Text and photos by SCOTT FYBUSH
Over the past 25 years, your editor has been through Toledo probably 100 times, heading to and from our alternate home base in Indiana. And after many years of neglecting the Glass City, we’re finally making an effort to spend some time there and see what there is to be seen in the market.
This week’s visit was prompted by a new job: our friend Mark Elliott, who’d been part of our fascinating tour of WIKY and its sister stations in Evansville, Indiana a few years ago, moved to Cumulus in Toledo in mid-2014 to be operations manager at WRQN (93.5) and WWWM (105.5).
We stopped by for a visit at the very start of 2015, on the way home from a New Year’s visit to Indiana, and got the nickel tour of the Cumulus facility at 3225 Arlington Avenue on the southwest side of Toledo, right next to the University of Toledo Medical Center.
This site dates back to 1946, when WTOD went on the air as a 1000-watt daytimer, with transmitter out here at what was then the rural intersection of Byrne and Arlington and studios downtown at 515 Madison Avenue. (Trivia: what station used a much more famous “515 Madison Avenue” address around this same time?)
WTOD’s successor, WWYC (1560), is still here – but it’s been sold off away from the rest of the cluster. It’s now a religious station owned by CSN Radio, with its tower in the Cumulus parking lot and its transmitter right inside where it was throughout all its time as WTOD. In its last years as WTOD, 1560 had upped its day power to 5000 watts with a two-tower array here; with the transfer to CSN, 1560 reverted to nondirectional operation and the second DA tower was torn down. (WWYC is now 1500 watts daytime, 920 watts during critical hours and 3 watts after dark, with a translator here at 104.1.)
There’s a bit of irony in this building being home to the Cumulus cluster in 2015: long before the Dickey brothers were building their radio empire, their father John Dickey Sr. was starting his own radio group in Toledo – but he was doing it across town in the eastern Toledo suburb of Oregon at WOHO (1470). It wasn’t until 1997 that Dickey’s sons combined 1470 and its eventual FM sister at 105.5 with WTOD and its longtime FM sister, WKKO (99.9), over here at the Arlington facility.
So what do we have here now? A whole bunch of stations in a building that’s been added on to several times since WTOD moved its studios out here in the 1960s. There’s a long hallway running along the front of the building that houses all the air studios: to the left of the lobby, across from the transmitter room, is the studio for rocker WXKR (94.5 Port Clinton), which is also used to track “The Zone,” which runs on a Toledo translator at 100.7 and on the HD2 of WWWM (105.5).
A window in the lobby looks right into the studio of WKKO (99.9), the former WTOD-FM that’s now “K100,” the big country station in town. (It used to have its transmitter here, too, but now broadcasts from out in the tower farm east of Toledo, which we’ll see in a future installment.) Next to WKKO is WRQN (93.5 Bowling Green), the classic hits station, followed by the studios for sports WLQR-FM (106.5 Delta) and talker WLQR (1470), the current incarnation of the old WOHO.
WWWM (105.5), aka “Star 105,” is across the hall at the end, with a big window looking out to Arlington.
The rest of the building, in two big clusters of additions tacked on behind the studio cluster, is the usual grouping of tech core, sales, programming and executive offices.
And we leave you this week out on Pickle Road in Oregon, Ohio, where our hotel room for the night just happened (coincidence, I swear!) to back up to the 1470 transmitter site. A lot of great talent came out of that old studio building, which is now mostly vacant except for the WLQR transmitter.
Thanks to WRQN’s Mark Elliott for the tour!
The Fybush Media podcast is back – for real! Listen to our latest episode right here!
Season two of “Top of the Tower” offered you several preview editions during the NAB Show last month in Las Vegas – and now we’re (finally!) back to regular weekly editions. Join host Scott Fybush and a wide variety of industry insiders every Wednesday for interesting conversation about what’s happening in the business of radio and TV, not to mention programming, engineering and the newsroom.
Find “Top of the Tower” on all your favorite podcast platforms or right here at fybush.com – and check out our Season 1 Archives, too!
And don’t miss a big batch of Toledo IDs next Wednesday, over at our sister site, TopHour.com!
Next week: New York’s Mohawk Valley