Established in 1962, WCLV has gained an international reputation as a leading classical music broadcaster and producer and distributor of culturally oriented programming. The continuance of WCLV’s classical music programming has been assured by a multi-step process that moved the station’s transmission from 95.5 FM to 104.9 FM on July 3, 2001. On November 1, 2001, WCLV was gifted to the non-profit WCLV Foundation, which was designed to guarantee the station’s classical music format far into the future. In November of 2003, WCLV began annual distribution of a portion of the station’s profits to five major Cleveland arts organizations: The Cleveland Orchestra, The Cleveland Institute of Music, The Cleveland Museum of Art, The Cleveland Foundation and The Cleveland Playhouse. In 2006, ideastream, northeast Ohio’s public broadcasting organization, was added to the list.
The next phase in WCLV’s life took place early in December, 2010, when the station moved its facilities from Radio Ranch, where operations had been since 1986, to new quarters in the Idea Center on Playhouse Square in downtown Cleveland. There, WCLV is neighbor and partner with ideastream, Cleveland’s public broadcasters, WVIZ TV and WCPN FM. WCLV now has access to ideastream’s performance studios and other facilities and is involved in developing co-operative programming projects. In October, 2011, the stock of WCLV’s corporation, Radio Seaway, Inc., was donated to ideastream, which began operating WCLV as a noncommercial radio station on January 1, 2013.
In 1965, WCLV began the Cleveland Orchestra radio broadcasts, now heard twice weekly at 104.9 and distributed world-wide. WCLV was one of the first FM-only commercial stations to carry the Metropolitan Opera live from New York. In 1969, the station became the anchor station for the weekly City Club Forum broadcasts, and in 1980, it began national distribution of this significant series, which continued until December 2011. Other programs of note produced by WCLV for local broadcast and national distribution include Weekend Radio and selected concerts by Apollo’s Fire..
Local live broadcasts by WCLV include a series of CIM Live programs from the Cleveland Institute of Music, wall-to-wall coverage of the bi-annual Cleveland International Piano Competition, broadcasts from Baldwin-Wallace College, Cleveland State University and Oberlin College. Regular delayed-live broadcasts by the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra, Apollo’s Fire - the Cleveland Baroque Orchestra, and City Music Cleveland are also presented.
In addition to its highly regarded musical programs, WCLV keeps its audience informed with four daily broadcasts of the BBC World Service News and local news reports at 7:00 and 7:30 AM, 12:06 PM and 5:00 and 5:30 PM.
WCLV has been in the forefront in nourishing Greater Cleveland’s cultural life. Over the years, WCLV raised over $5 million for area arts and charitable organizations. This is more money than has been raised by all other Cleveland radio stations for all causes combined during the same period. WCLV also created the Red Cross Celebrate Life blood drives, which grew to become the largest one-day blood drives in the state of Ohio. WCLV continues its annual sponsorship of Thanks-4-Giving, an annual drive in Lorain County for LifeShare.
Over the years, WCLV has won many honors—four Gabriels - three for Best Radio Station Nationwide; one for Best Religious Program; a NAB Marconi for Best Classical Radio Station; New York Radio Festival Silver and Gold medals for Best Classical Station Worldwide, two Ohio Governor’s Award for Support of the Arts, a Gracie for best interview program dealing with women’s issues, and numerous local awards.
In August of 2003, WCLV became the second station in northeast Ohio and the third classical station in the nation to broadcast an HD (digital) signal.
From 2001 to 2004,WCLV owned WRMR 1420 AM, which broadcast adult standards. However, in July of 2004, WRMR was sold to another company, which changed the format.
July 1962: C.K. Patrick and Robert Conrad acquire WDGO (95.5 FM).
November 1, 1962: FCC approves the transfer of WDGO to Patrick and Conrad.
November 4, 1962: First day of broadcasting under the call letters of WCLV.
October 5, 1964: First Symphony at Seven concert sponsored by Cleveland Trust, later Ameritrust, which was acquired early in 1992 by Society Corporation and subsequently by KeyCorp. With the support of KeyBank, the program continues to air seven days a week.
September 26, 1965: The first Cleveland Orchestra broadcast over WCLV is heard at 4:00 PM. The time and day has remained the same since then.
November 22, 1968: WCLV moves from its first home in the Eastgate Shopping Center to offices and studios in the Terminal Tower.
January 3, 1970: WCLV becomes the first FM-only commercial radio station to broadcast the Metropolitan Opera live. The station has carried the Saturday Met broadcasts live ever since.
March 13, 1970: WCLV conducts the first of 24 annual Cleveland Orchestra Marathons in which listeners are invited to call the station with contributions to the Orchestra.
October 13, 1975: WCLV received the Ohio Arts Council Award for Media Support of the Arts.
May 8, 1976: WCLV inaugurates a series entitled The Black Arts featuring African-American composers and artists. Host and producer is A. Grace Lee Mims.
May 19, 1976: WCLV and WVIZ-TV cooperate to present the first ever radio-TV simulcast of a Cleveland Orchestra concert.
March 15, 1977: First WCLV/WVIZ-TV simulcast of a Metropolitan Opera – Puccini’s La Boheme.
March 18, 1979: Total raised during the Cleveland Orchestra Marathons reaches the $1,000,000 mark during Marathon 10.
August 19, 1979: WCLV begins live coverage of the Casadesus International Piano Competition (now the Cleveland International Piano Competition).
July 28, 1981: WCLV named Classical Station of the Year by Billboard Magazine. Cleveland Mayor George Voinovich designates WCLV Days in honor of the award.
October 7, 1982: WCLV announces that it will begin 24-hour broadcasting on November 2. The station had been signing off at 2:00 AM, and signing on at 6:00 AM.
January 18, 1983: Robert Conrad is named Classical Music Program Director for 1982 by Billboard Magazine.
October 11, 1984: WCLV receives its second Governor’s Award for Media Support of the Arts from the Ohio Arts Council.
September 30, 1986: At 11:00 AM, WCLV begins broadcasting from its new 13,000-square-foot facility in Warrensville Heights. Staffers referred to it as “Radio Ranch.”
September 27, 1989: WCLV introduces CIM Live, a series of live concerts per year from The Cleveland Institute of Music.
September 10, 1990: WCLV wins the prestigious Gabriel Award for Radio Stations for 1990. It’s the second such award for the station, the first coming in 1985.
June 14, 1991: WCLV receives the Gold Medal award for Best Classical Format from the 1991 International Radio Festival of New York.
January 3, 1994: WCLV begins carrying BBC World Service News, the first commercial station in the country to do so.
June 15, 1995: WCLV honored with a GoldWorld Medal as Best Classical Music Station in the World by the New York International Radio Festival.
August 1, 1995: WCLV home page at http://www.wclv.com on the World Wide Web makes its debut.
September 9, 1995: WCLV receives Marconi Award as Classical Station of the Year from the National Association of Broadcasters.
October 29, 1995: WCLV receives its third Gabriel Award for Radio Station of the Year from the National Catholic Broadcasters Association.
January 14, 1996: WCLV broadcasts the Cleveland Orchestra’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Concert live for the first time.
November 4, 1996: WCLV becomes a pioneer by being the first station in the world to feed its air signal to the World Wide Web in full fidelity and stereo, using the AudioActive system developed by Cleveland’s Telos Systems.
June 11, 1997: WCLV is nominated for Marconi Classical Station of the Year.
January 3, 1999: Six other Cleveland radio stations join WCLV to broadcast live the annual Cleveland Orchestra Martin Luther King, Jr. concert - WCPN, WELW, WDLW, WJMO, WNWV, and WZAK.
January 8, 2000: The Cleveland Orchestra’s Gala Concert marking the reopening of Severance Hall is simulcast live with WVIZ-TV.
March 22, 2001: Robert Conrad, WCLV’s President, is given the Award of Excellence by the Cleveland Association of Broadcasters.
July 3, 2001: WCLV-FM moves from 95.5 FM to 104.9 FM.
October 12, 2001: At a reception at the Cleveland Museum of Art, the stockholders of WCLV-FM donate the station to the new non-profit WCLV Foundation. This gift, valued at $14.5 million is designed to preserve the classical format on the radio in Cleveland.
August 14, 2003: WCLV begins HD broadcasting, the second station in Ohio and the third classical station in the nation.
February 5, 2005: With the addition of Saturdays from Severance, WCLV begins two weekly broadcasts of concerts by The Cleveland Orchestra. Many of the Saturday concerts are live.
January 26, 2007: Second of three live broadcasts by The Cleveland Orchestra as part of the Orchestra’s residency in Miami.
May 9 & 10, 2008: WCLV debuts its Jubilation Church Choir Festival. Six finalist choirs compete for prizes. The Festival is broadcast live.
July 15, 2010: WCLV is The New Yorker’s ”Classical Pick.”
December 8, 2010: At 10:00 AM, WCLV goes on the air from its new studios at The Idea Center® at Playhouse Square in downtown Cleveland.
September 11, 2011: The Cleveland Orchestra, The Cleveland Orchestra Youth Chorus and the Cleveland Firefighters Memorial Pipes and Drums observe the 10th anniversary of September 11, 2001, in Public Square.
March 26, 2012: WCLV originates its first live broadcast from the KeyBank Studio at the Idea Center. The Cypress Quartet appeared as part of their 15th Anniversary Radio Tour.
November 1, 2012: WCLV celebrates its 50th Anniversary with an open house and a day of live concert broadcasts from the performance studios at Idea Center at PlayhouseSquare.
January 1, 2013: ideastream begins operating WCLV as a noncommercial station.
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