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.
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.
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."
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.
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)
10am-1pm--Warren Ballentine Show (Radio One)
1:30-3pm--Jim Sumpter Show (USA Radio)
3-5pm--Point of View with Kerby Anderson (USA Radio)
5:30-6pm--Best of Basheer Jones & Co.
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.