|City of license||West Warwick, Rhode Island|
|Broadcast area||Kent County and Providence, Rhode Island|
|Branding||1450 AM ESPN Providence|
|Slogan||"You know us. We know Sports."|
|Repeaters||WNBH/1340-New Bedford, Massachusetts (simulcast partner)|
|First air date||August 15, 19561|
|Power||1,000 watts (unlimited)|
|Callsign meaning||"We're L (50 in roman numerals) KiloWatts"
(former call of adult standards stations on 990, 790 and 550 kHz in the Providence market)
|Former callsigns||WWRI (1956–1969)
WKRI (1973–November 13, 1995)
WHIM (November 13, 1995–March 20, 1998)
WDYZ (March 20, 1998–January 17, 2000)
WHRC (January 17–June 22, 2000)
WWRI (June 22, 2000–July 9, 2002)
|Owner||Hall Communications, Inc.|
|Sister stations||WNBH, WCTK|
WLKW (1450 AM, "ESPN Providence") is a radio station licensed to West Warwick, Rhode Island, USA. The station is the ESPN Radio affiliate for Rhode Island and is owned by Hall Communications. WLKW was an affiliate of the Pawsox Radio Network until 2009.
The AM 1450 frequency was a longtime home to WWRI, later WKRI, a community station serving the West Warwick area. WWRI began broadcasting August 15, 1956. WWRI was initially headquartered at 1501 Main St. in West Warwick. Its first licensee & president was W. Paul Oury.2 On October 8, 1957, WWRI was sold to Melvin Green's Grelin Broadcasting.3 The next change of ownership occurred on February 8, 1969 when RSVP Inc. bought WWRI. By this time, WWRI was an ABC radio affiliate.4
Around 1970, the station was bought by MediAmerica Broadcasting, the company that owned WYRE (a daytimer on 810 kHz) that put a listenable signal into both Baltimore and Washington, D.C. with just 500 watts. They changed the calls to WSVP.
Owner Ernie Tannen installed Jim Hooker, later to become a successful radio sales trainer, as the general manager. He hired Bill Hennes, then programming WNHC in New Haven, Ct., as a consultant in hopes of competing for Providence ad dollars. He put in place a Drake-like format using Johnny Mann jingles, however the station had to be oldies based since there were already two established hit-music stations in greater Providence along with several other stations that bled in from outside the market. The station failed to make a dent in WPRO's dominance, but since they sounded big they attracted listeners. Their 1,000-watt daytime signal made them listenable in Providence, but in those days they had to reduce power to 250 watts at night which limited them to just Kent County after dark.
The station was one of the launching pads for air talent in the northeast. During its brief lifespan an all-star team went through there. Among the many were Buzz Brindle, Jack Casey, Dick Downes (using Bob Lawrence), G. Michael McKay, Dusty Brooks, Paul Payton, Bill Donovan, Jim Edwards & Charlie Stone.
WSVP wouldn't last long as on December 1, 1972, RSVP sold WSVP to Consolidated Communications, Inc. which changed the callsign to WKRI.5 WKRI was sold again around 1977 to Algonquin Broadcasting Company.6 Rainbow Broadcasting bought WKRI on October 5, 1979.7 Rainbow Broadcasting moved WKRI out of its longtime home of 1501 Main St. in West Warwick to its new location of 1585 Centerville Road in the same town.8 WKRI's next change of ownership came on February 16, 1984 when it was bought by WKRI Broadcasting Inc.9 Under WKRI Broadcasting's ownership, WKRI increased its nighttime power to 1,000 watts.10 WKRI Broadcasting sold WKRI to DBH Broadcasting on June 3, 1986.11 1989 would bring another change of ownership: Atlantic Broadcasting System Inc. purchased WKRI on July 3, 1989.12 Atlantic Broadcasting became American Independent Radio which then became DBH Broadcasting again. This was partially owned by Richard Bouchard who also owned WNRI/1380: Woonsocket, Rhode Island. WKRI & WNRI would be sister stations from 1986-1995. WKRI was sold to Providence Broadcasting in 1995 for $200,000. Former Spanish-language programming from the weekends went to 1110 in East Providence, the former WHIM. WHIM's callsign moved to the former WKRI along with its Country music programming.13
WLKW was first assigned in the Providence market to A.M. 990, now WALE. The calls stood for "50 kilowatts", as L is the Roman numeral for 50 & KW is the abbreviation for kilowatt(s). The W signifies that the call is east of the Mississippi River. WLKW began broadcasting April 12, 1961 & was primarily known as an easy listening station. In the 1960s, WLKW-FM/101.5 (now WWBB) was added to the fold & primarily became the main station with the A.M. becoming an afterthought.
- 1995 Providence Journal Almanac, p. 250
- 1957 Broadcasting Yearbook, page B-233
- 1958 Broadcasting Yearbook, page A-362
- 1970 Broadcasting Yearbook, page B-178.
- 1974 Broadcasting Yearbook, page B-186
- 1978 Broadcasting Yearbook, page C-193.
- 1981 Broadcasting Yearbook, page C-207
- 1982 Broadcasting Yearbook, page C-210
- 1985 Broadcasting Yearbook, page B-238.
- 1986 Broadcasting Yearbook, page B-249
- 1987 Broadcasting Yearbook, page B-252
- 1990 Broadcasting Yearbook, page B-273
- Scott Fybush's North East Radio Watch: February 8, 1996
- WLKW official website
- Hall Communications
- Northeast Radio Watch from February 8, 1996
- Query the FCC's AM station database for WLKW
- Radio-Locator Information on WLKW
- Query Arbitron's AM station database for WLKW