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.