BREAKING NEWS: 87.7 To Spanish Language In January

It looks like the question of “how long can alt-rock music stay on 87.7 ‘Cleveland’s Sound’?” can be answered “‘through 2013’.”

877soundCleveland Scene’s Vince Grzegorek reports that Murray Hill Broadcasting alt-rock/AAA WLFM-LP 87.7 will be flipping to a Spanish-language format on January 1st.

Employees heard about the change in a staff meeting on Tuesday.

But the station is not being sold. A tweet from the “Cleveland’s Sound” Twitter account clarifies that 87.7, or rather, LPTV channel 6, isn’t being sold directly:

Need to clarify: station was not sold, it is a programming partnership beginning Jan 1 which will include a switch to a Latin format.

Crain’s Cleveland Business has more details on the “programming partnership”, directly from station head honcho Tom Wilson:

On Jan. 1, the primarily Spanish language station, La Mega 87.7 Latino and Proud, will go live, revealed Tom Wilson, whose Murray Hill Broadcasting is partnering with Cincinnati-based TSJ Media to introduce the format to this market.

“There’s a need in the market to service that segment of the population,” Mr. Wilson said. “There’s no other Latin, Hispanic radio station in Cleveland, Ohio, currently.”

Crain’s Michelle Park Lazette quotes Wilson as saying the alt-rock format wasn’t necessarily less successful than hoped, but that the new partnership was a “significant upgrade of an opportunity”.

We remind readers that rumors were flying hot and heavy before the alt-rock format started on 87.7 in 2012, that there talks of LMAing the signal to Good Karma sports WKNR/850 “ESPN 850”, which has been battling FM competition.

That, obviously, never happened…and “Cleveland’s Sound” could well have been the fall-back for Wilson with no LMA in the cards back then.

Crain’s writes that 87.7 “probably will not retain” any current on-air staffers, presumably because they don’t likely speak or broadcast in Spanish.

It’s been a tough ride for alternative rock listeners in Cleveland.

Format mainstay WKRK/92.3 flipped to sports in 2011 under owner CBS Radio, and it’s now “92.3 The Fan”.

Elyria-Lorain Broadcasting’s WNWV/107.3 tried the format as eclectic “V107.3”, and then the station changed back to its original “107.3 The Wave” identity, with a smooth AC format, when Akron’s Rubber City Radio Group bought it.

And of course, Radio One hip hop WENZ/107.9 came first in this group as “The End”.

There is one alt-rock competitor left, of course. Clear Channel operates W256BT/99.1, a Parma-based translator, as “99X”…rebroadcasting rock WMMS/100.7’s HD2 channel.

There are, however, no full-market Spanish-language signals in Cleveland.

Spanish-language listeners in the market are served by two local non-commercial outlets – Lorain’s WNZN/89.1 and Painesville’s WHWN/88.3.

There is, of course, an asterisk besides calling WLFM-LP a “full-market” signal, given that it’s actually above the non-comm FM band and rides on the audio of an analog LPTV station.

And like “Cleveland’s Sound” before it, the FCC clock still ticks on the new Spanish-language operator of 87.7, with analog LPTV (and the FM audio byproduct of it) still set to go away in September 2015.

But even so, it’s the broadest attempt yet to serve a Spanish-speaking audience in Cleveland that could well be too small and spread out to be served market-wide.

We’ll see…


  1. I don’t understand why alt-rock has such a difficult time in this market. I was a big fan of both The End and V107.3. The Summit is kind of an oldies alt-rock vibe, but I like hearing new bands!

  2. Alt-rock is a niche format that doesn’t really lend itself to widespread appeal.

  3. It was a great station. It was actually better than The End and much better than anything in between. They weren’t afraid to play good pop music like K-Rock.

  4. Ironically there was a Spanish language signal on 87.9 briefly, just before the LPTV-6 signal first signed on.

    My new car’s radio can’t even tune to 87.7, it starts at 87.9. I checked the frequency out at the FCC’s site. There are only 2 stations in the country authorized for 87.9, neither were on Ohio. I wonder who that Spanish broadcaster was, I believe it was religious programming with a website.

    • StereoScout says

      And this station will be forced off the air in the summer of 2015 unless they can find another frequency or FM sub channel to carry them per mandate from the FCC..

  5. “Latino and proud”? That sounds a little racist.

    It was a good station, sad to see it go.

  6. Gary Frederick says

    Sad to see “cleveland’s sound” go..station was intriguing with Archie and his fresh take on things..sadly watered down with Kim… Rocco on ANY station spells doom… no one else of interest there for many months. Luckily 91.3 Summit is still playing great tunes in the area. 99x does nothing positive for me. Such a sad note that NE Ohio radio sucks so bad…

    • Ohio Media Watch says

      Rocco has nothing to do with the demise of alt-rock stations where he’s worked, of course. The format’s fate in the Cleveland market has nothing to do with one air personality/engineer/whatever. Rocco didn’t flip V107.3 back to smooth AC(/jazz), Rubber City Radio did – after the station floundered under ELB, frankly (not him, even as PD, the problems at 107.3 under ELB were much deeper than any PD). Rocco didn’t even work for 92.3, CBS flipped it to sports all on their own. And Rocco didn’t kill The End.

      We’re getting sick of this “if they only hadn’t have hired that guy I don’t like, they’d be successful” thing. The hiring of Dan Stansbury didn’t kill “Cleveland’s Sound”, the fact that Tom Wilson negotiated successfully with an LMA partner starting two months before Stansbury even set foot in the building did. (And you think we’re being silly about this? At least two people actually said that about Stansbury on 87.7’s Facebook page. Others said that about “Lyd the Kidd”.)

      Think, people, think!

      • Gary Frederick says

        Sorry..misstated in haste …….not implying that Rocco had anything to do with the switch..he just seems historically to get hired into the wrong stations. I have known Ric B a long time and meant to imply no disrespect! It is, however, frustratingly disappointing that there are no longer ANY decent C-town radio stations

        • Ohio Media Watch says

          Sorry we went off like that, Gary…we’re ubersensitive to the whole “that personality killed my favorite station” thing, some of which we’d just read on the 87.7 Facebook page.

  7. I’ve known Gary since the 7th grade. Good guy and very passionate about his music.

  8. The station couldn’t attract listeners or advertisers because the playlist sucked — it’s that simple. In the last few months, the song selection did improve but overall it still sounded like a college station on steroids. It really isn’t all that difficult to successfully program an alternative/AAA hybrid station in a rock-oriented market but the wrong people were hired to do the job. Seriously, you don’t re-hire people who keep failing and expect different result this time around.

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