WJCU Radio offers wide-ranging and local programs

Mark Krieger, general manager of WJCU, and Zach Chapman, a JCU freshman and deejay at the station.

WJCU-FM, John Carroll University’s (JCU) radio station, is unlike just about any other radio station in Northeast Ohio. WJCU plays a wide mix of music, ranging from classic rock from the 1950s and '60s, to soul music, rhythm & blues, heavy metal, blues and alternative rock, as well as music from other countries.

“We play all kinds of different stuff,” said Mark Krieger, the station’s general manager. Krieger, who’s 60 years old, has been at WJCU since August 2004. He began working in radio back in 1975 and has worked at numerous stations in the area. He was director of engineering at WGAR for 13 years.

In 2001, he decided to go back to school, and got his master’s degree in communication research from Cleveland State University (CSU). After receiving his degree, he started teaching at CSU. Then one day he got a call informing him that JCU was looking for a new general manager and asking if he would be interested. He decided to take the job. In addition to overseeing the radio station, he also teaches classes in electronic media, audio production and journalism.

WJCU started as WABU in 1969. The station’s name changed a few times over the years, until it became WJCU in 1997. The station can be found at 88.7 FM.

Numerous famous television and radio personalities got their start at WJCU. Most notable among them is Tim Russert, who spent 16 years as the moderator of "Meet the Press" on NBC. He died in 2008, and the university’s communications department, which oversees the radio station, is now called the Tim Russert Department of Communication & Theatre Arts.

The university has a fellowship with "Meet the Press" in which one of its communications graduates can work on the show for nine months after graduation.

Chris Tye, a WKYC-TV news anchor, and Hollie Giangreco, a WKYC meteorologist, both graduated from JCU and worked at its radio station as students. Laura DeMarco, an arts and entertainment reporter for the Plain Dealer, is another JCU graduate who worked at WJCU.

The radio station feels a strong connection with Cleveland Heights and University Heights, and its Monday through Friday programming, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., is called “The Heights.” Most of the music played during that time period is alternative rock, and news shows air three times a day. A program called "Heights Now" features news from the Heights Observer. The Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library System also has a weekly show, "Biblio Radio," which airs daily, Monday through Friday.

Each evening, WJCU features diverse programming. On Monday nights, 8–10 p.m. the station presents "NEO Rocks," a show that features local artists. On Tuesday nights, 8–10 p.m., "Madcat Blues" features blues music from many different artists. A long-running heavy-metal show, "Metal on Metal," airs on Friday nights, 6:30–9:30 p.m. The station has been broadcasting that show for 34 years. On Thursday nights, from 10 p.m. to midnight, the station presents “Midnight Reel,” a program featuring music from movie soundtracks.

On weekends, WJCU presents numerous ethnic, foreign-language shows that focus on international music from Lithuania, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Armenia and other countries.

“We have a large international audience,” Krieger said. “In places like Germany and the U.K., a lot of people listen to our shows on the Internet.”

All of the WJCU's programming is overseen by the students, who also handle all of the day-to-day station management.

“We try to keep three things in mind with regard to the station,” Krieger said. “One thing is that this is where we live—in the Heights—so we direct a lot of the programming to the people who live here. We also embrace the philosophy that radio works best when there’s a healthy relationship between the content provider and the audience. And finally, we focus on our educational mission. We are training students so they can go on the air and be very comfortable. They may be amateurs, but they are learning.”

James Henke

James Henke, a Cleveland Heights resident, was a writer and editor at Rolling Stone magazine for 15 years. He is also the author of several books, including biographies of Jim Morrison, John Lennon and Bob Marley. He is on the board of FutureHeights, and is co-chair of the Heights Observer Advisory Committee.

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Volume 9, Issue 3, Posted 2:29 PM, 02.29.2016