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For the Cleveland AM radio station which identified as WGAR from 1930 to 1990, see WHKW.
WGAR-FM logo.png
City of license Cleveland, Ohio
Broadcast area Greater Cleveland
Northeast Ohio
Branding 99.5 WGAR
Slogan Real Life. Set To Music.
Frequency 99.5 MHz (also on HD Radio)
First air date August 1952
Format Country
HD2: Classic country
ERP 50,000 watts
HAAT 152 meters
Class B
Facility ID 47740
Transmitter coordinates 41°22′18.00″N 81°43′4.00″W / 41.3716667°N 81.7177778°W / 41.3716667; -81.7177778
Callsign meaning George A. Richards
Former callsigns WGAR-FM (1952–70)
WNCR (1970–75)
WKSW (1975–84)
Affiliations City Club of Cleveland
Premiere Networks
Premium Choice
Total Traffic and Weather Network
Westwood One
Owner iHeartMedia, Inc.
(Citicasters Licenses, Inc.)
Sister stations WAKS, WHLK, WMJI, WMMS, WTAM
Webcast Listen Live
Website wgar.com

WGAR-FM (99.5 FM) – branded 99.5 WGAR – is a commercial country music radio station licensed to Cleveland, Ohio, serving Greater Cleveland and much of surrounding Northeast Ohio owned by iHeartMedia, Inc..

The WGAR-FM studios are located in the Cleveland suburb of Independence, while the station transmitter resides in nearby Parma. Besides a standard analog transmission, WGAR-FM broadcasts over two HD Radio channels,[1] and is available online via iHeartRadio.


WGAR-FM (1952–70)[edit]

WGAR-FM began broadcasting in August 1952, simulcasting the programming of its AM sister station, WGAR (1220 AM), as was the case for most FM stations at the time. Hours of operation were very limited, usually at the bare minimum of two hours per week.[2]


In 1970, WGAR-FM underwent several massive changes. It started broadcasting in stereo that April 1, and became WNCR (which stood for either Nationwide Communications Radio or North Coast Rock) on July 2.[3] The original air staff was Mitch Michaels-mornings, Chris Gray-midday, Steve Scott-afternoons, Ginger-evenings and David Elmore-overnight. By August, all of the air staff, tired of being at odds with management about the huge amount of commercials and attempts to commercialize the station sound, went on strike. All were fired after a midnight meeting with the GM mediated by Don Imus. Ginger went to Columbus, then to WMMS. Michaels followed him in short time. This ushered in the Second Era of WNCR. While a considerable success at first, conflicts between management and staff prompted key members to jump over to WMMS.


On January 1, 1973, WNCR gave up the progressive rock format and changed to an automated country format. In 1975, the format was changed to beautiful music/easy listening using Jim Schulke's format. A few months later, the call letters changed to WKSW and the station's slogan became, "WKSW, FM 100. All music. All the time." For a brief period, no local announcers were used. Instead, recordings of Philadelphia announcer Nelson Hobdell were used for all station breaks. Eventually, WKSW went to all local personalities, including David Mark (who had the highest ratings the station ever achieved), Tom Mart, Jim Field and Ted Lux. With the lone exception of David Mark, whose ratings in Cleveland were bested only by Cleveland Indians baseball on WWWE and rock music on WMMS, the station was never quite able to equal or better the ratings at competitors WQAL and WDOK, and the format was switched back to country by 1980.

WGAR-FM (1984–present)[edit]

On July 15, 1984, it switched its calls to WGAR-FM. It has continued its country music format since then. The country music programming was simulcast on the AM outlet for a time during 1986 before WGAR (AM) was sold off and became WKNR (1220 AM).

WGAR-FM was sold to Jacor Communications in 1997 as part of a $620 million purchase of Nationwide Communications and its 17 stations by Jacor. In May 1999, Clear Channel Communications completed its $6.5 billion purchase of Jacor and its 454 stations, including WGAR-FM.

From 1992–2010, the WGAR-FM morning show starred longtime personality Jim Mantel, along with various sidekicks and co-hosts through the years. In addition to the morning show, the on-air staff included the noted Marconi Award winning Chuck Collier, whose broadcast career extended over four decades in Cleveland between radio stations WGAR-FM (1986–2011), WGAR (AM) (1970–90), and WMJI. In March 2009, Chuck Collier was inducted into the Country Radio Hall Of Fame in Nashville. Collier was the music director/afternoon host until his death on September 22, 2011 due to a heart attack.[4]

Current programming[edit]

Local WGAR-FM personalities include Brian Fowler and LeeAnn Sommers (mornings), Charley "Shotgun Taylor" Connolly (afternoons), and Kat Jackson (evenings). Other music shifts are either voice-tracked out-of-market specifically for WGAR-FM or programmed via Premium Choice.

Syndicated programming includes CMT After Midnite with Cody Alan overnights via Premiere Networks,[5][6] and Bob Kingsley's Country Top 40 Sundays via Westwood One.

The HD2 digital subchannel broadcasts a classic country format via Premium Choice under the brand Foggy Mountain.[7][8]


  1. ^ HD Radio Guide for Cleveland WGAR - HD Radio.com
  2. ^ WebMasters, Mike Olszewski (2002-03-04). "Cleveland, Ohio Broadcast Radio Archives Project". Cleve-radio.com. Retrieved 2014-08-18. 
  3. ^ WebMasters, Mike Olszewski (2002-03-04). "Cleveland, Ohio Broadcast Radio Archives Project". Cleve-radio.com. Retrieved 2014-08-18. 
  4. ^ Collier passes away - WTAM.com
  5. ^ WGAR schedule - WGAR.com
  6. ^ "CMT After MidNite, All Access, and Radio Live with Cody Alan Radio Stations". Aftermidnite.com. Retrieved 2014-08-18. 
  7. ^ Washington, Julie E. (May 16, 2009). "Broadcast blues: Clear Channel does some clear-cutting of on-air radio talent". The Plain Dealer (Plain Dealer Publishing Co.). p. E1 - Arts & Life. Clear Channel... is rolling out Premium Choice, a menu of national formats chosen by headquarters. There is no local programming on Premium Choice stations except for commercials... 
    • "Corrections and Clarifications". The Plain Dealer (Plain Dealer Publishing Co.). August 1, 2009. The Cleveland Clear Channel stations using the Premium Choice programming package are WAKS, WGAR, WMJI and WMMS. Each station uses it overnight on weekdays, and for selected hours on weekends. 
  8. ^ "Local HD Radio Stations". HD Radio. Retrieved 2014-08-18. 

External links[edit]