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Wdtw
WDTW
Frequency 1310AM (kHz)
City Dearborn, Michigan
Market Detroit
Branding 1310 WDTW
Owner Clear Channel Communications
Power 5,000 watts
Slogan Detroit's Progressive Talk
Airdate December 29, 1946
Format launch
Format dropped
Sister stations
Website WDTW
Webcast


'WDTW (1310AM)' is a news/talk-formatted radio station licensed to Dearborn, Michigan, serving the Detroit area. The station is owned by Clear Channel Communications.

Progressive talk programmingEdit

The station carries a full-time progressive talk format, including Ed Schultz and Air America Radio. The daily content from Air America includes The Thom Hartmann Show, The Rachel Maddow Show, Clout with Richard Greene, and This is America with Jon Elliott.

Much of WDTW's weekend lineup comes from paid and commercial programming. One of these is the Libertarian-sided Michael Stein Show, which broadcasts from 8-10 AM on Sundays.

Nancy Skinner broadcast a morning show on WDTW from January to December 2005.


RatingsEdit

Jan 11 Feb 11 Mar 11 Apr 11 May 11
0.2 0.1 0.2 0.2 0.1



HistoryEdit

Originating as WKMH in 1946, in 1963 it became known as WKNR, the legendary Top 40 "Keener 13" that served the Metro Detroit area in the 1960s and early 1970s. It has undergone a number of format and call letter changes since the end of 'Keener', variously being a simulcast AM source of WNIC, its sister station; a soul oldies station, WMTG; an all-children's station, WDOZ; a personality/oldies/classical station, WYUR; and a talk station of a number of formats.

Early yearsEdit

Prior to their adoption in Cleveland, the WKNR call letters were used at the current WDTW-AM which at the time was owned by Knorr Broadcasting. Keener 13 took to the airwaves on Halloween night in 1963, and 71 days later had moved from last to first in the Detroit radio ratings.

In 1963, Detroit had three top-40 stations, CKLW (800) (which was still four years away from the beginning of its glory days), WJBK (1500) and WXYZ (1270). Each had its share of excellent announcers, but broadcast a wide range of music and suffered from a lack of consistency and definition. The station had flirted with a hit-based format under its old call-sign, WKMH (which had been in place since the station signed on in 1946).

In its early years, WKMH was a typical suburban full-service radio station specializing in local news, information, sports, and mainly MOR-oriented pop music. WKMH's most popular personality was Robin Seymour, a pioneering rock and roll DJ in Detroit. Seymour's "Bobbin' with Robin" show featured a music mix that foreshadowed the birth of the Top 40 format in playing R&B and early rock artists like The Crows alongside mainstream pop stars like Patti Page. Seymour would stay on at the station as it became WKNR and later became the host of Swingin' Time, a popular local teenage dance show on CKLW-TV.

WKMH also garnered some notice through personalities such as Lee Alan "On the Horn" and Dave "Sangoo" Prince, but the station was generally considered an also-ran in the Detroit market and a weak competitor of WJBK and WXYZ, which were Detroit's dominant Top 40 stations. Even WKMH was not a 24-hour Top 40 station; at night, the station featured a jazz show hosted by Jim Rockwell (later of WABX-FM). In addition, WKMH was briefly Detroit's CBS radio affiliate in 1960, after WJR dropped its CBS affiliation to add more local programming. Despite, or some might say because of, this unusual move, WKMH continued to flounder. In 1962 the station shed its CBS affiliation and became "Flagship Radio," an adult contemporary format featuring a mix of softer current pop hits and MOR album cuts, but this format, too, was a failure.

"Keener 13"Edit

Despite the power of WJBK and WXYZ and the 50,000-watt signal of CKLW, consultant Mike Joseph (perhaps best known for developing the Hot Hits format in the late 1970s) was convinced there was room for a fourth Top 40 station in Detroit and that 1310 AM could easily climb ahead of the competition. With WKMH owner Nellie Knorr, he developed the formula that ultimately became a smashing success.

One of the factors involved instituting a shorter playlist - only 31 records plus one "key song" of the week and a liberal sprinkling of oldies - than was typical for many Top 40 stations of the era. WJBK, WXYZ and CKLW all had very long playlists at the time, stretching to 80 to 100 songs at times. WKNR's shorter playlist ensured that they played more hits and fewer "stiffs" and that listeners would hear a hit whenever they tuned in. WKNR also played the hits 24 hours a day, as opposed to the other hit stations in Detroit which were loaded with non-music full-service features (especially on weekends).

WKNR officially launched on October 31, 1963, with the "Battle of the Giants," an attention-grabbing promotion that invited listeners to call in to vote for their favorite oldies. The station quickly gained momentum, and until the spring of 1967, despite a weak signal which missed most of the east side of the metro area (especially at night), WKNR was the preeminent rock radio station in the Motor City. It did serious damage to both WJBK and WXYZ, eventually driving both stations out of Top 40 and into MOR formats.

Keener featured popular personalities like Dick Purtan, Bob Green, Gary Stevens (later of New York's legendary WMCA), J. Michael Wilson, Scott Regen, Ted Clark and Jim Jeffries, and a mix of music that included a number of local acts including many of Detroit's Motown superstars. Scott Regen's "Motown Monday" features included live concerts from the Roostertail supper club featuring superstar acts like the Supremes and The Four Tops. Dick Purtan honed the wry, sardonic sense of humor that has made him a fixture on the Motor City airwaves for four decades, first on WKNR (and later at WXYZ, CKLW and WCZY-FM/WKQI, and now at "Oldies 104.3" WOMC).

Of course, Keener 13 was more than just a music box - the station had a heavy news commitment, with "Contact News" at :15 and :45 past the hour every hour. The WKNR news team delivered the top stories of the day in a professional, non-sensational manner (as opposed to CKLW's "blood-and-guts" "20/20 News") and even released a "Year in Review" album each year which was made available to area schools.

WKNR's dominance was challenged when Bill Drake and Paul Drew used the Keener principles at CKLW, beginning in April of 1967. With 50,000 watts behind it and a lightning-fast pace based on Drake's "Boss Radio" model, The Big 8 became the number one Top 40 station, and some of Keener's top DJs, including Dick Purtan and Scott Regen, eventually moved over to CKLW. As FM radio grew in popularity, the Keener sound faded into history. However, WKNR did not go down without a fight, continuing to battle the Big 8 for five more years despite dropping ratings. During its final years, WKNR attempted to distinguish itself from CKLW by playing less bubblegum pop and more rock album cuts, and promoting itself as "Rock and Roll The American Way" (a jab at CKLW's location in Windsor, Ontario, and Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission-mandated "Canadian content" regulations imposed at the start of 1971).

Later yearsEdit

Finally, the station changed formats and call letters in April 1972, becoming easy-listening WNIC. It has been through several unsuccessful formats since, including an attempt to revive the "Keener 13" brand name in 1977 with an adult-based Top 40 format and the new calls WWKR. Today, WKNR's 1310 frequency is home to WDTW (AM), owned by Clear Channel Communications. The station features a news-talk format.

The stations call letters temporarily changed to WWWW on July 24, 2006 as part of a station swap between Clear Channel Communications and Cumulus Media in the Ann Arbor and Canton, Ohio markets. On September 15th, 2006 the call letters were changed back to WDTW.

WKNR also had an FM sister at 100.3 that spent most of the 1960s simulcasting the AM signal before changing to a progressive rock format in 1969, in response to the popularity of progressive WABX (99.5). WKNR-FM changed to an early form of the Adult Contemporary format in 1971 as "Stereo Island" and then went easy listening as WNIC-FM along with the AM in 1972.

WNIC-FM's format eventually evolved back into Adult Contemporary and became a ratings leader in Detroit. AM 1310 has been in and out of simulcasting WNIC-FM between failed formats over the past 35 years. Some of the other formats AM 1310 has tried since the second attempt at "Keener 13" include:

  • WMTG - satellite-fed Rhythmic Oldies, 1986-1991. The calls stood for "Motown Gold."
  • WDOZ - Children's, 1994-1996 (affiliated with the Radio AAHS network and then with KidStar after AAHS went under)
  • WYUR - "Your Radio Station"/Personality News-Talk/Adult Standards/Classical, 1997-2000
  • WXDX - "The X"/Sports Talk (Fox Sports Radio), 2000-2002
  • WXDX - "The X"/Talk (mostly syndicated), 2002-2005

Detroit's WKNR is celebrated at Keener13.com, with an extensive history, an archive of air checks and a database of every WKNR Music Guide.

Other programmingEdit

WDTW is the home of Oakland University men's basketball]]. Mario Impemba handles play-by-play duty. This is the first time in school history Oakland has a flagship radio deal.

External linksEdit


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