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|Broadcast area||Minneapolis-St. Paul|
|Branding||Classic Hits 100 WLOL
Hitradio 99½ WLOL
Musicradio 99½ WLOL
WLOL 99½ FM Almost Perfect Radio
Easy Rockin' FM 100 WLOL
|Slogan||Get Me Up, WLOL!
Today's Best Music, Custom Mixed Every Hour, 99.5 WLOL
Classic Hits 100 The New WLOL, It Feels Good To Be Home!
|Frequency||99.5 FM (MHz) (1956-1991)
100.3 FM (MHz) (1999-2002)
|First air date||1945 (FM)|
|Format||Classical (1945-1973) AC (1973-1981) CHR (1981-1991) CH (1999-2002)|
|Callsign meaning||Wonderful Land Of Lakes, We Love Our Listeners!|
|Former callsigns||WMIN-FM (1945-56)|
|Owner||99.5: Emmis Communications (1983-1991)
100.3: Clear Channel Communications
The current inhabitant of the 99.5 FM frequency is KSJN, owned by Minnesota Public Radio, which purchased the station in 1991. Since then, the WLOL call letters have been used by several AM and FM stations in the area. The WLOL call letters currently reside at 1330 AM, the original station to hold them.
The 99.5 frequency dates to 1945 when AM station WMIN started broadcasting on the new FM band. WMIN-FM was sold in 1956 to the owners of WLOL, becoming WLOL-FM, which remained its call sign until being sold to MPR in 1991.
The history of the WLOL call letters is intertwined with many other area stations. WLOL was first used in 1940 when WLOL signed on the air at 1300 AM and was a part of the Mutual Broadcasting System. The station moved to 1330 in March 1941 as required by the North American Regional Broadcasting Agreement (NARBA) under which most American, Canadian and Mexican AM radio stations changed frequencies.
For many years, WLOL-FM had a variety of formats. The original classical music format gave way to easy listening in 1973, then later soft rock as Easy Rockin' FM 100 WLOL. The AM station was sold to MPR in 1980 and became KSJN(AM). The owner retained WLOL-FM, and on December 12, 1981, the station dumped soft rock and became "Musicradio 99½ WLOL", the only Twin Cities FM station playing Top 40 music at the time. The new WLOL became a massive success, eventually achieving a 10 share in the Arbitron ratings.
Get Me Up, WLOL!
WLOL was noteworthy for its presentation. The station combined typical top-40 programming philosophies with a local touch and relied heavily on unique jingle packages, including the now iconic "Get Me Up!" jingle, which was written by Kyrl Henderson of the now defunct Reel Good Productions. Local artists such as Prince & The Revolution, Morris Day & The Time, Information Society, Alexander O'Neal and The Jets all received support from WLOL.
The station was purchased by Emmis Broadcasting in 1983. New competition arrived later that year when longtime AM top-40 station KDWB returned to its co-owned FM frequency after the FM's several years of playing album oriented rock. WCCO-FM briefly switched to top-40 in the fall of 1982, but with dismal results, it reinvented itself as Adult contemporary WLTE. WLOL and KDWB became bitter rivals throughout the 1980s, with WLOL and the (John) Hines and (Bob) Berglund Morning Show dominating the format for the next five years. In 1988, KDWB, which had been in a slump for years, hired a new program director and new airstaff, updated its on-air presentation and promotion, and created a new logo.
By the end of the 1980s, the tables were turned. Some listeners felt WLOL had grown stale and KDWB had become the hip new CHR station. From that point on, KDWB led WLOL in listenership, and became the dominant CHR station in the market. In addition, the Steve Cochran Show toppled Hines & Berglund in the ratings. Playing catch-up, WLOL started tweaking the programming and airstaff, shook up its longtime morning show, and finally, in May 1990, teased a format change. On May 11, WLOL became a rhythmic top 40 station, dropping rock bands such as Bon Jovi, Def Leppard and Aerosmith and replacing it with Dance, Hip-Hop and R&B. It aired dance mixes of songs, sometimes creating in-house custom mixes. Labeling itself as Today's Best Music, the new WLOL hired a new airstaff and rejuvenated itself as 99.5 WLOL.
The end of WLOL, and relocation of KSJN
While ratings did improve and 99.5 was neck-and-neck with KDWB (which WLOL personalities derided on-air as "K-DWeeB") in the Arbitron ratings, finances at this time grew tight for Emmis after founder Jeff Smulyan led a group which purchased the Seattle Mariners in 1990. The company started selling some of its most successful stations, including WFAN in New York and KXXX in San Francisco. WLOL became the next Emmis sale; on December 26, 1990, the station announced it would be to Minnesota Public Radio, which had sought for years an additional FM station in the market to use for KNOW (coincidentally, the original WLOL licensee). MPR planned to move KSJN from 91.1 to 99.5 and move KNOW to 91.1. Pop music fans in the Twin Cities were furious as WLOL slowly counted down to its last day, which finally came on February 26, 1991. The staff spent WLOL's last day paying tribute to the station by playing music and jingles from the station's ten-year history, covering 1 year per hour (8-9 AM for 1981, 9-10 AM for 1982, and so on). Former air personalities dropped by or recorded farewell messages, and 92 KQRS, K102 (where morning host John Hines later landed) and even KDWB bought advertising time on WLOL, redirecting listeners to their stations. WLOL signed off with a half-hour montage of clips from songs played by the station during its ten-year history, followed by a sign-off announcement from Hines and "Miss You Much" by Janet Jackson. At around 6:30 PM, when Jackson said "That's the end?" in the song, WLOL Program Director Gregg Swedberg responded "Yes", ending live programming from WLOL. At 7 PM, after about a half hour of dead air, WLOL started playing music without live DJs for about an hour (with more liners in between from KDWB wishing WLOL "happy trails" and redirecting listeners to their station), after which it officially signed off with 1999 by Minneapolis native Prince fading out as WLOL ended after 35 years of serving the Twin Cities. The next morning, 99.5 FM became the new home of KSJN, and KNOW-FM made its debut at 91.1.
Future locations of WLOL call letters
Shortly after WLOL's demise on 99.5, KXLV, a station located north of the Twin Cities in Cambridge at 105.3 FM, picked up the WLOL call letters for its Hot AC format. When the station was purchased and turned into WREV, its new sister station at 1470 AM became the new parking spot for the historic calls. This continued until 1999, when AMFM Broadcasting (soon to be absorbed into Clear Channel Communications) purchased the WLOL calls for a new station to make its debut at 100.3 FM, in an attempt at bringing back the WLOL '80s-era excitement, albeit with a 1970s-oriented classic hits format. The new WLOL lasted until 2003, when it flipped to smooth jazz. Hubbard Broadcasting considered putting the call letters on one of its stations, even putting a ten-day hold on them with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), but eventually declined. In 2005, when Starboard Media sought out new call letters following its purchase of 1330 AM, the unclaimed WLOL calls returned to its place of origin.
Technical aspects of 99.5
- Forrest Powers (14 August 1974). "Station to go Classical" (PDF). The Minneapolis Star. Retrieved 17 November 2014.
- WLOL Signs Off
- Mark Durenberger (1999). Early quad-casts and other fun. The Broadcast Archive: War Stories.
- Radiotapes.com Historic airchecks of WLOL and other Twin Cities radio stations
- WLOL studio exterior photo, 1966 from the Minnesota Historical Society
- 1983 aircheck
- 99½ WLOL Minneapolis/St. Paul tribute page
- A recollection by Jim Stokes, an announcer during WLOL-FM's classical music period
- KARE-TV 11 news report about WLOL-FM morning show with Hines and Berglund (and Roger, too), 1984
- KMSP9-TV news report about WLOL-FM new format, Spring 1982
- Hear the last 10 hrs (minus one) of 99.5 WLOL-FM on Feb. 26, 1991