Longtime Columbus radio station signs off air today; we look back at their history and impact

Sav McKee

They’ve been serenading us to and from work every day, rain or shine, making our commutes a little brighter with their hand-selected, alternative rock tunes, uplifting voices, and their dedication to the community in general. Needless to say, 614, and the rest of central Ohio, are going to miss WWCD 92.9 setting the soundtrack for our lives and for the city.

WWCD was established in 1990, and throughout its 33-year old history, they’ve committed to being a vital component of the Columbus community. They’ve provided arts, culture, and social-service organizations, along with donating more than $1 million to children-centric charities through the station’s nonprofit foundation, called CD 102.5 For the Kids. Their work with the Columbus Humane Society never went unnoticed as well, highlighting adoptable dogs and propelling the adoption process, encouraging hundreds of Columbus residents to adopt four legged friends.

Randy Malloy, owner and president of WWCD 92.9, has always believed that “radio done right is about more than charts and ratings – it’s about community, and it’s about people,” he explained on social media. In a 2020 interview with 614 Magazine, Malloy explained that, “I was always brought up on the belief that with music and radio stations, even if you own the license, you are beholden to the community that you’re in. A strong music scene is part of the ecosystem of a city that makes it vibrant.”

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In 1991, after driving around an ambulance for two years, Malloy took a shot at interning for the brand new radio station, CD101.1 (which then turned to 102.5, then to 92.9). The rest is history. And just like history, there were definitely some obstacles that Malloy had to overcome to create the community hub that 92.9 is (was) today. 

In 2010, the 101.1 dial was sold, and the indie radio station leased 102.5. Then, in 2020, (of course it had to be 2020), Malloy was faced with another dilemma besides just the world shutting down; when many were turning towards his radio station to feel less isolated, he was losing negotiations to keep his lease for 102.5. On October 31st, 2020, CD102.5 went off air.

“I took it very personally that it was my fault and I couldn’t save it. I was emotionally, physically a wreck that I fucked it up. I felt genuinely bad,” Malloy said in an exclusive 2020 interview with 614 Magazine. 

Over a million Columbus residents came together via social media, cards, and hand-written letters, expressing that CD102.5 must somehow continue. Within a few weeks of CD102.5’s initial closure, Malloy and the owner of 92.9, Mark Litton, struck a deal, and Malloy was officially back on air. 

Now, almost four years later, CD 92.9 is officially ending their broadcast again tonight, on January 31st, due to ongoing legal agreements and failure of negotiations, which you can read about here. 

Working his way from intern, to station manager, then owner, Malloy crossed numerous obstacles to keep indie music alive in this city. Yes, 92.9 is the only radio station in central Ohio who dared to play Death Cab for Cutie and Turnover, but the community listened to 92.9 for more reasons than just their incredible music recommendations.

As Jesse Hubbard, local community member and owner of St. Russell Productions puts it, “CD 92.9 has been such an important part of my life since I moved to Columbus, and I’m just gutted that they will no longer be on the airwaves. It’s such a loss to the city and to the music community and honestly, it feels like I’m losing a friend,” he said.

“But despite the sadness I’m feeling right now, I want to celebrate the good times. I want to remember the amazing shows at Big Room Bar, all the great bands the station has introduced me to and the fantastic memories they’ve created along the way. So tonight as the station plays its final songs, I’ll raise a glass to the illustrious, legendary, unforgettable CD 92.9!”

Want to read more? Check out our print publications, (614) Magazine and Stock & Barrel. Learn where you can find free copies of our newest issues here!

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