by Frank Lewis
Northeast Ohio’s newest radio station is targeting a wide audience that spans from classic-rock fans to younger listeners who go to shows at the Grog Shop. Lorain's 107.3 FM WNWV switched to Adult Album Alternative format on December 28, after 22 years as a smooth jazz station. The new station is nicknamed Boom!
“This is not an off-the-shelf format,” explains vice president and general manager Lonnie Gronek. “This is unique to Cleveland. No [other stations] had been covering Triple-A. We talked to people, and they said their personal likes were very diverse. And Triple-A seemed to fit that bill very well.”
Gronek says he wants Boom! to sound like your iPod. And in its first days, it’s breaking many rules of traditional commercial broadcasting. DJs are free to play multiple songs in a row by the same artist. They’re free to reach deep into albums, or beyond albums. Early broadcasts have included multiple deep cuts by Bowie and the Police, plus nuggets like Ani DiFranco’s cover of Prince’s “When Doves Cry.”
The format — not the exact playlist — was assembled after some experimentation by Gronek and program director Rick Bennett, former program director for 107.9 The End and DJ for WONE and WMMS. Golden-era WMMS program director John Gorman is consulting. Most of the station’s staff remains, and smooth jazz is still on the menu if you know where to look. WNWV still broadcasts jazz via its high definition signal 107.3 HD2 and its website.
Gronek says listeners can expect not just music, but information about the music. DJs are free to talk about the artists they play, from current news to old trivia. Explains Gronek, “The vision includes being an independent music voice, as music used to be 20, 25 years ago.” — D.X. Ferris