Infobox Radio Station
name = WAKR
branding = 1590 WAKR
slogan = "Akron's News Authority"
October 16, 1940
frequency = 1590 (kHz)
format = News/Talk
power = 5,000
class = B
owner = Rubber City Radio Group
ABC Radio Paul Harvey
website = [http://www.wakr.net/ www.wakr.net]
callsign_meaning = AKRon
coordinates = coord|41.02154|N|81.50343|W|region:US_type:landmark|display=inline,title
WAKR is an AM radio station in
Akron, Ohio, USA operating on 1590 kHz. It is owned by Rubber City Radio Group, Inc. which also owns Akron's WONE-FMand WQMXand Lansing's WJXQ, WQTX, WJZLand WVIC. The station features local news and talk in the morning, with an oldiesformat throughout the rest of the day.
WAKR has also been for many years the Akron affiliate for broadcasts of the
Cleveland Indians, Cleveland Brownsand Cleveland Cavaliers. Their news department (dubbed the "Rubber City Radio Newsroom") also feeds drive-time news and traffic updates to sister stations WONE and WQMX, and updates the company's "AkronNewsNow" local news and information website. [http://www.akronnewsnow.com]
Despite carrying the oldies format, WAKR still identifies itself as "Akron's News Authority."
The station began broadcasting on
October 16, 1940, founded by S. Bernard Berk and licensed to his family owned business Summit Radio Corp. It became the Blue Network and then the ABC radioaffiliate for Akron, broadcasting with 5,000 watts.
While crosstown rival WADC (now
WARF) had the advantage of being a CBS affiliate with its popular network programs, WAKR built its reputation primarily through local programming, supplemented with an active news department. The local emphasis worked, and during WAKR's peak, in 1946 and 1947, Hooper ratings showed the station with as much as 60 percent of the Akron audience.
Alan Freedjoined WAKR and became a local favorite, playing hot jazz and pop recordings. When he left the station, the non-compete clause in his contract limited its ability to find work elsewhere, and he was forced to take the graveyard shift at Cleveland's WJW radio where he eventually made history playing the music he called "Rock and Roll."
In 1946, Berk expanded ownership of Summit Radio Corp. by selling 45% to the Beacon Journal Publishing Co., publishers of the
Akron Beacon Journal. The newspaper company would continue to own a piece of Summit's operations for 30 years [http://184.108.40.206:8080/bj/news/2000/September/10/docs/031187.htm] .
During the 1950s and 1960s WAKR was Akron's premier radio station. It operated as a very successful
Top 40station during the 1960s, competing with cross-town WHLO. WAKR also started Akron's first FM station, WAKR-FM, in 1948. It changed to easy listeningWAEZ in the late 1960s, and became rock WONE-FMon January 1, 1985.
WAKR also started Akron's first television station WAKR-TV on channel 49 in 1953. The station moved to channel 23 in 1967, and changed its callsign to WAKC-TV in 1986 when it ceased being commonly owned with the radio station. The television station is now
Since taking to the air, WAKR has been the home to many personalities who would become national stars, among them film actors
Lola Albrightand Mark Stevens; radio names Peter Hackes, Scott Muniand Charlie Greer; and the first host of TV's " Jeopardy!" Art Fleming(known there as Art Fazzin).
Ownership of the Berk family broadcasting interests was organized as Group One Broadcasting around 1965 when it purchased
WONE (AM)and WONE-FM (later WTUE) in Dayton. It bought KBOX and KBOX-FM in Dallas in 1967, and KLZ and KLZ-FM in Denver in 1972. Summit Radio and Group One were dissolved in June 1986, and the station passed through four different owners in the next seven years. By then, WAKR was airing a full-service adult contemporary/ pop musicformat.
WAKR along with WONE-FM and the other Group One stations were sold to DKM Broadcasting in June 1986 (WAKR's license was transferred in September 1986). DKM (for Dyson, Kisner and Moran) sold all of its properties, including other stations in Dayton, Dallas, Denver, Baltimore, Springfield and Lincoln, on January 1, 1988 for $200 million to
Summit Communications Group(which had no connection to Summit Radio, WAKR's previous owner).
Ownership passed to U.S. Radio headed by Ragan Henry on
December 7, 1989. Not too long after the Gulf War in early 1992, WAKR abruptly dropped its' standards format, and went into a news-talk format. It featured national hosts Rush Limbaughand Larry King, local talk hosts Bill Hall and Dave Milo, plus a morning-drive news program hosted by Bob Allen, the lone holdover from the previous format. WAKR and WONE-FM were then transferred on December 6, 1993to Gordon-Thomas Communications, Inc., headed by Thom Mandel, which also owned WQMX. The company changed its name to Rubber City Radio Group on the same day.
WAKR failed to catch on with the news/talk format, and Mandel himself felt a need to revert WAKR back to its' full service format. In mid-1994, WAKR did just that, becoming a pop standards/talk hybrid with Bob Allen, Bob Friend and Christie Maxx during the daytime and national talk with
Bruce Williamsand Jim Bohannonat night. In 1997, the station went back to talk, but on a more national scale with Gary Burbank, The Fabulous Sports Babeand ESPN Radioprogramming eventually added into the schedule. News-intensive local programming was kept in both morning and afternoon drive.
In 1999, the station reverted back into a standards format with most music programming being satellite-based from
Westwood One, with its' morning news program as the lone holdover of the previous format. Coincidentally, one of the Westwood One Adult Standards personalities that was heard on the station, Chick Watkins, had local ties in that he was program director at WCUEand WCUE-FM from 1956 to 1970 (and also was program director for Cleveland's WGAR from 1970 to 1982). However, an all-local weekday lineup was officially unveiled on August 30, 2006.
In the fall of 2007, WAKR began to shift the music portion of its format from adult standards to
Oldies. Program director Chuck Collins told " Radio & Records" in October that the station's evolution from standards to oldies would be complete by the end of the year [http://www.radioandrecords.com/RRWebSite/NewsStoryPage.aspx?ContentID=2PPL5Fm91dA%3D&Version=1 1] . The change helps fill the gap for the oldies format created in the Akron/Canton area by WHBC-AM's recent elimination of oldies music from its program schedule to become a standards news/talk station.
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