WMMS

WMMS
WMMS logo.png
City of license Cleveland, Ohio
Broadcast area Greater Cleveland
Northeast Ohio
Branding 100.7 WMMS: The Buzzard
Slogan Cleveland's Rock Station
Frequency 100.7 (MHz)
(also on HD Radio)
First air date September 28, 1968
(as WMMS)
November 11, 1948
(as WHK-FM)
Format Analog/HD-1: Hot talk/Active rock
HD-2: Alternative rock[1]
ERP 34,000 watts
HAAT 183 meters
Class B
Facility ID 73273
Transmitter coordinates 41°21′32.00″N 81°40′5.00″W / 41.35889°N 81.66806°W / 41.35889; -81.66806
Callsign meaning W-"MetroMedia Stereo"
W-"Music Means Satisfaction"
"Where Music Means Something"
"We're your Modern Music Station"
W-"your Music Marathon Station"
"Weed Makes Me Smile"
W-"Magic MushroomS"
Former callsigns 1948-1968: WHK-FM
1946-1948: W8XUB
Former frequencies 1946-1948: 107.1 (MHz)
Affiliations Cleveland Browns
Premiere Networks
United Stations Radio Networks
Westwood One
Owner Clear Channel Communications
(Citicasters Licenses, Inc.)
Sister stations WAKS, WGAR-FM, WHLK, WMJI, WTAM
Webcast Listen Live
HD-2: The Alternative Project
Website WMMS.com

WMMS (100.7 FM) — branded 100.7 WMMS: The Buzzard — is a commercial radio station licensed to Cleveland, Ohio, widely recognized as one of the most influential rock stations in America throughout much of the history of FM broadcasting.[2][3][4][5] At times, the station has also drawn controversy for unusually aggressive tactics both on and off the air.[6]

Owned by Clear Channel Communications since 1999 and broadcasting a mix of mostly hot talk and active rock,[7] WMMS serves as the flagship station for Rover's Morning Glory, the Cleveland affiliate for Sixx Sense with Nikki Sixx,[8] and the FM flagship for the Cleveland Browns.[9] In addition, radio personality Alan Cox is heard during afternoon drive.

The WMMS studios are currently located at the former Centerior Energy building in the Cleveland suburb of Independence, and the station's transmitter resides in neighboring Seven Hills. The WMMS call letters first referred to a former owner — "MetroMedia Stereo" — but over the years have taken on a variety of other meanings.[10]

Contents

Overview

Created in April 1974 as "an ironic twist on Cleveland's down-and-out reputation as a decaying Rust Belt city,"[11] the station's longtime promotional mascot has been The Buzzard. "De-emphasized" in the fall of 2007, the iconic scavenger was revived the following spring to coincide with both the station's 40th anniversary and the arrival of current morning personality Rover.[12][13]

Throughout the 1970s and 80s, WMMS had a stable of personalities that remained fundamentally unchanged,[2][5] attained a dominant market share in the local ratings[3][5][14][15] and posted market record-high figures "never duplicated by any other station."[5][14] WMMS played a key role in breaking several major acts in the U.S., including David Bowie, Rush and Bruce Springsteen.[2] Station employees went on to take director and executive-level positions in the recording industry, namely with labels RCA, Mercury and Columbia.[16][17] Considered "a true radio legend," WMMS DJ Kid Leo was chosen for Rolling Stone's "Heavy Hundred: The High and Mighty of the Music Industry" (1980) and named "The Best Disc Jockey in the Country" in a special 1987 issue of Playboy.[17][18] Noted filmmakers, including Cameron Crowe (Almost Famous) and Paul Schrader (Light of Day), have called on both The Buzzard and its personnel while preparing for various rock-themed productions.[19][20] WMMS was also a major driving force behind the successful campaign to bring the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to Cleveland.[2][21]

The station is not without controversy. Although Rolling Stone named WMMS "Best Radio Station" (Large Market) nine times in a row (1979–1987) as part of the magazine's annual Readers' Poll,[2] the station admitted to stuffing the 1987 ballot following a February 1988 front-page story in The Plain Dealer exposing manipulation.[22][23][24] Seven years later, members of both the station's staff and management pled guilty to disrupting a national broadcast of The Howard Stern Show that originated via the local Stern affiliate, cross-town rival WNCX. A federal offense, the act nearly cost WMMS its broadcasting license.[6]

History

Early years

In August 1946, radio station WHK — owned at that time by Forest City Publishing, itself then the parent company of The Plain Dealer — received one of the earliest experimental FM licenses under the callsign W8XUB at 107.1 Megahertz (MHz).[25] Upon receipt of a commercial license on November 11, 1948,[26] the new FM station adopted the callsign WHK-FM at 100.7 MHz. Both WHK and WHK-FM were sold in 1958 to Metropolitan Broadcasting,[25] itself renamed MetroMedia two years later. Like most early FM stations, WHK-FM mostly simulcasted the Top 40 programming of its AM sister station.

In 1968, in an effort to make the medium more commercially viable, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) mandated that FM stations could no longer duplicate the programming of their AM sister stations.[25] Seeing a small but significant groundswell of support for the medium in the market, WHK-FM adopted a new progressive rock format. WHK-FM became one of a handful of commercial stations in the country to try that format, many of which were owned by MetroMedia.[25] To firmly establish a separate identity, and to reflect the station's ownership,[27] the callsign of WHK-FM was changed to WMMS ("MetroMedia Stereo") on September 28, 1968.[10]

Progressive rock years

MetroMedia found major success with progressive rock at KMET in Los Angeles, KSAN in San Francisco, WMMR in Philadelphia and WNEW in New York, but low ratings and revenue in Cleveland led the company to drop the format at WMMS by May 1969. The station first turned to adult contemporary, then Top 40, big band and finally the Drake-Chenault automated Hit Parade '69.[28]

WMMS reverted to progressive rock less than a year later. The station briefly battled with WNCR of Nationwide Communications, itself filling the void created by the brief absence of WMMS on the rock scene. Key WNCR personnel — including former WMMS personalities The Perlich Project (Martin Perlich) and Billy Bass — were soon hired by WMMS, taking most of their audience with them.[29][30]

Under the leadership of Station Manager Billy Bass and Program Director Denny Sanders (who came to WMMS from Boston in 1971), WMMS helped break many new rock artists nationally, most notably David Bowie. Based on considerably high record sales in the Cleveland market, Bowie — in his Ziggy Stardust persona alongside the Spiders from Mars — kicked off his first U.S. tour in the "The Rock Capital" (a term coined by Bass).[31] The WMMS-sponsored concert was a "phenomenal success"[29][32] and prompted the station to sponsor a second show that year — rarely done at that time for an artist's first tour. This second show sold out immediately, and was held at the city's largest venue: Cleveland Public Hall.[32]

In November 1972, WMMS was sold to Malrite Communications, a Michigan-based firm that relocated to Cleveland upon purchase. Under Malrite ownership, WMMS would become an album-oriented rock (AOR) powerhouse, much in the same vein as its former MetroMedia progressive rock siblings.

Album-oriented rock years

From "Find Me" to FM powerhouse

In July 1973, John Gorman joined WMMS as music director and was promoted to program director and operations manager two months later where he remained for 13 years. During this time, with Denny Sanders as his creative services director and Rhonda Kiefer as programming assistant, WMMS broke all Cleveland ratings and revenue records. WMMS was the first radio station to employ full-time promotion and marketing directors: Dan Garfinkel and his successor, Jim Marchyshyn.

Pre-Buzzard WMMS logo

During this time, WMMS was billed as the place "Where Music Means Something,"[33] followed by "We're your Modern Music Station"[34] and "your Music Marathon Station."[35] Although never used on the air, listeners alternately knew the callsign as an acronym for "Weed Makes Me Smile"[33] and "Magic MushroomS,"[36] the latter referencing the somewhat controversial logo used before the Buzzard.

Roughly one year after its debut, the Buzzard was arguably the most recognizable logo in Greater Cleveland. Poster by David Helton.[37]

Contrary to what many believe, the choice of the new WMMS mascot had nothing to do with Buzzard Day, the annual "folksy event" held in Hinckley Township, Ohio.[38] Rather, WMMS adopted a buzzard as its mascot in April 1974 because of the then tenuous economic state of Cleveland — less than five years away from becoming the first major American city to enter into default since the Great Depression[39] — and the winged-creature's classification as a scavenger. In other words, the carrion-eating bird represented "death and dying" — a darkly comic reflection of the city's actual decline. Horror comics, specifically those of EC Comics, served partly as inspiration for the concept. The Buzzard was the co-creation of Gorman, Sanders and American Greetings artist David Helton:[11]

We joked about the Buzzard becoming Cleveland's Mickey Mouse... a 'Buzzard Land' amusement park filled with sex, drugs and rock and roll...

A study conducted by MBA students at Case Western Reserve University in 1975 found that the new WMMS logo was more recognizable to those living in Greater Cleveland than both Chief Wahoo of the Cleveland Indians and even Coca-Cola.[37]

From the onset, Helton's streamlined artwork resulted in an aggressive, yet family-friendly symbol for the station, one that continues to endure more than 40 years later. The Buzzard became synonymous with WMMS, Cleveland radio and the city itself, spawning a series of T-shirts so numerous that they are now impossible to catalog, many with slogans like "Where Music Means Something" and "Ruler of the Airwaves."

At first, the station was known as The Home of the Buzzard, rather than simply "The Buzzard."

A major contributor to the ratings success was an airstaff that remained fundamentally unchanged for many years: personalities like Kid Leo, Jeff & Flash, Matt the Cat, Dia Stein, Denny Sanders, Murray Saul, Betty "Crash" Korvan, Ruby Cheeks, BLF Bash (Bill Freeman), TR (Tom Renzy) and Len "Boom" Goldberg were invaluable to the station's popularity.

Start Finish Personality Tenure
  6 am 10 am Jeff & Flash (Jeff Kinzbach, Ed Ferenc) 1977–1994
10 am   2 pm Matt the Cat (Matt Lapczynski) 1974-88; 90-92[40]
  2 pm   6 pm Kid Leo (Lawrence Travagliante) 1974–1988
  6 pm 10 pm Denny Sanders 1971–1986
10 pm   2 am Steve Lushbaugh 1973–1976
10 pm   2 am Betty Korvan 1976–1983
10 pm   2 am TR (Tom Renzy) 1983–1988
  2 am   6 am BLF Bash (Bill Freeman) 1976–1998[41]

Of all the personalities that worked at WMMS, Len "Boom" Goldberg was there the longest. He joined the station in early 1972 before its sale to Malrite, and stayed in different capacities until 2004. He was best known as the voice for the station's top of the hour IDs, music segues and sweepers, and commercials for WMMS, and was also a member of The Buzzard Morning Zoo in the mid 80s. He died on December 27, 2006.

WMMS would play a key role in breaking several other major acts in the U.S., including Roxy Music,[2] Bruce Springsteen,[2] Rush,[16] Fleetwood Mac,[42] Meat Loaf,[43] the Pretenders,[17] the New York Dolls,[17] Southside Johnny,[44] Lou Reed,[45] Mott the Hoople,[45] Boston[45] and Cheap Trick.[45] Of special note was the early support of Bruce Springsteen by Kid Leo and others, from even before Born to Run came out. For the station's tenth anniversary in 1978, WMMS hosted and broadcast a live Springsteen concert at the Agora Theatre and Ballroom independent of his concert tour. Heavily bootlegged, the concert further cemented the relationship between the two in fans' minds, and well into the 2000s Cleveland remains one of Springsteen's strongest bases. Right up until his departure in 1988, Kid Leo played Born to Run as his signature sign-off song every Friday night: "Born to Run was the essence of everything I loved about Rock 'n' Roll."[46]

At the time, WMMS was also broadcasting a remarkable amount of live concert broadcasts, many of which originated in Cleveland and were produced by the station itself. The Coffee Break Concert was a weekly music-interview show broadcast live from the station's studio (and later with an audience at The Agora Ballroom). Warren Zevon, John Mellencamp, Lou Reed, Peter Frampton, and a host of others performed on the program, recordings of which are widely available as bootlegs. The WMMS Coffee Break Concerts were booked by Denny Sanders and hosted by Len "Boom Boom" Goldberg and later, Matt the Cat. The concert series continued on well into the 90s, albeit much less frequently.[47][48][49]

The World Series of Rock was a recurring, day-long and usually multi-act summer rock concert held outdoors at Cleveland Municipal Stadium from 1974 through 1980.[50] Belkin Productions staged these events, attracting popular hard rock bands and as many as 88,000 fans. WMMS sponsored the concerts. Attendance was by general admission.[51]

Concertgoers occasionally fell—or jumped—off the steep stadium upper deck onto the concrete seating area far below, causing serious injury. The Cleveland Free Clinic staffed aid stations in the stadium with physicians, nurses and other volunteers, and through 1977, made its treatment statistics public. From 1978 on, Belkin Productions conditioned its funding of the Free Clinic on the nondisclosure of the number of Clinic staff on duty at the concerts, the nature of conditions treated and the number of patients treated.[52]

Rock Forty and the Rock Hall campaign

WMMS was directly influenced by then (and current) sister station WHTZ (100.3 FM, "Z100") in New York, New York, which rose to the top of the ratings books immediately after installing a contemporary hit radio (CHR) format. Among the more significant moves taken by WMMS was the formatting of the Morning Zoo concept created by Z100's Scott Shannon onto the show Jeff & Flash (Jeff Kinzbach and Ed Ferenc) were already hosting. Kinzbach and Ferenc had already been a morning team—with sidekicks—since 1976, seven years prior to adopting the Morning Zoo label, so the basic structure was already in place.

The music structure also was modified at this time as artists such as Michael Jackson, Madonna and Prince soon found airplay on WMMS. The change was done for many reasons: as a nod to the sudden influence Z100's format had on the Malrite group; Gorman and Sanders intention to stay with the current music trends as the album-oriented rock (AOR) format was, even then, in a state of decline; and as a means to attract a female audience. By 1984, the WMMS format moved to an CHR/AOR hybrid, playing almost entirely Top 40 rock singles; this new blended rock/Top 40 format was soon known by those at the station as Rock Forty. The station also started to devote weekend programming to the classic rock format.[53]

In the mid-1980s, WMMS was an important contributor in organizing a campaign (along with former Cleveland ad agency president Edward Spizel and author-deejay Norm N. Nite) which brought the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to Cleveland. John Gorman, Denny Sanders and Kid Leo organized the original campaign with Tunc Erim, assistant to Atlantic Records president Ahmet Ertegun.

John Gorman and Denny Sanders left the station in fall of 1986, leading 14 staff members with them to start rival station WNCX. Gorman credits his decision to leave to changes in management, and the station's overall shift to a more "corporate" mentality.

Rolling Stone Readers' Poll

Rolling Stone named WMMS "Radio Station of the Year" nine straight years (1979–1987) as part of its annual Readers' Poll, but a February 1988 front-page story in The Plain Dealer revealed station employees had stuffed the annual survey's ballot box for the 1987 poll to allow for the possibility of a tenth straight win the following year. Lonnie Gronek, then General Manager of the station, claimed in The Plain Dealer article that the process had gone on "for years", however other accounts dispute Gronek's claim.

The station claimed it was simply "a marketing strategy" and "much in line with what many stations did."[54] Negative reaction was swift and widespread;[22][23] some called the scheme a mere "lack of judgement,"[22] while a reporter for the Akron Beacon Journal compared the station's response to that of discredited former Vice-President Spiro Agnew.[55]

Changing times

By the late 80s, most of the original staff members had departed: John Gorman and Denny Sanders left in 1986 to launch upstart station WNCX, and Columbia Records hired Kid Leo in 1988.[56] Four different program directors, including Rich Piombino and Michael Luczak, came and went with varying levels of success. DJ additions included station engineer Ric Bennett as "Rocco the Rock Dog,"[40] Scooter (WMMS Music Director Brad Hanson), Lisa Dillon[40] and station veteran Matt the Cat,[40] who returned to the midday slot in 1990 after a two year absence. However, Matt would be dismissed permanently from the station in late 1992, the victim of budget cuts.

Ratings steadily increased during the time of the First Gulf War, but The Howard Stern Show was soon picked up by a then struggling WNCX. Stern's ratings exploded and this — along with a growing urgency from management not to compete with or mention Stern on the air — led to a sudden and steep ratings decline for The Buzzard Morning Zoo. Matt the Cat was permanently let go in December 1992 due to "budget problems."[40] Unable to service its growing debt, Malrite chose to leave radio and sold off all its remaining properties in 1993:[15] WMMS went to Shamrock Broadcasting, the Roy Disney broadcasting firm.[57] Management ordered a change to the Buzzard by giving it a flat-top and mullet.

The station continued to decline during the ownership transition from Malrite to Shamrock; then Shamrock sold both WMMS and WHK to OmniAmerica, a broadcasting company run by former Malrite executives Carl Hirsch and Dean Thacker, which already owned oldies station WMJI. WMMS' decline culminated on April 14, 1994 with the high-profile departure of Jeff Kinzbach effectively ending "Jeff & Flash" on WMMS (Ferenc would leave the station several weeks later; both would pair up again at WWWE).[54] Lisa Dillon, Ric Bennett and Tom Renzy also would depart the station that same day.[25]

The Cleveland Funeral

Among the most notorious broadcasts of The Howard Stern Show occurred on June 10, 1994.[58] Stern had arrived on the Cleveland airwaves less than two years earlier, and in that time took his syndicated program on rival WNCX from an Arbitron ranking of thirteen to number one.[59] As promised, Stern held a party for his fans on the streets of Cleveland — a "Funeral" for his local rivals, much like similar events held in New York, Los Angeles and Philadelphia — and broadcast it nationwide.[58][60]

During the now infamous broadcast, WMMS engineer William Alford snipped a broadcast wire used for the Stern show's satellite feed.[6][61] Stern continued on with the program over a phone line as engineers worked to quickly patch together the severed broadcast wire. Alford was subsequently caught, arrested and later sentenced to ten days in jail and a $1,000 fine.[62] Station management initially claimed that Alford acted alone,[61] however WMMS Promotions Director Heidi Klosterman — working under the name Heidi Kramer — later pled guilty to a felony charge of attempted disruption of a public service and a misdemeanor of receiving stolen property; Greg Smith, a former Klosterman colleague, pled guilty to a misdemeanor of breaking and entering.[63]

Modern rock years

Note the weekend contest promotion offering a Stone Temple Pilots CD — one of the many new bands featured under the modern rock (alternative) format. Poster by Brian Chalmers.[19]

Under OmniAmerica ownership, WMMS veteran John Gorman returned as Vice-President and Director of Operations (Gorman had already been serving as program director for OmniAmerica station WMJI).[64] Gorman redesigned The Buzzard as a modern rock (alternative) station,[65] playing new acts like Nirvana, The Offspring and Nine Inch Nails.[65][66] To emphasize this change, WMMS was re-billed and aggressively promoted as The Buzzard: The Next Generation,[66] a direct reference to the success of Star Trek: The Next Generation and its revival of the aging Star Trek franchise.[67] Gorman also brought back the original Buzzard design, now drawn by David Helton's successor Brian Chalmers.[19] WMMS even managed to lure popular morning personalities Brian and Joe (Brian Fowler and Joe Cronauer, cohosts of The Brian and Joe Radio Show) away from rival WENZ — then a modern rock station known as 107.9 The END — as the successors to Jeff and Flash (Jeff Kinzbach and Ed Ferenc) on The Buzzard Morning Zoo.[68]

While the change in programming alienated many longtime listeners — many of whom switched to WNCX and their full-time classic rock format — WMMS boosted its ratings for the first time in years by drawing in a new young audience.[64][66] Billboard and Airplay Monitor magazines together named WMMS Rock Station of the Year (Medium Market) in 1995,[69] and Modern Rock Station of the Year (Medium Market) in 1996.[70] John Gorman was named Program Director of the Year (Rock) in 1995.[69]

Despite quantifiable success,[66] the station was sold yet again in 1996, this time to Nationwide Communications (meanwhile, longtime WMMS sister station WHK was sold off to Salem Communications).[71][72] The sale came almost immediately following passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, as radio companies nationwide rushed "at a fever pitch" to acquire new properties.[71] John Gorman — who has since openly expressed his frustration with the industry's current state[73][74] — first departed for CBS Radio in Detroit,[75][76] but soon left traditional radio altogether.[73]

BuzzardFest series

During this time, WMMS held a series of sold-out rock festivals that featured many of the new up-and-coming artists receiving station airplay. Buzzard-Palooza was the first of these: held in July 1994 at the Nautica Stage, the all-day concert included sets from Collective Soul, Junkhouse and Fury in the Slaughterhouse,[77] but was cut short after turning into a "rock-and-bottle-throwing melee." Cleveland Police wearing riot gear were called in just as punk rock group Green Day, the event's headliner, took the stage.[78] WMMS scheduled a second Green Day performance just two months later — this time at Blossom Music Center — and at a near record-low cost of $5 per ticket, the station gave fans a "second chance" to see the band live.[79]

The Ramones headlined BuzzardFest '95 the following spring (May 1995) at Blossom;[80] other acts included Our Lady Peace, The Rugburns and Face to Face.[80] BuzzardFest II was held the very next fall (September 1995) — again at Blossom — and featured performances from the Goo Goo Dolls, Alanis Morissette, Jewel, as well as the Dance Hall Crashers, Eleven, Green Apple Quick Step, Prick and Sons of Elvis.[81][82]

The next of these multi-act shows — simply titled BuzzardFest — was held in May 1996 at Blossom Music Center and featured performances from 311 and No Doubt, along with Candlebox, The Nixons, Goldfinger, Gods Child, Dash Rip Rock and the Holy Barbarians.[83]

BuzzardFest 2000 was held June 30, 2000 at the Nautica Stage.[84] Stone Temple Pilots, performing in Cleveland for the first time in six years, headlined the event.[84]

Active rock years

WMMS owner Nationwide Communications was bought out by Jacor Communications in 1997.[85] Following Jacor's takeover, WMMS ran a "Death of the Buzzard" month-long stunt in October 1998.[86] Geared as a format change to Contemporary Hit Radio (CHR) as KISS 100.7,[87][88] the decision was reversed last-minute by management,[3] though the "KISS" brand and format did later end up on WMMS sister station WAKS.[7] In the wake of the month-long stunt, a new airstaff was assembled. Most notably, Slats (Tim Guinane) was hired for afternoon-drive replacing Brian & Joe, who took the morning slot on sister station WMVX, and music director Mark Pennington replaced "BLF Bash" (Bill Freeman) during overnights. Seth the Barbarian (Seth Williams) took the overnight shift when Pennington moved to evenings in 2001.[89]

Less than a year later, Jacor was absorbed by media giant Clear Channel: the May 1999 sale continued the buying frenzy brought on by controversial and far-reaching federal deregulation.

Bo Matthews, who became program director for WMMS in early 2004, hired Maxwell (Ben Bornstein) that April for a more "personality-driven" afternoon show: The Maxwell Show gradually evolved from airing mostly music to all talk, and by 2009 had become the number one afternoon program in several key demographics.[90][91] LovelineWestwood One's nationally syndicated call-in show hosted by Dr. Drew — aired weeknights from August 2008 through June 2010.[92]

WMMS veteran John Gorman has remained a vocal critic of Clear Channel; Gorman recently commented on the company's former Cleveland executive, Kevin Metheny (the man dubbed "Pig Virus" by Howard Stern during their time at WNBC):[74]

He had a volatile time here. People in radio say he was not an easy guy, that dealing with him was like a daily root canal. His big focus here was trying to build WTAM into the city's top radio station. He is the one who really put Mike Trivisonno front and center and turned Triv into whatever he is today. He definitely turned WTAM into something. But I'm not sure it is something to be proud of.

In September 2007, WMMS management chose to "de-emphasize" both the Buzzard and WMMS call letters, referring to the station as simply 100.7, save for the FCC-mandated legal ID at the top of every hour.[12] Regarding the change, WMMS Program Director Bo Matthews said, "… nobody's killing anything... Chief Wahoo is not on every piece of Indians promotional material... Ronald McDonald is not in every McDonald's commercial... We're not losing the letters. All we're doing is shifting an image."[12]

By April 2008, the station had reverted to its traditional branding, once again frequently making use of both the noted mascot (in name) and famed call letters[13][93] — though the station had also opted to replace the classic Buzzard design (David Helton's original is still frequently used for promotional purposes).[94] The change continued the reduced emphasis on the station's earlier years while also acknowledging The Buzzard's storied past. The new WMMS logo — created by Cleveland area web/graphic designer Scott Schumacher[95] — displays orange wings on the sides of a weathered black shield in the shape of a U.S. Route sign, with white print reading "100.7 WMMS."[96]

Morning troubles

From the 1994 exit of Jeff & Flash (Jeff Kinzbach, Ed Ferenc) — themselves enjoying a run of nearly twenty years — until the arrival of Rover (Shane French) in 2008, WMMS was beset by a roster of thirteen different morning shows in as many years. Ross Brittain temporarily filled in prior to the arrival of Brian and Joe (Brian Fowler, Joe Cronauer). Brian and Joe were moved to afternoons in February 1997 after a change in ownership brought the addition of shock jock Liz Wilde (Anne Whittemore). Her firing less than a year later sparked a successful lawsuit against both the station and then-owner Nationwide Communications. Danny Czekalinski and Darla Jaye were teamed up in October 1997 with Liz Wilde holdover Cory Lingus (Cory Gallant) until August 1998. Matt Harris served in the interim until WMMS hired Dick Dale from Jacksonville, Florida.[97]

In 2000, the station turned to Wakin' up with Wolf and Mulrooney (Bob Wolf, John Mulrooney) from sister station WPYX in Albany, New York. The show was simulcast from Albany, marking the first time that a morning show on WMMS did not originate in Cleveland. The team did later relocate to Cleveland, but lasted only months until an acrimonious breakup forced the station to look elsewhere. Other shows, like The Buzzard Morning Show with Rick and Megalis (Rick Eberhart, Tom Megalis) and WMMS Mornings with Sean, Cristi, and Hunter (Sean Kelly, Cristi Cantle, Hunter Scott), came and went in quick succession. The Bob and Tom Show aired from 2006 through early 2008, the only time since adopting a rock format that WMMS carried a syndicated program in that time slot with no connection to the station through out the duration of its run.[97][98]

The Maxwell Show

Ohio native Maxwell (Ben Bornstein) was hired on for the WMMS afternoon drive in April 2004 following the departure of Slats (Tim Guinane) for rival station WXTM.[99] An experienced on air personality,[100] Maxwell was joined by WMMS Music Director Dan Stansbury and Chunk (Tiffany Peck), a young phone screener whose role grew significantly during the course of the show's run.

The Maxwell Show began as a mostly a kind-of rock/talk hybrid, but gradually became all talk. Humor was always a major component of the show, but the cast occasionally delved into rather serious issues. Maxwell was known for having feuds with other radio personalities during the show's time at WMMS, including fellow WMMS personality Rover of Rover's Morning Glory and fellow Clear Channel host Mike Trivisonno, airing directly opposite The Maxwell Show on WTAM.

On April 3, 2009, The Maxwell Show went on the air claiming that Metallica — in Cleveland for the 2009 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony the very next day — was playing a free show in the WMMS parking lot later that evening. Following the prank announcement, station management placed Maxwell on probation for 90 days. Already strained by ongoing contract renewal negotiations, the incident further alienated the two parties, and by November of that year the show was cancelled.[90]

Studio and transmitter locations

W8XUB/WHK-FM Studios
Location Years Address Photo
Terminal Tower 1946–1951 50 Public Sq., Suite 1311
Cleveland, OH 44113
41°29′53.72″N 81°41′38.78″W / 41.4982556°N 81.6941056°W / 41.4982556; -81.6941056
Terminal Tower - Cleveland, OH (black & white).jpg
WHK Building
(now Agora Theatre and Ballroom)
1951–1968 5000 Euclid Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44103
41°30′13.50″N 81°39′13.83″W / 41.50375°N 81.6538417°W / 41.50375; -81.6538417
Agora - Cleveland, OH (black & white).jpg
WMMS Studios
Location Years Address Photo
WHK Building
(now Agora Theatre and Ballroom)
1968–1977 5000 Euclid Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44103
41°30′13.50″N 81°39′13.83″W / 41.50375°N 81.6538417°W / 41.50375; -81.6538417
Agora - Cleveland, OH.jpg
Statler Office Tower
(now Statler Arms)
1977–1992 1127 Euclid Ave., 12th Floor
Cleveland, OH 44115
41°30′2.33″N 81°41′5.38″W / 41.5006472°N 81.6848278°W / 41.5006472; -81.6848278
Statler Arms - Cleveland, OH.jpg
Skylight Office Tower 1992–2001 1660 W. 2nd St., Suite 200
Cleveland, OH 44113
41°29′50.00″N 81°41′36.25″W / 41.49722°N 81.6934028°W / 41.49722; -81.6934028
Skylight Office Tower - Cleveland, OH.jpg
Centerior Energy Building (fmr.) 2001–Present 6200 Oak Tree Blvd., 4th Floor
Independence, OH 44131
41°23′37.77″N 81°39′41.97″W / 41.393825°N 81.6616583°W / 41.393825; -81.6616583
6200 Oak Tree Blvd. - Independence, OH.jpg
WMMS Transmitter
Site in continuous use by station since 1946 · Current tower constructed in 1991
Years Address Photo
1991–Present 3650 Pleasant Valley Rd., Tower 2
Seven Hills, OH
41°21′32.00″N 81°40′5.00″W / 41.35889°N 81.66806°W / 41.35889; -81.66806
Tower 2 - 3650 Pleasant Valley Rd. - Seven Hills, OH.jpg

Current programming

Billboard promoting Rover's 2008 move to WMMS, a parody of the Nike "Witness" ad campaign for Lebron James — now formerly of the Cleveland Cavaliers.[13][101]

At this point, WMMS has not regained the number one total listener audience which it held, more or less continuously, from 1975 to 1991. Additionally, the station now carries more than nine hours of talk programming every weekday (moreover, during drive time). The station's problems are further compounded by lesser emphasis on local personalities (in particular, voice-tracking nights and weekends); ever shrinking and homogenized playlists; over-commercialization; greater censorship; and increasingly limited creative control.[102] Much of this is attributed to the station's current ownership of Clear Channel Communications.[102][103]

Regardless, WMMS remains one of the most important rock stations in the history of FM radio. Radio & Records (R&R) twice named WMMS "Rock Station of the Year: Markets 1-25" (2005, 2006) as part of R&R's annual Industry Achievement Awards (R&R has subsequently been absorbed by Billboard magazine).[104] More recently, readers of Cleveland Scene chose both Rover (2009) and Alan Cox (2010, 2011) as the best radio personalities in Cleveland;[105][106] WMMS itself was named best radio station in 2010.[107]

Program Director Bo Matthews recently summarized the station's current programming philosophy:[108]

This radio station is known for breaking the rules, changing the game and being successful. We all have such respect for what this station did back in the day. That will never be done again. All we can do is hope to create something cool so that in 20 years people will say, 'Man, remember what WMMS used to be like? It really was an awesome time.'

Besides a standard analog transmission, WMMS broadcasts over two HD Radio channels. 100.7 HD-1 simulcasts the analog feed, while 100.7 HD-2 broadcasts an alternative rock format as The Alternative Project. Both feeds are available online and via iHeartRadio.[1]

Rover's Morning Glory

Rover's Morning Glory serves as the current WMMS morning show. Rover (Shane French) began in Cleveland in 2003 at rival WXTM (now WKRK-FM), but in what was considered "a big blow" to that station and "a coup" for The Buzzard by WMMS veteran John Gorman,[109] Rover ended his contract CBS Radio and moved the program over in the spring of 2008.

The show is also carried on WZNE in Rochester, New York, a holdover affiliate from when the program was syndicated by CBS Radio as a regional replacement for The Howard Stern Show.

The Alan Cox Show

Radio personality Alan Cox took over the afternoon-drive slot as host of The Alan Cox Show on December 16, 2009, replacing former host Maxwell (Ben Bornstein) after contract renewal negotiations fell through between Bornstein and the station.[110][90] Before arriving at WMMS, Cox was host of The Morning Fix at the former WKQX in Chicago, Illinois and The Alan Cox Radio Show at WXDX-FM in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.[108]

Cox is joined by comedian Chad Zumock (formerly of Last Call Cleveland) and Erika Lauren (Erika Wasilewski), a cast member from the MTV reality series The Real World: Washington D.C..[111]

Sixx Sense with Nikki Sixx

The nationally-syndicated Sixx Sense with Nikki Sixx (via Premiere Radio Networks) airs during the evening hours. The program, hosted by former Motley Crue co-founder/bassist Nikki Sixx and radio personality Kerri Kasem, combines celebrity interviews and discussion about rock music, the "rock star life," and pop culture with music from the WMMS playlist.[8] Sixx and Kasem also host a companion show airing Sunday nights, The Side Show with Nikki Sixx.[112]

Active rock and weekends

The weekday active rock disc jockeys are Maria (Maria Calo) middays and Shroom (Jason Schumm) overnights.[113][114] Maria is locally-based while Shroom is voice-tracked from Cincinnati.[113][114] Corey Rotic (Corey Hawkins) hosts The Rock Report, a brief daily segment devoted to rock news that regularly repeats throughout each weekday.[115][116]

Maria, Corey Rotic, Miles (Miles Hlivko), Keith (Keith Hotchkiss) and Josh Kolodny are the local DJs heard weekends, as WMMS is much more music intensive on Saturday and Sunday than it is during the week. Other weekend programming includes Skratch'N'Sniff, a syndicated mash-up show hosted by Malcolm Ryker and DJ Mike Czech;[117] and The House of Hair, a syndicated heavy metal show hosted by Dee Snider.[118]

Sports coverage

WMMS has served as the FM flagship station for the Cleveland Browns since 2001, sharing coverage with AM sister station WTAM.[9] WMMS previously shared Browns coverage in the 1970s, 80s and early 90s with former AM sister station WHK.

WTAM serves as the sole flagship station for both the Cleveland Cavaliers and Cleveland Indians, but WMMS does function as its backup station, carrying select games of each team during scheduling conflicts (this includes Indians spring training games). If during a Cavaliers/Indians conflict the Cavaliers are not in a playoff game, WMMS carries the Cavaliers (unless it's during spring training, then WMMS carries the Indians).[119] If during a Cavaliers/Indians conflict the Cavaliers are in a playoff game, WMMS carries the Indians.[120]

References

  • Adams, Deanna R. (2002). Rock and Roll and the Cleveland Connection. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press. ISBN 978-0-87338-691-3. 
  • Gorman, John; Feran, Tom (2007). The Buzzard: Inside the Glory Days of WMMS and Cleveland Rock Radio — A Memoir. Cleveland, Ohio: Gray & Co. ISBN 978-1-88622-847-4. 
  • Keith, Michael C. (1997). Voices in the Purple Haze: Underground Radio and the Sixties. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger. ISBN 978-0-27595-266-2. 
  • Neer, Richard (2001). FM: The Rise and Fall of Rock Radio. New York, New York: Villard Books. ISBN 978-0-67946-295-8. 
  • Olszewski, Mike (2003). Radio Daze: Stories from the Front in Cleveland's FM Air Wars. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press. ISBN 978-0-87338-773-6. 
  • Talevski, Nick (2008). Hang On Sloopy: The History of Rock & Roll in Ohio. Green, Ohio: Guardian Express Media. ISBN 978-0-98005-610-5. 
  • Toman, James A. (1997). Cleveland Stadium: The Last Chapter. Cleveland, Ohio: Cleveland Landmarks Press, Inc. ISBN 978-0-93676-010-0. 
  • Wolff, Carlo (2006). Cleveland Rock and Roll Memories: True and Tall Tales of the Glory Days, Told by Musicians, DJs, Promoters, and Fans Who Made the Scene in the '60s, '70s, and '80s. Cleveland, Ohio: Gray & Co. ISBN 978-1-88622-899-3. 


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