Westlake once played host to an important radio station

A telegraph key like this one, possibly dating back to the 1930s, would have been used to send "radiograms" from Westlake-based WCY station to ships on the Great Lakes. Photo by Dan Hirschfeld

As far as I know it never broadcast any music, sporting events or talk or variety shows, but the Village of Dover, now being the City of Westlake, was home to a once-vital radio link to ships on the Great Lakes.

While researching a different matter on the internet I stumbled upon mention of a radio station with the call letters WCY being located in West Dover, Ohio, to which the western part of Dover Village was once commonly referred. It indicated WCY was a coastal radiotelegraph station providing wireless communication services to commercial shipping plying the lower Great Lakes.

Being generally interested in radio history I felt compelled to look in to this, to me anyway, mystery station. Between Bay Village and Westlake I’ve resided in this area for a fair number of years and yet don’t recall ever hearing of or seeing any evidence of this radio station. Maybe I was on to a long-lost aspect of Westlake history that had been all but forgotten! A scoop I could submit to the Westlake | Bay Village Observer, perhaps!

Well, with the kind help of a knowledgeable reference librarian at Westlake Porter Public Library I was pointed toward mention of my mystery station in both “You’ve Come a Long Way, Westlake” by William Robishaw (p. 118) and “A History and Civics of Dover Village” published by the Dover Village Board of Education (p. 78). There went my big scoop – the news of WCY had long been available for all to see, after all.

Still, I feel WCY’s role in Great Lakes history is important enough to merit mention anew in this publication. Actually, between the Plain Dealer archives and other online sources I dug up enough stuff about the station to almost fill an entire WBVO issue, which fortunately for readers is frowned upon, so a just a few quick facts follow.

WCY was owned and operated by the now-disbanded Radiomarine Corp. of America subsidiary of RCA and located on the west side of Bradley Road, in an area just north of the current Lakewood Country Club. A March 31, 1929, Plain Dealer story about the then-recently completed Dover Village facility called it a “dream station” due to its state-of-the-art technology at the time.

Providing maritime, aeronautical and land radio communication links, the station had previously been located in a National Carbon Company building at West 117th Street and Madison Avenue. Initially providing only radiotelegraph operation on marine radio frequencies below the AM broadcast band, WCY evolved to add operation on higher short wave frequencies, radiotelephone (aka voice) capabilities and greater all-around operating flexibility to its station.

Not being able to find a definite time of its closing, the last year for which I could find any documentation of WCY’s operation from the Dover Village station is 1946.

New radio technologies that were speeded through development during World War II signaled the eventual end for radio station WCY and many other facilities like it.

Dan Hirschfeld

I'm a longtime resident of the Bay Village and Westlake area (Bay 1965 to 1977, then Westlake since) who has always enjoyed living here while seeing lots of change over the years.

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Volume 6, Issue 23, Posted 9:58 AM, 11.11.2014