It all started on Nov. 5, 2021: “The Summit,” also known as 91.3 WAPS-FM, expanded its reach from Akron, Ohio, to Athens.
WAPS The Summit has a long history, dating all the way back to 1955. Originally, the station was used as a learning tool and classroom broadcaster for Akron Public Schools. In 1989, the station began to shift from its educational roots to an alternative music format.
Throughout the last three decades, The Summit has spread its signals to the Struthers-Youngstown area of Ohio and now to Athens, where it’s on 90.1 WAPS-FM. Brad Savage, The Summit’s program director, explains that adding Athens to its signal is because of its notable music roots and its reputation as a college town.
“Our music format, being a modern rock or alternative-type format, tends to do well in college town areas,'' Savage said. “Usually, it’s the students and the grad students, but also even faculty that like our style. When this station became available, that’s what really caught our attention the most, was that even though Athens is a few hours away from our home base in Akron, we figured this is probably a good city for the format and type of music that we do.”
Two of The Summit’s most popular artists, CAAMP and Red Wanting Blue, went to Ohio University. The area is also known for hosting its annual Nelsonville Music Festival, an outdoor music event hosted at Hocking College.
“We’re very familiar with Athens, mainly because CAAMP and Red Wanting Blue, in particular, are two really big-deal bands for the station,” Savage said.
The radio station aims to be a showcase for upcoming musicians and expose listeners to not just one particular style or genre of music.
“The station is a showcase for local, national, and international musicians, and particularly for emerging artists who would otherwise be less likely to include a relatively small market like Athens or Akron on their national tours,” Tommy Bruno, general manager for The Summit, said in an email. “By cultivating a vibrant music scene, the station has been recognized as one of the forces for attracting artists to tour in these special regions of Ohio, like Athens.”
The opportunity to add a signal to Athens came from an existing broadcaster, Spirit Communications, who were looking to sell a few of its translator signals.
The radio station offers commercial-free music and runs four channels. The Summit is the flagship station; The 330 features the past, present and the future of Northeast Ohio music; KIDJAM! Radio is an online listening service for all ages; and Rock and Recovery provides a community for people experiencing addiction, trauma and mental health issues, supporting self-motivation, sharing information and resources and offering a sense of peace both on-air and online.
Though The Summit plays both larger artists, like The Beatles, and rising Ohio bands, Savage hopes to include more musicians from nearby Parkersburg, W.Va., Marietta, Ohio, and even the Columbus area.
“The first thing we are not - The Summit is not news, sports, opinions, politics, or selling products or services,” Bruno said in an email. “Our music and community service programming appeals to the musically adventurous, those that dare to be a little different. Our listener-supported public radio station is left of the dial meaning support comes from the communities that we serve, through listener donations.”
The Summit has also been honored with numerous awards including the Award for Innovation by the Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation in 2014 and the Best Radio Station by Akron Life Magazine from 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2012.
OU students are also excited about a new variety of music coming to town via the radio station.
“I think (The Summit) is cool,” Gabriella Benington, a junior studying high school history education, said. “I know personally my car does not connect to any radio stations, so I think it would be nice to have a radio station that isn’t just 60s country music.”