WAOL - 99.5 Max FM
First Broadcasting made a sizeable investment in May 2004 by purchasing three radio stations on the edge of the Cincinnati radio market. The company bought legendary indie rock station 97.7 WOXY in Oxford, OH for $5.64 million from Doug and Linda Balogh. The Balogh family retained the station's 97X name and its massive music library along with the woxy.com website domain name.
Soon after, First Broadcasting rebranded WOXY as X-97.7 and put the Waitt Radio Network's satellite-fed modern rock format on that station's signal.
Concurrently, First Broadcasting bought both Country 97.7 The Rooster WAXZ in Georgetown, OH and Classic Country 99.5 WAOL in Ripley, OH from Plessinger Radio for a combined $4.06 million. In total, First Broadcasting spent roughly $9.7 million in 2004 dollars to purchase WOXY, WAXZ, and WAOL.
Over Memorial Day weekend 2005, First Broadcasting flipped all three stations into a Variety Hits trimulcast as "Bob FM". But, as it turned out, the "Bob" name didn't last long.
At the time, 1160 WBOB (then owned by Salem Communications) was already an established station in Cincinnati. Whether Salem made any requests or demands about the Bob FM name and possible confusion relative to the WBOB call letters is unclear, but First Broadcasting quickly decided to go in another direction. At around 9:30 p.m. on May 30, 2005, the trimulcast dropped the Bob FM branding and went nameless, simply touting that it was a new station playing 10,000 songs in a row without commercial interruption.
First Broadcasting held a "pick the name" contest for the station in July 2005, promising $10,000 to the person who suggested the winning name. On August 1, 2005 at 5 p.m. EDT, the station unveiled its new name: 97.7/99.5 Max FM. The three stations covered outlying areas of Cincinnati, but none hit the metro with any type of competitive signal.
In August 2005, the FCC approved a switch of city of licenses for WOXY from Oxford, OH to Mason, OH and WAXZ from Georgetown, OH to Salt Lick, KY. The idea was to relocate WAXZ south into the Morehead, KY (a city located between Lexington, KY and Huntington, WV) area, making room for WOXY to move closer to Cincinnati.
Dreamcatcher Communications' 103.1 WRAC completed the trifecta by agreeing to lower its power slightly and move west to provide city-grade coverage to its new city of license, Georgetown, and thus fulfill an FCC mandate by filling WAXZ's role in providing local radio coverage for that city. No such move was needed for Oxford, which was also (and still is) the city of license for 88.5 WMUB.
In September 2007, First Broadcasting sold WAXZ to Gateway Radio for just $60,294. The station temporarily went dark in preparation for the move to Kentucky, which turned Max FM into a simulcast. WAXZ relaunched as Real Country 97.7 with new call letters WKCA in November 2007.
First Broadcasting broke up the Max FM simulcast on November 15, 2010, flipping 97.7 WOXY to Spanish music as La Mega 97.7, with that station being programmed via an LMA (Local Marketing Agreement) from TSJ Radio, LLC, which came with an option to buy the station. Variety Hits remained on WAOL as 99.5 Max FM.
In February 2011, news broke that First Broadcasting had defaulted on a loan (remember that $9.7 million spent in 2004?) and that its assets would be going up for auction, including WAOL.
Queen Cities Broadcasting, LLC ended up winning the auction and then LMAing the station in July 2011 to the aforementioned Dreamcatcher Communications, which has retained the Variety Hits format and 99.5 Max FM branding on WAOL since the LMA began.
Station Website: None
Special Audio: WOXY/WAXZ/WAOL Legal ID (TopHour.com)
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