|Branding||Fox Sports 1350 The Gambler|
(iHM Licenses, LLC)
|Founded||February 22, 1925|
First air date
|April 8, 1925|
Former call signs
Call sign meaning
|Radio Free Ohio|
|Power||5,000 watts (unlimited)|
Public license information
|Webcast||Listen live (via iHeartRadio)|
WARF (1350 AM) – branded as Fox Sports 1350 The Gambler – is a commercial sports radio station licensed to Akron, Ohio, serving the Akron and Greater Cleveland metro areas. Owned by iHeartMedia, WARF serves as the Cleveland affiliate for Fox Sports Radio, and the home of Cleveland Monsters hockey.
Originally WADC, this station is the oldest surviving radio station in Akron, founded and owned by Allen T. Simmons. A charter affiliate of the CBS Radio Network, WADC was a key station in the network up to the early 1960s. Becoming WSLR in 1965, the station became one of the earliest country music stations in the region, and remained as such until switching to urban contemporary as WTOU in 1994. WTOU retained their call sign after becoming an ESPN Radio affiliate in 1999 and a Fox Sports Radio affiliate in 2001, but changed to the current WARF calls in 2005 during a two-year stretch as progressive talk. Aligned with Fox Sports for a second time since 2009 and again a sports station since 2007, WARF was reoriented to the Cleveland media market in 2020 with the addition of VSiN sports betting-related programming.
The WARF studios are located in Independence, Ohio, while the station transmitter resides in Cuyahoga Falls. In addition to a standard analog transmission, WARF broadcasts a digital signal through the HD Radio in-band on-channel standard, and streams online via iHeartRadio.
The Akron Automobile Association established a temporary station named WADC for a February 1925 auto show at the Central Garage, with a transmitter built by the Willard Storage Battery Co. of Cleveland. W. F. Jones, head of the show's sponsor, the Automobile Dealers' Company, insisted for the station's establishment to help broadcast the show's events to a larger audience. After the show ended, Jones tried to get a permanent station launched launched; failing to find enough investor support, Allen T. Simmons—owner of the Allen Theater—obtained a permanent license which was granted on March 23, 1925. W. F. Jones would eventually purchase Cleveland station WDBK in July 1927 and moved it to Akron as WFJC, only to have it moved back to Cleveland in 1930 as WGAR (AM) via a two-station consolidation.
A slogan — "Watch Akron Develop Commerce" — matching the call letters was adopted, which was soon slightly modified to "Watch Akron Develop Commercially". (Allen's 1965 obituary stated that the station's slogan was "Watch Akron Deliver Cars", although an Akron Beacon columnist later noted that "Several readers... reported that it actually meant 'Watch Akron Develop Commercially'".) WADC was the second radio station in Akron (after WOE which went on the air on April 27, 1922, but was off the air in July 1923). Regular broadcasts began on April 8, 1925 from studios in the Portage Hotel. The station originally broadcast at 1160 kHz with 100 watts, but its signal increased to 500 watts by 1926.
WADC was a charter member of the CBS Radio Network, being one of the 16 stations that aired the first CBS network program on September 18, 1927. The station soon opened new studios in Tallmadge and increased its power to 5,000 watts. Its frequency jumped around from 1160 to 1010 to 1260, and to 1320 after the FRC's General Order 40 went into effect on November 11, 1928. On March 29, 1941 it moved to 1350 kHz as part of the NARBA frequency shifts.
As the CBS affiliate during the 1930s and 1940s, WADC was the leading Akron radio station, rivaled later only by WAKR after it took to the air in 1940. Akron had no NBC Red affiliate, since WTAM's signal from Cleveland covered the area. WADC's success was symbolized by the two-story art-deco WADC Building, which was completed on May 6, 1949 and became a local landmark on the southeast corner of Main and Mill Streets in downtown Akron. The entire second floor of the building was occupied by the station's studios and offices.
WADC was sold in late 1964 to Welcome Radio, Inc. headed by Cleveland lawyer Harrison Fuerst. In January 1965, the station became WSLR, known as "Whistler 1350". It brought a country music format to the area, with morning host Jaybird Drennan. Jaybird died on December 10, 2006. On August 22, 1984, Welcome Radio sold WSLR to OBC Broadcasting, Inc., headed by Richard A. Nicoletti. Faced with competition from WQMX in Akron, along with WGAR-FM in Cleveland and WQXK in Youngstown, WSLR dropped its country format.
In October 1999, the station switched to a sports talk format. It first carried programming from ESPN Radio and kept the WTOU calls but dropped "The Touch" nickname and instead went by "1350AM ESPN - Akron's Sports Network." WTOU and sister station WKDD (96.5 FM) were sold by OBC Broadcasting to Clear Channel Communications (now iHeartMedia) on August 15, 2000. In September 2001, months after the sale to Clear Channel, WTOU then flipped to Fox Sports Radio, branded as "Fox Sports 1350". The networks' offerings at the time also included Tony Bruno and "Kiley & Booms," co-hosted by Cleveland Heights native Chuck Booms (who broadcast on his end from Clear Channel's Cleveland facilities in Independence, Ohio). WTOU also became the Akron-Canton affiliate for The Jim Rome Show, and became the home station for the Akron Aeros for the 2002 season.
The sports talk format was dropped on June 2, 2005, and the station switched to a liberal talk radio format (albeit with no Air America programming at first), changing its call letters to WARF. Branded as "Radio Free Ohio", WARF carried Al Franken and Randi Rhodes from Air America Radio, and Ed Schultz and Stephanie Miller from Jones Radio. WARF also held the distinction of being the only station in the country to carry Bill Press's radio show when it debuted on June 27, 2005, until KRXA picked up the show on August 22. On February 13, 2006 veteran radio personality Joe Finan (long heard on rival talk station WNIR) began a locally produced talk show 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. weekdays. Finan was released from WARF that October 27, and died that December 20.
WARF changed back to a sports format on March 30, 2007; branded as "Sportsradio 1350", becoming an affiliate for Sporting News Radio. Its logo used a blue-and-gold color scheme, a nod to the University of Akron. In June 2009, WARF switched back to Fox Sports Radio, which it airs to this day.
Shifting focus to Cleveland
On January 27, 2020, WARF rebranded as "Fox Sports 1350 The Gambler", as it added programming from the Vegas Stats & Information Network (VSiN) related to sports betting. The accompanying press release also formally repositioned WARF as a Cleveland market station, billing itself as Cleveland's Fox Sports 1350, though the station's city of license assignment to Akron and transmitter site in Cuyahoga Falls remained unchanged.
Fox Sports Radio programming airs the bulk of the day (both during the week and on weekends) with programming from VSiN - namely the weekday evening show hosted by Brent Musburger and weekend show hosted by Mike Lombardi - also featured. WARF and longtime Cleveland radio personality Mark "Munch" Bishop hosts Munch on Sports weekday mornings, and longtime Cleveland radio host Jimmy Malone hosts a weekly show Friday mornings.
- Monsters announce multi-year-extension of radio broadcast agreement - Cleveland Monsters.com
- Fox Sports 1350 rebranded as "The Gambler" - Cleveland.com (Plain Dealer)
- http://hdradio.com/station_guides/widget.php?id=73 HD Radio Guide for Akron
- "Radio Opens Auto Show at Akron", Cleveland Plain Dealer, February 22, 1925, page 9.
- "More Than 200 Cars On Display as Auto Show Opens". Akron Beacon Journal. Knight Newspapers. February 21, 1925. p. 22. Retrieved August 24, 2021.
- Schetter, Clyde E. (December 31, 1927). "Akron Radio Prospects Are Good". Akron Beacon Journal. Knight Newspapers. p. 16. Retrieved August 24, 2021.
- "New Stations: Broadcasting Stations", Radio Service Bulletin, April 1, 1925, page 4.
- "W. F. Jones Planning Akron Radio Station". Akron Beacon Journal. Knight Newspapers. July 15, 1927. p. 1. Retrieved August 24, 2021.
- "See Sale Of WFJC As Network Move". Akron Beacon Journal. Knight Newspapers. September 20, 1930. p. 3. Retrieved August 13, 2021.
- "WADC entry", Citizens Radio Call Book, Fall 1925, page 14.
- "WADC entry", Citizens Radio Call Book, November 1928, page 16.
- "Radio Pioneer A. T. Simmons Dies", Akron Beacon Journal, September 22, 1965, page A2.
- "Good Afternoon", column by Fran Murphey, Akron Beacon Journal, October 13, 1982, page B2.
- Price, Mark J. "On the Air Akron's First Radio Station Crackled to Life in 1922", Akron Beacon Journal, April 30, 2001, p. D6. Retrieved on 2007-01-01.
- "This Week", Akron Beacon Journal, September 30, 2001, p. A15. Retrieved on 2007-01-01.
- Failor, Ralph (April 8, 1925). "City broadcasts on air tonight, station to open". Akron Beacon Journal. Knight Newspapers. pp. 1, 18. Retrieved August 24, 2021.
- U. S. Radio Stations as of June 30, 1925, from U.S. Department of Commerce publication. Retrieved on 2007-01-01.
- U. S. Radio Stations as of June 30, 1926, from U.S. Department of Commerce publication. Retrieved on 2007-01-01.
- "Columbia Broadcasting System: Radio Stations" (advertisement), Radio Digest, September 1927, page 20.
- Dyer, Bob (December 28, 1986). "Only 2 of 8 Radio Stations Still Locally Owned". Akron Beacon Journal. p. C2. Retrieved January 1, 2007.
- Heldenfels, R.D. "WSLR Drops Country, Adds Urban 'Touch' New Adult Music Format Starts at Akron Radio Station", Akron Beacon Journal, September 1, 1994, p. D1. Retrieved on 2007-01-01.
- Feran, Tom. "Akron Stations Change Owner in Radio Swap", The Plain Dealer, March 18, 2000, p. B2. Retrieved on 2007-01-12.
- Feran, Tom. "Final Sale of Stations Paves Way for Merger", The Plain Dealer, August 28, 2000, p. E7. Retrieved on 2007-01-12.
- "Akron RubberDucks Renew Partnership with Fox Sports 1350, WARF-AM". MiLB.com. Retrieved January 1, 2020.
- O'Connor, Clint. "Format flipping bounces listeners around AM dial", The Plain Dealer, July 16, 2005, p. E7. Retrieved on 2007-01-01.
- Fox Sports 1350 The Gambler
- WARF Relaunches as The Gambler Radioinsight - January 27, 2020
- "Fox Sports 1350 Live On-Air Schedule - The Jason Smith Show with Mike Harmon, The Ben Maller Show & more". Fox Sports 1350. Retrieved January 1, 2020.
- Bona, Marc (November 22, 2017). "Radio talk-show host Munch Bishop to have beer named after him". cleveland.com. The Plain Dealer. Retrieved December 31, 2019.
- Official website
- WARF in the FCC AM station database
- WARF on Radio-Locator
- WARF in Nielsen Audio's AM station database