Sunday, March 17, 2002

WLW at cutting edge of technology, Michaels says

By John Kiesewetter,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        If Powel Crosley Jr. were alive today, he'd be proud to see WLW-AM still at the forefront of radio technology, says Randy Michaels, president of the Clear Channel radio division that owns the station.

        Mr. Michaels, who was part of the group that bought WLW-AM 19 years ago, says the station founder who died in 1961 would appreciate seeing how WLW-AM — and seven sister stations here — used computers and satellites to share programs, talent, sales, research and contests.

        “We are continuing Cincinnati's tradition of being on the cutting edge,” said Mr. Michaels, who is headquartered in Covington.

        Mr. Michaels' group parlayed the 1983 purchase of WLW-AM into Jacor Communications, a national broadcasting company. Jacor bought the national Rush Limbaugh and Dr. Laura Schlessinger radio shows before merging with Clear Channel, to form the world's largest radio company, in 2000.

        Jacor was the first company to own eight radio stations in one city after passage of the 1996 Telecommunications Act. Clear Channel here owns WLW-AM's longtime rivals — WKRC-AM, WSAI-AM and WCKY-AM — plus WEBN-FM, WOFX-FM, WVMX-FM and WKSF-FM.

        In the 1930s and '40s, Crosley Broadcasting produced many national network programs. Today Clear Channel DJs here do radio shows for sister stations from Sarasota to San Diego. Bill Cunningham and Mike McConnell also periodically host national weekend talk shows for Clear Channel.

        WLW-AM's digital newsroom has access through desktop computers to audio files and news scripts from all Clear Channel stations. The Cincinnati station provides around-the-clock reports to Dayton's WONE-AM (980) through computers, News Director Jeff Hendersonm says.

        Clear Channel's four AM stations, including WLW-AM, were losing money when Mr. Michaels purchased them. All four are profitable today, says Darryl Parks, AM operations director for Clear Channel here.

        “I'm proud of that,” Mr. Michaels said two years ago. “I took a lot of flack about changing and shaking up WLW-AM, making it younger and more aggressive. And I said, "I think it's bad to have let this old lady rot and rust. I'm going to teach her to dance.' (My plan for) WLW-AM did work.”

        Clear Channel also is a major investor in the XM satellite radio service launched last year.

        “Powel Crosley would be proud,” Mr. Michaels said, “because being bright, innovative, aware and adaptive to change is completely consistent with Cincinnati's history ... of leadership in telecommunications.”


WLW 700 turns 80
- WLW at cutting edge of technology, Michaels says
Author discussion, play enhance 'On The Same Page'
Annie Ruth is spreading her message
Artist's sculptures capture kinder era
Couple works winter with summer in mind
KENDRICK: Alive and well
Teen beats addiction with Kids Helping Kids
DEMALINE: The arts
GELFAND: Classical music
Violinist Bell comes to CSO for May concerts
Eat, drink and cheer on your favorite team
Serve it this week: Corned Beef
Get to it