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  • Jumpin' Joe

When WKYC became POWER RADIO!

I recently received a motherload of near-mint conditioned Cleveland radio surveys from the 1960s. Included among the WHK Tundex Surveys, WIXY-SIXTY Surveys, and KYW/WKYC Sound 11 Surveys, was a somewhat historic survey. It's the very first WKYC Power Poll.

Despite WKYC's contests, concerts, teen fairs, and their support of local bands, the NBC owned and operated radio station with a massive 50,000 watt clear channel signal struggled to compete with WIXY 1260.


At 3:05pm on February 01, 1968, Clevelanders were greeted with an unusual mild and sunny afternoon, and the new sound of Power Radio.


Power Radio didn't sound anything like WABC, and though it had elements of the Drake-Chenault format, it didn't sound like CKLW. The format promoted less talk, more music, and a tighter playlist - that tilted more towards soul records, as reflected with the first song played on Power Radio, Aretha Franklin's "Soulville."


WKYC also had some new voices behind the mic, as the 3pm hour featured Chuck Dunaway. Lee 'Baby' Sims took over the shift that was once controlled by Jack Armstrong, who used the name Big Jack as his former station (WIXY 1260) copyrighted the name.


The legendary story is that Jack Armstrong got fired from WKYC after "throwing up on the news." He certainly didn't appreciate the NBC newscasts at the top and bottom of every hour.


Armstrong did make a name for himself as he was heard all along the Midwest and east coast thanks to WKYC's 50,000 watt signal at night. At one point, Armstrong was the third largest record-buying influence in... Miami, Florida! Armstrong had no problems landing another major market radio gig as he took over evenings on Boston's WMEX, a station that allowed personality radio.

Lee Sims had barely unpacked his suitcase before he skipped town and landed at KCBQ in a much sunnier San Diego, California.


Fred Winston (later of WLS fame) also spun records, along with Bob Shannon on the new Power Radio. Charlie and Harrigan remained as the morning duo on 'KY.'


Paul Mauriat's "Love Is Blue" dominated the surveys in Cleveland in early 1968, preventing "Itchycoo Park" from hitting the #1 spot on the Power Poll. The Small Faces record did hit #1 on WIXY in January.


"Love Is Blue" remained at #1 for four weeks before being dethroned by the late-Otis Redding with "Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay." Redding's final concert was a month earlier in Cleveland.


Though not appearing on this Power Poll, The Munx, a band from Sandusky, Ohio, were played regularly. They hit #31 on the old WKYC Sound 11 Survey with "Our Dream." The song never charted on WIXY.


The Four Tops with their version of the Left Banke's "Walk Away Renee" started to climb on the Power Poll, moving up 9 positions from #30 to #21. The Rolling Stones certainly had a more "Left Banke" sound with their baroque pop hit "She's A Rainbow" at #26.


The hard 'n heavies on this Power Poll include Paul Revere & The Raiders' "Too Much Talk" and Cream's "Sunshine of Your Love."


Power Radio only lasted a year. WKYC pulled the plug on February 01, 1969 and switched to an easy listening format. NBC later sold both WKYC AM and FM to the ownership team of Nick Mileti and Tom and Jim Embrescia. WKYC-FM became WWWM (Mileti) and WKYC-AM became "3WE" WWWE (Embrescia).

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