|Broadcast area||Greater Cleveland
|Branding||AM 1220 The Word|
|Slogan||Cleveland's Christian Talk|
|First air date||May 15, 1924|
|Power||50,000 watts (unlimited)|
|Callsign meaning||W H K "The Word"|
|Former callsigns||WDBK (1924–27)
|Former frequencies||1450 kHz (1924–41)
1480 kHz (1941–44)
|Affiliations||Bowling Green Falcons|
(Caron Broadcasting, Inc.)
|Sister stations||WFHM-FM, WHK|
WHKW (1220 AM) – branded AM 1220 The Word – is a commercial Christian radio station licensed to Cleveland, Ohio, serving Greater Cleveland and much of surrounding Northeast Ohio. Owned by Salem Communications, WHKW is a local affiliate for the Salem Radio Network and the Michigan IMG Sports Network. The WHKW studios are located in the Cleveland suburb of Independence, and the station transmitter resides in neighboring Broadview Heights. Besides a standard analog transmission, WHKW is available online.
WHKW began as WDBK on May 15, 1924, broadcasting with 250 watts of power. The station was owned by Stanley Broz, in the name of the M.F. Broz Furniture, Hardware and Radio Co., and was located at 13918 Union Avenue in Cleveland. The station moved to Boltan Square Hotel on Carnegie Avenue in 1925, and was using the slogan, "Broadcasting from Cleveland." In September 1927, Broz sold the station to William F. Jones, and WDBK was taken off the air. The station relocated to the Akron Beacon Journal building in Akron, and resumed broadcast operations in November 1927 as WFJC, the new call letters being derived from the owner's initials. Sam Townshend was listed as co-owner, and the first two announcers were Cyril Jones and Jerry McKiernam.
Jones sold the station to George A. Richards of Detroit in September 1930, and Richards moved the station back to Cleveland. He obtained a new callsign based on his initials, and WGAR signed on the air on December 15, 1930. WGAR was part of the Goodwill Station group that included WJR and KMPC, both also owned by Richards.
In 1937, WGAR became Cleveland's CBS affiliate. On October 30, 1938, it broadcast The Mercury Theatre on the Air's The War of the Worlds, and it was left to a young staff announcer named Jack Paar to go on the air and calm Cleveland listeners by telling them that the program was only a dramatization. WGAR produced some programs for the CBS network, one of the notable ones being Wings Over Jordan, a popular Sunday morning CBS show that had the widest audience of any African-American broadcast.
Originally at 1450 kHz, WGAR switched to 1480 kHz on March 29, 1941 during the NARBA frequency shift, and then to 1220 kHz on June 4, 1944. On July 4, 1947, WGAR increased its power from 5,000 to 50,000 watts during daytime hours. WGAR was the flagship station for Cleveland Browns broadcasts from 1946 to 1949, 1954, and from 1956 to 1961; during the Browns' last run at the station (as WGAR), Bill McColgan provided the play-by-play commentary, while Jim Graner served as color commentator. Richards died in May 1951, and WGAR was purchased in 1953 by People's Broadcasting Corp., a company that had been founded seven years earlier by the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation to serve rural communities. People's Broadcasting became Nationwide Broadcasting, a subsidiary of Nationwide Insurance in 1954. WJR itself was sold to Capital Cities Communications and KMPC was purchased by Gene Autry.
With the demise of network radio, the rise of television, and the emergence of Top 40 powerhouses like KYW, WERE and WHK in the 1950s, WGAR had to try various music formats as a result. The station settled into an adult contemporary format throughout this whole time, with literary professor Tom Armstrong in the morning slot for much of this period. FM installations at 99.5 MHz were launched in 1948, but WGAR-FM never saw more than a few hours of operation per week.
In 1970, new management was brought in to WGAR, and both the AM and FM stations made several dramatic moves. Long only on the air for pure technical purposes, WGAR-FM then went to a 24-hour operation as WNCR, and adopted a progressive rock format that was tapped two years earlier by WMMS. The AM side saw a format shift to adult contemporary and several new personalities, including "Emperor Joe" Meyer, Bob Vernon, Chuck Collier (who remained with WGAR-FM until his death in September 2011), Norm N. Nite, and Ron Parks. The station's most noteworthy hire was morning host Don Imus. Imus left a little more than a year later to go to WNBC in New York (though he returned briefly to do afternoons on WHK after being fired from WNBC in 1977), he was replaced by John Lanigan. Lanigan, who himself was nearly as controversial as Imus, had a very successful run in mornings until he left for a radio station in Tampa prior to resurfacing at WMJI in 1985.
WGAR abandoned adult contemporary for country music on July 15, 1984. The station soon donated its entire collection of jazz recordings to WCPN, the new public radio outlet that was going on the air the following September. By 1986, WGAR was simulcasting with its FM sister station, which again carried the callsign WGAR-FM; the FM station broadcast under different callsigns from 1970 to 1984.
WKNR (1220 AM)
In 1990, WGAR was sold to Douglas Broadcasting and Cablevision Systems Corp. WGAR-FM (99.5 FM) continued on with the country format, and began identifying itself simply as "WGAR" without the "-FM" ending (note that the FM station officially remains WGAR-FM per FCC records). Meanwhile, the callsign for the 1220 AM facility was changed to WKNR. A five-minute sendoff produced by several WGAR (AM)/WGAR-FM staffers, including tributes by Don Imus and Jack Paar, aired on 1220 AM just before the changeover took place at Midnight on July 13, 1990. Immediately after the tribute aired, the new WKNR briefly picked up a satellite-based oldies feed. WKNR slowly assembled several blocks of locally based sports talk shows, starting in January 1991. Eventually, the station evolved into an all-sports format, and in 1992, lured the Cleveland Indians broadcasts away from long-time flagship WWWE. For several years in the mid-1990s, WKNR was home to Cleveland Indians, Cleveland Browns, and Ohio State football and basketball broadcasts.
The fortunes of WKNR, however, started to sour when the Cleveland Browns relocated after the 1995 NFL season. Despite a successful outcry by the community and competing sports stations WKNR, WHK and WWWE, the intellectual property of the team was to lay dormant for three years, leaving a void in WKNR's play-by-play lineup. WKNR was left to carry Cincinnati Bengals football from 1996 to 1998. The station was then forced to overbid to beat WTAM (the former WWWE) into a renewal of its Cleveland Indians contract, effective with the 1997 season. While this allowed WKNR to air the World Series run of the 1997 Indians, the deal put financial strain on WKNR – Cablevision's lone radio property.
On August 19, 1997, Jacor announced the purchase of WKNR from Cablevision Systems Corp. Jacor, which also owned WTAM, moved the Cleveland Indians broadcasts back to WTAM beginning with the 1998 season and the Cleveland Browns rights transferred to WMJI and WTAM for the 1999 season, leaving significant holes in WKNR's programming. Jacor swapped WKNR with Capstar Broadcasting’s WTAE in Pittsburgh in 1998 as part of a Justice Department settlement involving Jacor's purchase of Nationwide Communications, who had sold WGAR (AM) in 1990 and still owned WGAR-FM. On July 13, 1999, Chancellor Media merged with Capstar Broadcasting to form AMFM Inc., at that time the nation's largest radio station owner with 465 stations. AMFM sold WKNR to Salem Communications on July 20, 2000 as part of a required divestiture when AMFM merged with Clear Channel Communications.
2001 "frequency swap"
On July 3, 2001, WKNR was one of seven Northeast Ohio radio stations involved in a complex exchange between three radio companies. Although generally reported as a "frequency swap", in reality these seven radio stations mostly traded callsigns along with their respective formats and staffs – all to facilitate the transfers of ownership of four of the seven stations. As part of this complex exchange, Salem Communications changed the WKNR callsign to WHKC; changed the station's format to Christian radio; and rebranded the station The Word. On August 3, 2001, Salem changed the new WHKC callsign to WHK. In effect, this new WHK (1220 AM) licensed to Cleveland became the successor to the previous WHK (1420 AM) licensed to Cleveland.
WHK (1220 AM)
|This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (January 2013)|
|This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (January 2013)|
On April 5, 2005, Salem changed the station callsign to WHKZ. Eight days later, on April 13, 2005, Salem changed the new WHKZ callsign to WHKW.
Much of the WHKW programming is simulcast on WHKZ, though that station does break away in the late evenings to air Warren native Hugh Hewitt's talk show, which is syndicated by Salem Communications. Some other programming airs separately between the two stations.
- "Encyclopedia of Cleveland History:WGAR". Case Western Reserve University.
- "WGAR's Power Output Is Boosted to 50 KW" (PDF). Broadcasting. July 7, 1947. Retrieved 1 October 2014.
- "The voices of Browns games past". The Plain Dealer. The Plain Dealer Publishing Co. November 10, 2002. p. J6 - Sunday Arts.
The Browns' primary radio announcing teams: 1955-60: Bill McColgan and Jim Graner...
- "(WGAR advertisement)". Variety. April 2, 1941. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
- Phillips, Paul. "LAST MOMENTS OF THE MIGHTY 1220". 440 International.
- "Jacor: Acquires Sports Leader WKNR, Cleveland". Corporate Financials Online, Inc. August 19, 1997. Retrieved 2009-08-28.
- "U.S Department of Justice". U.S. Department of Justice. August 10, 1998. Retrieved 2009-08-28.
- "U.S Department of Justice". U.S. Department of Justice. July 2000.
- Quinn, Jim (June 29, 2001). "It's time to reset your radio dial: Seven stations will get new frequencies Tuesday". Akron Beacon Journal. Beacon Journal Publishing Co. p. B1 - Entertainment.
- Falcons Radio Network - 13abc.com (WTVG Toledo)
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