Ninety-nine years ago today – March 23, 1922 – was the official “grand opening” for WLW-AM, when the station advertised its first regular broadcasting program schedule.
Owner Powel Crosley Jr. had started broadcasting from his College Hill home on March 2, as I noted in my story three weeks ago.
With WLW-AM starting into its 100th year of broadcasting, here are 100 things to celebrate about the self-proclaimed “Big One.”
WLW-AM’s ad for Marty Brennaman and Joe Nuxhall in the Reds 2001 media guide.
1. Marty & Joe: Not only does WLW-AM provide a soundtrack to our summers here, but the 50,000-watt Clear Channel signal let us listen to Marty Brennaman and Joe Nuxhall and Reds radio for 31 years in car radios as we traveled from the Upper Peninsula to the Outer Banks or West Palm Beach.
2. Doris Day: While recovering from a 1937 Hamilton car-train wreck, Doris Mary Anne Kappelhoff of Evanston focused on her singing. She performed on WLW-AM as Doris Day, after bandleader Barney Rapp suggested she take a stage name inspired by the song “Day By Day.”
3. Bob Trumpy:Decades before Donald Trump’s presidency, the word “Trump” here meant the former Bengals receiver turned Sports Talkhost from 1980 to 1990. He left to work full-time for NBC Sports covering football, golf, Olympics, boxing and even sumo wrestling. He was awarded the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Pete Rozelle Radio and Television Award in 2014.
4. The Godfather:Bob Trumpy often is called “the godfather of Cincinnati Sports Talk” for his influential show. But many don’t realize that he started the show while still playing for the Bengals in 1976 up the dial at WCKY-AM, after hearing former NBA star Bill Russell doing a radio sports talk show in California. Why not WLW-AM? Because WLW-AM General Manager Charlie Murdock rejected the idea, saying sports talk “wouldn’t work” in Cincinnati.
5. Hot Fudge Sundaes:Bob Trumpy would bet a listener a hot fudge sundae when he thought the caller was wrong. “I loved hot fudge sundaes. When I lost the bet, people would come down and I’d buy them a hot fudge sundae. I had lots of hot fudge sundaes. I got one whether I lost or won the bet,” he once told me.
Credit John Kiesewetter
Gary Burbank in the WLW-AM studio shortly before he retired in 2007.
6. Gary Burbank: The popular Louisville personality came to WLW-AM in 1981 expecting to stay a few years and ended up filling the airwaves with news and pop culture satires until 2007.
7. All My Bengals:During the NFL season Gary Burbank helped Cincinnati football fans through their misery with his All My Bengalssoap opera.
8. Gilbert Gnarley:Burbank’s befuddled old man who, among other things, put K-Y Jelly on toast and then complained about the taste.
9. The Synonymous Bengal: Yeah, I know, he’s another Burbank character. But how else can I get to 100?
Credit John Kiesewetter archives
10. Truckin’ Bozo: In 1984, Dale “Truckin’ Bozo” Sommers started the overnight trucking show which became America’s Truckin’ Network.He drew advertisers from several states because of WLW’s strong signal.
11. Bozo to the Rescue: Dale Sommers helped catch a robbery suspect in 1986 – in Georgia! While chatting off air with a Truckin’ Bozo Showlistener working in a convenience store in Camilla, Ga., he heard her tell someone, “You can’t come back here.” Sommers called Georgia police, who apprehended the robber within minutes.
12. Blow Torch: I believe WLW-AM’s boast that it can be heard at night in 38 states at night. I’ve listened to it in Florida, Illinois, Georgia, Missouri, Michigan, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, West Virginia and Virginia. My friends have picked it up in Rhode Island, Oklahoma and Mississippi. (How about you?)
13. 500,000 Watts: Franklin D. Roosevelt pressed a telegraph key in the Oval Office to activate the nation’s first and only 500,000-watt commercial broadcasting transmitter on Tylersville Road in Mason on May 2, 1934. The experimental “super power” lasted five years, until 1939.
14. The Nation’s Station: The booming 500,000-watt signal inspired WLW-AM to brand itself as “The Nation’s Station” in the 1940s, when the station broadcast An Evening At Crosley Square,P&G’s Ma Perkinssoap opera and other entertainment shows.
15. Jim Scott: He came to Cincinnati in 1968 for old WSAI-AM, but Jim Scott is best remembered for waking us up for years on WLW-AM until he retired in 2015.
Credit Courtesy NBCUniversal
16. Kathy Lehr: During most of her 20 years at WLW-AM (1979-99), Kathy Lehr was news director and morning news anchor.
17. Cris Collinsworth: When Bob Trumpy quit “Sports Talk” in 1990 to go full-time for NBC Sports, he was replaced by Collinsworth, another former Bengals receiver, until he too left the station to work full-time for a TV network. Collinsworth (right, with Al Michaels) did a weekday show with new Reds manager Lou Piniella during the wire-to-wire Reds championship season. I’m told someone suggested calling the show, Lou To Cris.(Say it three times real fast.)
18. Randy Michaels: The former Q102 programmer led the group which bought WLW-AM in 1983, when it ranked ninth in Arbitron’s radio ratings. After Michaels’ promised to teach “the grand old lady to dance,” ratings rebounded with a shift from music to talk.
19. Red Skelton: The Emmy-winning comedian broadcast his first radio show from WLW-AM in 1937. He got in trouble with the White House when newsman/announcer Peter Grant mimicked President Franklin Roosevelt’s voice doing a commercial for sponsor Avalon cigarette.
20. Moon River:This dreamy mix of music and poetry filled overnights from the 1930s to about 1970.
21. Ruth Lyons: Although many think of Ruth Lyons as a TV personality, her noon weekday 50-50 Clubwas simulcast on WLW-AM (as well as sister AVCO TV stations in Dayton, Columbus and Indianapolis) from her 1949 debut to well past her retirement in 1967. At left, Ruth (in white dress) is surrounded by her 50-50 Clubcast in the late 1950s.
22. Marian Spelman:A soprano, Marian Spelman took a break from her daily gig on the 50-50 Clubto sing the “National Anthem” on Opening Day at Crosley Field.
23. Bonnie Lou:Bonnie Lou was another member of the 50-50 Clubcast, but the country singer originally was hired by WLW-AM in the 1940s because the station needed “a girl yodeler.”
24. Cliff Lash Orchestra: Cliff Lash was Ruth Lyon’s bandleader. (Cut me some slack, I need to write 100 of these blurbs!)
25. Rich King: David Letterman’s favorite funnyman, Rich King, did stints at three Cincinnati stations (WCKY, WKRC and WLW). But chances are Dave could only get WLW on his Indianapolis radio.
Credit Clyde Haehnle archives
WLW-AM founder Powel Crosley Jr.
26. “Song of India”:Founder Powel Crosley Jr. repeatedly played a “Song of India” phonograph record over his experimental 20-watt station at his College Hill home in 1922 before officially starting WLW-AM.
27. Andy Williams: Singer Andy Williams and his three brothers (Dick, Don and Bob) sang on WLW-AM’s 15-minute Time to Shine show, sponsored by Griffin (shoe) Polish, at 8 a.m. before going to school in the early 1940s. The theme song: “It’s time to shine! So shine your shoes, and you’ll wear a smile. Shine your shoes, and you’ll be in style. The Sun shines East, and the Sun shines West? Griffin Polish shines the best!”
28. Andy MacWilliams: “Andy Mac” was hired in 1975 to do Cincinnati Stingers games in the World Hockey Association, left to do Chicago Blackhawks games, and returned to WLW-AM to become sports director and call Xavier University basketball games until he experienced voice problems in 1997.
29. Joe Sunderman:The former Xavier University star basketball player moved from Xavier basketball analyst to play-by-play announcer in 1997 after MacWilliams’ voice failed. He’s been paired with analyst Byron Larkin since 1997.
30. Tim Bray: Before going to the Kentucky Speedway, Tim Bray did sportscasts and play-by-play for WLW-AM and anchored weekend sports at WKRC-TV.
Credit John Kiesewetter
31. WLW-AM Tower: The distinctive 831-foot Blaw-Knox tower on Tylersville Road in Mason, next to the old 500,000-watt transmitter building, is one of the few diamond-shaped radio towers in the U.S. It was constructed by welding two radio towers together. WLW’s original antenna with flagpole (since removed) towers over the Washington Monument (558 feet) and the Carew Tower (574 feet).
32. Sports or Consequences:At 4 p.m. during Burbank’s show, he’d ask callers to try to stump his “sufficianados” often consisting of Andy Mac, sports reporter Bill “Seg” Dennison, producer Russ “The Answer Bus” Jackson, Trumpy or Collinsworth and others. Every correct answer was cheered by Burbank’s panel with a “We don’t! We don’t! We don’t mess around!”
33. Mike McConnell: Hired originally to do production in 1984, Mike McConnell frequently dropped in on the Middayshow hosted by Randy Michaels and Alan Gardner. He took over the show in 1985, and hosted it until signing a five-year contract in 2010 with Chicago’s WGN-AM. He returned to Cincinnati in 2014, eventually taking over mornings when Jim Scott retired in 2015.
Credit John Kiesewetter
The former Crosley Corp. plant on Arlington Street, just south of the I-75 interchange with I-74.
34. Arlington Street:During the 1930s, WLW-AM broadcast from the top floors of the Crosley Company’s manufacturing plant at 1329 Arlington Ave., Camp Washington (just south of the I-75/I-74 interchange). The federal government forced WLW to move the show business people and “hillbilly” musicians out of the building during World War II, to protect Crosley’s production of the top-secret proximity fuze used to shoot down enemy aircraft.
35. Crosley Square:In 1942, WLW-AM moved to the former Elks Lodge No. 5 at Ninth and Elm Streets, where the huge two-story ballrooms were perfect for Crosley’s live radio and television shows such starring Ruth Lyons, Paul Dixon, Bob Braun, Jerry Springer and others.
Credit John Kiesewetter
The former Crosley Square building at Ninth and Elm Streets downtown.
35. Durward Kirby:Durward Kirby, best known as Allen Funt’s Candid Cameraco-host or the announcer on The Garry Moore Show,was born in Covington, Ky., in 1911 and got his radio start on WLW.
27. Eddie Albert: The actor best known as Oliver Douglas on Green Acreswas a circus trapeze performer before working at WLW-AM radio in the 1930s. Over his 50-year career he earned two Oscar nominations, for Roman Holidayin 1954 and The Heartbreak Kidin 1973.
Credit Courtesy Library of Congress
38. Fats Waller: The jazz pianist and composer (“Honeysuckle Rose,” “Ain’t Misbehavin’ “) broadcast his Fats Waller’s Rhythm Clubshow from the Arlington Street studios in 1932-34.
39. Bill Cunningham: Attorney Bill Cunningham was hired by Randy Michaels to be the late-night talk host in 1983 when WKRC-AM talk host Allan Browning backed out of a deal to jump stations. He has won two prestigious Marconi Awards for large market Radio Personality Of The Year, in 2001 and 2009.
40. Dom Valentino:Hired in 1969 to call Cincinnati Royals games on radio, Valentino brought excitement to the team’s final three NBA seasons here with his colorful nicknames for Coach Bob Cousy’s players: Nate “Tiny” Archibald, “Jumpin Johnny” Green, Flynn “Electric Eye” Robinson, “Slammin’ Sam” Lacy and “Stormin’ Norman” Van Lier.
41. Weather Radar: In another technology first, WLW-AM was the first radio station to use radar to report weather conditions.
42. Peter Grant:Hired as an announcer-newsman in the 1930s, the versatile Peter Grant transitioned into WLWT-TV’s main news anchor while also regularly appearing on Ruth Lyon’s noontime 50-50 Club.
Credit John Kiesewetter collection
43. Bob Braun:After starting his broadcasting career in 1949 at WCPO-TV, a few months after the station signed on in 1949, Braun jumped to WLW in 1957 after winning the $1,000 first prize on Arthur Godfrey Talent Scouts.He did a weekday radio show and weekend “sock hop” teen dances before taking over the 50-50 Clubwhen Lyons retired in January 1967.
44. Cincinnati Reds:The first game aired on WLW-AM in 1929 – five years before Crosley bought the club in 1934 – according to the Reds media guide. Other stations broadcast games from 1930 to 1969, when WLW-AM acquired the rights.
45. Red Barber: Walter Lanier “Red” Barber, 26, a Florida sportscaster had never seen a Major League Baseball game. He began his Hall of Fame broadcasting career in 1934 when Crosley hired him to do Reds games, primarily for sister station WSAI. But he told me that he filled in hosting Moon Riveron WLW-AM.
46. Mutual Broadcasting System: WLW-AM agreed to join New York’s WOR-AM, Chicago’s WGN-AM and Detroit’s WXYZ-AM in forming the Mutual network, if they’d let Red Barber announce the 1935 World Series.
47. Al Helfer: Sportscaster Al Helfer became WLW-AM’s third winner of the prestigious Ford C. Frick Award, along with Red Barber and Marty Brennaman, when he was posthumously honored in 2019. Helfer called games for the Pirates (1933-34), Reds (1935-36), Yankees (1937-38), Brooklyn Dodgers (1939-41, 1955-57), Yankees (1945), New York Giants (1945, 1949), Phillies (1958), Houston (1962) and Oakland (1968-69).
Reds announcers Al Michaels (right) and Joe Nuxhall in the early 1970s.
48. Al Michaels: Like Red Barber, Al Michaels called his first Major League Baseball game in Cincinnati. The voice of the Triple-A Hawaii Islanders was paired with Joe Nuxhall from 1971-73, then left for the San Francisco Giants radio job, opening the position for Marty Brennaman. He will become WLW-AM’s fourth Frick Award winner in July.
49. Harry Smith: NBC newsman Harry Smith spent the winter of 1976 as an overnight disc jockey on WLW-AM who enjoyed talking to his listeners. He quit after four months to return to Denver, where his talky style led to a local TV news anchor position and a job offer from CBS, where he went on to co-anchor CBS’ Morning Show.
50. Melodious Music: A 1962 WLW-AM sales brochure says the station plays “only music which is melodious and non-raucous … on the air. An exception is the three-hour Saturday afternoon dance program appealing specifically to teenagers. Prior to airing the lyrics of all songs are checked for good taste.”
51. On the Shelf: In its heyday, WLW-AM employed separate orchestras for TV’s 50-50 Club, Paul Dixon Showand Midwestern Hayride.The radio side had a library with 10,000 albums and 4,000 45 RPM records, boasts the 1962 sales brochure produced for the station’s 40th anniversary.
Credit Provided / Jim LaBarbara
Jim LaBarbara at his Kenwood home.
52. Jim LaBarbara:The self-proclaimed “The Music Professor” came to WLW-AM from Cleveland in 1969, and seemed to know everything about everybody involved with rock ‘n’ roll music on his afternoon show. After Randy Michaels pulled the plug on music in the 1980s, LaBarbara worked for WGRR-FM, WCKY-AM, WSAI-AM, WNKR-FM. In recent years he’s returned to WLW-AM as a regular guest on Gary Jeff Walker’s Saturday morning show.
53. Dusty Rhodes: Hamilton County Auditor Dusty Rhodes came to Cincinnati in 1961 as a DJ for powerhouse WSAI-AM, and rocked and rolled through a bunch of stations, including Sunday nights on WLW-AM.
54. Rosemary Clooney: Sisters Rosemary and Betty Clooney made their singing debut on WLW-AM in the 1940s, launching their music careers. Betty came back home in the early 1950s to work at WLWT-TV, while Rosemary found fame in movies, TV and her solo singing career.
Credit Courtesy Rosemary Clooney House
Nick Clooney broadcasting on the Armed Forces Network in 1955.
55. Nick Clooney:The Maysville native enjoyed a long, far-ranging career as a Cincinnati news anchor, TV variety host, DJ and newspaper columnist which began when WLW hired him from a Lexington TV/radio station in 1966 to become a regular on Lyons’ 50-50 Club.
56. Jockey Joe Kelly: Joe Rateau – who called himself “Jockey Joe Kelly” – had a unique challenge when he was hired by WLW-AM in 1969 as the midday DJ. He did his show in two shifts – 10 a.m.-noon, and 1:30-3 p.m. – around the live simulcast of the Bob Braun Showon WLW-AM and WLWT-TV.
57. Chuck Daughtery: WLW-AM was the final stop for radio veteran Chuck Daugherty, after working for stations in New York City, Atlanta, Miami, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Nashville. He replaced Kelly as WLW-AM’s midday DJ 1976-81.
58. Earl Hamner Jr.:The Virginia native got his first professional writing job at WLW-AM in 1948 after graduating from what is now the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He loved to tell coworkers about his Virginia family, which years later became the basis for his TV drama series, The Waltons.
59. Rod Serling: After Hamner left, WLW-AM hired a young writer fresh out of Antioch College in 1950 named Rod Serling. He wrote chatter for variety shows, travel shows and a sitcom – seemingly everything but the allegory dramas which became TV’s iconic The Twilight Zonein 1959.
60.It Could Happen To You:As a freelancer after leaving WLW-AM in September 1951, Serling wrote dramas that WLW-AM broadcast, including It Could Happen To Youon 1954.
61. Son of Bozo: Steve Sommers began working with his father, Dale “Truckin’ Bozo” Sommers, in 1996, and took over the America’s Truckin’ Networkshow in 2004. WLW-AM let go Steve and weekend host Dave Martin and canceled the ATNin November as part of nationwide iHeartMedia budget cuts.
Credit Courtesy WSCH-FM
62. Bubba Bo:Popular country music DJ Eric “Bubba Bo” Boulanger (left) moonlighted from his morning show on Lawrenceburg’s WSCH-FM “Eagle Country 93.3” on weekends, hosting the ATNfor several stints over the past two decades.
63. Mr. MotorKote: Ed Gibbs, spokesman for MotorKote engine lubricants, a longtime ATNsponsor, appeared often on the ATNfor 15 years asking trivia questions, and giving discounts to listeners with the correct answers.
64. On the Road Again: Due to public and advertiser demand, WLW-AM reversed the America’s Truckin’ Networkcancellation two months later with a recorded show at midnight featuring Bubba Bo and Mr. MotorKote in January. Don’t be surprised if the show expands to several hours now that Bubba Bo has retired from his WSCH-FM morning show.
65. Scott Sloan:The former Toledo talk host has been a versatile personality at WLW-AM. Originally he was hired to do nights when Bill Cunningham moved to days. He moved to mornings in 2010 when Mike McConnell left for Chicago.
Tracy Jones (left) and Eddie Fingers took over Gary Burbank’s afternoon time slot in January 2008.
66. Eddie & Tracy:The void left by Gary Burbank’s retirement was filled in early 2008 by pairing longtime WEBN-FM morning Dawn Patrolhost Eddie Fingers with Tracy Jones, a former Reds outfielder. Jones had been hosting the station’s weekend Extra InningsReds post game shows for about a decade. Jones was let go in a 2017 iHeartMedia budget cut.
67. Fake Callers: Regular callers to Jones’ Extra Inningsincluded snobby Richard from Indian Hill who mocked Walmart shoppers and Nick from Loveland, the over-the-top effeminate gay man. As I long suspected, they were “fake callers” – characters playing a “theater of the mind” radio role – to light up the phones and make the town talk, admitted former operations director Darryl Parks after he left the station.
68. Fingers Firing: WLW-AM listeners and Eddie Fingers’ fans were shocked – so was Eddie! – when he was fired by corporate executives during his contract negotiations in September 2010, just 2-1/2 years after replacing Burbank. WLW-AM paired Jones with Scott Sloan in afternoons, and hired Michael “Doc” Thompson from Richmond, Va., to do mornings.
69. Fingers Comeback: Seventeen months later, Fingers’ fans were pleasantly shocked again when WLW-AM re-hired him in January 2010 and again paired him with Jones in the afternoon. Thompson was let go – while on his honeymoon with Yuna Lee, a former anchor-reporter at Dayton’s WHIO-TV.
Credit Courtesy Cincinnati Bengals
70. Dan Hoard:In November you can catch Dan Hoard (right), Cincinnati’s busiest sportscaster, three times a week on WLW-AM doing play-by-play for the Bengals, and University of Cincinnati football and basketball games.
71. Chuck Machock:From 1993 to 2017, Hoard called UC basketball games with Chuck Machock, who played for the Bearcats with Oscar Robertson in the 1950s and helped coach under Bob Huggins. UC fans will remember the time referees tossed Machock out of the gym for protesting a call while broadcasting the UC-Gonzaga NCAA tournament game with Hoard in 2003.
72. Dave Lapham: Hoard’s Bengals sidekick is former lineman Dave Lapham, who has added his analysis to Cincinnati NFL games for 30 years on a variety of stations before WLW-AM got Bengals rights.
73. Helicopter Traffic: Cincinnati Police Lt. Art Mehring first did helicopter traffic reports in 1959. WLW-AM was one of the first – if not the first – to do rush hour traffic reports from a helicopter.
74. Lt. Jim Stanley:Mehring was succeeded by helicopter traffic reporter Lt. Jim Stanley, also a member of the Cincinnati Police Department Traffic Division.
75. Lt. Bill Beahr: After Stanley, Cincinnati Police Lt. Bill Beahr reported from a chopper in 1983.
76. John Phillips:John Phillips took over helicopter traffic reports in 1983. He wasn’t a police officer – but he was a pilot, and flew a helicopter while reporting for WLW-AM and other stations until 2004.
Credit John Kiesewetter
WLW-AM transmitter building next to the tower on Tylersville Road in Mason.
77. Y2K: In late 1999, when the nation was obsessed with computer crashes at the turn of the century, WLW-AM managers eased their anxieties on New Year’s Eve by firing up the 1927 Western Electric transmitter under the Tylersville Road tower to avoid being knocked off the air by a computer bug.
78. The Main Spark:Manager Sparky Anderson did his pregame show, called The Main Spark, throughout his Reds tenure on WLW-AM to sing the praises of the Big Red Machine.
79. Pete Rose:After a brief hiatus when manager John McNamara was hired, the manager’s pregame show resumed when Pete Rose returned to the Reds as player-manager in 1984. The tradition continues today with Tommy Thrall interviewing David Bell.
80. Andy Furman: The Fox Sports Radio host made the transition to radio at WLW-AM in the late 1980s after a brief career as a WLWT-TV sports reporter and a longer stint promoting Latonia Race Course.
81. Sunday Morning Sports Talk:Andy Mac started the station’s signature Sunday show, which was hosted by Tom Dinkel and Furman before current host Ken Broo took over and rolled in great rock music trivia.
Folks singers Peter, Paul and Mary in 1963.
82. Peter, Paul and Mary:In 1962, a year after the folk trio was formed, Peter, Paul and Mary sang on Lyons’ 50-50 Clubto promote their debut album to the Midwest audience through the simulcast on WLW-AM and TV stations in Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus and Indianapolis.
83. Bob Hope: Comedian Bob Hope, who grew up in Cleveland, appeared on WLW-TV and radio shows hosted by Bob Braun or Ruth Lyons whenever he came to town. Same too with Ohio natives Hugh Downs (Akron), Phyllis Diller (Lima), the McGuire Sisters (Middletown), Tim Conway (Willoughby), Ted Lewis (Circleville), Hugh O’Brian (Cincinnati) and Mickey Mouse Club host Jimmie Dodd (Covington, KY).
84. Bill Ridenour:The former Akron DJ did news for WLW-AM from the 1960s until his retirement in 1998. He left his mark on a generation of radio journalists, hiring John London (when WLW and WLWT-TV shared owners) and sports producer Bill “Seg” Dennison, and working with Kathy Lehr, Brian Combs and Bill Tonnis.
Credit John Kiesewetter
Jeff Henderson in 2014 Opening Day parade.
85. Jeff Henderson: The Milford High School graduate started in WLW-AM’s newsroom in 1983, when news director John London left for WLWT-TV. Henderson, who retired as news director in 2019, helped launch the careers of reporters Jack Crumley, Lisa Cooney, Andrew Setters, Lisa Smith, Perry Schiable, Rachel Murray, Bridget Doherty and Ali Miller.
86. Doc Rodgers: The former Reds minor-league pitcher and assistant general manager Darrell “Doc” Rodgers hosted Extra Inningson weekends – and continued to referee high school basketball games – after being diagnosed with lung and brain cancer in 2010. After his illness, he was paired with Rocky Boiman. Rodgers died in 2015 at age 52.
87. COMEX Building:From the mid 1950s to 1976, a small red-brick building at the northwest corner of Ninth and Elm Streets downtown housed WLW’s TV/radio news, sports and weather staff and studios for WLW-AM. The “Communications Exchange” building, across from WLW headquarters at Crosley Square (now the Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy-Armleder campus), had big glass windows and speakers outside so people could watch the DJs or newscasts
Credit John Kiesewetter
The COMEX building at Ninth and Elm Streets.
88. Bill Myers: Versatile announcer Bill Myers, who did TV weather reports from the COMEX building roof, broadcast WLW-AM’s Clockwatcher morning radio show from the building in 1965 for a year. It was replaced by the Dunn & Warner team (Tyler Dunn & Max Warner).
89. James Francis Patrick O’Neill:Prolific humorist “JFPO” took over mornings in 1967, and broadcast a daily soap opera parody from Shady Corners called As The Stomach Turnsin the studio with the Elm Street picture window. O’Neill was replaced in 1981 by Gary Burbank, and later returned to the WSAI-AM airwaves.
90. Everybody’s Farm: WLW-AM served its vast rural audience with a three-person Farm Department staff that traveled 100,000 miles a year to meet with farmers, and operate a 750-acre dairy and poultry farm on U.S. 42 south of the Mason tower “as an example of a good, practical farm,” according to the 1962 sales booklet.
91. Fourth Street Studio: After AVCO Broadcasting sold the radio station in 1976, WLW-AM moved into studios at 3 East Fourth Street, near Vine, where it spent most of the 1980s.
92. Live from Mt. Adams: For most of the 1990s, WLW-AM broadcast from 1111 St. Gregory Street in Mount Adams along with sister Jacor/Clear Channel stations WEBN-FM, WSAI-AM, WCKY-AM and WKRC-AM.
93. Kenwood Home:Having outgrown its Mount Adams building, Clear Channel in fall 2003 agreed to move WLW-AM and its seven other stations into the top floor of an office building at 8044 Montgomery Road, along Intestate 71. The company planned to build about 40 studios to house news, talk, traffic, sports, network and commercial production.
Credit John Kiesewetter
94. Doc Wolfe: Kevin “Doc” Wolfe became Burbank’s sidekick and producer after Gary joined WLW-AM. Wolfe (at far right with Gary Burbank at WCET-TV in 2007) did the “Senseless Survey” calls to unsuspecting listeners, along with helping Burbank edit and produce his other comedy bits.
95. Earl Pitts: After 35 years, Gary Burbank stopped producing original episodes in 2020 of his nationally syndicated commentaries by redneck “Uhmerikun” Earl Pitts. He was able to sustain one of the nation’s longest-running syndicated comedy bits with contributions by his longtime crew of writers: Rob Ervin, Jim Probasco, Tim Mizak, Kel Crum, J.D. Riggs and Todd Richmond.
96. Lynn Gladhill: The overnight “radio psychic” hired by Randy Michaels after buying the station in 1983 should have seen this coming: She was fired in February 1984 for drinking wine while on the air and using profanity. Michaels said she used “obscenities and street terms for bodily functions on the air… named the brand of wine she was drinking and then she hit the bottle on the table a couple of times (in the 4-5 a.m. hour) … She was out of control.”
97.The Sci Zone:Former Enquirer ESP columnist Bill Boshears hosted the Sci Zonecall-in show weekends nights from 1995 to through 2006.
98. Paul Keels:”Voice of the Buckeyes” Paul Keels, a 1975 Moeller High School graduate from Silverton, was a WLW-AM sportscaster 1994-1998 before going to Columbus.
99. Funny Business: The best comedians could be heard on the 50-50 Club:Jerry Lewis, Milton Berle, Edgar Bergan, Henny Youngman, Shelly Berman, Jackie Mason, Imogene Coca, Steve Allen, Mort Sahl, Bob Hope and young up-and-comers in the 1960s like Bob Newhart, George Carlin, George Kirby, the Smothers Brothers and Rowan & Martin.
100. Music Giants: The 50-50 Clubgave listeners a front-row seat for the world’s greatest entertainers who were playing area nightclubs or theaters: Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Sam Cooke, Sammy Davis Jr., Mel Torme, Robert Goulet, Dorothy Dandridge, Andy Williams, Sarah Vaughan, Doc Severinsen, Johnny Mathis, Van Cliburn, Al Hirt, Pete Fountain, Gene Krupa, Oscar Peterson, Cab Calloway, Lionel Hampton, Les McCann, Paul Anka, Annette Funicello and Wayne Newton.
Guess I didn’t need to pad this out after all to reach 100. Happy Birthday WLW-AM.
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