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WYTS (1230 AM) is a radio station in Columbus, Ohio owned by Clear Channel Communications. They carry a mostly conservative talk format, along with being Columbus' affiliate for The Jim Rome Show. WYTS is also the Columbus radio home of the Cincinnati Reds baseball team, and the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team.

WYTS is the sixth-oldest continuiously running radio station in the state of Ohio, and is best known for its' Top 40 format in the 1960s and 1970's under the heritage WCOL calls. In the time period between 1998 and today, the station has undergone five different format changes with as many different callsigns.


Early Years

What is today WYTS began in 1922 as WMAN, an offshoot of the Broad Street Baptist Church in downtown Columbus. As such, the station's studios and transmitter were located within the church, and broadcast hours only were a few hours each Sunday as audio simulcasts of church services. Church member W. E. Heskett became the license holder of WMAN in conjunction with the church on December 1924, buying the station outright by 1927. Hours of operation expanded gradually beyond Sunday services, and WMAN's studios were relocated to the Seneca Hotel.

Heskett soon leased airtime on WMAN over to the Columbus Broadcasting Corporation by late 1929, with a buyout following months later. Intending to shake it's previous religiously-rooted image, the stations' callsign was modified to WSEN, a reflection of the Seneca Hotel. By 1932, the station operated on a daily basis from 8:00 a.m. until 12:00 midnight.

It became WCOL upon its' sale to the The Columbus Dispatch Publishing Company, headed by Edgar and Robert F. Wolfe, whose family also owned (and still does) WBNS (AM) and WBNS-FM Radio. Naturally, WCOL and WBNS shared studios and offices, with WCOL eventually affiliating with both the NBC Red and Blue networks by 1937 (retaining the Blue affiliation in 1943). The 1941 NARBA agreement moved WCOL over to the 1230 kHz dial position, where it has remained ever since.

When FCC guidelines dictated that no single owner could own two AM stations in the same market, WCOL was spun off by the Wolfe family to a partnership headed by several members of The Pixleys Incorporated, headed by family members Lloyd Pixley, Martha Pixley and Grace Pixley. Lloyd was the son of former WBAV operator Milton Pixley (today known as WTVN), and became president of WCOL with the sale. The station soon received both a new transmitter, and an FM sister station at 92.3 MHz, which also took the WCOL calls.

The Pixleys would sell off WCOL AM/FM to Air Trails, Inc. on January 1952. Air Trails, and its successor Great Trails Broadcasting would be the primary owners of WCOL for over 52 years. Operating power for the station was increased to 1,000 watts during the daytime by July 1960, along with broadcasting 24-hours a day. WCOL, by then an independent station, then changed its format over to Top-40 that July 1, dubbing itself "The New WCOL."

WCOL was best known to Columbus area residents throughout the 1960s during this era, and was the primary Top-40 format station in the Columbus market. It held this distinction from 1960 to the early 1970s, until the rise in popularity of FM broadcasting and competition from WNCI. WCOL, in its Top-40 heyday was heralded as the station which "premiered" the hits. The WCOL calls were also used in tribute as the backdrop for the 1996 Tom Hanks movie "That Thing You Do."

Air Trails was renamed Great Trails Broadcasting in 1969 after a corporate reorganization, but still retaining much of the management and personnel. Great Trails also would own regional stations WING in Dayton, WIZE in Springfield, and WGTZ in Eaton during this time. WCOL-FM would also see changes, splitting away from the AM station to highlight a progressive rock format before becoming "92X" WXGT (for "X-Great Trails") where the top 40 format was moved to. As the 1970s faded, the station changed format to a more adult-comtemporary focus. WCOL was still successful in this format until a series of management and airstaff changeovers followed in the early 80's including a brief switch to middle of the road-styled adult standards and the brief return of Columbus broadcast legend Spook Beckman. The station began broadcasting at 1,000 watts 24-hours a day, along with a format change to news/talk. After that format failed to show in the ratings, WCOL flipped back to "Top-40 Oldies" with the WXGT calls dropped reverting back to WCOL-FM.

By 1991, WCOL-AM was simulcasting WCOL-FM's oldies programming, with the AM station soon breaking off to play 1950s oldies. In short order, WCOL went back to a news/talk format, only this time assuming a mostly-syndicated lineup.

Later Years

The station and WCOL-FM were sold off to Nationwide Communications in 1994, the parent company of WNCI. WCOL became WFII on March 24, 1997, airing a syndicated conservative talk radio format as "1230 FYI," though this time it was oriented at younger listeners. WTVN owner Jacor Communications acquired WFII, WCOL and WNCI in August 1998, and ultimately merged with Clear Channel Communications that next year.

WFII was not a ratings success, and in 2001 the station became WZNW, airing a sports talk format as "1230 The Zone". However, WZNW was never able to compete effectively against the other full-time sports station in Columbus, WBNS, which held the rights to the Ohio State Buckeyes.

WCOL returned to 1230 in 2003, playing pre-British Invasion pop/rock as "Real Oldies 1230". WCOL traded in on its heritage as a Top 40 station, and the "Real Oldies" format played much of the same music. They even used some of their vintage PAMS and TM jingles from that era. Despite some positive "buzz" from long-time radio listeners, many of whom remembered WCOL from its Top 40 heyday, the format failed to capture a significant audience in the market. The station, mostly automated using voice-tracking, lacked the live personalities which made the original WCOL great.

At noon on September 7, 2004, WCOL became WTPG, as "Progressive Talk AM 1230." WTPG carried programming mostly from the Air America Radio network, as well as syndicated hosts Ed Schulz, Springer on the Radio (via a 21-hour delay in morning drive) and Stephanie Miller. WTPG saw mild ratings improvements, although (as was the case with WFII, WZNW and WCOL) ranked well behind counter-programmed sister station WTVN.

On December 23, 2006, the Columbus Dispatch reported that WTPG would change again that January 8 over to a conservative-based talk format, under the WYTS calls. Bruce Collins, the local program director for WTVN and WYTS, said: "Whether it's politics or sports, financial information or general advice, central Ohio listeners will have the opportunity to talk about it on 'Talk 1230.'"

That December 27, a small group of people formed Ohio Majority Radio, intended to save the progressive radio format. As of January 12, 2007, the petition initiative has attracted over 2,651 signatures. A rally to save Progressive Radio in Columbus was scheduled for 11:00 a.m. on the date of the switch, however, it did not succeed. The management of the radio station publicly announced the switch to be the day after the rally, but switched the format, unannounced, the morning before the switch.

The Ohio Majority Radio project continues past the attempt to save WTPG.

The Columbus Dispatch reported on May 9th that in the first ratings book after dropping progressive talk in favor of conservative talk, WYTS fell to the absolute bottom of the ratings in Central Ohio.

The Fall 2007 Phase One Book of the Arbitron Radio Ratings did not list WYTS AM.

Program Schedule


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