The Co-operative Global Radio Memories Project
The most powerful and influential AM broadcasters of this region are essentially represented by the cities of Chicago, Cincinnati and Cleveland with a slight touch of Detroit.
These 22 stations are identified by us as the most powerful and influential AM broadcasters operating in the Midwest East North Central region of the USA between 1922 and 1983. They reflected both the tastes of their local audiences and an emerging national culture with entertainment, news, sports, advertising and information beamed to millions of local listeners across the eastern Midwest region, throughout the USA and across international borders worldwide.
Ambassadors of the Airwaves
The 7 unlimited clear channel A stations [marked by ‘A’ and in bold type] within this region were created by the North American Radio Broadcasting Agreement [NARBA] on March 29 1941 and their reign ended on July 1 1983 when the Regional Agreement for the Mediumwave Broadcasting Services in Region 2 came into effect. We call them the American Ambassadors of the Airwaves because they were heard for over 60 years in places far and wide around the world by 1983.
Approaching 100 Years of service
In this feature we look back to mid 1983 and the call signs that these 22 stations were known by at the time. Many are still broadcasting and some are now approaching 100 years of service to their communities today. That is a remarkable record of achievement for a technology now seen as increasingly old fashioned.
The B stations were almost as widespread in their coverage but faced some limitations and the C stations had to share frequencies and were rather less known the further away from the hometowns they proudly served.
Our 22 most influential and powerful AM radio stations serving the Midwest East North Central region are classified as:
Obviously over this nearly 50 year period from WWII almost to the fall of the Berlin Wall, there are countless events, personalities, and stories to be told. This feature is a just a once over taster of those years.
Clear Channel FAQ and Birthdays
The New 500,000 watt WLW
“That this has been accomplished is perhaps indicated in the fact that hundreds of telegrams, cables, telephone calls and letters from all parts of the world report reception and quality such as these listeners have never heard before.”
The Midwest East North Central region contains some of the most well known industrial heartland cities of the USA having a strong ethnic representation of immigrants from Germany, Ireland, England, Poland, Italy, France and Scandinavia. Their music, their voices, their languages, cultures and traditions found their way on to the local airwaves alongside the All American culture that flowed in from other regions, the nation-wide radio and TV programs and the movement of people into and out of the region as local economies underwent change.
The local airwaves also reached listeners in other regions and across the world. Today, less and less local voices and music grace the airwaves as station ownership becomes even more consolidated in fewer hands and local radio stations become just mere marketing brands with network radio programs from out of town or more often from out of state replacing local personalities and local interests. The All American radio “cookie cutter” has reached the Midwest East Central North region.
2010 Population Data
These are the main metropolitan areas now found in the region. They are increasingly replacing the individual cites that once provided the variety found on the dials of our 22 most influential and powerful AM radio stations of the 1922-1983 years as detailed in the following section:
Top 10 Metropolitan Statistical Areas 2010
Top 10 Cities 1950
Thanks for the Memories
We hope this brief look at our 22 of the most influential and powerful AM radio stations from the Midwest East North Central region brings back familiar happy memories for those of you ‘remember when’ and if you have your own stories about these stations in those days you’d like to share with others here then write to us and we’ll be looking forward to them!
The Good Old Days
“It gives us a great deal of pride to hear that our station is being heard at such a great distance. Your letter was circulated through the Program, Engineering, Sales and Announcers Departments where it was very much enjoyed. Martin F Hogan, General Manager WCFL”
If this is just a “history lesson” for those of you who were never able to enjoy the power of these American Ambassadors of the Airwaves, the local voices, the local music and traditions and other memories your parents and grandparents still talk about today.... we hope you’ve enjoyed your visit and will go back to the demands of today feeling a little refreshed, nourished and more understanding of ‘the good old days’ and even feeling a little more connected to your heritage.
Enjoy other features in this series “American Ambassadors of the Airwaves” covering the remaining regions of the USA from 1941-1983 and the most influential and powerful AM radio stations of the era as they appear. Images are from our collections of radio broadcasting memorabilia of these AM broadcasters as heard by New Zealand listeners.
© Radio Heritage Foundation 2004 - 2020