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WENZ (107.9 FM) – branded Z 107.9 – is a commercial mainstream urban radio station licensed to Cleveland, Ohio, serving Greater Cleveland and much of surrounding Northeast Ohio. Owned by Radio One since 1999, its studios are located along the Euclid Avenue Corridor in Cleveland's eastside, while the station transmitter resides in Russell Township in Geauga County. Besides a standard analog transmission, WENZ broadcasts over two HD Radio channels, and is available online.[1]

WENZ
WENZ logo.png
CityCleveland, Ohio
Broadcast areaGreater Cleveland
Northeast Ohio
BrandingZ 107.9
SloganCleveland's Blazin' Hip Hop and R&B
Frequency107.9 MHz (also on HD Radio)
First air dateApril 5, 1958
FormatMainstream urban
HD2: News/talk (WERE simulcast)
ERP16,000 watts (horizontal)
15,000 watts (vertical)
HAAT272 meters
ClassB
Facility ID2685
Transmitter coordinates41°27′54.00″N 81°17′13.00″W / 41.4650000°N 81.2869444°W / 41.4650000; -81.2869444
Callsign meaningThe ENd
Former callsignsWNOB (1958–70)
WELW-FM (1970–75)
WDMT (1975–87)
WPHR (1987–92)
OwnerUrban One
Sister stationsWERE, WJMO, WZAK
WebcastListen Live
Websitezhiphopcleveland.com

HistoryEdit

Early yearsEdit

The station debuted on April 5, 1958 as WNOB (Northern Ohio Broadcasting), was started by several people from WNEW in New York. When the companion AM license was not granted, the station found itself in a precarious position, because standalone FM stations in the 1950s did not make money.

In 1961, the station filed for bankruptcy. A machine operator, Phillip Kerwin, purchased WNOB for $16,000. In 1963, WNOB became one of the first FM stations in the US to broadcast in stereo. In 1968 the signal was upgraded; the station purchased a new transmitter and antenna system. Two years later, in 1970, Multicom Inc. (owner of WELW AM 1330 in Willoughby, Ohio) purchased the station for $330,000. The call letters were then changed to WELW-FM. WELW played a top 40 Drake type format for almost two years, then switched to country music.

Disco 108/WDMTEdit

In 1975, Beasley Broadcast Group purchased the station from Multicom for $550,000, and changed the call letters to WDMT (short for "We're DynoMite!", "Dynomite!" being a well known catchphrase by comic and actor Jimmie "Kid Dynomite" Walker on the popular sitcom Good Times). In 1976, the station switched to the then popular disco format and took the moniker "Disco 108 WDMT". This is where the urban influence started, and in 1978 the station switched to an CHR/Urban Contemporary (also known as "CHUrban", which would be the forerunner to what is now known as the rhythmic contemporary" format) as FM 108 WDMT, Your Power Station. WDMT was Cleveland's first ever CHUrban radio station of all time. It is during this WDMT era was the popular show entitled FM 108 WDMT's Club Style the station was initiated as street jocks from Cleveland got the chance to mix live on the air. Caroline Ford, Freddie James, Brenda & Michael Love, Matthew Morgan, Lady Skill, Hot Rod See, with Dean Rufus, and the Ghoul were popular WDMT jocks during this period. In 1985, the entire WDMT air staff appeared with Arsenio Hall on the first 'Urban Music Awards' show.

The station's early disco and 80s CHUrban format can now be heard online at www.fm108wdmt.com which is a tribute to the station's heritage from 1975 to 1986. Many of the former disc jockeys have cut liners for the online station.

Power 108 FMEdit

 
Power 108 logo

On April 9, 1987, the call letters were changed to WPHR, and the station rebranded itself as Power 108 FM with a shift to a CHR/Top 40 format. [2] In 1988, the station was sold to Ardman Broadcasting for $2.8 million. Personalities during this period included Program Director and DJ Steven "Big Steve" Kelly, Calvin Hicks, Jimmy Bosh, Maria Farina, Elizabeth "Liz" Luke, WLS/WLS-FM's John Records Landecker, Gina St. John, Cat Thomas, Steven "Little Stevie Z" Szabo, Ricky Michaels, Cathy Cruise, Scott James, Mark Allen, Edward "Downtown Eddie" Brown, with James "Jammin' Jimmy" Hart, and KMEL/WQHT alum Sonny Joe Fox, among others. WPHR moved its studios to Playhouse Square in late 1988.

107.9 The EndEdit

 
107.9 The End logo

On May 12, 1992, the station changed its callsign to WENZ and flipped its format to alternative rock, branding itself as 107.9 The End.[3] Both the branding and callsign reflected the station's position on the FM dial. In March 1996, Ardman would sell the station to Clear Channel Communications. Both the inception and the demise of The End were stunted: with both format changes, the station broadcast a 24-hour loop of R.E.M.'s song "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)". There was a documentary film made about The End, entitled The End of the World As We Knew It, released in 2009. It featured many of the former staffers and jocks.[4]

Z 107.9Edit

On January 15, 1999, WENZ was purchased by Radio One, a company that owns and operates radio stations, most of which target African American communities. On May 14, 1999, the station relaunched as Kiss 107.9, with a Mainstream Urban format featuring hip-hop and R&B.[5] However, legal action from Clear Channel Communications – which claimed exclusive rights to the "Kiss" brand in the state of Ohio through CHR station WAKS (104.9 FM) – forced Radio One to drop the "Kiss" brand at WENZ. On September 1, 1999, WENZ branded itself Z 107.9.[6][7]

Current programmingEdit

WENZ is the Cleveland affiliate of the nationally syndicated The Rickey Smiley Morning Show (via Syndication One).[8] The rest of the day features local DJs - including "DJ Angel Baby" middays, Rochelle "Ro Digga" Frazier afternoons, and "INCOGNITO" evenings.[9][10]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ http://hdradio.com/station_guides/widget.php?id=70 Archived 2015-09-27 at the Wayback Machine Cleveland HD Radio Guide
  2. ^ http://www.americanradiohistory.com/Archive-RandR/1980s/1987/RR-1987-04-10.pdf
  3. ^ http://www.americanradiohistory.com/Archive-RandR/1990s/1992/RR-1992-05-15.pdf
  4. ^ https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1384803/
  5. ^ http://www.americanradiohistory.com/Archive-RandR/1990s/1999/RR-1999-05-21.pdf
  6. ^ Feran, Tom (May 26, 1999). "One station may have to kiss name goodbye". The Plain Dealer. The Plain Dealer Publishing Co. p. 1E - Entertainment.
  7. ^ Feran, Tom (September 25, 1999). "Swoboda backs to news as anchor on TV-5 at 11". The Plain Dealer. The Plain Dealer Publishing Co. p. 6E - Entertainment.
  8. ^ "Affiliates". The Rickey Smiley Morning Show. 2012-02-08. Retrieved 2013-04-10.
  9. ^ "Show Schedules | Z 107.9". Zhiphopcleveland.com. Retrieved 2013-04-10.
  10. ^ "Rickey Smiley Morning Show debuts in Cleveland". Radio-Info.com. June 7, 2010. Archived from the original on March 7, 2012. Retrieved May 27, 2011.

External linksEdit