A celebration of broadcast history in pictures and sounds
This blog had an earlier entry about WAKR Radio, one of Akron, Ohio’s legendary Top 40 radio stations.
Owner Summit Radio Corporation also signed on Akron’s first TV station, WAKR-TV, in 1953. Originally, it was going to air on VHF Channel 11, but when the FCC froze future VHF stations and merged Cleveland and Akron into a single TV market, WAKR-TV ended up on the less desirable UHF Channel 49.
Very few people had TV sets capable of receiving UHF signals (Channels 14 and higher) in the 1950s and 1960s. It was tough for a UHF to survive in the early days.
ABC had no full-time affiliate in the Cleveland area. It was a secondary affiliate of WJW-TV and WEWS-TV. ABC affiliated with weak WAKR-TV.
When WEWS-TV became a full-time ABC affiliate in 1955, WAKR-TV suffered. Summit Radio said in 1961 that WAKR-TV had “suffered very substantial operating losses.”
Still, WAKR-TV focused on the Akron community, featuring a newscast full of Akron and Canton happenings. It shared resources with WAKR-AM and the “Akron Beacon Journal” to cover the region. Here’s an example of that local programming. This is part of a WAKR-TV broadcast of a state championship pee-wee football game in 1968:
It moved to Channel 23 in 1967, around the time the FCC required TV sets to include UHF tuners. The channel position also helped to boost its signal, but it didn’t help WAKR-TV much. Overshadowed by its slicker competitors in the larger Cleveland area, WAKR’s ratings suffered, though it trounced Cleveland stations in the Akron and Canton areas. WEWS’ owner, E.W. Scripps Company, often pressured ABC to pull the affiliation from WAKR-TV. Many viewers watching ABC on WAKR assumed they were watching Cleveland’s WEWS. ABC stuck with WAKR-TV.
Summit became Group One Broadcasting and sold off its radio stations in 1986. It kept WAKR-TV and changed the call letters to WAKC-TV. A home-shopping broadcaster called ValueVision bought the station in 1993. Paxson Communications purchased WAKC in 1996 and canceled its Akron-focused news operation. The ABC affiliation ended December 31, 1996, and WAKC carried infomercials for a year and a half. It became WVPX in 1998 and carried the entire Pax TV network schedule.
An Akron-based newscast briefly retuned in 2001 when Paxson entered an agreement with Cleveland’s WKYC-TV. That arrangement ended in 2005. Today, WVPX carries ION Television.