WLAV-FM (96.9 FM) is a radio station broadcasting a classic rock music format in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It is the dominant classic rock-formatted radio station in the market and is generally a top ten performer in the Grand Rapids ratings. WLAV-AM went on the air in 1940. In 1949, WLAV-TV 7 signed on, later becoming WOOD-TV 8. Its Sign Can Be Heard As Far East As Ovid, Michigan, Far South As Schoolcraft, Michigan And As Far North As Reed City, Michigan
WLAV-FM began broadcasting by 1948. The station was a simulcast of WLAV 1340 in its early days, but began to break the simulcast in the early 1970s to play AOR music at night. In 1974, it became western Michigan’s first full-time AOR station and was an instant success.
The success lasted for a while, but in the mid 1980s, WLAV began to fall apart. The station was sued for the death of two people and the injury of two people at its popular raft race event. To make matters worse, many of WLAV’s top D.J.s began to leave. Morning host Laurie DeYoung left for Baltimore, because she thought it was time to move on. Tony Gates also left, in 1984, after he ran into some trouble. In 1986 popular morning personality Kevin Matthews left to work in St. Louis. At this time, WLAV was tanking in the ratings, and had a decimated air staff that was made up of rookies.
On Memorial Day, 1991, the station changed to a modern rock-based format, since it felt that modern rock was the direction that progressive rock was heading in. However, there was a considerable backlash and numerous complaints were received to the radio station because they eradicated a heritage format. By the fall of 1992, WLAV switched back to a more classic rock-driven format and continued refining the format during the 1990s, to success in the ratings. Grand Rapids did get a modern rock station a few years later when WGRD-FM tweaked its format from Top 40 to modern rock.
Citadel Broadcasting has owned the station since acquiring it from Bloomington Broadcasting (doing business as Michigan Media) in 2000.