The World-Famous Tower Site Calendar 2007

February 2, 2007

More AMs in Canton, Akron and Kent, Ohio

A few weeks ago on Site of the Week, we showed you the Art Deco splendor of the studios at WHBC in Canton, Ohio - and then the modern efficiency of WHBC's daytime AM and FM site, up north of Canton.

This week, we turn our attention to some of the other sites in and around the Hall of Fame City, beginning with one just down the road from the WHBC daytime site.

Follow Middlebranch Road south from WHBC and it turns into Martindale Road - and it's there that we find this little brick studio building and, just beyond it, the little four-tower array of WINW (1520).

"WIN-Wonderful" was Canton's last new AM signal, signing on in the mid-sixties. It was once a pretty major player on the Canton Top 40 scene, but in recent years, it's been a less visible part of the local radio picture, broadcasting black gospel and religion from sunrise to sunset.

Those four towers push WINW's kilowatt of power straight south, into Canton and away from another 1520 signal just 22 miles away - but we'll get to that in a moment.

As for the building, it hasn't been home to WINW's studios for years, but when we drove by, it was still home to what was once WINW's sister FM station. WRQK (106.9) was going through some big changes last fall, moving from its old self-supporting tower at 22nd Street and Whipple Avenue on Canton's northwest side to a new guyed tower next door, changing owners from Cumulus to Clear Channel, and changing studio locations from Martindale Road to Clear Channel's Freedom Avenue facility in North Canton.

That studio - and the new WRQK tower - became home to another new station after our visit, when the former WJER-FM (101.7) moved from Dover, 25 miles south of Canton, to North Canton, becoming WHOF ("Hall Of Fame" city, remember?) as "My 101.7."

In the meantime, we can at least show you the clearing next to the old tower where the base for the new one had just been poured when we stopped by in mid-December - and we'll have to stop by again on our next trip to get some pictures of the finished product.

We can also show you the other station at 22nd and Whipple: At 900 on the dial, WCER runs 500 watts by day, 75 watts at night, non-directional into an antenna strung on that guyed tower right behind its studios. The little station carries a mix of talk, religion and sports, including a very healthy diet of high school play-by-play.

It's got a nice little studio and office facility here, too, with a production room, a talk studio and an air studio all lined up along the front wall. In back, behind the offices, sits one of the few Energy-Onix AM transmitters we've seen in action.

(There's a reason 900 and 106.9 are next to each other out here - before 106.9 was a sister station to WINW, it was a sister station to 900. The AM signal signed on in the late forties as WAND, becoming WCNS by the time the FM signed on in the early sixties as WCNO. After the FM split off as WOOS a few years later, the AM side became WNYN - "Nine" - and then WTOF, paired with another FM on 98.1, before eventually becoming WCER a few years back.)

From 22nd and Whipple, we head north just a few blocks to Hills and Dales Road, where we find the last Canton AM on our tour. The daytimer on 1060 (now running 5 kW into two towers) signed on in the late forties as WCMW before settling down as WOIO, calls it used for several decades before changing subtly to WQIO. As "Q-10," it became a top 40 station that's still legendary, at least in certain circles, but with the coming of FM, 1060 changed again, spending many years as WRCW before going Catholic a couple of years ago as WILB, "Living Bread Radio."

WILB has a construction permit to leave this site eventually, which is probably a good thing; while you can't see it very well in this picture, the old studio/transmitter building on the site looks like it suffered a fire not long ago, and the station's studio is now somewhere else.

From here, we head north and east to that other 1520 we mentioned before. Just 22 miles or so from WINW sits WJMP (1520 Kent), running a kilowatt, daytime-only, into a six-tower array that has a very tight null toward Canton and a big lobe to the northwest, in the direction of Akron and Cleveland's southern suburbs.

These days, WJMP plays second fiddle to its sister FM station, WNIR (100.1), which has established itself as one of the most successful FM talkers in the country with an all-local lineup aimed at the greater Akron area.

As for the AM, it's doing sports, the latest in a long line of formats that has included "TV on the Radio," a simulcast of two co-owned LPTV stations serving Akron and Cleveland. Both WJMP and WNIR have their studios in the building next to the towers, which is next to a golf course on the outskirts of Kent, on Route 59 east of town.

We'll close out this installment of Site of the Week with a look at two more AM sites in nearby Akron.

Follow Route 59 west, as we did, through the tony Akron suburbs of Stow and Silver Lake, cross Route 8 (the busy connection between Akron and Cleveland), head up through Cuyahoga Falls on State Road, and you'll soon arrive at the two-tower site of WARF (1350 Akron), Clear Channel's progressive talker.

Its two towers have been on this site since 1940, throwing 5 kW north and south into Akron and Cleveland's southern suburbs, and they've seen a lot of call letters and formats come and go - WADC way back when, then country "Whistler" WSLR for many years, then urban "Touch" as WTOU, and most recently the "Radio Free Ohio" heard there now.

Keep going north on State Road, stay left when Quick Road splits off to the west, and turn left again on Bellaire Lane, and you'll end up at the final site we saw that cloudy September afternoon.

It's hard to fit all six towers of WCUE (1150 Cuyahoga Falls) into a single frame - almost impossible, in fact - but look closely and you can at least make out five of them in this picture. These six towers pump out 5 kW by day, 500 watts at night, and these days WCUE is an outlet of Oakland-based Family Stations, Inc., serving both Cleveland and Akron, though with a very tight directional pattern that misses significant portions of both cities' suburbs.

There are more Akron AMs that we didn't see this trip, and in a later installment we'll take close looks at WHLO (640) and WAKR (1590), west and south of downtown, respectively. But first, we're getting geared up for our big recap of our autumn 2006 Big Trip, featuring the stations of Oregon and Washington State. Stay tuned...

Thanks to John Amrhein for the WCER tour!

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