For the unrelated Spanish-language television station in Tampa, Florida, see WTAM-LP.

Broadcast areaGreater Cleveland
BrandingNewsradio WTAM 1100,
The Big One
SloganCleveland's Only Newsradio
First air dateSeptember 26, 1923
Frequency1100 (kHz) (Also on HD Radio)
Power50,000 watts
Callsign meaning(1923) Where The Artisans Meet
(1996) reflection of the AM dial[1]
Former callsignsWWWE (1972-1996)
WKYC (1965-1972)
KYW (1956-1965)
WTAM (1923-1956)
AffiliationsFox News Radio
Premiere Radio Networks
OwnerClear Channel
Sister stationsWAKS, WGAR, WMJI, WMMS, WMVX
WebcastListen Live
WTAM is an AM radio station in Cleveland, Ohio broadcasting on 1100 kHz with 50,000 watts. Its transmitter is located at the top of Snowville Road in Brecksville, Ohio. It is a class A clear channel station (formerly Class I-A), sharing the frequency with KFAX (formerly KJBS) in San Francisco. It can be heard in most of the eastern two-thirds of the United States at night, as well as most of Canada. The station is owned by Clear Channel Communications and uses the on-air nickname "The Big One" (borrowed from sister station WLW and also used by WWVA).

WTAM has a news/talk format, carrying syndicated talk shows hosted by Rush Limbaugh and George Noory (Coast to Coast AM), and local hosts Bill Wills, Bob Frantz, Mike Trivisonno, Kevin Keane and Bob Becker. It is also an affiliate of Fox News Radio, carrying network updates at the top of the hour.

WTAM currently is the flagship station for the Cleveland Indians, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and—along with Clear Channel sister station WMMS—the Cleveland Browns.


Early years

WTAM began broadcast operations on September 26, 1923.[2] 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.[3] It was originally owned by S.E. Lawrence and Theodore Willard, in the name of the Willard Storage Battery Company.[4] 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.[2] By June 30, 1924, WTAM was broadcasting with 1000 watts and sharing the 770 kHz frequency with WJAX.[5]

WJAX had signed on earlier in 1922, owned by the Union Trust Co. In 1924 it was known as the "Wave from Lake Erie." Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. purchased WJAX in 1925 and changed to the callsign to WEAR. Finally, Willard Battery purchased WEAR to have control of shared frequency allocation.[6]

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 on June 10-12, 1924.[2][4] The station's power increased to 2500 watts in 1925 and to 3500 watts in 1926, as the studios moved to the Union Trust Building (now the Huntington Building). By June 30, 1927, WTAM and WEAR broadcast on 750 kHz with WTAM broadcasting with 3500 watts.[7] The January 31, 1928 Radio Service Bulletin of the Commerce Department listed WTAM broadcasting with 3500 watts at night and 5000 watts during the day.[8]

Becoming a clear channel giant

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."[9]

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.[10] In 1929 the station built two broadcast towers in Brecksville, Ohio, each 200 feet high.[2]

WTAM: The NBC years

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.[2] The station became a major link in the NBC Red Network, contributing some programming to the network. In 1933 Gene Carroll and Glenn Rowling brought their vaudeville humor to radio with the Gene and Glenn show. They became famous for their characters "Jake & Lena," and their program aired nationally six days a week for several years in the 1930s with WTAM originating the program for nationwide broadcast on the NBC Red Network.

NBC began to make substantial investments to station facilities in the 1930s. In 1937 a new tower was built in Brecksville which was 480 feet tall. That tower is still in use today by WTAM and FM stations WAKS and WZAK.[11] In 1937 or 1938, the station moved to 815 Superior Avenue, and the building was renamed the NBC building. (The building is known today as the Superior Building.) 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 p.m. 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.[12]  

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.[2]

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, sister station WTAM-FM was on the air at 105.7 MHz simulcasting the AM programming.

The broadcast tower for WTAM AM-FM and WNBK was moved to Parma, Ohio in the early 1950s. The AM radio outlet continued to use the Parma tower until 1974 when transmissions were moved back to the original broadcast tower in Brecksville.

KYW: The Westinghouse years

In 1956 NBC persuaded Westinghouse to trade its NBC-affiliated Philadelphia cluster of KYW-AM-FM and WPTZ-TV for NBC's Cleveland cluster. NBC had long wanted to own a station in Philadelphia, the nation's third-largest market at the time. After years of being rebuffed in its bids for WPTZ and KYW, NBC finally threatened to yank its television programming from WPTZ and Westinghouse's other NBC affiliate, WBZ-TV in Boston, unless Westinghouse consented to the trade.

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-AM-FM-TV. The Philadelphia stations became WRCV-AM-TV. The WTAM callsign was later picked up by WGLS in Atlanta, Georgia.

In the early 1960s under Westinghouse ownership KYW, known on-air as "KY11," became a Top 40 powerhouse with DJs Jim Runyon (the "weeeellll" voice of the Chickenman series), Jim Stagg, Jay Lawrence, Jerry G., and the morning duo of Harry Martin and Specs Howard. Its main Top 40 rival in the Cleveland market was "Color Channel 14" WHK 1420.

WKYC years

Enlarge picture
WKYC logo (1965)
Almost immediately after the trade was finalized, Westinghouse complained to the FCC and the Justice Department about NBC's extortion. In 1965, 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. Not wanting to tamper with success, NBC changed the Cleveland stations' calls were changed to WKYC-AM-FM-TV. The "KY" came from KYW, and the "C" stood for Cleveland.

To their end, KYW AM has explained [13] that KYW "moved" to Cleveland in 1956 and "returned" to Philadelphia in 1965. However, the three stations' facilities remained the same.
Further information: NBCKYW (AM)KYW-TV, WKYC

Enlarge picture
WKYC logo (1968)
WKYC continued as a Top 40 outlet under NBC ownership with DJs such as Big Jack (Jack Armstrong—real name John Larsch), Chuck Dann, Bill Winters, Jim LaBarbara, Fred Winston, Lee Baby Sims, and Chuck Dunaway. WKYC "Radio 11" was a large record-selling influence as far away as New York City and Miami, Florida.

Its main competition in later years was WIXY 1260 "Super Radio". Unlike WIXY, however, WKYC - being an NBC owned-and-operated station in a situation not unlike WRC in Washington - was obligated to carry all NBC Radio programming such as 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.

On February 1, 1968, at 3:05 p.m., following an NBC Radio newscast[1], the station altered its' format to a "more music"–style presentation derivative of the Drake-Chenuault Top 40 format known as "Power Radio," programmed by Hal Moore. Personalities at that time included Charlie & Harrigan (Jack Woods and Paul Menard), Chuck Dunaway, Fred Winston, Buddy Henderson and Mark Elliott.

It remained a Top 40 station until early 1969, when WKYC went for a short time, to "Heavy 11" which focused on acid rock artists Iron Butterfly, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Janis Joplin, and the like - an oddity for a powerful AM station. In short while, WKYC eventually went back to a more adult-friendly MOR format. The FM station at 105.7-FM varied between automated easy-listening formats of the time.

By 1972 NBC exited the radio dial in Cleveland again - and permanently - by selling WKYC-AM-FM to Ohio Communications, owned by sports franchisor Nick Mileti and broadcasters Jim and Tom Embrescia.[4] NBC ended up retaining ownership of WKYC-TV until 1989.

WWWE years

The AM radio station's call letters were changed to WWWE (for Embrescia, though Mileti was 1100's majority owner) and WKYC-FM became WWWM (for Mileti, though Embrescia was 105.7's majority owner), both on September 26, 1972. The FM station took the "M105" on-air persona, while the AM station adopted the "3WE" brand. Mileti also owned both the Cleveland Indians and Cleveland Cavaliers; the radio broadcasts for both teams were moved from WERE to WWWE.

Enlarge picture
WWWE QSL Card with "3WE" logo (1980)
Pete Franklin also moved from WERE and took over an evening sports call-in show called Sportsline. The program aired from 7 p.m. to 12 midnight every weeknight, and followed the Indians and Cavaliers games. Franklin became a legend, bragging that his station’s nighttime signal could be heard "over 38 states and half of Canada" (a claim still stated on-air by hosts on WTAM to this day), and he soon developed a listenership throughout the country. Franklin stayed with the station until 1987 when he left for WFAN in New York.

In addition to Franklin, the daytime lineup included at one time or another, Jim Runyon, Larry Morrow, Phil McLean, Jim Davis, Jack Reynolds, Tony Matthews, Jeff Elliot, Johnny Andrews, Ted Alexander and Bill King. During the 1970s and 1980s, formats included AC, oldies, country, and MOR. Ownership of "3WE" also changed hands numerous times, having a succession of owners. In 1977 the station was sold to the Pacific & Southern Co. (where it again dropped its NBC network affiliation) and the Gannett Co. (ironically, the current owners of WKYC-TV).

The station had a new generation of listeners who only knew it as "3WE," while the historic WTAM callsign ended up being used by the 102.3 facility in Gulfport, Mississippi. WWWM passed over into separate ownership in 1975, and was paired with WBBG in the late 1970s. "M105" changed to "Majic 105.7" as WMJI with a soft AC format in 1982.

Enlarge picture
"Radio 11" bumper sticker (1985)
Lake Erie Broadcasting (owned by Art Modell and Al Lerner) purchased the station in 1985. The station became "Radio 11 WWWE" with a news/talk format, adopting a popular news/talk format from the former WJW-AM, which Lake Erie had sold to buy WWWE (and became WRMR in the process)[14]. Talent on the "new" WWWE included news director John O'Day, and news staffers Ed Coury, Lisa Meyer, Bruce Kamp, Jim Bellis, and talk hosts Merle Pollis, Joel Rose, John McCullough, among others.

WWWE was sold to the Independent Group Ltd. (owned by Tom Embrescia, Tom Wilson and Larry Pollock) on November 30, 1987[15], where it once again became "3WE"—the home to popular local "shock jock" Gary Dee in afternoon drive. However, the station continued to go through numerous talent turnover regardless. At one point or another, Fig Newton, "Dancin' Danny Wright", Beth Fisher, Bob Henderson, Lee Kirk, and Bruce Drennan would all appear on WWWE during this time.

In 1990 WWWE was purchased by Booth American Co., based out of Detroit, Michigan. WWWE became affiliated with ABC Radio, 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. Ed Coury, former newsman, was brought in from Washington, D.C. to host the morning news program, and later, to be the station's News Director. WWWE added both Paul Harvey (dropped from WGAR) and Rush Limbaugh (dropped from WERE) to its schedule, but ended its radio contract with the Cleveland Indians following the 1991 season.

In April 1994, Booth merged with Broadcast Alchemy to form Secret Communications LP, which owned the station through the remainder of its tenure as WWWE. It was at this time Gary Bruce was hired away from WIOD in Miami as program director, and soon began making sweeping changes to the lineup.

Two new hosts were brought in from WIOD; first Chuck Meyer for morning drive[16], followed by "shock-jock" Jaz McKay from 9 a.m. to noon.[17] The former WMMS morning team of "Jeff 'n Flash" (Jeff Kinzbach and Ed "Flash" Ferenc) were reunited in afternoon-drive with "Rock 'n Roll Talk Radio," and former "Sportline" caller Mike Trivisonno—dubbed "Mr. Know It All" derisively by Pete Franklin—took over as host of "Sportsline" in the 6 p.m.–11 p.m. slot.

Eventually Rich Michaels joined WWWE in May 1995 in the midday position, and Jaz McKay moved to the 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. slot. (Today Jaz McKay is doing the afternoon shift at KNZR 1560 in Bakersfield, California.) Unfortunately, WWWE itself would make news on January 23, 1996, when its traffic plane hit a cellular phone tower and crashed in Highland Hills. Traffic reporter James Endsley (who was known on-air as Fred Wesley) and pilot James McVeigh were killed.[18]

Back to WTAM

Enlarge picture
Current logo, used since 1996
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.[1] On July 26, 1996,[19] the station once again became WTAM, forty years after having dropped the call letters. The WWWE call sign was later assigned to a 5000 watt daytime station in Atlanta, which, coincidentally, also broadcasts on 1100 kHz.

On April 25, 1997, Jacor Communications announced the purchase of WTAM along with WLTF from Secret Communications LP.[20] Then on August 19, Jacor also announced the purchase of WKNR from Cablevision Systems Corp.[21] WKNR had the rights to Cleveland Indians baseball, which Jacor moved to WTAM beginning with the 1998 season. Jacor then was forced to swap WKNR with Capstar Broadcasting’s WTAE in Pittsburgh that August as part of the Justice Department settlement when Jacor purchased Nationwide Communications.[22] WTAE was then quickly spun off to ABC Radio. In May 1999, Clear Channel Communications completed its $6.5 billion purchase of Jacor and its 454 stations, including WTAM.[23]

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.

Bill Wills was brought in from sister station WLW in Cincinnati and was paired with long-time newscaster John Webster and local sportscaster Casey Coleman to host "Wills, Webster and Coleman in the Morning" - a morning drive news show patterned after Wills' show on WLW. (John Webster retired in 2001, and the morning shows' title was shortened to "Wills and Coleman.")

Glenn Beck replaced Dr. Laura Schlessinger following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Then, Glenn Beck was replaced in March 2005 with Jerry Springer's mid-morning show. On March 2006, replaced Jerry Springer with a local program hosted by Cleveland native (and former WTAM sportscaster) Bob Frantz, who was mostly recently heard on Clear Channel sister station WSPD in Toledo.

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, sportscaster 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.[24] Sports director Mike Snyder was brought into the morning slot to succeed Casey, and the program was renamed "Wills and Snyder."



Start Finish Program
  5 a.m.  9 a.m.Wills and Snyder in the Morning
  9 a.m.12 p.m.The Bob Frantz Show
12 p.m.  3 p.m.The Rush Limbaugh Show
  3 p.m.  7 p.m.The Mike Trivisonno Show
  7 p.m.11 p.m.Sportsline with Kevin Keane
11 p.m.  5 a.m.Coast to Coast AM with George Noory ²


*Cleveland Indians baseball
*Cleveland Browns football (shared with sister station WMMS)
*Cleveland Cavaliers basketball


1. ^ Brown, Roger. "WWWE to change call letters to WTAM", The Plain Dealer, July 19, 1996. Retrieved on 2007-01-01.1996"> 
2. ^ WTAM History, Cleveland Broadcast Radio Archives Project. Retrieved on 2007-01-01.
3. ^ White, Thomas H. (January 1, 2006). "Dawn of the Four Letter Calls", from Mystique of the Three-Letter Callsigns. Retrieved on 2007-01-01. Call signs were assigned in order WAAB, WAAC, WAAD... WBAB, WBAC... etc. Some other stations assigned call signs during this period were WAAF (now WNTD) Chicago, WBAA West Lafayette, Ind., WBAP Fort Worth, WBAX Wilkes-Barre, WCAT (now KWSN) Rapid City, WCAO Baltimore, WCAU (now WPHT) Philadelphia, WDAE (now WHNZ) Tampa, WDAF (now KCSP) Kansas City, WDAY Fargo, WEAF (now WFAN) New York City, WEAN (now WSKO) Providence, WFAA (now KLIF) Dallas, WHAS Louisville, WJAG Norfolk, Neb., WKAR East Lansing, Michigan, WLAC Nashville, WMAL Washington, WMAQ (now WSCR) Chicago, WNAC (now WMKI) Boston, WNAX, Yankton, S.D., WOAI San Antonio, WQAM Miami, and WTAW College Station, Texas.
4. ^ Van Tassel, David D., ed.; John J. Grabowski, ed. (1996). The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History, 2nd ed., Bloomington: Indiana University Press, pp. 1060–61. ISBN 0-253-33056-4. Retrieved on 2007-01-01. 
5. ^ U.S. Radio Stations as of June 30, 1924, from U.S. Department of Commerce publication. Retrieved on 2007-01-01.
6. ^ WJAX History, Cleveland Broadcast Radio Archives Project. Retrieved on 2007-01-01.
7. ^ U.S. Radio Stations as of June 30, 1927, from U.S. Department of Commerce publication. Retrieved on 2007-01-01.
8. ^ U.S. Department of Commerce (January 31, 1928). Radio Service Bulletin No. 130, p. 25. Retrieved on 2007-01-01.
9. ^ Cormack, George, ed. (1999). Memories of a Lifetime–Volume 1. Berea, Ohio: Instant Concepts, Inc., p. F51. ISBN 1-882171-19-5. 
10. ^ Durenberger, Mark (2000). Behind the Clear-Channel Matter Retrieved 2007-01-01.
11. ^ Fybush, Scott (February 12, 2004). Cleveland's Parma/Brecksville/Seven Hills Tower Farm, Tower Site of the Week. Retrieved on 2007-01-01.
12. ^ Heritage Radio Catalog, p. 5, No. 215. Jerry Haendiges Vintage Radio Logs (2003-08-10).
13. ^ KYW Newsradio Station History, which details the evolution of the station from Chicago, to Philadelphia, to Cleveland and back to Philadelphia.
14. ^ Dyer, Bob. "Dial's on Radio Changes", Akron Beacon Journal, June 12, 1985, pp. C7. Retrieved on 2007-04-29.1985"> 
15. ^ Dyer, Bob. "Modell Reaps Tidy Profit on Radio Stations", Akron Beacon Journal, August 5, 1987, pp. C8. Retrieved on 2007-03-19.1987"> 
16. ^ Rauzi, Robin. "Imus Show Out, Meyer Show in at WWWE", The Plain Dealer, August 23, 1994. Retrieved on 2007-01-04.1994"> 
17. ^ Santiago, Roberto. "WWWE deejay, He's a Shocker", The Plain Dealer, September 13, 1994. Retrieved on 2007-01-04.1994"> 
18. ^ WWWE History from Cleveland Broadcast Radio Archives. Retrieved on 2007-01-01.
19. ^ Call Sign History for WTAM, from FCC's AM station database. Retrieved 2007-01-01.
20. ^ "Jacor buys four more", Cincinnati Business Courier, April 25, 1997. Retrieved on 2007-01-01.1997"> 
21. ^ Jacor Communications, Inc. (August 19, 1997). Jacor: Acquires Sports Leader WKNR, Cleveland. Press release. Retrieved on 2007-01-01.
22. ^ U.S. Department of Justice (August 10, 1998). Justice Department Requires Jacor to Sell Eight Radio Stations as Part of Nationwide Communications Inc. Acquisition. Press release. Retrieved on 2007-01-01.
23. ^ "How Clear Channel became the biggest", The Cincinnati Enquirer, March 19, 2000. Retrieved on 2007-01-01.2000"> 
24. ^ "Longtime Cleveland broadcaster Casey Coleman dies at 55", Associated Press Sports, 2006-11-27. Retrieved on 2006-11-28. 

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City of license Cadillac, Michigan
Broadcast area [1]
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Frequency 1240 kHz
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Wholly owned subsidiary of Clear Channel Communications
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