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City of license Cincinnati, Ohio
Broadcast area Cincinnati, Ohio (AM)
United States (SDARS)
Branding NewsRadio 700 WLW
Slogan "The Big One"
"The Nation's Station"
Frequency 700 KHz (also on HD Radio)
Translator(s) 94.5 W233BG (Cincinnati, Ohio)
First air date March 22, 1922[1]
(as WLW)
Format News/talk
Power WLW: 50,000 watts
W233BG: 120 watts
Class WLW: A
W233BG: D
Facility ID WLW: 29733
W233BG: 11289
Transmitter coordinates WLW: 39°21′11.2″N 84°19′30.4″WCoordinates: 39°21′11.2″N 84°19′30.4″W
W233BG: 39°6′59″N 84°30′7″W
Callsign meaning World's Largest Wireless
Former callsigns W8XO (1934–1939)[1][2]

ABC News Radio (1945–2005, 2006–present)
Cincinnati Reds Radio Network (1948-present)
Fox News Radio (2005–06)[3][4]
Blue Network (c. 1936)[5]
MBS (1934–36)[1][5]
Quality Network (1934–36)[6]

Red Network (1924–36)[5][6]
Owner Clear Channel Communications
(Jacor Broadcasting Corporation)
Webcast iHeartRadio Station #1713
Website 700wlw.com

WLW is a clear channel talk radio station located in Cincinnati, Ohio, run by Clear Channel Communications. The station broadcasts locally on 700 kHz AM. WLW's studios are in the Towers of Kenwood building next to Interstate 71 in the Kenwood neighborhood of Sycamore Township, while its transmitter is located in Mason, adjacent to the former Voice of America Bethany Relay Station.

The station frequently uses its nickname, "The Big One". Sister stations WTAM in Cleveland and WWVA in Wheeling have copied this tagline.[citation needed] WLW also uses its historical tagline, "The Nation's Station."[citation needed]


WLW airs a nearly entirely locally-produced talk format, and is the flagship station for the nationally syndicated shows America's Trucking Network (formerly The Truckin' Bozo), a popular nationwide, overnight program especially for truckers; and Live on Sunday Night with Bill Cunningham. Cunningham also hosts a weekday program on the station.[7] America's Trucking Network is currently syndicated by Sirius XM Radio. Live on Sunday Night with Bill Cunningham is syndicated by Premiere Radio Networks. In addition to Cunningham and Sommers, local hosts include Jim Scott, Scott Sloan, Eddie Fingers, Tracy Jones, Lance McAlister and Marc Amazon.

WLW is the flagship radio station for the Cincinnati Reds Radio Network and a co-flagship station for the Cincinnati Bengals football team. The station also broadcasts Cincinnati Bearcats and Xavier Musketeers games. WLW has a 24-hour local news department and is affiliated with ABC News Radio and Raycom Media's WXIX-TV.[8] WLW was also affiliated with Paul Harvey until May 2008.


In July 1921, radio manufacturer Powel Crosley Jr. began 20-watt tests from his College Hill home, broadcasting "Song of India" continuously under the callsign 8CR.[1] Powell already owned a number of enterprises, including the Crosmobile and a refrigerator-freezer company, and for many years, he held ownership of the Cincinnati Reds baseball club. Powell was innovative, personally inventing or funding the development of many then–cutting edge technological advances in his ventures which he placed in the able hands of his younger by two years brother, Lewis Crosley who was a graduate engineer from the University of Cincinnati.

On March 22, 1922,[1] Crosley and his Crosley Broadcasting Corporation began broadcasting with the new callsign WLW and 50 watts of power. Crosley was a fanatic about the new broadcasting technology, and continually increased his station's capability. The power went up to 500 watts in September 1922, 1000 watts in May 1924, and in January 1925 WLW was the first broadcasting station at the 5000 watt level. On October 4, 1928, the station increased its power to 50 kilowatts.[1] Again it was the first station at this power level, which still is the maximum power currently allowed for any AM station in the United States.

At 50 kilowatts, WLW was heard easily over a wide area, from New York to Florida. But Crosley still wasn't satisfied. In 1933 he obtained a construction permit from the Federal Radio Commission for a 500 kilowatt superstation, and he spent some $500,000 (at least $17 million in 2010 dollars using a CPI conversion factor of 0.13[9]) building the transmitter and antenna.

It was the first large amplifier used in the United States for public domestic radio broadcasting and was in operation between 1934 and 1939. It was an experimental amplifier and was driven by the radio station's regular 50 kW transmitter. It operated in class C with high-level plate modulation. The amplifier required a dedicated 33 kV electrical substation and a large pond complete with fountains for cooling. It operated with a power input of about 750 kW (plus another 400 kW of audio for the modulator) and its output was 500 kW.

In January 1934 WLW began broadcasting at the 500 kilowatt level late at night under the experimental callsign W8XO. In April 1934 the station was authorized to operate at 500 kilowatts during regular hours under the WLW call letters. On May 2, 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt pressed a ceremonial button that officially launched WLW's 500-kilowatt signal.[10] As the first station in the world to broadcast at this strength, WLW received repeated complaints from around the United States and Canada that it was overpowering other stations as far away as Toronto. In December 1934 WLW cut back to 50 kilowatts at night to mitigate the interference, and began construction of three 50 ft. tower antennas to be used to reduce signal strength towards Canada. With these three antennas in place, full-time broadcasting at 500 kilowatts resumed in early 1935. However, WLW was continuing to operate under special temporary authority that had to be renewed every six months, and each renewal brought complaints about interference and undue domination of the market by such a high-power station. The FCC was having second thoughts about permitting extremely wide-area broadcasting versus more locally oriented stations, and in 1938, the US Senate adopted the "Wheeler" resolution, expressing it to be the sense of that body that more stations with power in excess of 50 kilowatts are against the public interest. As a result, in 1939 the 500-kilowatt broadcast authorization was not renewed, bringing an end to the era of the AM radio superstation.[11] Because of the impending war and the possible need for national broadcasting in an emergency, the W8XO experimental license for 500 kilowatts remained in effect until December 29, 1942. In 1962 the Crosley Broadcasting Corporation again applied for a permit to operate at 750 kilowatts, but the FCC denied the application.

The three towers being used to keep the 500 kilowatt signal out of Canada were later sold to Stanley Coning of Eaton, Ohio, where they were later combined into a single 150 ft. tower used to broadcast Coning's WCTM 92.9FM in 1959, an early adopter and pioneer of FM broadcasting.[citation needed]

Many reports have surfaced over the years of the power fluctuations from those who lived near the 500 kilowatt transmitter. Residents would see their lights flicker in time to the modulation peaks of the transmitter. It was widely reported that the signal was so overpowering some people picked up WLW radio on the metal coils of mattress and boxed bedsprings,[5] similar to KDKA-AM in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Arcing often occurred near the transmission site.[12]

In 1942, WLW moved its studios into the Crosley Square building, a converted Elks Lodge No. 5 in downtown Cincinnati.[1] WLW's sister television station, WLWT (then branded WLW-T), was founded in the same building. In 1955, WLW and WLWT became the first radio and television station to own a weather radar.[13]

In the 1960s, Crosley assumed the name of its parent company, Avco. WLW remained under Avco Broadcasting Corporation until the mid-1970s. From that point until the 1990s, WLW had different owners, including Queen City Communications, Mariner Communications, Seven Hills Broadcasting and Jacor Communications, before Jacor merged with WLW's current owner, Clear Channel.

From the late 1970s to 1989, WLW's studios were located downtown at 3 East 4th Street, now the site of the National City Bank (now PNC) Tower in downtown Cincinnati. From 1989 to 2005, WLW was located in Mt. Adams, a trendy neighborhood overlooking downtown. The address remained 1111 St. Gregory Street. WLW was originally on the fourth floor, where it shared studios with sister station WEBN. In 1992, as Jacor started to consolidate stations, the fifth floor was taken over by the human resources and traffic departments, along with new studios for 550 WLWA, formerly WKRC-AM. In 1995, Jacor moved all of its stations into the Mt. Adams facility leasing the entire building.

Along with other Clear Channel talk stations, WLW switched from ABC News Radio to Fox News Radio.[3] However, on June 26, 2006, a realignment of network affiliations by Clear Channel's Cincinnati AM stations reunited WLW with ABC News Radio. (WKRC (AM) picked up Fox News Radio[citation needed], while WCKY (AM) took CBS Radio.)[4] Not included in the rearrangement was ABC Radio commentator Paul Harvey. WLW continued to carry Harvey's commentaries through all the changes, although after extended absences, Harvey was dropped by WLW in April 2008.

WLW clones

A short-lived attempt at a WLW clone was WLWA, airing on the 550 frequency in Cincinnati, from 1992 to 1994. This frequency is now used for WKRC, branded as 55KRC.

In 1997, WLW owner Jacor purchased 700 KFAM in Salt Lake City. As a joke[citation needed], it changed the call letters to KWLW and began to air programming such as The Truckin' Bozo on the station. The call letters and format stayed on the station until 1999. That station is now known as KALL and carries a sports radio format.

"The Nation's Station"

WLW's diamond-shaped radio mast at night

WLW currently broadcasts using 50,000 watts of power, the maximum allowed for an AM clear channel broadcaster under current FCC rules.

The high power broadcasts led WLW to call itself "The Nation's Station." WLW also broadcasts using the HD-Radio digital system. Like other stations owned by Clear Channel, WLW uses the iHeartRadio platform to stream its webcast. For a time in the early 1960s, WLW called itself the world's highest fidelity radio station.

WLW powered up to higher wattage a few times during World War II in order to send special broadcasts to American troops in Europe[citation needed], but has not broadcast regular programming at 500 kW since. The 500 kW transmitting equipment was maintained into the 1960s by site engineers, but it was never operated on-air after 1943.

After sundown, the 50 kW signal can be heard across much of the eastern half of the United States and Canada, and as far west as Denver, Colorado.[citation needed] In 1985 overnight host Dale Sommers received a call from Hawaii on his overnight program. It is believed WLW can be heard, regularly, in at least 38 U.S. states at night,[14] and the station refers to this in some advertising.

The station's first 50 kW transmitter, made by Western Electric, is still functional at 83 years of age and sees occasional service, including on December 31, 1999, when it was powered up and helped to bring WLW into the new year on January 1, 2000.[1] The station's unusual diamond-shaped antenna (designed and erected by Blaw-Knox Tower company) is one of eight still operational in the United States and is featured on the official seal of the City of Mason.

WLW carries games of the Cincinnati Reds, which makes it among the last of the clear channel AM radio stations to carry live Major League Baseball games.[citation needed] Over the years, WLW has also carried Cincinnati Bengals games, University of Cincinnati football & basketball games, Xavier University basketball games and the games of the Cincinnati Royals (now the Sacramento Kings) of the National Basketball Association.

In 2013, the Cincinnati Enquirer had announced that WLW had purchased an LPFM transmitter from the Northern Kentucky University for an FM simulcast, and moved it to Port Union, Ohio.[15] The station is W233BG on 94.5, operating at 120 watts.

XM Radio simulcast

From March 1, 2006 to March 6, 2009 WLW was simulcast live on XM Satellite Radio channel 173. This broadcast was delay-free, and gave the station a signal that reached the continental United States. Excluded from the simulcast were Cincinnati Reds and Bengals play-by-play coverage, which the station did not own the rights to broadcast nationally. However, college sport play-by-play from the Xavier Musketeers and the Cincinnati Bearcats were broadcast on XM. The station was placed on the satellites by at-the-time Clear Channel programming executive Sean Compton (brother of WLW personality Steve Sommers), who claimed WLW was his favorite radio station. Compton left the company in 2008 for Tribune Company, and shortly after WLW was removed. The channel remained empty for several months by simulcasting Talk Radio 165, until December 2009, when Bollywood & Beyond debuted on XM 173. After things settled down, WLW's 12am to 5 am overnight programming of America's Trucking network featuring Steve Sommers and Eric 'Bubba Bo' Boulanger is simulcast on XM 152 Extreme talk.

Former on-air staff

The station claims many well-known alumni, including Merle Travis, Doris Day, Rosemary Clooney, Ruth Lyons, Bob Braun, Wally Phillips, NBC sportscasters Cris Collinsworth and Al Michaels, longtime "Sportstalk" hosts Bob Trumpy and Andy Furman, former morning host Bill Wills (now with WTAM), Dale Sommers (better known as the "Truckin' Bozo"), J. R. Gach (who was fired for referring to Japanese as "yellow monkeys"), Mike McConnell (late-morning/midday host from 1985 until 2010), Gary Burbank (comedy talk host, impressionist, and creator of the nationally syndicated Earl Pitts monologues) and former Clear Channel radio CEO Randy Michaels. Rod Serling, the creator of the classic TV series The Twilight Zone, worked for WLW from 1947-48[16] producing historical documentaries, community profiles and commercials, before leaving to pursue other opportunities in the broadcasting industry.

Randy Michaels is credited for developing WLW from an MOR music signal into a successful all-local talk/adult contemporary music station in the early 1980s; music remained a regular part of WLW's broadcast day until the mid-1990s. In 2010 Michaels and McConnell were together at Tribune's WGN Chicago until Michaels resigned in October. Much of WLW's lineup has remained intact for several years. 700 WLW today is one of a select few radio stations left in the United States with original 24 hour locally produced programming, except on the weekends, making it unique and refreshingly creative. 700 WLW personalities (talk hosts) are stars in the Queen City, including Jim Scott, Bill Cunningham, Scott Sloan, Steve Sommers, Marc Amazon and former Cincinnati Red Tracy Jones. Program Director Darryl Parks fills in and hosts a Saturday morning show. WLW Radio has even made mini-stars out of select callers to its local talk shows.[citation needed]

In October 2010, one of the more recent notable personalities, Eddie Fingers of the #1 afternoon drivetime slot, was abruptly terminated due to a contract dispute. 16 months later, Fingers was rehired by WLW and rejoined Tracy Jones in the 3pm-6pm slot on January 30, 2012.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Kiesewetter, John (2002-03-17). "WLW 700 turns 80". The Cincinnati Enquirer (Gannett Company). Retrieved 2009-02-01.
  2. ^ "WLW's Big-Arse Transmitter". 2008-04-14. Retrieved 2009-02-01.
  3. ^ a b Bird, Rick (2005-08-05). "WLW Switches to Fox Radio News". The Cincinnati Post (E. W. Scripps Company). Retrieved 2009-02-02.
  4. ^ a b "WLW Comes Home To ABC News". Radio Monitor. 2006-06-27. Retrieved 2009-02-02.
  5. ^ a b c d Price, John (1979). "The Nation's Station". History of WLW, Cincinnati. Retrieved 2009-02-01.
  6. ^ a b McLeod, Elizabeth (2002-05-28). "Re: WLW and NBC". Retrieved 2009-02-01.
  7. ^ 700WLW Programming 700wlw.com. Accessed January 16, 2013
  8. ^ http://cincinnati.com/blogs/tv/2010/03/31/fox-19-gets-webn-fireworks-wlw-weather-deal/
  9. ^ http://oregonstate.edu/cla/polisci/sites/default/files/faculty-research/sahr/inflation-conversion/pdf/cvcpi.pdf
  10. ^ Fybush, Scott (2002-01-09). "The Big One: Cincinnati's Legendary WLW". Fybush.com. Retrieved 2009-02-01.
  11. ^ "Decision and Order in Re Application of the Crosley Radio Corporation (WLW) for Extension of Special Temporary Experimental Authorization". Federal Communications Commission. 1935-01-25. Retrieved 2009-02-01.
  12. ^ Reiman, Dick (1999-12-17). "History of Station WLW's 500kW Transmitter". Retrieved 2009-02-01.
  13. ^ "WLW Radio & Television". Cincinnativiews. 2008-10-03. Retrieved 2009-01-31.
  14. ^ Kiesewetter, John (2001-02-16). "WLW host used racial slur". The Cincinnati Enquirer (Gannett Company). Retrieved 2009-02-03.
  15. ^ http://www.allaccess.com/net-news/archive/story/114525/report-wlw-adds-fm-translator-simulcast
  16. ^ "Serling, Rod" Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2010. Document Number: H1000089528
  • CROSLEY - Two Brothers and an Empire That Transformed the Nation (ISBN 978-1578602919) - Rusty McClure

External links