Robert Conrad, Vice President and Program Manager, WCLV-FM


It is doubtful that any classical music station in the country is as vital a part of its cultural community as Cleveland's WCLV 104.9-FM. That achievement is due to the extraordinary vision and unflagging dedication of Robert Conrad, its founder and guiding spirit. Not only has Bob Conrad kept classical music on the Cleveland airwaves for four decadesand secured its broadcasting in perpetuitybut he and his station have also raised millions for area arts organizations, promoted appreciation and support of our cultural assets and served as our cultural ambassador to the nation. Indeed, WCLV has brought Cleveland to the nation with its regular broadcasts of Cleveland Orchestra concerts and the weekly City Club Forum, which the station has carried live since 1970.

Conrad, now president of WCLV, and his late partner, C. K. “Pat” Patrick, established WCLV in 1962 at 95.5 on the FM radio spectrum. By the early 1970s they had brought it to national prominence as one of the most successfully operated classical music stations in the United States. Cleveland's fine arts radio station was barely a decade old when Robert Conrad was honored by the Cleveland Arts Prize in 1973 with a Special Citation for Distinguished Service to the Arts.

In 1970, Conrad conceived and produced the first of many annual WCLV/Cleveland Orchestra marathons, which through the spring of 1997 had raised more than $4 million for the orchestra. He has participated in more than 130 similar fund-raising events for other orchestras, arts groups and public radio stations.

As other longtime classical stations around the country capitulated to lucrative buyout offers in an era of station ownership consolidation aimed at creating more attractive advertising “buys,” Conrad once again proved himself a visionary. In an extraordinarily generous and civic-minded gesture on the part of Conrad and his partners, in 2001 WCLV was donated to a newly created, nonprofit WCLV Foundation, which preserved the station's classical music format at a new spot on the dial and its role as champion of Greater Cleveland's cultural institutions, while using profits generated by the station to help support several of the area's beloved arts organizations.

Classical music lovers across the country know Conrad best as the producer and commentator for the weekly Cleveland Orchestra broadcasts heard on more than 250 outlets. Indeed, he is considered the “dean” of radio commentators, having been an orchestra announcer continuously since 1965, the longest tenure of any national orchestra commentator in the history of American radio. (Conrad is a past president of the Concert Music Broadcasters Association and holds an appointment as adjunct professor of broadcasting at the Cleveland Institute of Music.) His Weekend Radio, a popular variety program of classical music and comedy, is carried by more than 150 outlets.

Under his direction, WCLV has won many honorsincluding, in 1995, both the One World Medal for Best Classical Format World Wide from the New York International Radio Festival and the Marconi Award for Classical Station of the Year from the National Association of Broadcasters. Conrad himself has been awarded honorary doctorates by Baldwin-Wallace College, the Cleveland Institute of Music and by Oberlin College. In 2000, he was named to the City Club of Cleveland's Hall of Fame.

—Dennis Dooley

Cleveland Arts Prize
P.O. Box 21126 • Cleveland, OH 44121 • 440-523-9889 •