Old is new again at WLEC

SANDUSKY See ya later, Jim Rome. Hi there, Petula Clark! Sandusky's de
Tom Jackson
May 24, 2010

SANDUSKY

See ya later, Jim Rome.

Hi there, Petula Clark!

Sandusky's decades-old WLEC-AM, 1450 on the AM dial, has changed formats again.

On noon Wednesday, the station's 24/7 sports yammering was axed in favor of a "timeless favorites" music format that emphasizes middle-of-the-road hits from the 1960s and 1970s.

Sports talk shows such as sports talk shot pundit Jim Rome's "Rome is Burning" have been replaced with melodic baby boomer fare such as the Carpenters, Elvis Presley, Neil Diamond and James Taylor, said Tom Klein, CEO of Fremont-based BAS Broadcasting.

During one stretch late Thursday morning, the station aired "Everybody Loves Somebody" by Dean Martin, "Don't Sleep in the Subway" by Petula Clark, "Just the Way You Are" by Billy Joel and "You're No Good" by Linda Ronstadt.

"This is that MOR radio station we grew up with," said Klein, 57.

Still, sports haven't been forgotten. The sports talk shows are gone, but WLEC will continue to air Browns, Indians and Cavalier games and broadcasts of local high school sports, Klein said.

Familiar local radio personalities such as Mark Fogg and Steve Shoffner will remain, Klein said.

It's the second format change for WLEC in the past couple of years.

The station in recent years had aired a pop standards nostalgia format, broadcasting big band classics and crooners such as Frank Sinatra, before switching on Sept. 8, 2006, to an all-sports format that emphasized sports talk shows.

Klein said that when his company took over WLEC from Clear Channel, he discovered that many listeners and advertisers were unhappy with the dramatic change to sports talk, and pined for the station's former strong local identity.

"It was crazy," he said. "It was just coming from everywhere."

The change rolls WLEC back to a full-service format that includes local news, sports and weather, but freshens up the music to appeal to baby boomers ages 45 to 65, Klein said.

The station also has switched its hourly news bulletins from CBS to ABC. Klein said BAS is affiliated with ABC and said he prefers ABC News because it gets breaking news on the air quickly.

BAS Broadcasting, co-owned by Klein and Jim Lorenzen, has been completing its purchase of five radio stations from Clear Channel, including WLEC. Clear Channel still holds the WLEC license, but the purchase will be finalized in a few weeks, Klein said.

BAS is spending $5.2 million for the radio stations, which include two other Sandusky-area radio stations, WCPZ-FM, known as Mix 102.7, which plays hits from the 1980s to today, and WMJK-FM, The Coast, which plays classic rock at 100.9. The purchase also includes WPFX-FM in Findlay and WTTF-AM in Tiffin.

BAS already owned four other stations, including WOHF-FM in Bellevue (an oldies station at 92.1, known as The Wolf), WFRO-FM in Fremont, and two Tiffin stations, WQIO-FM and WMVO-AM.

The other stations will keep their formats, Klein said.