Saturday, June 30, 2018

WHLO-AM 640..After Top 40 1980-1986

Hello Everybody:

Yes the Blog is still here..LOL..For our first post in about two and a half years I want to look back at a Classic Radio Station that was a huge success during the Top 40 AM radio era but fell on hard times and went through a succession of formats before settling on the I Heart News/Talk format of today.  WHLO-AM 640 Akron, Ohio.  But first lets look at some background:

The 640 Allocation first went to WAIU Columbus in 1922, later changing call letters to WBAV,  In the meantime, WJAY Cleveland started on 610, later changing calls to WCLE in 1937 as a companion to WHK-1420 owned by Forest City Enterprises.

About this same time, Forest City acquired WBAV..(renamed WHKC) Because of an FCC rule on duopolies in the same market, WHKC was moved to Akron as 640-WHKK in 1944 and WCLE moved to Columbus as 610 WHKC (Now WTVN)

Forest City sold WHKK to Susquehanna Radio in York, Pa. in late 1959, the sale finalizing in January 1960..With personalities like Uncle Joe Cunningham, Johnny Andrews and Todd T. Taylor, WHLO developed a leading top 40 format with "The Good Guys" which was hugely popular until FM became more prevalent.  In 1975, WHLO added large news blocks and some talk segments until going fully News-Talk in April 1977.

What I want to do is bring out some News articles from the Akron Beacon Journal, mostly written by Mark Dawidziak and Bob Dyer about this part of WHLO History from 1980-1986, until they were sold to Mortensen Broadcasting..

February 3, 1975:Music begins to be phased out..

                                       April 21, 1977:First Month of all Talk-News..

In the meantime, WHLO began winning state and national awards for their News coverage..Adding talk hosts like Lee Hamilton, Steve Fullerton and Nick Anthony, they began to have a following, though not great ratings..Susquehanna finally decided in late 1980 to go "All News" during the day as "The Daily News"

                                                  November 5, 1980:WHLO announces its transformation to "The Daily
                                                 News", during the Day with CBS and Mutual and Talk all Night with
                                                  Larry King. Along with eventually Enterprise Sports at 10-Midnight.


                                          February 11, 1981:Steve Fullerton and Nick Anthony
                                          leave for WSLR..Evidence that the format wouldn't work
                                          in the long run.  Or they didn't give it enough time,

                                 April 2, 1981:WHLO tweaks the other Akron stations for
                                 Playing music the day President Ronald Reagan was shot.

                                 May 1, 1981:Sports Talker Lee "Hacksaw" Hamilton was fired by WHLO
                                 for revealing his imminent ouster before the station was ready to announce
                                  anything.  WHLO gives up on the "News all day, Talk all Night" experiment
                                  and goes to a Music of Your Life/Big Band Music Format..Hamilton went on
                                  to a long career in Phoenix and San Diego doing Sports Talk and also some
                                 National gigs.  He also did Cleveland Crusaders Hockey on WWWE--1100


                                                                             July 26, 1981:Very good article analyzing WHLO's
                                                 Format changes since dropping Top 40 Music..

                                                                   As part of a Mark Dawidziak Column August 15, 1984.
                                                                   Susquehanna announces the sale of WHLO-AM 640 to
                                                                   Xen Zapis who owned WZAK-FM Cleveland.

                                       November 29, 1984:Xen Zapis announces WHLO will go
                                      Contemporary Christian.  WCUE goes MOR
                                       August 7, 1986:Announcement of WHLO sale to Mortensen Broadcasting
                                      Owner of WTOF 900 and 98.1 FM along with some other properties.

There you have it.  Three owners and about four format changes from 1977-86, WHLO was eventually part of The Salem Media Group, then sold in 2001 to Clear Channel and is now part on IHeart Media as..News/Talk 640..

All content courtesy Akron Beacon Journal Archives via  Special Thanks to Maureen Carney, a very good friend..

Monday, January 25, 2016

Cleveland 1961-62 AFTRA Awards

Early KYW-TV 3 Logo-1956-57 era.

The Westinghouse/NBC Cleveland TV-Radio properties swap became official November 1955 with WNBK/WTAM call letters changing to KYW/KYW-TV, respectively at Noon Monday, January 13, 1956. Westinghouse almost immediately complained to the FCC about NBC's "strong-arm" tactics forcing the move.

In the midst of this, 13 Westinghouse executives set up shop in Cleveland. To their credit, they set out to make The KYW properties great stations. They made a big splash immediately with balloons, celebrations and getting the new KYW name out there as much as possible, which we will document on the Facebook Page this week.
New KYW-TV Logo-Introduced January 1961.

As a result of the efforts revitalizing KYW-TV, The American Federation of Radio Arts and Sciences gave KYW 9 awards at their 1961-62 awards program held June 4, 1962. Below as a part of a Russell W. Kane Plain Dealer article is a summary of the complete awards program..

Which leads us to the reason for the post today..On ebay I found a banner with all the awards listed. It appears to be either something used in house by KYW-Westinghouse..Or something as part of a Industry Magazine ad or special section..Havent been able to figure out exactly where it was used..Or who the people are that gave the awards..Below are all the awards as posted on the banner in order..
Some great names there..In recent years, the Screen Actors Guild merged with AFTRA to form one Union. Cleveland was eventually folded into Pittsburgh Ohio SAG-AFTRA..

SAG-AFTRA Pittsburgh-Ohio Chapter

KYW-TV/Radio continued their reputation for excellence in Cleveland Broadcasting until 1965, when the FCC reversed the original swap and KYW Became NBC owned WKYC. This is great glimpse into the past of when KYW was at its best serving Cleveland and Northeast Ohio..

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Stu Shostak-Vintage TV Pioneer..

For our first post in seven months I want to promote someone I consider a good friend. A kindred spirit really, as far as saving vintage television is concerned.

Stu Shostak has been mentioned before here but he is doing something now that I think deserves all our support if we love vintage broadcasting and being able to see it regularly at a reasonable cost..

First, some background:

Stu Shostak grew up in in the Los Angeles area, very much a "TV Kid" just  as I was growing up in the Canton area. Being in LA, he was close to many of the TV broadcast stations, and as he became a teen ager, he became fascinated with TV films, and doing internship at one of the stations he noticed how many shows on film were simply being discarded in the trash..Stu took to "rescuing" as many of these films as possible. Many of them kinescopes and one time only broadcasts could have disappeared forever if not for Stu's foresight.

Fast forward to 1979..Stu and a partner started Shokus Video, probably the first company to sell old TV Shows directly to the home market..By this time Stu had amassed hundreds if not a few thousand different titles, many which are very rare and one of a kind..

Shokus Video Website

In the meantime, Stu began a career as warmup comedian for 1970's and 80's sitcoms and became Lucille Ball's official film and video archivist.

In 2006 Stu began an Internet Radio Show, Stu's Show which airs Wednesdays 4-6PM Pacific Time (7-9 ET).  Here he, and wife Jeannine Kasun host many TV and animation greats, such as Ed Asner, Dick Van Dyke, Linda Kaye Henning, Jerry Beck, Mark Evanier,  William Schallert and many others.  Also producers and directors of classic TV that otherwise would be forgotten are also featured..The conversation is lively and sometimes will go overtime..

Stu's Show

Forward to The present..Stu has begun a "Shokus Video" presence on YouTube, with an eye toward starting a Roku (Internet Streaming TV Box) Channel in the future if there is enough support.  I would love to see a lot of our friends join Stu's YouTube Channel.  For all he's done to preserve Classic TV over the last 35 years or more.  He deserves as much support as we can give him..Here is a link to the channel, just started a few days ago..There will be some content never released on VHS or DVD..Check it out and more importantly, subscribe to it as I have..

Shokus Video YouTube Channel

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Cleveland TV Tales

Cover of "Cleveland TV Tales" By Mike and Janice Olszewski.

     Today I want to review the latest book from Gray and Co, Cleveland TV Tales, by Mike and Janice Olszewski. Mike has been a well known Cleveland radio DJ and has had a long interest in Cleveland TV history. Wife Janice is a Photographer and Travel Expert.

  The book itself is quite an enjoyable read, first Mike delves into the circumstances behind the birth of WEWS, "First In Cleveland" in December 1947, and goes into some detail about Paul Hodges, the first "Personality" on Channel 5..With the station only a short time in 1948-49..
Paul Hodges, with his signature show "Dress and Guess" TeleVue Magazine, early 1949..

The first chapter also talks of early WNBK and WXEL days..
WNBK Bus used for a Mobile Studio..Courtesy Cleveland TV Tales and Tom Feran at
Sleek looking WXEL mobile unit at the Parma Transmitter site (1949-50) Courtesy Richard Warner..

      Even early on, big stars would frequent Local Cleveland shows to plug their projects, etc..Jimmy Stewart visited WEWS to emcee the Cleveland Press Christmas Party..James Cagney is pictured with Tom Haley in an early WNBK segment..In 1961 Chuck Connors visited WEWS and invited Captain Penny (Ron Penfound) to appear in a January 1962 "Rifleman" episode.
Promo Photo/screengrab from Rifleman "The Princess" January 8, 1962 (Courtesy, A Rifleman Tribute Site)..

The next chapter talks of TV News and how it changed over the years, from the "rip and read" headline service in the late 40's, early 50's to the Multiple anchor setups of the 60's and 70's..With several great stories of TV News in Cleveland..

WXEL News Slide (Early 1950's?) Courtesy Neil Zurcher's NEO TV Memories..
Next: a chapter on the musical heritage in Cleveland. (Few know that Country star Dottie West got her start on WEWS Landmark Jamboree with WERE's Tommy Edwards)

Next, Mike writes about personalities..A great chapter on Linn Sheldon/Barnaby opens things up. Sheldon was one of the first popular performers in Cleveland. He could do anything.. then Miss Dorothy Fuldheim The pioneering newscaster that opened the door for women nationally in the news business..Lots of good stories about people who made TV and TV history in the Cleveland area..
Captain Penny with Wilbur Wiffenpoof (Earl Keyes. later known as Mr. Jingeling)-Cleveland Press Collection

Bill Gordon, host of "Tumbleweed Theater" on WJW-TV 8-Cleveland Press Collection
Romper Room with Miss Barbara Plummer-Cleveland Press Collection
Dorothy Fuldheim with Bob Hope "One O' Clock Club" Cleveland Press Collection

The stories Mike writes here are more than dry bio's..Great stories, some rarely or never put in print before and over 60 photos, some not published before anywhere. Had the privilege of meeting Mike at Ghoulardifest a few years back and have been looking forward to this book since then..A great read and well worth picking up..There is already talk of a volume 2..
Link to The book page: Gray and Company-Cleveland TV Tales

Monday, August 11, 2014


Plain Dealer Columnists Oscar and Rita Bergman announce the premiere of Lights Camera Questions Sunday November 16, 1952 on WXEL-9 at 1PM with Bill Gordon as Emcee.

Ad in a "Hipp" Theater promo December 24, 1955
     Today we'll look at another local Game show that had a long run on Cleveland TV, "Lights, Camera, Questions!" The show was sponsored by a consortium of Cleveland Movie Theater Owners who saw TV as a way to get people back in theaters... The show ran on and off for 9 years, until 1961. The show very popular among the movie going crowd and especially in the early years, drew Movie star guests, including Louise Baker, Betty Garrett, Larry Parks, Rock Hudson, Debbie Reynolds, Nina Foch, Melvyn Douglas, Jacques Bergerac, Joan and Jean Corbett, Marilyn Maxwell and Disney Art Director Roy Williams..

Like several local shows of this era, LCQ! changed stations every couple years..Including:

1952-53 WXEL Bill Gordon, John Fitzgerald

1953-54 WNBK Johnny Andrews

1954-55 WXEL Tom McCormack

1955-56 WEWS Phil McLean

1956-57 WEWS Phil McLean

1957-58 KYW-TV

1958-59 WJW-TV

1959 WEWS Alan Douglas

1960 WJW-TV Ed Fisher

1960-61 WJW-TV

Host Johnny Andrews and Gloria Gale promote the 1953-54 season of Lights, Camera Questions on WNBK-4 Thursday Nights at 7PM..
As we said, the show lasted until 1961..There was a brief clip of it on the WJKW-TV 8 30th Anniversary show..

Here is the 1958 panel for the show..It never changed in the 9 years the show was on..At one point, this show was the second longest running local TV show in Cleveland, except for The Gene Carroll Show..

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Early years of WCRF-FM..

To tell the story of the early years of Moody Radio outlet WCRF, it is necessary to go back to the 20's when radio was just getting established.

In 1925, an emergency program by two Moody Bible Institute cornet players led to the Institute establishing WMBI-AM in 1926.

Through the 1930's and 40's WMBI became a leader in Christian radio through doing everything as professionally as possible and developing many programs for eventual syndication to other areas, including Drama, Music, and teaching programs..
Advertisement from 1950-The 24th anniversary of WMBI..

Record of Musical Groups at WMBI..Probably including names such as the Melody Four Quartet, Sixteen Singing Men, Bill Pearce, Helen Barth..All had long careers in Moody Radio..

Recording from Miss Helen Barth

Record from Sixteen Singing Men..

Fast forward to the 1950's. FM 103.3 had been used from approximately 1949-1951 for WCUO-FM in Cleveland operated by Labor Unions, who also operated WDET Detroit..WCUO closed down 1n 1951 and the license turned back into the FCC.

In 1958, A Group of Christian Businessmen in the the Cleveland area wanted to establish a Christian Radio Station and turned to the Moody Bible Institute for help and guidance. MBI agreed to help fund and staff the new station, provided the Cleveland area eventually support the station financially on its own.
Cleveland Plain Dealer Story of the opening of WCRF-November 23, 1958.

The hours of the station were limited to 1-9PM Monday-Saturday and 9AM-9PM Sunday. John Rader was the first station manager.

 Programming at first was just about all from Chicago, using programs and titles well known to WMBI listeners and nationally syndicated Christian programming..

Possibly the first WCRF paid ad in The Plain Dealer December 6, 1958.

The Following is a real rarity. The very first WCRF Schedule, copied on Notepad from the weekly Orrville, Ohio Courier-Crescent Wednesday, November 26, 1958..

WCRF-FM 103.3 Cleveland-First Program Schedule November 23-29, 1958..

1PM Keep Praising
1:15 Open Bible
1:30 Songs Of Zion
1:45 Radio Prayer Circle
2PM News
2:05 Feature Page
2:15 Something to Sing About
2:30 Continued Story Reading
3PM News
3:05 Back To The Bible
3:30 Story
3:45 Listening Post
4PM Headlines
4:02 Bandstand
4:15 Missionary Time
4:30 My Song
4:45 Patterns Of Melody
5PM News
5:05 At Your Service
5:15 Candlelight and Silver
6PM News Digest
6:15 Question Box
6:30 Bit Of Heaven
6:45 Stories Of Great Christians
7PM Headlines
7:02 Bread Of Life
7:30 Sunset Ranch
7:45 Verse By Verse
8PM Headlines
8:02 Music Room
8:45 Decision Time
9PM Sign-Off


1PM (WMBI) Male Quartet
1:15 Sailor Sam
1:30 Ranger Bill
2PM News
2:05 Science In The News
2:15 Miracles and Melodies
2:30 Off The Record
3PM News
3:05 Back To The Bible
3:30 Meet The Students
4PM Headlines
4:02 Saturday Musicale
5PM News
5:05 Church Activities
5:15 Candlelight and Silver
6PM News Digest
6:15 Youth For Christ
6:30 American Crusade
7PM Headlines
7:02 Haven Of Rest
7:30 Testimony Time
7:45 Hymns You Love
8PM Headlines
8:02 Music Room
8:30 Chorus Time
8:45 Decision Time
9PM Sign-Off


9AM Songsters
9:30 Radio Bible Class
10AM News
10:05 Chapel Hour
10:30 Worship
11AM Local Church Service
12:15 WMBI Male Quartet
12:30 News
12:35 Music Hall
1PM Old Fashioned Revival Hour
1:30 Baptist Hour
2PM Temple Time
2:30 Unshackled
3PM KYB Club
3:30 Hour Of Decision
4PM Headlines
4:02 Male Chorus
4:15 Lorin Whitney (organist)
4:45 Helen Barth (soloist)
5PM Dr. Walter L. Wilson
5:30 Al Hirsch
5:45 B. M. Nottage
6PM Moody Presents
6:30 Candlelight and Silver
7PM Quiet Hour
7:30 Organ Vespers
8PM Open Bible
8:15 Dr. (William) Culbertson
8:45 Familiar Hymns
9PM Sign-Off
Another group was the Melody Four Quartet..The same four men sang together for over 50 years..Glenn Jorian, Clair Hess, Bill Pearce and Ray Felten. For many years a part of WCRF programming, Individual members also had programs on Moody Radio at one time or another..

Things started slowly for WCRF, as FM was still just getting established.  I heard a story that WCRF sold FM radios at cost just to get people to listen at first..As the station grew, people trusted the message of the Gospel being brought forth via radio..

Part of getting out the message about WCRF included "Radio Rallies" in which staff from Chicago would come to area churches and introduce Moody Radio in person. Below are ads/articles for a couple of such rallies..

Mansfield, Ohio May 14, 1959:
Elyria, Ohio May 9, 1959:
In 1960 New York State native Bob Devine arrived at WCRF as a producer and engineer..Eventually becoming host of the Clockwatcher morning program from about 1965 till his retirement in 2000..He was a fine gentleman and broadcaster, by far and away the most recognized voice on WCRF, also doing Storybook Room for the Network..

Bob Devine Tribute

On  January 1, 1964, WCRF extended it's hours from 7AM-11PM at night..

1961 Advertisement for WCRF

From The Orrville Paper, November 1966-Eighth Anniversary article
1968-Tenth Anniversary Conference..By this time WCRF was well established in Northeast Ohio
Many memorable folks have worked at, or are currently at WCRF, including Alice Andrews, Paul Carter, Mark Zimmerman, Ron Bartlebaugh, Sylvia Docking, Dick Lee, Brandt Gustafson and a host of others..WCRF went 24 hours January 1, 1980 and began, with Moody Broadcasting Network Satellite delivery of  programming in 1982.  WCRF also has repeater stations all over Northeast Ohio and Western Pennsylvania..

Melody Four Quartet-Heaven Came Down

Sample "Ranger Bill" episode from 1954..Aired on Saturdays for many years..

I have many fond memories of listening to WCRF in the 1970's through the 1980's.Amazingly some of the same programs aired during the first week schedule continued well into the 1990's and beyond..WCRF has left a legacy of quality Christian Radio in Northeast Ohio and I am grateful for that..

Thursday, May 1, 2014

WEWS-TV 5.."On Stage"

Undated photo of Alan Douglas, Producer of the "On Stage" program aired Tuesday Nights for 10 weeks in 1956..He later would be known as a radio and TV talk show host with "The Alan Douglas Show" on WEWS and later WKBF-61, and being the first host of the Morning Exchange in the first few months of 1972.
Courtesy Northeast Ohio TV Memories and The John Carroll University Archive..

     When WEWS-TV 5 became an ABC affiliate March 2, 1955, it left hours of programming to fill, especially in the daytime. ABC was definitely a 3rd place network in the 1950's, and it wasn't that unheard of to routinely pre-empt network programs for syndicated or local offerings..Local news was also not as important as it would become later on..

With this in mind, Alan Douglas got the idea of a locally produced live "Play of the Week" WEWS agreed to open the Tuesday 11-12 Midnight time slot for Douglas. The show was called "On Stage" and it was sponsored, at least initially by Stern Brothers Plumbing Company..
     Introductory article by The Plain Dealer's Tom O' Connell, dated Saturday, February 4, 1956..

     The idea was to make each play a completely local production, from writers to technical support to acting..Actors were drawn from The Cleveland and Lakewood Playhouse, as well as local print and broadcast media.  A particularly ambitious effort, considering that  the budget you could do on a local level was a mere percentage of what could be done on a network level by shows like Playhouse 90 and Studio One.
April 12, 1956:Epilogue of the total "On Stage" effort following the airing of the last live broadcast April 10 by Cleveland Plain Dealer TV/Radio editor George Condon..

It was suggested by Condon that quality might be better if they just did one play a month rather than trying to do one a week, though On Stage never returned after it's 10-week run ended April 10, 1956.

Alan Douglas would be involved with another live TV effort on Channel 5 in Summer 1957..Johnny
McQueen, which lasted 9 weeks..

Here is an attempt at a episode guide finding out as much as possible about each production..Title, writers and actors. I used the Plain Dealer Archive and the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram through TV writer Dorothy Funk to get some info on 9 of the 10 episodes. Could not find anything on the April 3, 1956 program..

On Stage
Tuesdays 11PM
WEWS February 7-April 10, 1956 (10 weeks)
Producer Alan Douglas
Feb. 7 Incident at "33"
Writer Roger Albright
Ralph Beattie, Larry Kuhl, Keith Mackey Ruth Weiss Dolly Wheaton Bill Barrett

Feb. 14 "Lion's Share"
Writer Eleanor Bayer
Bill Prentice Cole Klein

Feb. 21 "The Interurban Voyage of Alfred Hoskins"
Writer Junius Eddy
Austin Beech, Dorothy Sands, Braemer Carlson, Bunny Bronstein and Michael Sandrey

Feb.28 "Nobody Misses Ringo"
Writer Alan Douglas
Bob McKnight (ClevelandPress)

March 6 "The Two-Bed-Room"
Barbara Lee, Dolly Wheaton, Alverda Sohlens and Nick Peters

March 13 " Elisha and the Long Knives"
Linn Sheldon, Bill Barrett

March 20 "Thirty, Honey, Thirty"
Al Henderson, Patti Rowe March

27 "A Hat For Winter"
Writer Mel Goldberg
Peggy Simmons, John Rose

April 3-No Title

April 10 "This Way To Victory"
Writer Henry Alexander
Karl Mackey, Wayne Jordan