Cleveland donation creates highly unusual cluster


There will be more than the usual amount of cross-ownership when a donation deal for iconic commercial Classical outlet WCLV-FM 104.9 in Cleveland to a local noncommercial parent organization is completed. There will be radio/TV cross-ownership, as well as commercial/noncommercial cross-ownership.

The WCLV Foundation is donating the station to ideastream, operator of PBS WVIZ-TV and NPR WCPN-FM. Although both of those stations are noncoms, WCLV-FM will continue to exist under a commercial license and sell advertising to support itself.

The staff of the station will continue on under the new ownership structure. However, some of the programming will migrate over to WCPN. In particular, an evening jazz program will make the switch, allowing WCLV to devote even more time to its classical fare.

WCLV President and Co-founder Robert Conrad said, “When the late C. K. (Pat) Patrick and I established WCLV in 1962, little did we know that the station would continue on for 50 years, nor did we foresee the vital part the station would play on the Cleveland cultural scene. My current partner, Executive Vice President and CFO Rich Marschner, and I have put in place a talented, vital, loyal and passionate staff under the direction of General Manager Jenny Northern. We have full confidence that they will continue the station’s unique service that it has established during the past five decades. While we intend to continue to be active in the operation of the station for some time, it is obvious that WCLV needs a ‘safe harbor’ as it moves forward into the 21st century. And ideastream is the logical place for the station to tie up. ideastream is a nationally respected organization, involved in the community on many levels with fabulous technical facilities. Both WCLV and ideastream are grounded in the same philosophy — that broadcasters have a great opportunity and hence a great responsibility to use the medium to enrich and enlarge the lives of the public they serve.”

FCC approval is required to complete the transfer of the station, and is expected in about 90 days.

RBR-TVBR observation: The commercial classical format has just about been driven into extinction, so you have to admire the creative solution they found in Cleveland to keep one of the last stations in captivity up and running. On a legal note, noncommercial entities are not covered under local cap restrictions, so in terms of the FCC review of this transfer, we believe it will involve only one FM station with no radio/TV cross-ownership consideration at all.