91.5 / 88.9
The V-ROCK Era (1991-1999)
On August 27, 1991, WSTB signed on the air as “91.5/V-ROCK” playing classic rock in the morning and contemporary metal during the afternoon and evening. It featured bands such as Metallica, Megadeth, and Ozzy and a variety of local bands including NDE, Hate Theory, and Mushroomhead.
The identifier “V-ROCK” was selected as a way of marketing the station following a morning breakfast meeting in May with incoming Program Director Mark Robison and Operations Manager Kevin Corrao. After Robison proposed the format and GM Bob Long approved it, brainstorming resulted in a series of marketing concepts. Robison wanted to use a snake as the station mascot with the slogan, “The V is for venom…the rock is for you.”
However, considering the times, it was determined that this was a bit harsh and would probably not go over well in the community. The final decision to use “V-ROCK’ was actually a bit of marketing, playing off the image of a former Cleveland metal radio station called Z-ROCK. The thought was that people would associate V-ROCK with Z-ROCK and assume it must be a heavy rock and metal station. It worked! Around this same time, major technical changes were in the works. In March 1992 the transmitter and antenna were finally moved to the High School. On March 30 the station signed on using a new 100-foot tower located just outside of the studios. On the tower was the station’s original V-ROCK logo was an upside-down anarchy sign. The station was often referred to as “Upside-down anarchy rock.” the first antenna with circular polarization.
This 3-bay antenna would provide listeners with better reception in their cars and on portable radios. On May 25, WSTB went stereo. On September 21, 1992, the format was adjusted due to audience response. Gone was the classic rock in the mornings. The station identifier now became “All Metal, All Day!” Up until this time, WSTB would sign off the air during the summer months, just after Memorial Day, and then return to the air during the first few weeks of school in September. However, the audience demand was so persistent with the new metal format, that in the summer of 1993, WSTB abandoned the summer sign-off and remained on the air. Due to the legal liabilities of using high school students in an unsupervised setting the station was manned by recent graduates, interns from the Ohio Center for Broadcasting, and student volunteers from Kent State University and the University of Akron.
The broadcast day generally went from 7 am until 12 midnight Monday through Saturday. The next two years were quite stable as the audience continued to grow. That all changed, however, on May 9, 1995, when the FCC granted WSTB a construction permit to change its frequency to 88.9 MHz so that it could initiate a power increase to 1,000 watts. A new antenna was installed on the morning of July 10 with the station signing on the air for testing that afternoon on 88.9 MHz
The next day, July 11, the official sign-on occurred with the station known as 88.9/V-ROCK “The Underground” at 175 watts pending the arrival of the new 1,000-watt transmitter. The transmitter arrived nearly two weeks later and at 9 am on July 27, 1995 “The Underground” signed on the air at 1,000 watts ERP. It took several years for the market to accept the metal format, but once it did, the station developed a loyal fan base of some 8,000 listeners. On March 8, 1997, V-ROCK sponsored its first rock concert featuring five regional metal bands. It was called “Cleveland Metal ‘97.”
During this, there was a metal show planned, called “Spring Mosh ‘99” to feature four local bands including N.D.E., Dolly Trauma, and Hate Theory with the Cleveland area band Mushroomhead as the featured attraction. For more information about this metal show, check out the video below!
After "Spring Mosh '99, the Sunday Oldies Jukebox (1997) In the midst of the V-ROCK era, WSTB finally moved from a six-day-a-week to a seven-day-a-week operation. On November 30, 1997, a new Sunday format took the air. (Prior to this, the station was only on the air Monday through Saturday.) It was called “The Sunday Oldies Jukebox” and featured pop songs from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. The format was programmed by former Station Manager and Director of Engineering Bill Weisinger. Air personalities were adult volunteers from Streetsboro and nearby communities. Over the years the format developed a significant adult audience looking for an alternative to the commercial oldies station in the Akron/Cleveland market.
The AlterNation Era (1999) What should the “new WSTB” be called? Since the marketing concept of V-ROCK worked so well, the staff wanted to make sure the new format received equal treatment. Staff member Shawn Horton proposed a concept, along with the original “orb” logo. He figured that using the identifier “AlterNation” would tag WSTB as an alternative format station and also open the door to some interesting marketing concepts.
The AlterNation was adopted and on August 30, 1999, WSTB signed back on the air as “88.9/The Alter-Nation.”