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Published: Monday, 10/6/2003

Santa brings changes to WNRR-FM

Christmas is in the air, compliments of WNRR-FM (92.1).

The Bellevue, Ohio, radio station has been playing “Here Comes Santa Claus” around the clock since Wednesday and will continue doing so for at least the next week.

Why? Because its new owner, BAS Broadcasting, needs the time to make significant changes to the station. In mid-October, WNRR will unveil a new format -- changing from “contemporary hits” -- and have a much stronger signal. (It will operate at 6,000 watts, compared to the current 1,800. Its new tower is 333 feet; the previous one was 105 feet.)

Jim Lorenzen and Tom Klein have big plans for their company. They envision owning at least 25 radio stations in five years, and WNRR -- for which they paid $550,000 -- is station No. 2.

Station No. 1 is Fremont's WFRO-FM (99.1), which they purchased last year for $1.3 million.

In addition, BAS operates WFRO-AM (900) for ABC/Disney. Late last month, the stations switched formats, going from country music to sports talk. Lorenzen said BAS is likely to operate -- or as he put it, “babysit” -- the station until at least 2005.

Before WFRO-FM unveiled its adult-contemporary format and began branding itself as “Eagle 99,” the station played “Fly Like an Eagle” around the clock for six days. In retrospect, “Fly Like an Eagle” was a clue that made sense. Good luck trying to find hidden meaning in “Here Comes Santa Claus” being played 24/7. (The station is playing five versions of the Christmas classic.)

WNRR can be heard in Lucas and Wood counties, but, as is the case with both WFRO stations, its primary marketing area is to the east -- Ottawa, Sandusky, Huron, Seneca, and Erie counties.

Lorenzen said he and Klein, whose careers crossed paths at Toledo's Cumulus-owned radio stations in the 1990s, likely will have more acquisitions to announce in the first quarter of 2004.

“We're very, very proud of what we accomplished in the first year,” Lorenzen said. “We're having a lot of fun. And that's what broadcasting should be -- a lot of fun.”

MORNING SHUFFLE: WSPD-AM (1370) has had five people audition to succeed Mark Standriff, who left the news/talk station on Sept. 5. Greg Franke, who hosted the show Thursday, was to return this morning and is expected to remain until the permanent replacement takes over -- which could be Franke himself. Look for a decision to be made before the end of the month.

MOVING ON: Josh Garber, who worked weekends for WWWM-FM (105.5), landed a full-time gig at WTCF-FM (100.5) in Saginaw, Mich. Garber, 19, used the name “Opie” on Star 105, but he switched to “Jo Jo” for his night shift on WTCF.

NEW HIRE: Paula Johnson, who had been working on a freelance basis for WNWO-TV, Channel 24, for the past month, has been hired as a full-time general assignment reporter, according to news director Lou Hebert.



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