Sloppy WTAM

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  • Posted In: Cleveland

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    Clear Channel/iHeart NEVER owned the Carl Smith tower….they rent. And, the previous site was the old Channel 3 tower.

    Look, guys….all our discussions, not only on this board, & as well as all of them tend to center on “what format could stations W— switch to ” to improve their ratings. Certainly, a proper format fit in a market is important, but ad revenue decline is far, far, far more impactful for most radio stations in 2019 & moving forward.

    Radio, like all traditional mass media, is in a major, once-in-a-lifetime transition, even more extreme than when TV became dominant in the 1950’s. The amazing, world-wide power & influence of the internet has never been seen IMHO since the invention of the printing press.

    I know this from 4+ decades of experience in the industry, including 3 decades in radio advertising sales, as well as other friends who run or ran station sales departments & market managers: radio USED to return 40%-50% to the bottom line of every advertising dollar billed. Owning most radio stations were simply amazing “cash cows”, even as recent as 10-15 years ago.

    As the public’s love and time spent with places on-line/web went crazy a few years ago, ad dollars began to shift from radio & other traditional media to the web.

    Radio owners challenge: how to curb the bleeding ad dollars (if that’s even possible) & how deep can staff & budget/overhead cuts go without totally destroying the programming? Many would argue the quality of programming on many radio station has already declined.

    When it gets to the point an “acceptable” profit isn’t worth owning stations, owners will sell (if they can find an offer that they agree to), or just shut it off (ala: 1520kHz. in nearby Kent, Ohio)…and turn in the license.

    Hopefully it’s many years before too much of that happens, but in this fast-moving media world, who knows how long that will take.


    Am pretty sure WTAM uses the tower on Snowville Road (just old old Route 21) near the Ohio Turnpike. The so-called “Carl Smith” tower. I don’t believe they own the tower, they just “rent” it. I assume they are still responsible for maintaining the ground system…but I don’t know that for sure. I think WZAK & WAKS is also on that tower, right? Didn’t there used to be a TV station’s antenna also on that tower decades ago?

    iHeart sold all of their towers to Vertical Bridge for pennies on the dollar a few years ago. They may have never owned the “Carl Smith” tower (built by NBC for WTAM in 1937) but they sure wouldn’t now. The WTAM tower not only houses WAKS, but WZAK and probably still has the original mast for WBNX. Plus a ton of ham repeaters and masts, Scott Fybush once remarked that it was the most crowded tower for a class I-A AM signal he ever saw. The original transmitter building that became the Carl Smith offices housed studios for AM 1260 during the WRDZ and WMIH years, but it’s safe to say the whole building is mothballed now.

    WMIH moved out of the Carl Smith Building soon after acquiring 1260 from Gore-Overgarrd Broadcasting.  They moved the studios to Playhouse Square (The Hanna Bldg., I believe).  They (WMIH) probably would have been better off financially by staying at 6200 Snowville.


    or just shut it off (ala: 1520kHz. in nearby Kent, Ohio)…and turn in the license.

    I’d like to really know the circumstances of that stations shut down.  The reason I wonder is that for a long time, they just kept running it at as close to no-cost as possible.  Remember when they ran the audio from their low power TV station on 1520?  How long did that last?

    I have wondered if they kept the station on for so long only because of an emotional attachment to it, and any operating costs could be covered by the popular FM station and maybe even ads that used to run on the TV side.  Did they turn in the license because they couldn’t make any money off of the AM station, which had been true for, what appears to have been, a long-long time… Or was it just not worth keeping it on the air due to anything from lower revenue coming in to the FM station from where AM1520 may have gotten support, or maybe a technical break down that was cost prohibitive to fix?


    From what I’ve heard, the 1520 generated next to zero ad dollars…and simple maintenance on the equipment & antenna system (6 tower DA) made shutting it off a very easy business decision. Couldn’t of had more than a few hundred cume listeners, the format changed so often, coverage so limited.

    I would’ve guessed classic county (even syndicated) might’ve worked, but with it being a daytimer and that pattern covering so few populated areas, maybe not.

    The owners did the smart thing. I think MANY more station owners will shut off their stations, turn in the licenses, & sell the property the towers sit on, over the next 10 years, and not just AM stations. (Oh the SHOCK!!!!). 🙂

    Oh…aren’t their 2 low powered TVs turned off too?


    I’m sure the number of people listening to AM radio is way down nowadays.  I wouldn’t mind seeing all the small AM stations shut down and just have the high power blowtorches remain.


    Given WJMP’s instability and almost outright invisibility (no website ever existed, and I don’t think WNIR ever made any on-air mentions) I highly doubt that they had ANY listeners whatsoever. And they never had listeners, even back when they ran “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” in a loop 24 years ago.

    It was nothing more than a write-down that may have only been kept alive because no one else wanted it, not even the Klaus family. WNIR always made the real money, and it still does.

    As for WAOH/29, it closed down on October 25, 2017. W16DO’s digital signal wound up overlapping with WAOH, making it expendable. No idea if W16DO is gone.

    Recorded in Ultra Stereo, the ultimately superior cousin to Normal Stereo!


    W16DO still exists.  It’s now owned by HC2 Holdings.

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