|Broadcast area||Greater Cleveland (limited)|
|Branding||Sports Radio 1560 AM|
|Slogan||Where the Season Never Ends|
|First air date||June 16, 1962|
|Last air date||October 1, 2004|
|Power||1,000 watts (daytime only)|
|Callsign meaning||"Warren And Ted Jones"
(last station owners)
|Former callsigns||WGLD (1962–65)
|Owner||Music Express Broadcasting Corp.|
WATJ (1560 AM) – branded Sports Radio 1560 AM – was a commercial daytime-only radio station licensed to Chardon, Ohio, serving parts of Greater Cleveland. The station broadcast license expired on October 1, 2004.
Origins of WBKC
What ended up becoming WATJ first went on the air on June 16, 1962 as WGLD, a mere 500-watt daytimer. WGLD fell silent around 1965. Al Kipp, who was the general manager of WELW in Willoughby at the time, was hired by a new group to put the station back on the air. They built studios and a four-tower directional array on Aquilla Road east of Route 44 in Chardon, boosting power to 1,000 watts with a very tight directional pattern, the largest lobe of the signal beamed up into populous Lake County.
At one time, WBKC even had a satellite studio at the Great Lakes Mall. Al Kipp did much of the field engineering work for the construction permit. The call letters WBKC stood for this: the B was for Oliver Bolton, Congresswoman Frances Bolton's son, and one of the owners. The K stood for Albert King, owner of the Chardon-based King Trucking Company, another owner. The C stood for Chardon.
This group owned the station, with Al Kipp as GM, until it was sold to Painesville businessman Don Smith in the early 1980s. Clarence Bucaro of WERE, who had been a salesman at WBKC in the mid-1970s, became the general manager.
Meanwhile, there was another station that existed in Painesville under the WPVL calls at 1460 kHz. It first went on the air as WPVL on April 25, 1956 as a daytime-only station at 500 watts and was later granted a twenty-four-hour-a-day license.
Locally owned and locally programmed, WPVL claimed a huge chunk of the Lake County audience, and billed almost as much as Cleveland stations, with a full air and news staff, local programs and high school sports games, remote broadcasts and toward the end a simulcast on a Lake County cable TV channel. WPVL became WQLS on January 15, 1984, and slowly shifted its focus to covering all of Lake County.
When Don Smith bought WQLS, WBKC's programming and call letters moved to 1460 AM on March 3, 1986. 1460 and 1560 AM simucast each other for several months as the "B-K Country Network," but the previous WBKC was soon sold to Smith's son-in-law, taking the call sign WCDN, for Chardon. Bucaro eventually assumed ownership of the Painesville incarnation of WBKC, and owned it until 2004.
In 2001, WBKC entered an arrangement with WCLV to simulcast the classical music station for the Lake County area, save for a morning-drive news program. This lasted until 2006, when WBKC's sister station in Cleveland, gospel music WABQ, was sold off to a different owner. WABQ's format and call letters moved to 1460 kHz that October. Before the sale closed, the WBKC calls temporarily moved to what was WABQ in Cleveland, but were retired in favor of WWGK on November 7, 2006.
The end of 1560
When Warren Jones bought 1560, he changed the calls to its final incarnation of WATJ, after him and his father, Ted. Jones placed WATJ, and FM country outlet WKKY - licensed to the city of Geneva - under the "Music Express Broadcasting Company" banner. Eric Ochs also worked there in 1989 in afternoon drive.
WATJ once played a beautiful music format with ethnic programming on the weekends, but was last aired a sports radio format under the name "SportsRadio 1560AM." This format was far from successful; its first try was with an all-local lineup, but that was dumped for Sporting News Radio programming.
Ted Jones turned the license back a couple years ago, so as to focus on WKKY. FCC rules now prohibit the re-licensing of daytime stations, so the station is gone forever.