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Gospel WCNW-AM gone for good

WCNW-AM studios and towers are located at 8686 Michael Lane behind Jungle Jim's International Market in Fairfield.
John Kiesewetter
WCNW-AM studios and towers are located at 8686 Michael Lane behind Jungle Jim's International Market in Fairfield.

Owners of the Christian station are relinquishing FCC license for 1560 AM, which had broadcast from Fairfield for 60 years.

A year after ceasing broadcasts, the owners of Fairfield’s WCNW-FM (1560) have applied to cancel their Federal Communications Commission license.

The tiny daytime-only Christian station discontinued operations a year ago "due to a loss of the ability to operate its transmitter" at 8686 Michael Lane in Fairfield, according to an FCC filing. The former studios and six radio towers are located on seven acres behind Jungle Jim's International Market.

On April 26, owner Vernon R. Baldwin Inc. applied to the FCC to “cancel the entire facility.”

Vernon Baldwin at WCNW-AM in Fairfield.
Courtesy Susan Theiss
Vernon Baldwin at WCNW-AM in Fairfield.

“It was extraordinarily difficult to come to this decision of turning in the license. Our dad had dreams of owning radio stations and WCNW was the first of many,” says Susan Theiss, Baldwin’s daughter. He died in 2011.

“Quite a few things contributed, but primarily, declining sales combined with aging equipment in need of repair ultimately forced us to throw in the towel. So many good memories on Michael Lane for us Baldwins,” she says.

Founded 60 years ago, WCNW-AM had been operating at 1,000 watts for four years, according to government filings. In 2019, the station received "special temporary authority" after the transmission line for its 5,000-watt daytime signal was damaged and needed to be replaced.

Former Hamilton furniture store owner "Cousin Vern" Baldwin bought the country music station in 1984 and changed the format to gospel music. The company plans to sell the Michael Lane property, Theiss says.

WCNW-AM began operation in 1964 with call letters that stood for "We're Country 'N' Western." Country music singer Bonnie Lou (Okum) from the Ruth Lyons and Bob Braun TV shows and Fred Slezak were among the DJs who worked there.

Vernon R. Baldwin Inc. owns Hamilton's WMOH-AM on Ohio 4 near the Butler County fairgrounds. It bought the station in 2002.

John Kiesewetter, who has covered television and media for more than 35 years, has been working for Cincinnati Public Radio and WVXU-FM since 2015.