Indiana RadioWatch: 2004 Year in Review

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Here's our year end roundup, by region, as written and submitted by our readers. Artistic Media Partners submitted a report as well, and we'll start with them, as their report discusses all their properties:

Artistic Media Partners, which operates the flagship stations for Indiana, Purdue and Notre Dame sports broadcasts, repositioned its college sports broadcasts from its CHR stations in Bloomington, Lafayette, and South Bend.

In Bloomington, WHCC 105.1 FM is now the flagship station for Indiana University sports. In Lafayette, WSHP 95.3 The Rocket is the flagship station for Purdue University Sports. In South Bend, Classic Rock WZOW now carries Notre Dame mens basketball. Notre Dame football remains on WNDV-FM.

The changes were made because the listening audience for college sports matches the male intensive classic rock audience more that a CHR station. Recent Arbitron ratings show that both the CHR station and the new flagship station benefited from the move.

In order to get Purdue to agree with the Purdue Sports move to WSHP-FM, Artistic Media Partners changed WSHPs frequency to 95.3 FM because of its better coverage over West Lafayette. Artistic Media Partners moved country station WLFF to 95.7 FM.

In South Bend, Artistic Media Partners dropped the Love Songs format on 102.3 FM, changed the call letters from WWLV to WOZW, and simulcast the station with WZOW, Classic Rock, including Notre Dame mens basketball on 97.7 FM and 102.3 FM.

Also on South Bend, Notre Dame Olympic sports broadcasts including hockey, baseball, womens basketball, womens soccer and daily sports updates were moved to 1580 AM, WDND because of its broader coverage in the South Bend area. 1620AM now carries Adult Standards, WHLY-AM.

Tommy Frank became Program Director for WNDV-FM in South Bend and consults with Artistic Media Partners CHR radio station in Lafayette, WAZY-FM. Artistic Media Partners and Tommy were sued by Fort Wayne Radio (WJFX-FM) for allegedly violating the terms of a non-compete agreement. The courts have allowed Frank to continue as Program Director in South Bend while the case against him competing with WJFX-FM is still pending.

In Fort Wayne, 106.3 FM changed its format to CHR in 2004 and has the new call letters WDDB-FM B106.3. The station was previously WSHI-FM with a WW1 Adult Standards format. The station often ranked in the top 5 in 12+ listenership, but unfortunately ranked 13th in the market in revenue. The move to CHR was designed to build on Artistic Media Partners CHR success in Bloomington (WBWB-FM), Lafayette (WAZY-FM) and South Bend (WNDV-FM).

Now, onto the rest of the report:


* A sad year to remember as Charlie Willer passed away. Willer spent most of his time in Fort Wayne radio. In Fort Wayne, he worked at carrier current station WITB (based at the Indiana Institute of Technology, more commonly known now as Indiana Tech), and as "Charlie Franklin" at WPTH (now WAJI), WAFX (now WLYV), and WZRQ (now WSHI). Outside of Fort Wayne, he had stops in Lafayette and Archbold, Ohio. Beyond radio announcing, he owned his production company (Charles Willer Productions; he was "Audio Architect"). Charlie also composed classical music - Someone commented to IRW that he was with Charlie when they were visiting Indiana University - Bloomington. While inside a building, Charlie spotted a piano, and immediately sat down and started to play, making up a tune in his head that sounded beautiful.

Outside of radio, he was active in Jugglers Anonymous and was highly regarded for his knowledge of railroad trains.

Willer influenced many just starting in broadcasting to further their careers - perhaps most notably the Chairman and Publisher of Radio Ink - B. Eric Rhodes. Rhodes spoke with IRW: "Charlie Willer was responsible for getting me into radio. He has been my best friend since I was 14 years old. He was a creative genius who could have ended up in NY or LA, but he loved Indiana and wanted to stay there surrounded by the people he loved. I never met anyone in my life who has so many friends."

Tom Andrews, GM at WLKI in Angola, also worked with Charlie and commented to IRW "Charlie was one of those people who spread a sense of joy wherever he went."

On a more personal note, IRW knew Charlie as he e-mailed us often with stories and questions. IRW appreciated his wide knowledge and the education it provided us on historical radio in Fort Wayne and Northeast Indiana.

* WBZQ/WLZQ (1300am, Huntington; 101.1fm, South Whitley) GM Chris Larko tells us about his stations:

WLZQ FM, "Q101," South Whitley, Warsaw, Columbia City, North Manchester, began a locally-produced live morning show January 5. 2004. General Manager Chris Larko hosted the weekday morning show, which runs from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. on the same date, the station added local news, anchored every half hour from 6 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. weekdays by the station's first news director, Mike Nelson. From 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 a.m., the station carries ABC Radio News at the bottom of every hour.

Throughout the year, Q101 adjusted its "hot AC" music format to include music of the 80s and 90s sprinkled with the best of the 70s and today.

On December 13, 2004, WBZQ, AM 1300, Huntington, began carrying a simulcast of the Q101 morning show.

On December 27, well-known former WOWO and WSHI deejay Ron Gregory took over morning show hosting duties from Larko.

* Summit City Radio Group tells us about their year:

2004 saw a name change for Travis Broadcasting in Fort Wayne to Summit City Radio Group. The Stations include WCKZ 94.1 known as Z-94.1 "The Real Classic Rocker" and features Fort's Wayne's legendary Rock Jock Doc West with partner Leslie Stone handling Mornings.

WNHT 96.3 is Wild 96.3 "Fort Wayne's Party Station", among achievements for 2004 for Wild was a one day Dodge Ball Tournament to raise money for Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Over 600 players participated.

WYLT 103.9 is MY 103.9 and has shown tremendous growth in popularity as a mainstream top 40.

WGL 1250am moved local talk show host Dave Macy to Morning Drive in September and also became Fox Sports 1250.

X-102 started the year on two stations: WXTW 102.3 and WXKE 102.9. In February, WXKE's format flipped to Easy Listening as 102.9 the River and is the #1 station for adults 50+. X-102 continues to dominate the Active Rock scene and just released their 8th annual Essential's CD featuring the best from the local music scene.

These and many other positive changes have occurred since the name change due to the successful leadership of Kristine Foate who took over as President/C.E.O. in the spring and her hiring of Bill Stewart as Director of Programming and Dave Wisnieski as Director of Sales.


* Bill Barrows, OM at Mid-America Radio's WJOT (AM) + FM (1510am, 105.9fm; both Wabash) checks in with IRW:

Oldies 106 (WJOT) in Wabash hosted the first Holiday Night to Remember in Downtown Wabash on December 1st. This event brought the downtown merchants together for the 1st time in year's to bring customers downtown for an event like it used to be before Wal-Mart & malls. It went so well that the 2005 date for the event has already been scheduled: November 30th. Also, General Manager Wade Weaver has taken on celebrity status with the Ft. Wayne Komet Hockey fans as he is a part time host at home games between periods at a number of their games over the next 60 days. The Wabash County Basketball Tourney is history. Oldies 106 broadcast all 16 games, 8 JV & 8 varsity games. We continue to broadcast Manchester, Northfield, Southwood & Wabash high school boys & girls basketball through the post season.


* Leigh Ellis/President + GM of the Radio One Communications' stations in Northwest Indiana tells us about radio life in Da Region:

Two big changes happen this year with Radio One Communications that services N.W. Indiana with four stations based out of its corporate offices in Valparaiso Indiana. WZVN started doing a live morning show (Matt in the Morning) with two local talents in April, Matt Carter and Jeff Sanders. In November after operating 40 years as a day timer received a 24 hour operating license from the FCC. Also, on April 1, Z107 debuted new station voice Jerry Curtis. WXRD Crown Point, IN (X Rock 103.9) returned a long lost show to 103.9fm. The return of "Night Rock" hosted by Midwest Beat Magazine's Tom Lounges and Scott Rosenberg brings lost classics, local rock, and much more on Sunday nights.

Finally, Radio One Communications celebrated its 40th anniversary in the month of September. The celebration was capped off with an all day on air celebration by WLJE with former jocks, founder Uncle Len Ellis, and some of country musics biggest starts from yesterday and today.

* WEFM (95.9fm, Michigan City) as submitted by their President, Tom Burns:

WEFM, Michigan City, will be adding NBC Radio News in early 2005 replacing USA Radio News which the station has carried for about 15 years. Also, the station provided constant updates of information during the recent 2 foot snow storm.


* Jon Easter, Station Manager at Ben Davis High School's WBDG (90.9fm, Indianapolis) tells IRW that WBDG finished second in the annual Indiana Association of School Broadcasters radio competition in February of 2004.


* Dave Sabaini, Director of Audio Operations and Station Manager at Indiana State University station WISU (89.7fm, Terre Haute) checks in:

WISU-FM, Indiana State University celebrated it's 40th year on-air with a format change to alternative rock (filling in for the long-silent WZZQ-FM in Terre Haute). The change made the non-commercial, educational station instantly competitive. The format change was accompanied by an increase to a 24/7/365 broadcast schedule, up from 18 hours per day. Station Manager Dave Sabaini celebrates his 20th year with the station.


* Mike Petersen, GM at the Crossroads Communications' stations in Terre Haute tells us about his adventuresome year:

June: Vandels broke into the WBOW-AM transmitter building on a Wednesday evening, stealing an air conditioner and an extension ladder. Since it took them about two hours to get into the secured building, it was dark when they left. In driving out, they struck a set of guy wires, which brought the 115 foot tower down. They were in jail by noon, since their truck had stalled, and they left it where it was. (I'm suspecting a big contract from "Nation's dumbest criminals.") WBOW was on the air later that day with a long-wire antenna, but the day before the new tower was to go up, the area was flooded by the Wabash River-12 feet of water stood over the site. WBOW was then off the air for about three weeks before the river receded and the new tower was erected.

Two days later-now mid July-the antenna atop the 700 foot WBOW-FM tower was hit by lightening allowing water to get in the antenna, and then the transmission line. While the transmitter shut down, much damage was done to the antenna and the coax, both of which had to be replaced. WBOW-FM got on the air two days later with an auxiliary antenna at the 200 foot level, and full power was restored in early August.

But...on August 15th, the Crossroads studio at 1301 Ohio Street in Terre Haute, housing all five radio stations (WBOW AM/FM, WSDM FM, WAXI FM and WSDX AM) took a direct lightening hit through the power and phone lines, destroying about $35,000 in equipment. The engineer and GM worked all night, utilizing spare parts, and managed to have all stations functioning by 6am the next day. Smarts Broadcast Systems quickly sent loaner Smartcasters and related equipment. While the stations lost no air time, it took approximately two months to complete all repairs, and replace equipment.

In other news...Sharla Cretors Daniel replaced Susan Thomas as promotions director in May of 2004. Sharla is also the afternoon drive host on WBOW-FM.

All Crossroads stations now use Weather Eye meteorological service on all stations, as of December 1.

WSDM will produce its 15th annual Clay County Home Expo in February in Brazil.

WAXI will produce it's 7th annual Senior Expo in Rockville in March.

John Sherman took over as program and sales director of WBOW-WSDX AM (ESPN Sports Radio for Terre Haute-Brazil) in August, taking over for JD Sell, who remains as operations director for all stations.

That's it for this issue.

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All pages Copyright Blaine Thompson. Articles, photos, corrections, and other contributions should be e-mailed to the editors.