WJMO (1300 AM) – branded Praise 1300 – is a commercial urban gospel/talk radio station licensed to Cleveland, Ohio. Owned by Radio One, the station serves Greater Cleveland, and is the Cleveland affiliate for The Yolanda Adams Morning Show and Keepin' It Real with Al Sharpton. Its studios are located along the Euclid Avenue Corridor in Cleveland's eastside, while the station transmitter resides in the Cleveland suburb of Parma.
WERE (1300 AM)
WJMO began as WERE on July 6, 1949, broadcasting as 1300 kHz. Unlike most AM stations of the time, WERE actually went on the air a year after its FM sister station, WERE-FM at 98.5 MHz. Both stations lasted under common ownership for the next fifty years, as WERE-FM primarily simulcast the programming of its more popular AM sister station over the next 24 years, where it went into separate programming as WGCL.
During the 1950s, WERE was the first popular Top 40 station in the market, spearheaded by now-legendary personalities like Bill Randle, "Captain" Carl Reese, Phil McLean, Ronnie Barrett, Howie Lund and Bob Forster. Randle was the most influential of the group, as he was the first major-market disk jockey in the Northeast United States to play Elvis Presley, and bolstered the careers of a number of young musicians, including The Four Lads, Bobby Darin, and Fats Domino. Future NBC announcer and voice-over artist Danny Dark also was a host on WERE in the early 1960s.
WERE had obtained a construction permit in the mid-1950s for WERE-TV on channel 65. However, due to the obscurity of the UHF dial at the time, the television station never made it on the air.
In the 1960s, the station was a middle-of-the-road radio station with personalities that included sportscaster Bob Neal in morning drive, the team of Jeff Baxter and Jack Riley (who would later achieve fame as Eliot Carlin on The Bob Newhart Show) in afternoon drive, and Bill Gordon with a nightly talk show from his apartment on East 30th Street. Gordon's show was known as "Apartment 13," for the station's 1300 kHz signal.
WERE-AM served as the flagship station for the Cleveland Browns twice: once from 1950 to 1951, and again from 1962 to 1967. During the Browns' second stay at the station, it was the memorable broadcast team of Gib Shanley and Jim Graner providing play-by-play and color commentary, respectively. From 1951 until 1972, WERE was the flagship station for Cleveland Indians radio broadcasts, and was the first flagship for the expansion Cleveland Cavaliers in 1970 and 1971, in addition to hosting an evening sports call-in show hosted by Pete Franklin. Both the Cavs and Indians radio rights, as well as Franklin's Sportsline program, moved from WERE to WWWE in 1972.
Starting in 1972, WERE adopted an edgy talk radio format, with controversial hosts, including Gary Dee (Gary D. Gilbert), Merle Pollis and Joel Rose. Gary Dee's populist-redneck style combined with his morning drive-time slot to make him Cleveland's top-rated talk host, leading him to answer each on-air call "This is Gary Dee, Number One in Cleveland." Pollis, who was ultraliberal*, had the show right after Dee's. The station used the brand "People Power".
Around spring 1975, the station's finances got rocky as it was bought out by city-council president George Forbes and other unspecified investors. They turned it into an all-news station that completely lacked the drawing power its immensely popular talk shows had brought it. Eventually, WERE moved back into an all-talk format, which it more or less maintained for the rest of the century.
During the 1980s, the station underwent a number of changes in ownership, to Metropolis Broadcasting on August 25, 1986. Bob Fuller was the morning drive host, followed by syndicated talk show host Michael Jackson. Longtime Cleveland broadcaster Merle Pollis followed in the Noon – 2pm time slot. Another longtime Cleveland broadcaster, Joel Rose, was Pollis's foil in the 2 pm – 4pm time slot. Local news took over during drive time, with CBS Radio at the top of the hour and Mutual Radio at the bottom of the hour. Jim McIntyre hosted. At 7 pm Greg Brinda (now with WKNR AM 850) hosted his local call-in sports talk show. The station changed hands again on September 22, 1988 to Metroplex Communications, headed by veteran local broadcasters Norman Wain and Bob Weiss. WERE was a charter affiliate for Rush Limbaugh's national talk show in 1989 (WWWE AM 1100, now WTAM, picked up the program in June 1990), and still had a variety of local hosts throughout the balance of the day, with Les Levine taking over for Brinda. While easily accessible in downtown Cleveland and in the eastern suburbs, WERE's position in the Cleveland market has been hampered by a directional broadcast signal that misses the fast-growing suburbs just to the west of Cuyahoga County.
In 1992, locally originated talk on WERE was replaced by an audio simulcast of CNN Headline News, with local news at :15 and :45. Hosts employed by WERE such as Merle Pollis, Joel Rose, and Les Levine were let go, with the only local talk shows left on the station being brokered programs, in which a host/producer buys the time from the station.
The local news product was eliminated in August 1993, as news staffers Jim McIntyre, Bob Fuller, Tom Moore and Cindy Lin were let go. An article in The Plain Dealer on August 13, 1993, referred to this as a "shifting of the station's emphasis from local news to cheaper syndicated and community programming."
On September 1, 1994, Metroplex Communications sold WERE and sister station WNCX FM 98.5 (along with the rest of Metroplex's stations in Florida and New York) to Clear Channel Communications. WERE continued with the format featuring mostly brokered programs. Here, a radio producer would purchase blocked time from the station, and then produced the program, sold commercial air time, and keep the profit. As a result, the programming was very diverse, but listenership was very sparse, with WERE sometimes not even showing up in the Arbitron ratings.
Select programs on WERE during this period ranged from America's Workforce (labor issues in the Cleveland area), to The Gay 90's (homosexual and diversity issues) to Talking Books (interviews with literary figures), to Those Antique Guys (appraisals and commentary on antiques).
One of the most popular shows on WERE during this period was the Your Music Show, a daily weekday block of a variety music from the 1940s through the 1970s programmed by Jim Davis, who also served as an on-air host from 1–3pm (after illness took Carl Reese off the air), followed by Ted Hallaman from 3–5pm after WRMR 1420-AM signed off permanently in July 2004. The Your Music Show was sponsored by the Original Mattress Factory and aired from August 2004 through January 2006 when the WERE daytime format was changed.
On April 29, 1999, WERE and WENZ FM 107.9 were spun off by the Clear Channel-Jacor merger to Lanham, Maryland-based Radio One. WNCX was sold to Infinity Broadcasting, which is today CBS Radio. This marked the first time in the 50-year history of the two, that WNCX and WERE were no longer affiliated. WENZ changed formats from modern rock to mainstream urban as "Z-107.9" shortly afterward, while WERE stuck with the profitable brokered format until 2006.
2007 "frequency trade"
On June 4, 2007, Radio One radio stations WERE (1300 AM) and WJMO (1490 AM) were involved in what was then reported as a "frequency trade". In reality, these two stations swapped call letters along with their respective formats. WERE changed its call letters to WJMO, and changed its format to gospel music.
As part of its gospel format, WJMO airs numerous programs from Syndication One, such as the early morning show hosted by Donnie McClurkin, the gospel-talk morning drive show hosted by Erica Campbell, and Willie Moore Jr. in afternoon drive through the evening hours. Local DJ Ed Powell is heard middays. WJMO also airs during middays Rev. Al Sharpton's daily talk show, which is simulcast on sister talk station WERE AM 1490.