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as were

WERE

[wur; unstressed wer; Brit. also wair]

WERE is an AM radio station licensed to Cleveland Heights, Ohio and operating on 1490 kHz. The station's studios are in downtown Cleveland, while the transmitter is along Euclid Avenue near East 118th Street, adjacent to the Case Western Reserve University campus. It uses the on-air slogan "The People's Station," and features a news/talk format. The majority of WERE's shows are syndicated by station owner Radio One and USA Radio Network.

Prior to June 4, 2007, the station had operated at 1300 kHz frequency, where it had been at since 1949. That frequency is now home to sister station WJMO.

History

Early years

Unlike most stations of its time, WERE actually first broadcast on the FM band in 1948 at 98.5 MHz. WERE (AM) went on the air at 1300 kHz a year later. Both stations lasted under common ownership for the next fifty years, as WERE-FM primarily simulcast the programming of its more popular AM sister station over the next 24 years, where it went into separate programming as WGCL.

During the 1950s, WERE was the first popular Top 40 station in the market, spearheaded by now-legendary personalities like Bill Randle, "Captain" Carl Reese, Phil McClain, Ronnie Barrett, Howie Lund and Bob Forster. Randle was the most influental of the group, as he was the first major-market disk jockey in the Northeast United States to play Elvis Presley, and bolstered the careers of a number of young musicians, including The Four Lads, Bobby Darin, and Fats Domino.

WERE had obtained a construction permit in the mid-1950s for WERE-TV on channel 65. However, due to the vageriancies of the UHF dial at the time, the television station never made it on the air.

In the 1960s, the station was a middle-of-the-road radio station with personalities that included sportcaster Bob Neal in morning drive, the team of Jeff Baxter and Jack Riley in afternoon drive, and Bill Gordon with a nightly talk show from his apartment on East 30th Street. From 1951 until 1972, WERE was the flagship station for Cleveland Indians radio broadcasts.

People Power era

Starting in 1972, WERE adopted an edgy talk radio format, with controversial hosts, including Gary Dee (Gary D. Gilbert), Merle Pollis and Joel Rose. Gary Dee's populist-redneck style combined with his morning drive-time slot to make him Cleveland's top-rated talk host, leading him to answer each on-air call "This is Gary Dee, Number One in Cleveland." Pollis, who was ultraliberal*, had the show right after Dee's. The station used the brand "People Power."

Around spring 1975, the station's finances got rocky as it was bought out by city-council president George Forbes and other unspecified investors. They turned it into an all-news station that completely lacked the drawing power its immensely-popular talk shows had brought it. Eventually, WERE moved back into an all-talk format, which it more or less maintained for the rest of the century.

During the 1980s, the station underwent a number of changes in ownership, to Metropolis Broadcasting on August 25, 1986. Bob Fuller was the morning drive host, followed by syndicated talk show host Michael Jackson. Longtime Cleveland broadcaster Merle Pollis followed in the Noon - 2pm time slot. Another longtime Cleveland broadcaster, Joel Rose, was Pollis's foil in the 2 pm - 4pm time slot. Local news took over during drive time, with CBS Radio at the top of the hour and Mutual Radio at the bottom of the hour. Jim McIntyre hosted. At 7 pm Greg Brinda (now with WKNR AM 850) hosted his local call-in sports talk show. The station changed hands again on September 22, 1988 to Metroplex Communcations, headed by veteran local broadcasters Norman Wain and Bob Weiss. WERE was a charter affiliate for Rush Limbaugh's national talk show in 1989 (WWWE AM 1100, now WTAM, picked up the program in June 1990), and still had a variety of local hosts throughout the balance of the day. While easily accessible in downtown Cleveland and in the eastern suburbs, WERE's position in the Cleveland market has been hampered by a directional broadcast signal that misses the fast-growing suburbs just to the west of Cuyahoga County.

In 1992, locally-originated talk on WERE was replaced by an audio simulcast of CNN Headline News, with local news at :15 and :45. Hosts employed by WERE such as Merle Pollis, Joel Rose, and Les Levine were let go, with the only local talk shows left on the station being brokered programs, in which a host/producer buys the time from the station.

The local news product was eliminated in August 1993, as news staffers Jim McIntyre, Bob Fuller, Tom Moore and Cindy Lin were let go. An article in The Plain Dealer on August 13, 1993, referred to this as a "shifting of the station's emphasis from local news to cheaper syndicated and community programming."

Brokered programming era

On September 1, 1994, Metroplex Communications sold WERE and sister station WNCX FM 98.5 (along with the rest of Metroplex's stations in Florida and New York) to Clear Channel Communications. WERE continued with the format featuring mostly brokered programs. Here, a radio producer would purchase blocked time from the station, and then produced the program, sold commercial air time, and keep the profit. As a result, the programming was very diverse, but listenership was very sparse, with WERE sometimes not even showing up in the Arbitron ratings.

Select programs on WERE during this period ranged from "America's Workforce" (labor issues in the Cleveland area), to "The Gay 90's" (homosexual and diversity issues) to "Talking Books" (interviews with literary figures), to "Those Antique Guys" (appraisials and commentary on antiques).

One of the most popular shows on WERE during this period was the 'Your Music' Show, a daily weekday block of a variety music from the 1940s through the 1970s programmed by Jim Davis, who also served as an on-air host from 1-3pm (after illness took Carl Reese off the air), followed by Ted Hallaman from 3-5pm after WRMR 1420-AM signed off permanently in July 2004. The 'Your Music' Show was sponsored by the Original Mattress Factory and aired from August 2004 through January 2006 when the WERE daytime format was changed.

Later years

On April 29, 1999, WERE and WENZ 107.9-FM were spun off by the Clear Channel-Jacor merger to Lantham, Maryland-based Radio One. WNCX was sold to Infinity Broadcasting, which is today CBS Radio. This marked the first time in the 50-year history of the two, that WNCX and WERE were no longer affiliated. WENZ changed formats from modern rock to mainstream urban as "Z-107.9" shortly afterward, while WERE stuck with the profitable brokered format until 2006.

Today, WERE is programmed by Kim Hill (who is also part of the new morning show), and carries a news/talk format with a locally based morning show offering news, traffic, sports and weather hosted by Hill and local community activist Basheer Jones (6 a.m. - 9 a.m. and a half hour "best of" show at 5:30 p.m.)

WERE's full lineup is as follows:

5-6am--Daybreak USA (USA Radio)

6-9am--Basheer Jones & Company (local)

9-10am--Paid Programing

10am-1pm--Warren Ballentine Show (Radio One)

1pm-1:30pm--Paid Programming

1:30-3pm--Jim Sumpter Show (USA Radio)

3-5pm--Point of View with Kerby Anderson (USA Radio)

5-5:30pm--Paid Programming

5:30-6pm--Best of Basheer Jones & Co.

6-10pm--Various/Brokered/Paid Programming

10pm-1am--Laurie Roth Show (USA Radio)

1-2am--Golden Age of Radio (USA Radio)

2-3am--News Wrap USA (USA Radio)

3-5am--Point of View (USA Radio)

Long-running ethnic programs also continue throughout the day on Sunday.

There had been several reports that Radio One and WERE may air ESPN Radio programming in evening and overnight hours, to supplement Good Karma Broadcasting daytime outlet WWGK's sports/talk format as "ESPN Cleveland". The arrangement had been hinted on WWGK's website, though a companion logo was since removed. There has been no official word from WERE's station management that such an arrangement was even attempted, and WWGK's owners ended up purchasing WKNR in December 2006.

Move to 1490

On June 4, 2007 WERE's call letters and format switched over to the 1490 kHz frequency, while the 1300 kHz station received the WJMO call letters and gospel music format. This will mark the first time that AM 1300 will have had different call letters since signing on.

External links

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