Mike's New WCOL History
(on the air 1963-1974)

This is my own take of the history of this legendary station, my employer from 1963-1974. I could be biased.

Once upon a time in what was called "Big C," there
lived a bright Teenager and a ruthless Capitalist. OK so Far?

The little 250 watt AM station made lots of money and kept it from the talent. Sad.

It was accomplished, some would say, by convincing young listeners that they could be popular, smart and pimple-free. All they had to do was convince their middle-class parents to part with enough money to buy records, cars, Clearasil, Pepsi and the occasional Hop and Show admission.
Others would say that WCOL- AM was just darn lucky. Imagine listening to a 250 watt AM station in a rapidly expanding city of millions with a bunch of 5000 watt stations. Our dirty little secret was that the nighttime WCOL signal was so bad we couldn't get it at the station and had to listen to the line monitor, not the air.
The truth was that the other stations in the market were owned by provincial, mom and pop organizations, and those owners and their wives and friends did not like rock and roll and so their stations did not play it, preferring to lose money instead of face. So competition did not exist, the other stations were sleeping. (I know this is overly simplistic but stay with me)


It was the end of the 1960s and some felt that WCOL had to evolve
We had gradually loosened the format, brought in "personalities" like Wes and Jerry Gordon, dropped "The New," used since the late 50s and getting old fast. The news staff was at an all time high, both in size and quality. The Engineers, still trying to save the AM signal, installed bigger compander devices.

Early 1970s. The War. Dope. Stereo. Hair. FM.
At 92.3 on the newly emerging FM band, a first for Columbus, "Stereo Rock 92" took advantage of longer songs, socially relevant music, and created so-called underground radio. Not a big profit center but an alternative to the AM. It made AM Top-40 sound tired. By the mid-70s, young people preferred FM over AM.

Stereo Rock 92 became 92X
1230 AM Never Recovered

Return to the WCOL Reunion Home | Read the "Official" WCOL History | Richard Whitmore's WCOL site

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