Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Frequency swaps have become a regular event for those of us that dabble in radio metadata.  The FCC, for all their omniscience doesn't care. To them all that moved was a brand name and a format, maybe a callsign. If that be the case all that needs filled out is the correct paperwork. The channel and the engineering data remain unchanged so there's no heavy lifting.

Just a week ago WEEI-FM, WVEI-FM, did a shuffle across New England, to the loss of WMKK and the debut of and WWEI-FM.  In the deal WLOB-FM became WPPI-FM, simulcasting WPEI-FM. It got me thinking about larger swaps; the unusual swaps. In July of 2001 there was a 3-company, 7-station swap that all went down inside the confines of the Cleveland metro.

Salem Communications moved the WHK-AM calls off 1420 and moved it's religious format to 1220-AM.  this displaced the WKNR-AM calls from 1220 which then moved to 850 along with it's sports-talk format. Salem then sold the new 1420 WHK-AM to Radio Seaway who changed the calls to WCLV-AM with a new format of Adult standards.

At the same time Seaway moved the WCLV-FM calls from 95.5 to 104.9. This displaced WAKS-FM, a Clear channel station who then moved to 96.5 in Akron! (This was a huge coup for Clear Channel,104.9 was a Class A in Lorraine, and 104.9 blanketed Cleveland, Akron and most of Canton.) In trade, Clear Channel's WKDD on 96.5 in Akron moved to 98.1 in Canton. Salem had owned 98.1 but in ceding it to Clear Channel displaced Salem's WHK-FM. Which was then just moved that to the available 95.5 that WCLV hopped off in Lorraine, OH.

Here's why they did that big RF square dance. After WHK-AM landed on 1220, it started simulcasting religious programming on WHKW-AM on  1440. Before that simulcast started they'd kept the stick dark, and parked the WFHM-AM calls on it which they now could traded to Salem who branded it on 95.5 which was now Christian Con. Obviously a WFHM-AM and a WFHM-FM could have co-existed, but not under different companies with different programming too much brand confusion.

There' s a bit of post-script on this one. Four years later Salem bought 1420 back from Radio Seaway and changed it's calls to WHK-AM. They relaunched 1440 as a simulcast of WHK-AM as WHKZ-AM which continued through today.  then they changed the WHKZ-AM calls to WHKW-AM a week later.

As nutty as that sounds it was all sort of caused by a tight ownership cal problem started way back in 1998 by Jacor. In 1997 Jacor bought 850 WKNR-AM  from Cablevision Systems. It had previously been running a mix of sports and talk. Jacor spun off the live sports contracts to WTAM-AM. But that's all they wanted it for, they immediately flipped the station and sold it to Capstar as an even trade for WTAE-AM in Pittsburgh. But then in 1999, Chancellor Media merged with Capstar Broadcasting to form AMFM. So in 2000 AMFM sold WKNR back to Salem! At that time AMFM was trying to merge with Clear Channel and the justice department requires some divestiture and WKNR-AM was what got the ax.

In 2007 Salem sold it again this time to Good Karma Broadcasting. I have no doubt it'll be back.