WAKS (96.5 FM) – branded as 96.5 KISS-FM – is a commercial contemporary hit radio (CHR) radio station licensed to Akron, Ohio, serving Greater Cleveland and much of surrounding Northeast Ohio. Owned by iHeartMedia, Inc., WAKS serves as the Cleveland affiliate for Elvis Duran and the Morning Show, On Air with Ryan Seacrest, and American Top 40.

WAKS logo.png
CityAkron, Ohio
Broadcast areaGreater Cleveland
Northeast Ohio
Frequency96.5 MHz (HD Radio)
Branding96.5 KISS-FM
SloganCleveland's #1 Hit Music Station
FormatContemporary hit radio
SubchannelsHD2: Real 106.1 (Mainstream urban)
OwneriHeartMedia, Inc.
(Capstar TX LLC)
First air date
March 12, 1958 (1958-03-12)
Former call signs
WCUE-FM (1958–77)
WKDD (1977–2001)
Call sign meaning
reflection of the "KISS-FM" brand; carried over from the former WAKS (104.9 FM) in Lorain, now WCLV
Technical information
Licensing authority
Facility ID49952
ERP31,000 watts
HAAT189 meters (620 ft)
Transmitter coordinates
41°16′50.00″N 81°37′22.00″W / 41.2805556°N 81.6227778°W / 41.2805556; -81.6227778
Translator(s)HD2: 106.1 W291BV (Solon)
Public license information

The WAKS studios are located in the Cleveland suburb of Independence, while the station transmitter resides in neighboring Brecksville. Besides a standard analog transmission, WAKS broadcasts over two HD Radio channels,[1] and is available online via iHeartRadio. The WAKS-HD2 digital subchannel, which airs a mainstream urban format, also simulcasts over a low-power FM translator.



On March 12, 1958, WCUE (1150 AM) of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio launched an FM sister station at 96.5 Megahertz, WCUE-FM.[2]

WKDD (96.5 FM)Edit

Logo as WKDD

By 1977, WCUE-FM – which at that time was broadcasting an album oriented rock (AOR) format – switched its format to "mellow rock" and callsign to WKDD. John Gorman, then Program Director at Cleveland rock station WMMS, recalls competing with WKDD in the Akron and Canton radio markets in its earlier days: "... the station attempted to create a 'Mellow Rock' mascot... "[3] By the late 1980s, WKDD unseated WMMS as the highest rated station in the Akron market, including both Summit and Portage counties. The two stations continued to struggle for ratings dominance well into the 1990s. Often, one of the two claimed the number one position in the Birch ratings service, while the other won Arbitron's top spot.[4][5]

Danny Wright and Matt Patrick (Michael Ryan) were among the station's personalities. In 1987, WKDD raised Patrick's salary; his was already the highest in the Akron market, nearly five times the average for all other personalities in the market.[6] In 1995, Patrick attempted to leave for Cleveland station WLTF (now WHLK). This drew a legal fight from WKDD, which claimed Patrick's contract prevented him from leaving for any station within 40 miles of WKDD.[7]

2001 "frequency swap"Edit

On July 3, 2001, WKDD 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, Clear Channel Communications (which would become iHeartMedia on September 16, 2014) changed the WKDD format from hot adult contemporary (hot AC) to contemporary hit radio (CHR); rebranded the station using the KISS-FM brand; reassigned on and off-air personnel; and on July 23, 2001, changed the station callsign to WAKS. In effect, this new WAKS licensed to Akron (96.5 FM) became the successor to the previous WAKS licensed to Lorain (104.9 FM).[8]

96.5 KISS-FMEdit

While licensed to Akron, and identified at the top of every hour as "WAKS Akron-Cleveland", the station's studios are located with the rest of iHeartMedia's Cleveland cluster off Rockside Road in the Cleveland suburb of Independence, in addition to the aforementioned transmitter placement in Brecksville on a tower used for other Cleveland radio stations. WAKS promotes itself as, and is generally considered to be, a Cleveland radio station.

Since November 2001,[citation needed] WAKS has been an affiliate of the syndicated program American Top 40.

Current programmingEdit

Weekday programming includes Elvis Duran and the Morning Show mornings and On Air with Ryan Seacrest middays, both via Premiere Networks.[9]

All other music shifts are either voice-tracked out-of-market specifically for WAKS or programmed via Premium Choice. Weekend programming includes American Top 40.[10][11][12][13]


Urban contemporary accounts for all regular programming on the HD2 digital subchannel. Branded "Real 106.1", WAKS-HD2 also simulcasts over Solon translator W291BV (106.1 FM), which itself is owned by Educational Media Foundation but operated by iHeartMedia, Inc. All regular content, including station imaging, voice-over audio, music and on-air talent, either comes from the iHeartMedia mainstream urban national format via the Premium Choice network, or is voice-tracked out-of-market specifically for Real 106.1.


  1. ^ http://hdradio.com/station_guides/widget.php?id=73 HD Radio Guide for Akron
  2. ^ "Directory of AM and FM Radio Stations in the U.S.". 1961-1962 Broadcasting Yearbook (PDF). Washington, DC: Broadcasting Publications, Inc. 1961. p. B-126. Retrieved January 7, 2011.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ Gorman, John; Feran, Tom (2007). The Buzzard: Inside the Glory Days of WMMS and Cleveland Rock Radio — A Memoir. Cleveland, Ohio: Gray & Co. pp. 155–156. ISBN 978-1-886228-47-4.
  4. ^ Dyer, Bob (October 4, 1987). "WMMS Buzzard Fights for WKDD's Area Roost". Akron Beacon Journal. Beacon Journal Publishing Co. p. F2 - Entertainment.
  5. ^ Dyer, Bob (July 16, 1991). "WKDD Again No. 1 in Ratings Book After a Disastrous Four-Song-in-a-Row Promotion; Station Decides to Go Back to Its Rock 'N' Roll Roots". Akron Beacon Journal. Beacon Journal Publishing Co. p. B1 - Entertainment.
  6. ^ Dyer, Bob (April 5, 1987). "WKDD's Big Matt Looking Just Like a Fat Cat". Akron Beacon Journal. Beacon Journal Publishing Co. p. D2 - Entertainment.
  7. ^ Dennis, Debra (May 19, 1995). "DJ Settles Dispute; Will Stay With WKDD". The Plain Dealer. Plain Dealer Publishing Co. p. 1B - Metro.
  8. ^ Quinn, Jim (June 29, 2001). "It's Time to Reset Your Radio Dial: Seven Stations Will Get New Frequencies Tuesday, You'll Need a Score Card to Keep Track of Formats". Akron Beacon Journal. Beacon Journal Publishing Co. p. B1 - Entertainment.
  9. ^ WAKS taps Ashley Z for nights - All Access.com
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ "AT40 with Ryan Seacrest - All The Hits - Cleveland, OH". Kisscleveland.com. Retrieved 2013-04-10.
  12. ^ "TheHopeLine Community Radio Stations". Thehopeline.com. Retrieved 2013-04-10.
  13. ^ "Station Guide: Cleveland, OH". HDRadio.com. HD Radio. 2011. Retrieved January 15, 2011.[permanent dead link]

External linksEdit