STUDIES SHOW THAT most radio is listened to in the car, which is no surprise. And stations know that too. Get in the car… turn on the radio. That’s why ‘drive time’ is a radio term.
But with new media platforms invading their airspace, local radio now faces challenges it avoided for most of its 100 years. So, how’s it doing? Judging by the naked ear… just fine, thank you.
Exactly what makes up our local radio fare? Let’s take a ride and find out. We’ll seek and scan and stop at every local signal, and give ‘em a listen. Chances are we’re going to discover quite a variety, considering that we’ll be checking out no fewer than 21 different stations. That’s a far cry from a few decades ago when it seems like WJPD was the only FM offering and AM was just WDMJ and WUPY. There may have been more, but not many.
Are you buckled up?
Starting at the far left of the digital dial is 88.3 WKPK, one of several religious stations. They go by Smile FM… Michigan’s Positive Hits. Not exactly a local station, but available locally just the same.
Same with 89.3 WSHN. Religious radio with a local tower but originating out of California.
Next up… 90.1 WNMU. With Public Radio you’ve got to pick your spots. With more in-depth programming, both music and talk, it’s a good station for longer road trips.
Speaking of drive time, 91.5 WUPX is driving the rock at 10:30am. It’s NMU’s student station, where you might hear anything at anytime. What started out as just a campus station, with a signal available only in the dorms, WUPX has kept rock rolling for some 50 years now. Always fun to see, or hear, what the kids are up to.
Next we come to the aforementioned 92.3 WJPD. Though it’s seemingly been around forever, it’s now Fresh Country, and part of the expansive Radio Results Network (RRN) of stations. It no longer operates out of that little shack of a studio that sat just east of Ishpeming’s Country Village. That was a while back, and where most of the old radio guys got their start in Marquette County.
93.3 WZAM is next. As a complement to Marquette’s WMQT, it calls itself the ‘at-work online network.’ Apparently, you’re supposed to listen to it while you’re at work. Other than in the car, that’s where a lot of people tune into radio.
At 94.1 WUPK we find Adult Contemporary… stuff like Cyndi Lauper, and other not-so-old favorites.
Ever hear of WUPZ? No? How about 94.9 The Bay? Probably. It’s another station in the Radio Results family. Marquette Market Manager Jason Lee hosts the Jason Lee Morning Show (t-shirts now available) and oversees operations at no fewer than five other area stations.
Lee is a product of the Specs Howard School of Media Arts, and found his way to the U.P. a few years ago to begin his career in broadcasting with the overnight shift at a station in Escanaba. That’s when you find out exactly how much you love the industry.
Lee says that The Bay, in addition to entertaining the community, is committed to involvement with area events, with programs like a two-minute segment highlighting local events called, Superior Area Community Focus. They also cover the Packers, Lions, Red Wings, as well as Northern sports.
The Bay’s music is targeted to the 15 to 40 age group, but in reality, you don’t have to show your ID.
Lee is one of a handful of live DJ’s, a throwback to the days of old before automation and far-off syndicators replaced the local guy at the mic. “I enjoy waking listeners up each and every weekday, and I feel so fortunate to have found a job that I absolutely love.” Of course, anything’s got to be better than that overnight shift.
Next we tune into 95.7 WHWL. This is another religious station, however with local ties. It’s the flagship station of the Gospel Opportunities Network, and it airs a combination of Bible-teaching programs and traditional, conservative music.
Wow… this is quite a ride!
96.7 is WUPG… The Maverick. It’s classic country, everything from Garth Brooks to Brooks & Dunn. (Also an RRN station.)
Then there’s 97.1 WGLQ… the big dog in the RRN stable. Broadcasting from Escanaba, they’ve been doing it for more than 40 years. One of the more familiar area jocks, TJ Ryan, has been there forever. Literally… for ever.
Don’t like the new music? Check out 97.5 WRUP. It’s Good Time Oldies. Not the moldy oldies, but probably old enough to bring back a memory or two.
The next three stops on our magical mystery tour are all rock stations. That’s 98.3 WRUP, 99.5 WNGE, and 100.3 WUPT. Classic or current, rock is rock. Getting sleepy at the wheel? Turn it up and rip off the nob! Or not.
Still with us? We’re getting there.
Next stop is one of our local favorites, 101.9 WKQS, also known as Sunny 102. Serving up a little bit of everything, Sunny 102, a property of mediaBrew Communications, takes pride in their community involvement, due in part to their long running show, Mark and Walt in the Morning. Co-hosts Mark Evans and Walt Lindala keep listeners abreast of local goings-on with timely interviews and an acute knowledge of area interests.
Having stared at each other for a few years now, Mark and Walt bring a casual and comfortable demeaner to the early morning hours. (They start at 5am.) And you can be sure, if they don’t know about it, it’s probably not happening.
If you haven’t run into one of those guys somewhere around town, that’s your fault. Mark calls NMU sports for TV broadcasts while Walt can be seen announcing the start of the UP 200. Among many other things, for both.
Want more country? Of course you do. It’s the most popular radio format. So our next stop is 103.3 WFXD, Marquette’s Hit Country… also a mediaBrew station. Popular programs include American Country Gold with the famous Elmer Aho and Adam Carpenter’s Outdoor Show.
And if you think radio shopping shows only appeal to the buyer or the seller, you’ll have to check out UPBargains. This one’s hosted by company men Evans and Lindala, and with just the right amount of personality, these guys make this shopping show something you might hang with for a while.
We’re getting low on gas! Are we done yet? Nope.
At 103.9 is another religious station, WNOA, Northern Apostle Radio. This station presents the teachings of the Catholic Church with a daily schedule of shows featuring experts in the faith, with a lot of call-in time, which can make for some interesting dialog. Combined with messages from Bishop John Doerfler of the Marquette Diocese, WNOA presents thought-provoking material from some of the country’s most well-spoken theologians. Seek and ye shall find.
Finally… a sports station! 105.1 WFXD, Fox Sports Radio. A good mix of local and national sports talk radio. Always a good listen for sports fans. Also a mediaBrew station.
One more station under the mediaBrew umbrella is 106.1, The Sound. It’s the company’s newest station, featuring “comfort food for your ears.” Low on calories… have all you want.
At 106.9 we find another sports station, this one being ESPN. It’s also simulcast on 970 AM.
And ESPN Radio is one of only two stops on the AM portion of the ride. The other is the granddaddy of them all, talk-radio, 1320 WDMJ. Originally owned by the Mining Journal, the call letters, DMJ, represent the Daily Mining Journal. That’s the way media worked back in 1931.
And finally… yes, finally, we come to the end of the road… or dial, with 107.7 WMQT. Local radio guy, the late Joe Blake, ran WUPY-AM back in the 60’s and early 70’s. He then jumped into FM with WMQT in 1974. Tom Mogush runs the show now, but would probably acknowledge that the face, or rather voice, of the operation is Jim Koski.
Koski’s been the man at the mic for more than three decades, and he seems to enjoy it as much as he ever did. Using his extensive knowledge of all things media, he entertains while educating. You won’t have to listen for long and you’ll probably learn something.
In fact, that’s a big part of Koski’s off-air life. He hosts regular get-togethers sharing his knowledge of all facets of Marquette’s history. And if you want to confirm his versatility, check out High School Bowl on Public TV 13. Jim’s the host!
Their format? They call it Hot AC. Basically Top 40 with some all-time favs thrown in for the boomer set. And it’s all locally produced, with regular listener contact. Call any afternoon. You’ll probably talk to Jim.
Well… the gas tank is approaching empty. Our radio ride has come to an end. And what did we learn? Mainly, that there’s a heck of a lot of local radio options. Maybe that’s why people are still tuning in. Plus, it’s free! So, keep hitting that search button and you’re bound to find music you like, not to mention local news, sports, weather, and current events. Maybe our radio ride has helped you refine your search. If you want, you can throw in some money for gas.
Okay… time to sign off, like radio stations used to.