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.
Under Malrite ownership, WMMS would become an album-oriented rock (AOR) powerhouse, much in the same vein as its former Metro Media progressive rock siblings.
During this time, WMMS also began broadcasting a remarkable amount of live concerts, many of which originated in Cleveland and were produced by the station itself.
In July 1973, John Gorman joined WMMS as music director and was promoted to program director and operations manager two months later where he remained for thirteen years.
The WMMS call letters first referred to an owner – "Metro Media Stereo" – but have since taken on a variety of other meanings.
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.
Considered "a true radio legend," WMMS DJ Kid Leo was chosen for Rolling Stone's "Heavy Hundred: The High and Mighty of the Music Industry" (1980) and named "The Best Disc Jockey in the Country" in a special 1987 issue of Playboy.
Seven years later, members of the station's staff and management pleaded guilty to disrupting a national broadcast of The Howard Stern Show that originated via the local Stern affiliate, cross-town rival WNCX.
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.