Key WNCR personnel (including former WHK-FM/WMMS personalities Martin Perlich and Billy Bass, and station newcomer David Spero) were soon hired by WMMS, taking most of their audience with them.
Under the leadership of station manager Billy Bass and program director Denny Sanders (who came to WMMS from Boston in 1971), WMMS helped break many new rock artists nationally, most notably David Bowie.
Kemp and Lou "King" Kirby were signed by Metro Media.
The station briefly battled with WNCR of Nationwide Communications, itself filling the void created by the brief absence of WMMS on the rock scene.
We didn’t have time to make costumes, so we just hired them. Ashlie: Hey listen, talking of tricks, Stephen’s magic is pretty bad. Ashlie: Ooh, I think that may be more trick or treaters.
The WMMS Coffee Break Concert was a weekly music-interview show broadcast live from the station's studio, and later with an audience at the Agora Ballroom.
Warren Zevon, John Mellencamp, Lou Reed, Tim Buckley, Peter Frampton, and a host of others performed on the program over the years, recordings of which are still widely available as bootlegs.
Metro Media found major success with progressive rock at KMET/Los Angeles, KSAN/San Francisco, WMMR/Philadelphia and WNEW-FM/New York, but low ratings and revenue in Cleveland led the company to drop the format at WMMS by May 1969.
The station first turned to adult contemporary, then Top 40, big band and finally the Drake-Chenault automated Hit Parade '69.