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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

WGAR - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

WGAR radio was founded in 1930 by Geo. A. Richards, a Michigan millionaire and owner of WJR in Detroit. After an hour of congratulatory messages on 15 Dec. 1930, WGAR switched over to "Amos `n' Andy," on the NBC Blue Network. Operating from a penthouse studio in the Hotel Statler, WGAR broadcast on 500 watts at 1,450 kilocycles. Under general manager John F. Patt, it billed itself as the "Friendly Station," concerned with Cleveland's future. WGAR became a CBS affiliate in 1937, making it the local outlet for the notorious "War of the Worlds" broadcast by Orson Welles on 30 Oct. 1938. Staff announcer Jack Paar broke into the network feed twice to reassure Clevelanders that the "alien attack" was only make-believe. WGAR acquired its familiar frequency of 1,220 kilocycles in 1944 and 3 years later raised its signal to a powerful 50,000 watts. Patt made WGAR a major part of Cleveland life, as the station became the first in the country to receive the Geo. Foster Peabody Award for its outstanding programming. SIDNEY ANDORN†, a prominent reporter, became famous for on-location interviews conducted over WGAR. The station was purchased in 1953 by the Peoples Broadcasting Corp., which became Nationwide Communications, a subsidiary of Nationwide Insurance, the following year. With the hiring of Bill Clock in 1969, it became the first general station in Cleveland to employ a black disc jockey. During the 1970s, it moved from the STATLER OFFICE TOWER to a studio-transmitter facility in BROADVIEW HEIGHTS In 1984 WGAR switched its music format from "adult contemporary" to "country." Its FM installations, inaugurated at 99.5 megacycles in 1982, began simulcast programming with the AM mother station in 1986, after which the AM operation was sold to Douglas Broadcasting, where it became WKNR.

Last Modified: 23 Jul 1997 01:32:13 PM

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