WTAM (1100 AM) – branded Newsradio WTAM 1100 – is a commercial news/talk radio station licensed to Cleveland, Ohio, serving Greater Cleveland and much of surrounding Northeast Ohio. Owned by iHeartMedia, Inc., WTAM is a clear-channel station with extended nighttime range.
|Broadcast area||Greater Cleveland|
|Branding||Newsradio WTAM 1100|
|Affiliations||ABC News Radio|
City Club of Cleveland
Cleveland Cavaliers Radio Network
Cleveland Indians Radio Network
Fox News Radio
Fox Sports Radio
Total Traffic and Weather Network
|Owner||iHeartMedia, Inc. |
(iHM Licenses, LLC)
First air date
|September 26, 1923|
Former call signs
|750 kHz (1923–26)|
770 kHz (1926–27)
1070 kHz (1927–41)
Call sign meaning
|Power||50,000 watts (unlimited)|
|Translator(s)||106.9 W295DE (Cleveland)|
Public license information
|Webcast||Listen live (via iHeartRadio)|
WTAM serves as the Cleveland affiliate for both ABC News Radio and Fox News Radio, and is the seconday Cleveland affiliate for Fox Sports Radio (shared with sister station and main affiliate WARF). The station is also the Cleveland outlet for The Glenn Beck Program, The Rush Limbaugh Show, and Coast to Coast AM; the AM flagship station for the Cleveland Cavaliers and Cleveland Indians radio networks; and the home of radio personalities Geraldo Rivera and Mike Trivisonno.
The WTAM studios are located in the Cleveland suburb of Independence, while the station transmitter resides in nearby Brecksville. Besides its main analog transmission, WTAM simulcasts over low-power analog Cleveland translator W295DE (106.9 FM), and streams online via iHeartRadio. WTAM is Northeast Ohio's primary entry point station in the Emergency Alert System.
The station first carried the WTAM call letters from 1923 to 1956; assigned sequentially by the U.S. Department of Commerce, the letters were later treated as a backronym for "Where The Artisans Meet." The station re-adopted the same call letters in 1996 to reinforce the station's position on the AM band; station management considered the historical tie "a nice bonus, but... more incidental than anything else."
WTAM began broadcast operations on September 26, 1923. It was one of several stations that started between 1922 and 1923 with a call sign assigned sequentially by the Commerce Department with "W" as the first letter and "A" as the third. It was originally owned by S.E. Lawrence and Theodore Willard, in the name of the Willard Storage Battery Company. Initially the station only offered three hours of nightly programming, but soon expanded its on-air lineup. Studios were located in the Willard factory on Taft Avenue at East 131st Street. By June 30, 1924, WTAM was broadcasting with 1,000 watts and sharing the 770 kHz frequency with WJAX.
WJAX had signed on earlier in 1922, owned by the Union Trust Co. In 1924 it was known as the "Wave from Lake Erie." The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company purchased WJAX in 1925 and changed to the callsign to WEAR. Finally, Willard Battery purchased WEAR to have control of shared frequency allocation.
WTAM was the first radio station to broadcast coverage of a political convention when it covered the 1924 Republican National Convention at Cleveland's Public Auditorium from June 10–12, 1924. The station's power increased to 2,500 watts in 1925 and to 3,500 watts in 1926, as the studios moved to the Union Trust Building (now The 925 Building). By June 30, 1927, WTAM and WEAR broadcast on 750 kHz with WTAM broadcasting with 3,500 watts. The January 31, 1928 Radio Service Bulletin of the Commerce Department listed WTAM broadcasting with 3,500 watts at night and 5,000 watts during the day.
After Willard Battery threatened to close the station, WTAM and WEAR were purchased by the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company (now part of FirstEnergy) and the Van Sweringen brothers on May 31, 1928. In a statement announcing the purchase, the new owners declared, "Recognizing the fact that this radio station is a civic asset to the Greater Cleveland district and that the cessation of its operation would be a real loss, the Van Sweringen interests and the Illuminating Co. entered into arrangements to continue it. Every effort will be made to maintain the station on a plane which will make it of maximum value to the community."
When the new Federal Radio Commission instituted General Order 40 after the passage of the Radio Act of 1927, WTAM along with sister station WEAR (at that point absorbed into WTAM entirely) claimed the clear channel frequency allocated to Cleveland, and on November 11, 1928 it began broadcasting at 1070 kHz with WTAM broadcasting at 50,000 watts. In 1929 the station built two broadcast towers in Brecksville, Ohio, each 200 feet high.
The NBC yearsEdit
With its national prominence as a clear channel giant established, WTAM became a valuable radio property. NBC purchased WTAM on October 16, 1930, and the studios were moved to the Auditorium Building. The station became a major link in the NBC Red Network, contributing some programming to the network. Around 1930, Gene Carroll and Glenn Rowell brought their vaudeville humor to WTAM with the Gene and Glenn show. The duo became famous for their characters "Jake & Lena". WTAM originated the program for nationwide broadcast on the NBC Red Network, and it aired six days a week for five years. WTAM also originated the venerable Lum and Abner show on the NBC Red Network five days a week during one year of its run from May 22, 1933 to March 30, 1934, sponsored by the Ford Dealers of America.
NBC began to make substantial investments to station facilities in the 1930s. WTAM moved their studio operations to 815 Superior Avenue on February 7, 1937; renamed the NBC Building, it is known today as the Superior Building. That same year, a new tower was built in Brecksville which was 480 feet tall. On March 29, 1941, with the implementation of NARBA, WTAM moved its broadcast frequency from 1070 to 1100 kHz, maintaining its clear-channel status.
During the 1940s, the station continued to contribute some programming to the NBC radio network. On March 19, 1946 Bob Hope brought his Tuesday night 10 pm Pepsodent radio show to Cleveland along with Jerry Colonna, Frances Langford and the Skinnay Ennis Orchestra for a broadcast on the NBC radio network. Guests included Ohio Governor Frank Lausche. Recordings of this program are still available from collectors of old radio programs.
WTAM also broadcast the 1948 World Series games of the Cleveland Indians against the Boston Braves, with announcers Jim Britt and Mel Allen. In 1951, WTAM originated an NBC Radio Network broadcast of the Cleveland Orchestra.
NBC also expanded its broadcasting interests in Cleveland beyond AM radio: on October 31, 1948, NBC launched a sister television outlet, WNBK, on channel 4; a few weeks later, on December 6, 1948, WTAM-FM (105.7 FM) began broadcasting, simulcasting WTAM's programming. All three stations shared the same transmitter tower in Brecksville until WNBK moved to a new transmitter tower erected in Parma concurrent with a channel switch to channel 3 on April 25, 1954; as KYW and KYW-FM, both radio stations would move to the same Parma tower in February 1957.
KYW: The Westinghouse yearsEdit
In late 1955, NBC persuaded Westinghouse to trade its Philadelphia stations, KYW (1060 AM) and WPTZ-TV, in return for NBC's Cleveland properties and $3 million in cash compensation. NBC had long wanted to own a station in Philadelphia, the nation's third-largest market at the time. The swap went into effect on January 22, 1956. Westinghouse wanted to keep the historic KYW callsign, which had been Chicago's oldest radio facility before being transferred to Philadelphia on December 3, 1934. Therefore, on February 13, 1956, the Cleveland stations became KYW, KYW-FM and KYW-TV; and the Philadelphia stations became WRCV and WRCV-TV. The WTAM callsign was later picked up by WGLS in Atlanta, Georgia, and after that by WGCM-FM in Gulfport, Mississippi.
In the early 1960s, under program director Ken Draper, KYW, known on-air as KY11, became a full service - Top 40 powerhouse with disc jockeys Jim Runyon (the "weeeellll" voice of the Chickenman series), Jim Stagg, Jay Lawrence, Jerry G (Jerry Ghan), and the morning duo of Harry Martin and Specs Howard. Its main Top 40 rival in the Cleveland market was "Color Channel 14" WHK, at 1420 AM.
Almost immediately after the trade was finalized, Westinghouse complained to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Justice Department about NBC's coercion. It was discovered that Westinghouse only agreed to the trade when NBC made implications that it would pull its television programming from WPTZ and Westinghouse's other NBC affiliate, WBZ-TV in Boston. In 1964, after a protracted legal battle, the FCC ordered the swap of stations reversed without NBC realizing any profit on the deal. NBC regained control of the Cleveland stations on June 19, 1965 and changed their call letters to WKYC, WKYC-FM and WKYC-TV, which kept the popular "KY" slogan and identity Westinghouse brought into Cleveland.
To this day, the KYW stations insist that they "moved" to Cleveland in 1956 and "returned" to Philadelphia in 1965, but the two stations' facilities and broadcast licenses remained the same.
WKYC continued as a Top 40 outlet—the only such-formatted station under NBC ownership—with personalities Harry Martin, Specs Howard, Jay Lawrence and Jerry G holding over from KYW/Westinghouse. When program director Ken Draper left for WCFL/Chicago in early 1965, prior to the ownership change, both Jim Stagg and Jim Runyon wasted no time following him. Bill Winters came in about this time. Jim LaBarbara was wooed away from a 3-day stint at WIXY to do evening prime time. Chuck Dann and KLIF (1190 AM)/Dallas morning duo Charlie and Harrigan (Jack Woods and Paul Menard) signed on. Jim Gallant was doing overnights.
In late 1966, popular afternoon host Jerry G also decided to follow Draper to WCFL; upon his departure, he added the last name "Bishop", and later created the TV horror host persona Svengoolie. He was replaced by WIXY's evening man Jack Armstrong, who then decided to call himself "Big Jack, Your Leader"; LaBarbara was moved to overnight to accommodate Armstrong's installation as the evening jock. In early 1967, the on air staff consisted of: LaBarbara, overnight; Charlie and Harrigan, morning drive; Bob Cole, late morning; Jay Lawrence, mid afternoons; Chuck Dann, afternoon drive; and Big Jack in the prime time slot.
WKYC "Radio 11" was a large record-selling influence as far away as New York City and Miami. However, its main local competition in those days was WIXY 1260 "Super Radio". Unlike WIXY, WKYC – being an NBC owned-and-operated station in a situation not unlike WRC (980 AM) in Washington – was obligated to carry all NBC Radio programming such as the weekend Monitor, as well as all top-of-the-hour NBC Radio newscasts. The NBC Radio afternoon daily network news feed was also based from WKYC's studios and anchored by Virgil Dominic, who also served as WKYC-TV's lead news anchor.
On February 1, 1968, at 3:05 pm, following an NBC Radio newscast, the station altered its presentation to Power Radio, a derivative of the Drake-Chenault-created "Boss Radio" Top-40 format, programmed for WKYC by Hal Moore. The new sound emphasized "more music" with less chatter between songs and a tighter playlist. Personalities at that time included Charlie and Harrigan, Bob Shannon, Chuck Dunaway, Lee 'Baby' Sims, Fred Winston, and Buddy Harrison. It remained a Top 40 station until February 1, 1969, when WKYC switched to an easy listening/middle of the road (MOR) format. Specs Howard left WKYC shortly thereafter, with Jim Runyon returning to succeed him in morning drive.
Following rumors that NBC was interested in divesting some or all of their radio stations, NBC sold both WKYC and WKYC-FM to Ohio Communications, headed by sports franchiser Nick Mileti and investment firm C. F. Kettering, for approximately $5.5 million in a deal announced January 12, 1972. Broadcast executives Tom and Jim Embrescia joined the ownership group as vice-president/general manager and sales manager, respectively.
Full service and country yearsEdit
The AM radio station's call letters were changed to WWWE (purportedly for Embrescia or Entertainment) and adopted the 3WE brand; WKYC-FM became WWWM (purportedly for Mileti or Music); both changes took place on November 16, 1972. WWWE retained WKYC's easy listening/MOR format, but also added radio broadcasts for both the Cleveland Indians and Cleveland Cavaliers as Mileti owned both teams; WERE (1300 AM) had previously served as the flagship for both. Pete Franklin also joined the station from WERE and hosted Sportsline, a five-hour long weeknight sports call-in show that also followed Indians and Cavaliers games, quickly becoming a legend with his acerbic personality, boasting that the station's nighttime signal could be heard in "over 38 states and half of Canada."
Following Jim Runyon's sudden departure and death from cancer in April 1973, the morning drive shift was taken over by Larry Morrow, formerly of WIXY; Morrow would be joined by Joe Tait as morning sportscaster, Tait also served as the lead play-by-play voice for both the Indians and Cavaliers. In addition to Franklin, Morrow and Tait, the daytime lineup included at one time or another, Phil McLean, Al James, Jim Davis, Jack Reynolds, Tony Matthews, Jeff Elliot, Johnny Andrews, Lanny Wheeler, Lee Andrews, Ted Alexander and Bill King.
Both WWWE and WWWM slowly severed the last remaining ties to WKYC-TV and its prior NBC ownership throughout the 1970s. The transmitter for WWWE was moved back to their previous tower in Brecksville on September 5, 1974, that tower is still in use today by WWWE's successor WTAM, along with FM stations WAKS (co-owned with WTAM) and WZAK. In addition, the studios for both WWWE and WWWM were moved to Park Centre—known today as Reserve Square—that November 14. WWWE would then drop its NBC Radio affiliation altogether by 1977.
WWWE was sold to Combined Communications, Inc. in December 1976 for $7.5 million, consummated the following September; Ohio Communications retained WWWM. Combined Communications subsequently merged into Globe Broadcasting Corp., owner of WMGC (1260 AM) and WDOK; WMGC was spun off to comply with then-existing ownership rules. Gannett then merged into Combined Communications in June 1979 in a $370 million deal; at the time, it was one of the largest mergers and acquisitions in the broadcasting industry.
In December 1981, WWWE switched formats to country branded as Country 11, going in direct competition with WHK (1420 AM) and WKSW (99.5 FM). With the switch, the duo of Rick McGuire and Ron Marron were installed in morning drive, displacing Larry Morrow to afternoons; Morrow eventually left the station. Citing disappointing ratings and a waning audience in the market overall for country music, WWWE quietly switched back to an easy listening/MOR format in August 1983, again using the 3WE brand.
Change to talk radioEdit
Lake Erie Broadcasting (whose principals included then-Cleveland Browns majority owner Art Modell and minority owner Al Lerner) purchased both WWWE and WDOK in February 1985 for $9.5 million; as part of the deal, Lake Erie sold off their existing AM station, WJW (AM), to Booth American for $2.1 million. Upon the deal's consummation, on June 11, 1985, Lake Erie changed WWWE's format from adult contemporary to the news/talk format previously heard on WJW; changed branding to Radio 11 WWWE; and reassigned all on and off-air staff from WJW over to WWWE, while inheriting all existing sports play-by-play and Pete Franklin's Sportsline. Franklin himself left the station in May 1987 to become the afternoon drive host at WFAN (1050 AM) in New York City, later WFAN (660 AM); Bruce Drennan later took over as Sportsline host.
WWWE and WDOK were sold to the Independent Group Ltd.—owned by Tom Embrescia, Tom Wilson and Larry Pollock—on November 30, 1987, where WWWE once again took the 3WE brand. Shock jock Gary Dee was hired as afternoon drive host, only to be fired on August 18, 1989, after multiple indecency complaints filed against him and the station as part of an anti-indecency campaign by the FCC, WWWE later paid an $8,000 fine. In the wake of the investigation, Independent Group Ltd. and Booth American swapped AM licenses for an undisclosed amount; on June 25, 1990, Booth American took over WWWE, and Independent Group Ltd. took over WRMR (850 AM), with some on- and off-air personnel being reassigned between the two stations.
WWWE became affiliated with ABC Radio News, and its news department was taken to a 24-hour operation. Studios were moved to the Western Reserve Building on West Ninth Street overlooking the Flats. The station added both Paul Harvey (dropped from WGAR-FM) and The Rush Limbaugh Show (dropped from WERE) to its schedule, and former newsman Ed Coury was brought in from Washington, D.C. for afternoon drive, then was promoted to news director and host of the morning news program.
Following the 1991 season, WWWE ended its radio contract with the Cleveland Indians, with the flagship rights going to WKNR (1220 AM); WKNR had previously hired away Sportsline host Geoff Sindelar as a drive-time host earlier in 1991. WWWE hired Craig Carton as Sportsline host in April 1992, replacing Mike Snyder, who was promoted to sports director, a position he holds to this day; Carton left the station in May 1993. WWWE picked up Imus in the Morning for morning drive in September 1993 after Westwood One offered up the show for national syndication.
In April 1994, Booth American merged with Broadcast Alchemy to form Secret Communications in a $160 million deal. Gary Bruce was hired from WIOD/Miami as program director that May, and hired two hosts from WIOD in a lineup revamp: Chuck Meyer for mornings, replacing Imus in the Morning, and Jaz McKay for late mornings. The former WMMS morning team of Jeff Kinzbach and Ed "Flash" Ferenc were reunited in afternoon drive with Rock 'n Roll Talk Radio, while Mike Trivisonno took over as Sportsline host; Trivisonno was a regular caller to Pete Franklin's iteration of the show and was dubbed "Mr. Know It All" derisively by Franklin. Eventually, Rich Michaels joined WWWE in May 1995 in the late morning position, and Jaz McKay was moved to late evenings. The Bob & Tom Show was also added to the lineup in evenings via tape-delay in October 1995.
WWWE itself would make news on January 23, 1996, when its traffic plane hit a cellular phone tower and crashed in Highland Hills, killing both MetroTraffic reporter James Endsley (who was known on-air as Fred Wesley) and pilot James McVeigh.
In 1996, ownership decided to replace the WWWE call letters. The station was temporarily branded as "Newsradio AM 1100" during this time, and in searching for a new "AM"-related callsign, it found that the original WTAM call was available. On July 26, 1996, the station once again became WTAM, forty years after having dropped the call letters, and adopted the WTAM 1100 brand. The WWWE call sign was later assigned to a 5,000-watt daytime station in Atlanta (which coincidentally also broadcasts on 1100 kHz).
Jacor Communications purchased WTAM and WLTF from Secret Communications on April 25, 1997, then purchased WKNR (1220 AM) from Cablevision that August 19. WKNR's flagship status for the Cleveland Indians Radio Network was transferred to WTAM at the start of the 1998 season; WKNR was then traded to Capstar Broadcasting in exchange for WTAE/Pittsburgh as part of a Justice Department settlement after Jacor's purchase of Nationwide Communications (which also reunited WTAM with its former FM counterpart WMJI). In May 1999, iHeartMedia (then known as Clear Channel Communications) completed its $6.5 billion purchase of Jacor and its 454 stations, including WTAM.
As the Indians flagship station, and picking up some popular nationally syndicated talk shows, such as Dr. Laura Schlessinger (who replaced Rich Michaels) and Coast to Coast AM, WTAM began to build – and sustain – an audience. Unlikely success was found with Mike Trivisonno in 1996 after he was moved into the afternoon-drive shift and eventually became a lead-in to the Indians and Cavaliers broadcasts.
In 1998, Bill Wills was brought in from sister station WLW in Cincinnati and was paired with long-time Cleveland radio veterans John Webster and Casey Coleman to host Wills, Webster and Coleman in the Morning – a morning drive news show patterned after Wills' show on WLW. (Webster retired in 2001, and the morning show's title was shortened to Wills and Coleman.)
Glenn Beck replaced Dr. Laura Schlessinger in late mornings following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Then, Beck was replaced in March 2005 with Jerry Springer's mid-morning show. In March 2006, WTAM replaced Springer with a local program hosted by Bob Frantz, coming over from Clear Channel sister station WSPD in Toledo. Beck's show was then brought back on November 3, 2008, bumping Frantz to evenings (Frantz has since left the station).
Studios for all of Clear Channel's Cleveland stations, including WTAM, were consolidated into a new facility in Independence, Ohio by July 2002. WTAM canceled its fifteen-year affiliation with ABC Radio in August 2005, picking up Fox News Radio in a nationwide deal that involved other Clear Channel talk stations, but continued to run ABC Radio's Paul Harvey until August 12, 2006.
On November 27, 2006, Casey Coleman, who was co-host of the popular Wills and Coleman morning show, and sideline reporter on the station's coverage of the Cleveland Browns, died following a fifteen-month bout with pancreatic cancer at the age of 55. Sports director Mike Snyder was brought into the morning slot to succeed Casey, and the program was renamed Wills and Snyder.
The station was one of 10 stations awarded the 2007 Crystal Radio Award for public service awarded by the National Association of Broadcasters. Winners were honored at the Radio Luncheon on April 17, 2007, during the NAB Show in Las Vegas, Nevada.
On September 22, 2018, WTAM announced that reporter, author, attorney and talk show host Geraldo Rivera would join the station for a daily one-hour show, Geraldo in Cleveland, in addition to a weekly podcast on the parent iHeartRadio app, effective September 24.
As of September 6, 2018, WTAM simulcasts over low-power Cleveland FM translator W295DE (106.9 FM).
|Callsign||Frequency||City of license||Facility ID||ERP||HAAT||Class||Transmitter coordinates|
|W295DE||106.9 MHz||Cleveland||147802||195 watts||0 meters||D|
WTAM personalities Bill Wills and Mike Snyder host the weekday morning show, followed by a local program hosted by Geraldo Rivera. Conservative talk shows The Glenn Beck Program and The Rush Limbaugh Show each air middays, both syndicated via Premiere Networks. WTAM personalities Mike Trivisonno and Dennis Manoloff host the weekday afternoon and evening programs respectively. Paranormal/conspiracy theory oriented programs Ground Zero with Clyde Lewis, and Coast to Coast AM with George Noory air late evenings through the overnight hours, both syndicated via Premiere. WTAM also airs national news updates from ABC News Radio and Fox News Radio, and local news and weather updates from WKYC Channel 3 (Cleveland's NBC affiliate and former WTAM sister station).
WTAM airs several weekend talk programs, including the DIY/home improvement show hosted Gary Sullivan, the financial/investment show hosted by Ric Edelman, the conservative talk show hosted by Bill Cunningham, and weekend editions of Coast to Coast AM - all syndicated by Premiere Networks. The station satisfies public affairs programming on Sunday mornings with the City Club of Cleveland's Friday Forum.
WTAM also airs local pregame and postgame shows on Cleveland Browns game days, and carries Fox Sports Radio programming on weekends (alongside sister station and main Cleveland Fox Sports Radio affiliate WARF).
WTAM has served as the AM flagship station for the Cleveland Cavaliers Radio Network since 2014, sharing network flagship status with FM sister station WMMS. WTAM previously served as the sole network flagship from 1973 to 1981; from 1984 to 1991; and from 1998 to 2014. On-site, play-by-play announcer Tim Alcorn calls games alongside color analyst Jim Chones, a former Cavaliers center. In studio, WTAM sports director Mike Snyder hosts The Tip-Off Show, The Halftime Report, and The Nightcap Recap – the network pregame, halftime, and postgame shows, respectively. WTAM airs all additional network programming, including: Cavs HQ, a weekly year-round show simulcast on Fox Sports Ohio; and Cavaliers Update, a daily drive time segment. WTAM also airs supplementary local programming, including: Cavs Now, a station pregame show which precedes the network pregame show. Play-by-play itself is limited to the over-the-air AM broadcast (& FM translator simulcast); due to league restrictions, the WTAM webcast on iHeartRadio does not stream play-by-play coverage online.
WTAM has also served as the AM flagship station for the Cleveland Indians Radio Network since 2013, again sharing network flagship status with FM sister station WMMS. WTAM previously served as the sole network flagship from 1973 to 1991; and again from 1998 to 2013. Play-by-play announcers Tom Hamilton and Jim Rosenhaus call games on-site. Rosenhaus hosts Indians Warm-Up, the network pregame show; and Hamilton hosts Indians Wrap-Up, the network postgame show. WTAM airs all additional network programming, including: Tribe Talk, a weekly year-round show; Indians Update, a daily drive time segment; and Hot Stove Weekly, an off-season show. WTAM also airs supplementary local programming, including: Tribe Insider, a station pregame show which precedes the network pregame show; and Extra Innings, a station postgame call-in show which follows the network postgame show. As with all Major League Baseball clubs, WTAM only carries the games over-the-air, with access to the radio broadcast over streaming only available through Major League Baseball's mobile apps, TuneIn Premium, and MLB.tv. 
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'The MLB doesn't allow you to stream your local radio broadcast.' ... The MLB retains streaming rights for their own premium MLB At Bat service.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to WTAM.|
- Official website
- WTAM in the FCC's AM station database
- WTAM on Radio-Locator
- WTAM in Nielsen Audio's AM station database
- FM translator