near the Firestone Country Club.
The station began broadcasting on October 16, 1940, founded by S. Bernard Berk and licensed to his family owned business Summit Radio Corp. It became the Blue Network and then the ABC Radio affiliate for Akron, broadcasting with 5,000 watts.
While crosstown rival WADC (now WARF) had the advantage of being a CBS affiliate with its popular network programs, WAKR built its reputation primarily through local programming, supplemented with an active news department. The local emphasis worked, and during WAKR's peak, in 1946 and 1947, Hooper ratings showed the station with as much as 60 percent of the Akron audience.
In 1945 Alan Freed joined WAKR and became a local favorite, playing hot jazz and pop recordings. Radio Editor for Akron Beacon Journal, followed Freed and his "Request Review"  nightly program of dance. When he left the station, the non-compete clause in his contract limited its ability to find work elsewhere, and he was forced to take the graveyard shift at Cleveland's WJW radio where he eventually made history playing the music he called "Rock and Roll."
In 1946, Berk expanded ownership of Summit Radio Corp. by selling 45% to the Beacon Journal Publishing Co., publishers of the Akron Beacon Journal. The newspaper company would continue to own a piece of Summit's operations for 30 years.
During the 1950s and 1960s WAKR was Akron's premier radio station. It operated as a very successful Top 40 station during the 1960s, competing with cross-town WHLO. WAKR also started Akron's first FM station, WAKR-FM, in 1948. It changed to easy listening WAEZ in the late 1960s, and became rock WONE-FM on January 1, 1985.
WAKR also started Akron's first television station WAKR-TV in 1953. Originally intended as a VHF licencee on channel 11, it wound up on channel 49 after an FCC imposed freeze on future VHF stations, as well as a merging of the Cleveland and Akron markets into one single market. The station moved to channel 23 in 1967, and was affiliated with ABC despite Cleveland's WEWS also holding an ABC affiliation. Many of WAKR's personalities shared airtime on the TV side throughout this time period; current afternoon host Tim Daugherty was a weatherman on WAKR-TV for many years. The TV station changed its callsign to WAKC-TV in 1986 when Group One was broken up, and it now known as Ion Television owned & operated station WVPX-TV, targeted to the Cleveland market.
Since taking to the air, WAKR has been the home to many personalities who would become national stars, among them film actors Lola Albright and Mark Stevens; radio names Peter Hackes, Scott Muni and Charlie Greer; and the first host of TV's Jeopardy! Art Fleming (known there as Art Fazzin).
Ownership of the Berk family broadcasting interests was organized as Group One Broadcasting around 1965 when it purchased WONE (AM) and WONE-FM (later WTUE) in Dayton. It bought KBOX and KBOX-FM in Dallas in 1967, and KLZ and KLZ-FM in Denver in 1972. Summit Radio and Group One were dissolved in June 1986, and the station passed through four different owners in the next seven years. By then, WAKR was airing a full-service adult contemporary/pop music format.
WAKR along with WONE-FM and the other Group One stations were sold to DKM Broadcasting in June 1986 (WAKR's license was transferred in September 1986). DKM (Dyson Kissner-Moran) sold all of its properties, including other stations in Dayton, Dallas, Denver, Baltimore, Springfield and Lincoln, on January 1, 1988 for $200 million to Summit Communications Group (which had no connection to Summit Radio, WAKR's previous owner).
Ownership passed to U.S. Radio headed by Ragan Henry on December 7, 1989. Not too long after the Gulf War in early 1992, WAKR abruptly dropped its standards format, and went into a news-talk format. It featured national hosts Rush Limbaugh and Larry King, local talk hosts Bill Hall and Dave Milo, plus a morning-drive news program hosted by Bob Allen, the lone holdover from the previous format. WAKR and WONE-FM were then transferred on December 6, 1993 to Gordon-Thomas Communications, Inc., headed by Thom Mandel, which also owned WQMX. The company changed its name to Rubber City Radio Group on the same day.
WAKR failed to catch on with the news/talk format, and Mandel himself felt a need to revert WAKR to its full service format. In mid-1994, WAKR did just that, becoming a pop standards/talk hybrid with Bob Allen, Bob Friend and Christie Maxx during the daytime and national talk with Bruce Williams and Jim Bohannon at night. In 1997, the station went back to talk, but on a more national scale with Gary Burbank, The Fabulous Sports Babe and ESPN Radio programming eventually added into the schedule. News-intensive local programming was kept in both morning and afternoon drive.
In 1999, the station reverted into a standards format with most music programming being satellite-based from Westwood One, with its morning news program as the lone holdover of the previous format. Coincidentally, two of the Westwood One Adult Standards personalities that were heard on the station had local ties: format program director Chick Watkins was program director at WCUE and WCUE-FM from 1956 to 1970 (and also was program director for Cleveland's WGAR (1220 AM) from 1970 to 1982), while overnight voice Jerry Healey was WAKR's morning host in the late 60s and early 70s.
An all-local weekday lineup was officially unveiled on August 30, 2006. A variety of service talk shows (gardening, money, home improvement) is heard along with sports on the weekends, while Bob Allen moved from afternoons to weekends before retiring in February 2010. With this change, WAKR's newscasts were also increased in terms of length and content. It was a key affiliate for Paul Harvey up until Harvey's passing in March 2009.
In the fall of 2007, WAKR began to shift the music portion of its format from adult standards to Oldies. WAKR commemorated their 70th anniversary in 2010 by revived many of their classic jingles from the 1960s and 1970s, while also airing montages and airchecks from past personalities.
One of WAKR's Sunday morning religious programs, "Uniform Faith" with the Furnace Street Mission, is the oldest continuing Christian radio program in the United States, originally airing on WADC in 1926.
- Jude Sheerin (20 March 2012). "How the world's first rock concert ended in chaos". BBC News.
- http://220.127.116.11:8080/bj/news/2000/September/10/docs/031187.htm[dead link]
- http://www.furnacestreetmission.org/radioshow.html[dead link]
- Official website
- Query the FCC's AM station database for WAKR
- Radio-Locator Information on WAKR
- Query Nielsen Audio's AM station database for WAKR