Tom Wilson, who with his partners sold two of the city’s full-market stations, WDOK-FM and WRMR-AM in a four-station package deal (1999) for more than $200 million, is launching a new station in that market. WLFM-LP 87.7 mHz will debut in late July.
Recently the station began running a four-song loop to test its signal, playing the fight songs of the Cleveland Browns, Indians and Cavaliers, and “My Town” by The Michael Stanley Band.
He tells Crain’s Cleveland Business he’s confident the local content and local personalities he plans to deliver will prove profitable, even in this era of satellite and Internet radio. Wilson says the station will work to sound Cleveland. It will be a rock and entertainment talk format driven by a team of about a dozen people who will take to the streets of Cleveland and put Clevelanders on the air. (What kind of rock is still up in the air, and yes, he’s open to involving local artists.)
“We just see a need in the market,” Wilson told Crain’s. “Radio has become so homogenized and corporate throughout the country that the localism has vanished. What we’re doing is bringing that back.”
The goal is to hire local personalities and immerse them at rib cook-offs, county fairs and the like. He’s in talks with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame about promotions, too.
“We just can’t play music because anybody can go anywhere to pick up music,” he said. “Our whole thrust will be music and entertaining talk. Pandora and Sirius don’t blend those two together, and they’re certainly not local. We want to be a station that everybody talks about at Starbucks in the morning because of our programming — because it’s different, it’s entertaining and it’s fun.”
His company, Murray Hill Broadcasting, holds the license to the Channel 6 LPTV station and its accompanying 87.7 FM radio. (The license has been in Wilson’s hands for several years, just through a different company.) They plan to broadcast what they’re doing on air on television, too, eventually. He’s in the process of hiring talent and production staff, as well as AEs.