|City||Cleveland Heights, Ohio|
|Branding||Sports Radio 92.3 The Fan|
|Frequency||92.3 MHz (also on HD Radio)|
|First air date||December 19, 1947|
HD2: Sports radio
HD3: Sports radio
40,000 watts (horizontal)|
36,000 watts (vertical)
|Former frequencies||95.3 MHz (1947–59)|
CBS Sports Radio|
Cleveland Browns Radio Network
(CBS Radio Stations Inc.)
|Sister stations||WDOK, WNCX, WQAL|
WKRK-FM (92.3 FM) – branded Sports Radio 92.3 The Fan – is a commercial sports radio station licensed to Cleveland Heights, Ohio, serving Greater Cleveland and much of surrounding Northeast Ohio. Owned by Entercom, WKRK-FM is the Cleveland affiliate for CBS Sports Radio; a co-flagship station for the Cleveland Browns Radio Network; and the radio home of Jeff Phelps, and Dustin Fox. The WKRK-FM studios are located at the Halle Building in Downtown Cleveland, while the station transmitter resides in the Cleveland suburb of Warrensville Heights. In addition to a standard analog transmission, WKRK-FM broadcasts over three HD Radio channels, and is available online.
Founded by Sam R. Sague, the station debuted on December 19, 1947 on 95.3 MHz as WSRS-FM and simulcast sister station WSRS 1490 AM, also licensed to Cleveland Heights. WSRS AM/FM billed itself as the "Community Information Voice of Cleveland". On February 1, 1959, Friendly Broadcasting of Columbus assumed control of WSRS 1490 AM and 95.3 FM from Sam R. Sague, switching call letters, licenses, studios and facilities. The AM and FM stations took on separate identities: WJMO took over the former WSRS offices at 2156 Lee Road in Cleveland Heights, and WSRS-FM became WJMO-FM, later WCUY. The 1540 and 106.5 frequencies were sold off to Tuschman Broadcasting Company, with the AM station becoming WABQ while the FM station instead signed on as WABQ-FM.
WCUY maintained an eclectic mix of beautiful music, jazz and ethnic fare independent of the AM station – a rarity at the time. WJMO adopted a rhythm-and-blues format, focusing primarily on the African-American community, which it still does to this day. WCUY vacated 95.3 and moved to 92.3 MHz in the early 1960s, while WDGO in Cleveland signed on the 95.5 frequency and WLKR-FM in Norwalk on the 95.3 frequency. The station's music format turned to all jazz in the mid-1960s. Voices at WCUY's microphones in the mid-1960s until the station dropped jazz in 1971 included Chris Columbi, who also wrote about jazz for The Cleveland Plain Dealer, Ray Allen (who also served as Program Director), Dave Smith, Gary Stark, Mark Kaufman, Len Anthony, Phil Fink, David Mark, and Joanie Layne.
In 1971, WCUY changed calls to WLYT, standing for "We Love You Truly," and chosen through a station contest. WLYT first held a gold-based oldies format, but then bounced about between AOR (as "92 Rock"), automated Top 40, and then disco (as "Disco 92") until the early 1980s. WLYT was beset by a poor signal, a limited budget, constant staff turnover, and low ratings during this period.
WLYT changed its call letters to WRQC in Spring 1983, and switched to pop/new wave music as Cleveland's New 92 ROCK, using consultant Rick Carroll of future sister station KROQ-FM in Los Angeles. At the time, Daniel "Dancin' Danny" Wright was the morning drive host. Partly due to a fallout with Carroll, and low ratings against AOR/CHR powerhouse WMMS, WRQC gradually migrated to CHR under new Program Director Kris Earl Phillips (who later departed for a career in the computer software industry, and was succeeded by OM/PD Scott Howitt), with the shift completed that August. The line-up included various morning hosts over time after Dancin' Danny moved over to WGCL (to do afternoons), Jan McKay (Jan Wrezinski/News Director), Linda Jackson (Linda Stepan) middays, Scott Howitt (Program Director) doing afternoon drive, former WBZZ/Pittsburgh air personality Tom "Jack" Daniels" in evenings, Mike Gallagher in nights, Johnny Sharp in late nights, Skip O'Brien, Lew Roberts, Jim Shea, Scott James (Harry Legg) and "Rowdy Ron" Higgins on weekends. The CHR format remained in place throughout the remainder of the decade, though it would be rebranded a few times, first as 92Q in early 1985, All-Hit 92Q in 1986 (under the guidance of the late Rick Sklar, former WABC/New York program director turned consultant), and later as Hot 92 in 1989, with the station leaning toward urban.
United Broadcasting changed WRQC's call sign to WJMO-FM on January 22, 1990, matching the calls of WJMO, marking the second time around with these call letters. The station was re-branded Jammin 92, and in 1995, Jammin 92.3, and kept the contemporary hits format, except this time around, they shifted towards a Dance-leaning direction, a move that would pay off ratings-wise for the station, all under the direction of its then PD, Keith Clark. Slogans over the years included "Cleveland's Dance Music Station", "The Party Pig", "Big Fun-Giant Jams", and "Cleveland's #1 Hit Music Station."
Starting in 1993, Jammin 92's evening hours were modeled after MTV, featuring equal doses of alternative rock, hip-hop, and pop music. The show was called "92 Channel X."
In 1992, as Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ownership rules were relaxed, United Broadcasting sold WJMO and WJMO-FM to Zebra Communications, owned by three key figures from local urban contemporary station WZAK: Owner Xenophon Zapis, program director Lynn Tolliver, and on-air personality Bobby (Otis) Rush. Although Tolliver and Rush were both African Americans, Zapis, a Greek, was a key party in the new ownership. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) contested the sale.
The sale was approved by the FCC in 1993, and WJMO became the first radio station with significant African American ownership in the Cleveland area. On February 25, 1994, as a result of the legal battles, the SCLC gained significant control of WJMO, which was seen as the less desirable station.
The SCLC kept the WJMO call letters for their AM station, and WJMO-FM became WZJM, a combination of WZAK and WJMO. WZJM's format evolved into Rhythmic CHR and it became one of the highest rated stations in Cleveland during the late 1990s, even though the station was listed as a Top 40/CHR reporter in music reporting trades like Billboard Radio Monitor (now defunct), because of WZJM's inclusion of mainstream pop/rock product into its playlist, and at the same time keep from overlapping WZAK when it came to playing R&B/Hip-Hop product and targeting the African American audience.
From 1998 to 2001, WZJM suffered through multiple ownership changes and different formats. This started when WZJM, WJMO and WZAK were purchased by Chancellor Media in January 1999, along with WDOK, WQAL, and WRMR in a $275 million deal. It was, at the time, the largest radio deal in Cleveland broadcasting history. On July 13, 1999, Chancellor Media merged with Capstar Broadcasting, owners of WKNR (then at 1220 AM), becoming AMFM Inc., becoming, at that time, the nation's largest radio station owner with 465 stations. When AMFM merged with Clear Channel Communications in August 2000, Clear Channel was forced to sell off WZJM along with the other Cleveland AMFM properties to comply with market ownership restrictions. WZJM, WDOK and WQAL were sold to Infinity Broadcasting, now CBS Radio.
On the air, WZJM abruptly dropped its contemporary hits format at 5:00 pm on April 19, 1999. In its place was the AMFM-branded "Jammin' Oldies" format as 92.3 The Beat. While "Jammin' Oldies" was popular in the short term in other markets across the country, WZJM's attempt was not successful in comparison. As WZJM was sold to Infinity, speculation grew about a potential format change, particularly when all but two of the station's disk jockeys were let go in early 2001.
On May 25, 2001 (Memorial Day weekend), WZJM flipped to active rock as 92.3 Xtreme Radio with the call letters WXTM (adopted on June 7, 2001). While the rock format helped fill the gap after WENZ flipped from modern rock to urban in 1999, WXTM's "Xtreme" format and on-air presentation were originally quite different from the old WENZ, and was, in fact, a nationally programmed format developed by Infinity Broadcasting. WXTM was the Cleveland affiliate for New York-based shock jocks Opie and Anthony from July 2001 until their firing by CBS Radio in August 2002. Rover's Morning Glory, hosted by Shane "Rover" French, debuted on WXTM on March 24, 2003 (and received its title just days beforehand). It would become the first radio show in modern history to have even been syndicated out of Cleveland, when WMAD in Madison, Wisconsin and WAZU (now WJYD) in Columbus, Ohio both picked up the show.
In 2005, the "Xtreme" label was shed in favor of "923X", and former WENZ disk jockeys re-emerged on WXTM during several "Smells Like the End" reunion weekends. The playlist was slowly expanded as the station became a full-fledged alternative rock station. Rover made national headlines when he was selected by CBS Radio to be one of four shows to replace Howard Stern (the other three being now-canceled Adam Carolla, The Junkies and now-canceled David Lee Roth) with CBS Radio's "Free FM" experiment. Rover had his show's flagship relocated to Chicago on sister station WCKG in order to accommodate this switch, but continued to air in Cleveland.
On January 1, 2006, WXTM's sister station WXRK of New York, New York changed its callsign to WFNY-FM to reflect its new format. Owner CBS Radio moved the WXRK call letters to WXTM. The new WXRK of Cleveland was suddenly set on "random play," essentially a wide-sweeping commercial modern rock playlist without any dee-jays. On-air promos hinted of "92.3: It just Rocks," before the station officially became 92.3 K-Rock that January 17. K-Rock has been a brand utilized by CBS Radio on several of their rock stations, most notably KROQ in Los Angeles. Incidentally, KROQ was also the station that what was then WRQC tried to emulate back in the 1980s.
Opie and Anthony rejoined the station's lineup on April 26, 2006, when they were hired back to replace David Lee Roth on CBS Radio stations in select markets in morning drive. However, WXRK – and not local Roth affiliate WNCX – picked up the FreeFM-based (now WNYL) portion of the show, on tape delay from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm. WCKG would cancel Rover, due to extremely low ratings, on July 31, 2006, and Rover's show returned to WXRK's studios as its flagship. Also that day, K-Rock launched its HD2 station "K2", on the station's secondary HD signal. "K2" featured bands like Godsmack, Slipknot, Static-X, Disturbed, and other harder-edged acts. On November 14, 2006, K-Rock began an online stream, accessible at its official site, krockcleveland.com. Meanwhile, the former WXRK in New York changed formats on May 25, 2007 from hot talk back over to alternative rock under the "92.3 K-Rock" name, and as a result, would reacquire the WXRK call letters. The Cleveland station retained the format and name, but on May 31, took a new callsign of WKRI. The station gained its tenth set of call letters that October 3 when they obtained the WKRK-FM calls from the Detroit station now known as WXYT-FM.
Rover's Morning Glory would be abruptly canceled from WKRK-FM on February 15, 2008 after a new contract between Rover and CBS Radio could not be reached. Rover ended up signing a deal with WMMS; as a result, WKRK-FM moved Opie and Anthony to morning drive and started to lean the active rock route by adding artists such as Mötley Crüe, Ozzy Osbourne, and Guns N' Roses onto the rotation to better compete with WMMS. WKRK-FM ultimately suffered a significant decline in ratings.
On December 1, 2008, WKRK-FM dropped the K-Rock branding and switched to Radio 92.3, continuing in its modern rock format. All of the deejays were dropped or reassigned to off-air roles, and Opie and Anthony were canceled. As Radio 92.3, WKRK-FM continued to serve as the home of Inner Sanctum, a weekly showcase featuring Cleveland's local music talent. Inner Sanctum aired its final show on WKRK-FM on Sunday night, August 28, 2011.
92.3 The Fan
WKRK-FM dropped both the "Radio 92.3" brand and alternative rock format from its primary broadcast feed (analog/HD1) on August 29, 2011, at 6 am; the final song to air before the format flip was "Second Chance" by Shinedown. The station has since aired a sports radio format over the primary feed as Sports Radio 92.3 The Fan. Both the Radio 92.3 brand and format continued on the HD2 digital subchannel until January 2, 2013, when the feed switched over to CBS Sports Radio. In March 2013, WKRK-FM announced that it would begin broadcasting "a 24-hour dedicated Browns HD multicast" on a new HD3 digital subchannel at an unspecified date. The HD3 subchannel eventually signed on during the summer of 2013.
Morning co-host Chuck Booms, who had been with the station since the sports format launch in August 2011, was let go in May 2015. Regarding the future of the WKRK-FM morning show, program director Andy Roth stated his intent to hire a replacement "soon" - and eventually moved evening host Ken Carman full-time to mornings.
In January 2016, Kevin Kiley made headlines after publicly criticizing the Buffalo Bills for hiring a female assistant coach. In an interview during the February 11 evening sportscast on Cleveland TV station WUAB, Kiley had said he was being censored by CBS Radio over his comments, and announced he would be resigning from WKRK. On April 6, 2016, WOIO reported that former morning show producer J.G. Spooner had been arrested and charged with money laundering via the website GoFundMe; Cleveland Scene speculated that Spooner exited the station due to the arrest.
The bulk of the weekday lineup features local hosts - such as Ken Carman and Anthony Lima, who host the morning drive program, Andy Baskin and Fox Sports Ohio personality Jeff Phelps, who host the midday program Baskin & Phelps; Adam "The Bull" Gerstenhaber, and former Ohio State safety Dustin Fox, who host Bull & Fox afternoons; and Nick Wilson evenings. Local hosts Garrett Bush, Chris Fedor, and Mike "Chico" Bormann host weekend shows.
During Browns season, WKRK-FM is the exclusive flagship home of the Browns Radio Network postgame show and Cleveland Browns Weekly with Nathan Zegura on Saturday mornings. Along with WKNR, 92.3 The Fan also airs a Wednesday night preview show and head coach Hue Jackson's Thursday night coach's show from the Browns Radio Network.
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