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Saturday, December 22, 2018

Christmas Traditions

I'm writing this as I enjoy Randy Edwards' 3 hour Christmas special of "Edwards' Archives." For me, that program is a tradition.  Long before it was "Edwards' Archives", Randy would devote the last day before Christmas on his country-station morning show to be all Christmas music. I remember listening while wrapping gifts in my small apartment in Addison, MI to WLZZ when I was only a part-time announcer for WLKI in Angola, IN...and was full time on the air from Hillsdale doing evenings.  As you can imagine, it's a real pleasure to be able to bring you this special by Randy each year on WION.

That's just one  "radio" tradition.  The WION Christmas Eve show has become one for many people that stop by the station to wish neighbors and friends a Merry Christmas.  We enjoy that one very much.

For Five years, WION reproduced the 1939 radio script of "A Christmas Carol" and those shows are now favorites of those who starred in them and their families.

In my family, one Christmas tradition was to ask Santa to leave one present on the foot of the bed each year, and it was always the first gift opened on Christmas morning. I can remember also that one "family" gift was allowed to be opened, if my sister and I begged enough on Christmas Eve. Santa seemed to never mind the bother of putting one gift on the foot of our beds, and what a smile it was every Christmas morning in our youth.

My father always had a house with a fireplace, growing up and when he built his own in the 1950's and started our family.  On Christmas, the fire was always started with the "yule log" of the previous year.  While this may  not be true to the original meaning of "yule log" what it meant to us was that after Christmas, the tree was pruned, branches removed and the trunk cut into a small bundle which was then burned the following Christmas, starting the Christmas fire.

What are some of your Christmas traditions?  Simple or complex, let us know!  We'll talk some about this on our Christmas Eve show this year, 6-10AM (ish) on WION's morning show with Phil Cloud and a cast of many.  Chime in!  and...from everyone who makes this radio station possible...

Merry Christmas from WION!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Facebook: Asset or Annoyance?

I get teased. Quite a bit. Not about my bald head or wearing of caps, not for my "radio gut" from sitting as Harry Chapin sang in "WOLD"...but...for being angry at Facebook and for still USING it.

This has very little or nothing to do with the use of my information. I'm one of the few.  If I don't want you to know something on FB, you don't.  My personal page is locked down fairly tight.  You have to be "friended" to see most of my posts, at the most..."friends of friends" times, and I keep my "liking" of pages to a minimum.

I mainly use it for business communication. To have a WION page, someone has to be the admin of it, and that means an account must be held personally by someone, and that someone is me.  My personal page is a place for me to vent, usually at telemarketers, Corporate America's dehumanizing of our country, and things that I think are wrong.  These shared things not only make me feel better, but hopefully raise a few eyebrows of awareness to what I believe are things that need "righting" in the immediate world which we share.

What angers me the most about Facebook is the general lower awareness posts from users who seem to reach to Facebook for life decisions as opposed to doing good old fashioned research themselves!  Sure, it's okay to ask opinions of others!  There's LOTS of "others" now to ask in our electronically connected world, but before you do that, how about doing your own research?  Use REAL personal communications when the decision involves your family, your health, your TAXES, your expenses and your livelihood.   There's no "feeling" attached to words on a social media site.  The gut feelings which help some people to make decisions cannot be derived from words printed on a screen which do not carry a voice's tone, a face's expression, or real happiness, sorrow, or confusion.  No emoticon can replace the real thing.  Yet, the lazy, the uneducated, and the casual voters/casual consumers take what they see on Facebook as gospel truth, then they SPREAD it. While perfectly allowable in our modern free electronic society, that part angers me.

So, many Facebook users look to the site as if it's a real live entity.  It's not. It might be an anthology of many people's experiences, however. Some of those experiences are told well, some told badly.  Not everyone was given the gift of writing and public speaking. Not everyone should be in the media, act like they are, or try to be the next big journalist.

I also dislike the fact that in today's world, many internet users believe "If I read it on the internet, it is so!"  Opinions about individuals, cities, boards of education,  officials in city, state, and federal government, and more seem to spread faster and become accepted FACT way too fast. Amplified by their placement on the internet, unsubstantiated statements (opinions) become FACT through repetition.

Insert public service announcement here:   Please  don't use Facebook Groups to help you with major life decisions. We need to be a stronger country than that when it comes to good judgment. Use Facebook carefully, and take advantage of IT,  as I do, to make it suit you. Face book's been doing that  with you since you signed away some of your privacy for the service, and allowed them control of how many of your friends are important enough to see your all-important posts.

 A good example of taking advantage of Facebook is their live video streaming.  As long as it's free, we'll use it at WION for guests and promotion of OUR station. If the videos we make leak the fact to the world that we have the best sounding AM station in stereo and a GREAT community, OOPS.  Our bad. (insert evil laugh here.) If the world discovers Ionia through WION's many morning show co-host videos, so be it. Worse things can happen.  As long as it's FREE in exchange for information in the form of ads targeted at me, I'm okay with that. You don't even have to look at most ads if you run a good ad blocker!

So, to do my part, I've checked my information on Facebook. I'm boring.  My interests are minimal, my friends list only those who I really want to see in reality, (some yet to be added I don't go friend-looking).  I don't take the Facebook quizzes that can leak your secret password answers to others, and I don't accept invites to games on FB, or other apps THROUGH Facebook.   Facebook is not on my phone, so they're not aware of who you are if we message each other on the phone, and they don't know of what we speak.  Oh, and...did I tell you just how WRONG they are with guessing interests?  ONE post on the WION site a long time ago about Menards having a display of toilets with a "Demonstration Here" sign got me this on my "interests and hobbies" list at Facebook.  Notice the second item: (click to enlarge if you must.)

I suppose Facebook's view of my interests could be worse....and certainly much more accurate than it is. For the record....I'm not old enough for that the second "interest" be a hobby....I hope it never is.


Sunday, December 31, 2017

Ending 2017-Starting 2018...

This started as a personal post to Facebook,  but since I think it applies to WION as well, it occurred to me, "Why give MY personal thoughts and feelings to Facebook as we enter 2018?"  I'd rather put them in a place that's mine.  With that in mind, It's "digital housecleaning" today at the station as well as for me, personally! 

With the advent of the new year comes the NEW CBS radio news each hour (they've been slowly moving toward it for a week or so now) ....the removal of references to the retired Mr. Osgood, and the ending of the CNBC business minute! My father once told me,  "All holidays will be  different from each other" and I think the same can be said of new years' changes in both our personal and professional lives!  Of course, he was referring to the trying to keep traditions alive, and that sometimes year to year, changes in our celebrations are inevitable.

On the "WION side"...Unlike many stations who just look for things to "shove" on the air to replace what is no longer offered, we'd rather program FOR you and find things (as they find us) which we think are interesting. Thus, there's no replacement for Mr. Osgood's Files....but, in the meantime, CBS continues to be our news supplier, and I have my eye on a few features I think will be fun to hear on our station, and informative as well.  Give me a little time to audition these...and you may hear some new, fun things on our airwaves in January! 

Today is the last day of the year.  It finds me archiving old e-mails and paperwork, and physical SHREDDING is also on the agenda! (some things go away with the new year.)  Kind of feels good. One host on one of my favorite streaming services (TWIT.TV) calls it "the digital cleansing."  

It DOES feel good to hit the delete key on things no longer needed, free up virtual space, and blow-out things we no longer need or want to see on our computers and devices!

On the topic of new years resolutions, I have only two, and they work together: 

1) Simplify. This means in ALL avenues of my, home, online. Cut down on things that create "static" in my life.  This means getting 
rid of physical things which have followed me through life that I no longer enjoy or need.  It also means less worry about things that are out of my control...but in places where I thought my input used to matter. Seems fairly simple to do, right?   Then there's the second resolution: 

2) Plan. Plan for what happens AFTER WION radio here in a decade or so. God willing, I'll be on the air a long time, and hopefully in the drivers' seat of WION....but "planning" only makes the future more reachable!  I've had 29 very happy  years in radio.  My ultimate retirement plan if I still have a functional voice and thought to fall over dead at age 91 on a radio control board.  Aside from that, I'd like to be able to not be tied to any one particular radio location in about a decade, but still involved in broadcasting...somewhere.  That door has not opened for me...yet.

Will I be able to keep up the two resolutions? I can only promise to TRY. Hope you do the same with yours...and that you'll continue to enjoy the whole team's work at WION as we enter 2018!

Oh, and by the way...don't forget the old tradition tonight...(12/31) at midnight. Open the back door to let your old year out, and then do the same to let the new year IN! Not sure where that tradition came from, but it's one I was witness-to growing up. That AND...the yearly ringing of a very loud brass bell at midnight that my great grandfather supposedly made. (Heads-up Neighbors!!)

Happy New year to you...

-Jim Carlyle

Saturday, September 2, 2017

"13" is a Good Number...

This writing is overdue by a couple of days now, but hopefully still as significant.  Seems like each year we hit the anniversary of WION coming to life as "I-1430" with our team, I am compelled to write. Some say it gets too "sappy"...but that's a minor risk I'll take...

It's 13 years this weekend since WION was put back on the air by a team of talented people who love radio.  September 1st of 2004 was the actual day, and who knows how many listeners we had...the Sentinel-Standard had done an article on us, and we had a few visitors on the air that morning, but I'm sure, given the time it's taken to grow the station, that the date of Sept. 1st 2004 was bigger for us, than for most listeners to radio.

Personally, I never saw Ionia when I came here as my destination. It was a stop along the way, providing my first radio station to own (with Jim Aaron),  and a step closer to wanting something different, which, at the time included a license I had filed for out west.

I'm happy to report things have changed.  The station, which came back from the dead had no website. There was no following, no official current logo, no accounts receivable, no client-advertisers, and most listeners.  But, slowly and surely those problems were solved, one pair of ears at  a time, one issue at a time. You've developed trust in us, our on-air personalities, and our presence in your communities (not just Ionia.)  You've helped us fund-raise for many great causes. You've helped us grow.

I can remember many a trip back from my former hometown in Lenawee County to Ionia, thinking, "I'm heading back to...the station"... and, I can remember one night on that 100 mile drive finally saying to myself, "I'm going HOME." What a difference that makes when you settle in to a place in your life, planned, or unplanned, and finally call it, "home."

Tonight, I was traveling home from that area once again, after visiting family.  I passed through Jackson, the town where my first fulltime radio gig came to me on AM 970, and I got thinking, how blessed I have had the fortune to work for some GREAT radio stations, each of which, through my employment, taught me things which help me each day at WION.  WKHM was a full-service AM at the time, 24 hours a day live, no FM, and doing GREAT.  An incredible team it was!  Later came time in Escanaba as a program director, and Hillsdale, MI as both the night man who signed the station off at midnight, and later, as morning host before coming to revive and own WION.  There was WITL in Lansing on weekends as both Jim Carlyle, and "Jim McIntyre" when management wanted a different name in the big city vs. my name at nights on WKHM.  WITL taught me music radio, and I learned from the best, (the late Jay J. McCrae and Jordan Lee.) to whom I'll always be in debt.  It was there that "Steve, the Voice Guy" as you know him, and I first met as part-timers for WITL.   I spent nearly a decade, (the longest running morning host, I think...) on WLKI in Angola, IN and met Garry Osborn and Randy Edwards who now are part of our station here!  I learned localism, live phones, and how to be in "touch" with listeners in a way that promoted community and station together.  And, I even unofficially taught some students "radio" at Tri-State University, taking their on-again/off-again station to being noticed in the community!  While I was never a real "teacher" by pay or by diploma, I taught RADIO, and one of my students is successfully working and has-been in radio for many years now as a program director. He got bit by the bug, just like I did years ago.

So, landing in Ionia, while not the goal, became my place. My "Now." And, as I look at how this close-knit community works together and plays together, I honestly can't picture anywhere else I'd rather be doing radio right now!  Having spent 13 years as your morning host, and showing you how "hokey" I can be at times has been wonderful, enjoyable, sometimes challenging, but...always rewarding. 

It's amazing sometimes how a plan we have for ourselves changes....for the good.  Nearly 20 years ago I thought I'd be working and owning a station in Colorado, and here, WION continues to grow, WGLM was brought on board, Jim Aaron, my friend of many years manages and hosts there, and we have had the pleasure of sharing a dream. As I recall it was worded something like this: "To do radio fulltime, in a small town, and make a respectable living doing it!"  Well, with our team of announcers, engineers, volunteers like Popeye John, Penny Beeman and others,  BOTH Jim and I have been able to do that.  He now handles everything at WGLM AM and FM, and I have remained here, at bring you AM Stereo, bad jokes, and hopefully some support when the community or charities need us.

I'm sure Jim Aaron echoes my sentiments of thanks, and from MY seat, I've never had more challenges, and yet more FUN in radio.  It's been great building back the historic call letters, (WION) and. then adding the county-wide FM, the larger AM signal, AM Stereo, and streaming! 

It's not easy being in business these days.  Not for ANY kind of business, our case, at WION, it's because of trust...between listeners and WION, Client-advertisers and WION, and of course, between team members, too.  Most of our advertisers are small businesses, the "Mom and Pop" style of store or service, but they're not alone!  We try hard to market them well, treat them well, and grow with them.  13 years says, it's working.

So, this weekend, a huge thank you to ALL of you....listeners, advertisers, engineers, volunteers, listening businesses, and EVERYONE, who for 13 years have helped us grow.  You may not know it, but you're enjoying AM in an era where some people say radio is slowing.  We're Not.  Some say radio won't make it in the digital world. We ARE.  And, some say AM just can't be done in a small town and be done locally without "all talk radio." We do it every day. 

I'm a grateful owner and announcer, blessed very much to have found Ionia, and to have all the great relationships in business and personally that make life here my HOME.  I can't imagine not knowing the people I've met here, or going through life without them, now that they're part of this station and it's circle of friends.

Who knows what's next after WION.  I'm in NO rush.  It's my place to be for now...and that's MORE than good enough...that's GREAT.

Thanks for 13 years!

Jim Carlyle

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Pardon our Costs.....and thank our Sponsors in 2017!

Imagine this.  You bought your new car.  You're proud of it.  You pay your state license fees, you pay your insurance, and you maintain it.  Then suddenly, in the mail comes a notice that you have to have a box installed to record each time you start the car for how long you run it, and where it goes. And, you pay for the use of the car each time you go somewhere.   If you don't risk a lawsuit from some supplier to the auto industry who is unhappy with their current agreement to supply some parts ...used on your the automobile manufacturer.
Well, that's exactly what's happening to local radio right now.  For WION and all over the air stations to play music, we pay music licensing fees to the "publishers" (author/writer) of the songs via BMI, ASCAP, and SESAC which are music licensing organizations.
Furthermore, to be allowed to LEGALLY stream (which, WION does) we have to have a contract with Soundexchange and MORE fees to at least two of the three publishing rights companies outlined above.  All said and done, probably for us, around $10k a year, give or take.

Then, out of the blue, some startup company buys the rights to "certain" singing artists and groups, (some very popular ones) in an effort to blackmail radio into paying even more.  Well, it's happened. There's a group called the GMR (Global Music rights) organization which has surfaced as a 4th music licensing organization, going at radio like a buzzard to a carcass.  All stations are being forced to sign ANOTHER music licensing agreement, and to pay THEM as well as the others, and...chances are, we will see no reduction in the payments to the original 3, BMI, ASCAP and SESAC.

So, this year, for the first time in three calendar years, there ARE some increases in WION's prices for advertising. We know we're effective. We KNOW it's because of the recipe we have for great programming which includes some music, some news, some local information, some fundraising for charities, and some support of municipal organizations. We cannot, however continue to operate under increased costs imposed on us by the greedy music industry which wants radio to pay them to play them more than ever. (without instituting a small cost increase in our advertising rates, that is.)

A listener recently told me he heard a 1980's song on our station and immediately loved it, remembered it, and went to I-tunes and bought it.  Yet, the music industry claims we are not part of the promotional nature of their business and don't benefit them at all.  We hear of artists lobbying for us to pay fees to play them over the air directly, awards shows, we hear, "I'd like to thank RADIO" over and over again.

I'm all for people getting paid for their talents. A fair amount. But, given that artists are commanding now top dollar for concert tickets, songs are used in commercials and in movies, and that downloads of individual songs are in the billions, (now that you don't have to buy a whole CD or album to get a favorite song)...the world of entertainment has changed.  It's been modernized, and with it has come the GREED of the music industry, and they've got many in Congress in their pockets, convincing our legislators that radio is BAD for them and we, (Radio stations) are USING them.  We, as station owners provide a service to you, our community, and we should be paid for our talents as hard-working programmers and owners, too! I guarantee, no local small town station owner is rolling in money, but...most have the right idea of expecting reasonable pay for handling all the paperwork and the hours of things that are not "on the air" every day, including paperwork with the music industry.  We do not, however deserve to be raked over the coals as enemies of the music industry.

And, WION does, indeed,  pay it's way. We continued streaming legally when many stations bigger than WION pulled it.  WE created a programming recipe for this station that WORKS better than any one has had here in 60 years, and it shows in our listening businesses, compliments, attendance at our on-air Christmas party, and more. It shows in the success of advertisers who allow us to work our craft of creative commercial production for them.  It shows in community response to projects like Treasures for Troops and the money given to local events like Christmas at Bertha Brock Park.  All of this, and over 12 years of successful LOCAL ownership and operation PROVE we have the right recipe for radio success, and in an era when even the biggest stations in Lansing and Grand Rapids struggle for ears, and many are in debt as corporations to the multi-billion dollar mark.  We're NOT.  We work with real people, a real checkbook, (not stockholders)  and in a real community which REALLY has proven they believe in local radio. We answer to YOU.

As you look at your new year's resolutions....WION asks only ONE thing, and it's SO simple.  It makes me angry when people say, "Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention that". and here's what it is...a few simple words you can say to ANY of our sponsors with which you have business:  "I heard you on WION Radio!!"  If you want to be more personal, THANK them for being on the air with us. Their dollars spent on creative marketing pay for the station YOU enjoy. Their dollars PAY our electric bills, taxes, licensing, FCC fees, and our MUSIC ROYALTIES too.  Without them, we can't survive.  Is it too much to ask that when you do business with one of our advertisers you mention WION?  It helps them to know they are HEARD.

Radio is far from dead.  It's growing.  The young people attending our Christmas party on the air were enthralled with it.  Streaming has allowed you to take WION anywhere you go in your travels, and. it's put your town on the map to the world, too!  When radio is owned by people who care, and not by huge corporations, it works, it's personal, and it grows.

So, this year, if your business is on the air, please forgive a small increase in cost...we're merely trying to maintain our services to everyone at the excellent level we have created for you.  If you're not a business owner, but a listener, you can DO YOUR PART by thanking our sponsors with your business, or a phone call, or a note on their Facebook pages thanking them for advertising on local radio.

Yes, we'll have this new licensing expense.  Even SONY wants their own licensing agreement now with each radio station...and it's only going to get worse, costing stations like WION more money and time. But, we'll continue to meet reasonable demands as long as we can, and you're a link in the chain.  Please honor our advertisers and spread the word that local radio advertising WORKS we can be continue to serve, continue do donate, and continue....putting Ionia on the map for years to come.

Now, in your travels today, tomorrow, and in 2017...who can YOU thank that is a WION advertiser?

Happy New Year....and thank you...from the bottom of the hearts of everyone who helps make WION "America's Biggest Little Radio Station!"

Jim Carlyle

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The "WION-ness" (uniqueness) of Local Radio...

It's a Saturday. It's autumn of our 12th year and I sit listening to the program "Ionia Underground Audio" which is a cooperative effort between WION Radio and Main Street Music of Ionia.  It's not a paid program, it is something WION felt there was a need to do, and luckily for Ionia, we have Main Street Music which, in turn has Husband-Wife team of Jim and Gretchen Killion.

Main Street music was one of the "specialty" businesses that Main Street Ionia needed to help revive our downtown brick-street, and I'm proud of the risks they took to make this store happen!  We, at WION understand risks, because 12 years ago there were plenty of office pools betting against WION's survival, but our team has proudly made it happen.  If you enjoy the show we've created with Main Street Music, please think of them when you buy musical Christmas and other gifts, and support the causes they are so deeply involved-with.   They're another example of a local success story (like WION) when the odds were against them but they MADE it happen.  Keep it up, Jim and Gretchen!

Along those lines, I got thinking while scanning the dial on a recent long weekend trip  that I HOPE, as program director, and co-owner of WION  that our station stands-out among the offerings on the radio today.  Mainly in my travels I heard network shows, talk, and not much "local" content.  It seemed a big contrast to what we try to do at WION.  We bring you a unique lineup each week. Randy Edwards does "Edwards Archives" only for us, (though I hope he will expand nationwide soon) and, he also does a weekday feature for us called, "Turntable Trainwrecks".  That particular show is unique, as it grew out of a conversation Randy and I had one evening discussing how "trainwrecks" in radio of the old top 40 days are missing in today's broadcasting. That was the era when you never knew what was coming next...and you might find Frank Sinatra back to back with the latest top 40/Rock hit.  A few weeks after our conversation, WION's "Turntable Trainwrecks" was born. Both of the shows, by the way are locally sponsored so Randy can be paid to do what he loves doing...making GREAT radio shows!

WION's other choices in feature programming may not be unique to us, but when combined into our daily schedule, we're darn proud of the lineup we've chosen.  Audio books are on the upswing, and we've had "The Twilight Zone Radio Dramas"  for over a decade now.  We've visited the 90's and now settled into the 80's with Dave Stewart from 9 to 11 on Sunday mornings.  Sundays on WION are indeed unique, (and I'm qualified to judge this, having begun my radio career 28 years ago as the God Squad announcer on WBCK down the road in Battle Creek.)  Our 8AM program known as his "Message from the Lighthouse" is, by far, the most listenable Sunday morning program I've ever heard, presented by Pastor Ken Harger of Shiloh Community Church. It's just good!  Along the way, Barry Scott hosting "The Lost 45's lights up our streaming board  Saturday nights and generates lots of local comments. Each Monday through Friday morning you can also catch his daily edition of "The Lost 45's."   We hope to interview Barry on WION soon, and learn more about his passion for chatting with the artists we've heard on the radio all these years.

Now MORE unique fun:

Halloween night, WION will present the very BEST lineup anyone could ask-for on the radio.  Barry Scott has a fantastic Halloween show every year, and that kicks things into "Halloween mode!"  Here at WION we hope you'll take the kids trick or treating with Barry Scott on your car radios....maybe take your earbuds and tune in on your phone, too!  Most of the local towns end their door to door ghoulish fun at 8PM, and you'll have another hour to enjoy at home.  Then, after that...turn down the lights, gather near the jack-o'-lantern, and special arrangement with "" TWO great chilling stories that have NEVER been broadcast anywhere in the world!  Join us for "The Ghosts of Flannan Lighthouse" followed by "Woods Ferry."  These two stories will make you want to turn the lights back on...but don't!

Two of what I think are the best Twilight Zone Radio dramas follow...the first being "Night Call", the second, "To Serve Man."  If you know these from their TV counterparts, imagine how great the pictures will be in your mind when you hear them on the radio!

Then, to finish the evening, it's the CBS Mystery Theatre, revived in the 1970's with host E.G. Marshall.  It's the one-hour version of "Dracula"...and we are sure you'll be drawn in!

As you can see, we're proud of the lineup for Halloween, and, the music and information each day on WION.  Please spread the word about our Halloween night programs, and let's get as many ears tuned to WION as we can "scare!"

We're already planning our Christmas programming, including the very popular "Morning Show Community Christmas Party" which has grown over the years. Details soon....

Ionia County DOES have a unique radio station for our unique county!  If you've not caught some of the feature programming on weekends and midddays, please make an effort!  You can download a brochure about WION's schedule from our website at   and, each weekend, we post our specific program titles and lineups on our "listener pages" at the top of any page of   We also post links to the schedule on our Twitter feed and on Facebook.

It's our hope that new listeners, if they give us an hour or so will get a very inviting feel to Ionia, and that our programming keeps listeners engaged through your workdays, as well as  at home, and in your "downtime" when other media is just too "in your face."

Join us Halloween night...Thank Main Street Music for their help with our unique local talent show, "Ionia Underground Audio"...and, to quote our friend Charles Osgood, 

"See you On the Radio!"

Monday, March 21, 2016

A "Thank You" note sent to a Government agency today...

Sounds strange, doesn't it!

I did the unusual today.

I wrote the FCC. Yes, the Federal Communications Commission.   No, not the "corporate" FCC you know, but one particular commissioner,  Commissioner Ajit Pai.  He has been instrumental in pushing for improvements in how AM radio stations are allowed to cover their cities of license (in our case, Ionia) and, after reading many, many comments filed in FCC Proceeding number 13-249, I felt it necessary to write.  (As you know, we, and many other stations and individuals filed our comments via the FCC's public submission website.)  The outcome of public comments is yet to be decided by the commission.

The letter was a thank you for his effort to assist AM stations.  Much of this effort was spearheaded by the station we affectionately call our "sister 1430" WRDN in Durand, Wisconsin.  They've had similar battles in bringing back a "dark" (off-air) station for their small town,  serving a similar small town to our own Ionia, climbing the ladder of awareness, marketing, and acceptance.

Before writing, I needed to know how to get my message efficiently to the Commissioner.  So, I called the FCC, not knowing who I would speak with or how crazy they may think my request to assure my e-mail would not go into the Commissioner's spam folder would be viewed.   I was treated with the utmost courtesy by an FCC operator who took my request for how to properly reach the Commissioner, and within an hour or so, contact was made, back personally from the Commissioner's assistant, and the letter quickly exchanged, saving me sending a physical copy.  It should also be noted that the very kind lady to whom I was referred told me as we worked through my request that she has been at the FCC for forty years!  Can you imagine that? She's gone from sending telegrams among offices and radio & TV stations to utilizing the internet, she's seen the ability to take public comments instantly via the web, and so many developments!  If only we all could have this kind of polite service in all our dealings with the government and in our dealings with what I (not-so at times) affectionately refer to as "Corporate America."

I felt it my duty to assure Commissioner Pai there are small radio stations in markets like Ionia that are successful thanks to you, our listeners,  advertisers, and from the hard work of the owners. It's no secret that the "I-1430" you enjoy today is widely different from any WION you've known in the past, and it took years of faith in hard work to supply you with the services we are now proud to provide!

So today, hats-off, and a thankful note to two individuals at the FCC. One who is on the front line of communication with the public and the media, with 40 years of,  no doubt, polite communications with everyone from Joe America to "big" radio or TV operator,  and the other, a man who I believe has the best interest of the continued growth of stations like WION in mind as the FCC discusses all the public comments.

Some may say a thank you note of this type could be considered a request for special treatment. On the contrary. We asked for nothing except to have the letter read, and to offer WION as a small market success story. I simply felt that if I am quick to condemn big government decisions at times, I should also be quick to compliment those people who's efforts to improve business on my behalf or that of my company should be recognized.  

...And, saying "thank you" to anyone who does something nice just has a calming, pleasant effect on this Monday. Or ...any day.  I hope someday to introduce Commissioner Pai to you, our listeners via phone. I think you'd find him an interesting person and advocate of stations like WION.

Thank YOU for reading....Even that one felt great!


Thursday, March 3, 2016

A letter to the FCC about Improving AM broadcasting

Re: FCC Proceeding 13-249, AM Revitalization

With regard to the possibility of some rule changes to benefit AM stations, I'd like to comment from an AM owner's point of view. Not just any AM, but one which is the only commercial station in our county, and one we brought back from the dead in 2004 with success from hard work.

WION Radio is what some may call a "Heritage" station. Our call letters go back to 1953, when the station started at 500 watts, non-directional. I still have in our files some congratulatory telegrams, letters, and floral arrangement cards congratulating the original owners on their new station. Some of those communications come all the way from Owosso, and Hastings, Michigan. Back then, 500 watts daytime went much farther as you know. With today's interference and noise, our listenable (now 4.7kw) signal does not carry as far!

WION radio under our ownership has a proud decade-plus history. We started the station back up in 2004 from off-air. We saved the license with days to go. It had no clients, no web presence, no logo, no listeners, no accounts receivable, and no listeners. We took a chance as working owners and, today are proud of our industry-leading AM stereo analog sound and our success. Properly researched engineering allowed us to enlarge our (daytime) coverage by installing switching equipment and filing for our license to include daytime-only non-directional broadcasting. We also added an FM translator 5 years into our ownership, and in the past 3 years started independent streaming of our full-10khz wide AM stereo signal to showcase to listeners the potential quality which AM radio stations can provide. We invite you to hear WION's full analog stereo AM signal, originating from a Carver AM Stereo tuner by visiting

With all these advancements and achievements, we still operate at night under a strange and limiting factor. We have 330 watts directional power licensed on 3 towers, but by design, it points north in the shape of a light bulb, and while WION can be heard for 7 miles clearly as you head north leaving our facility, it cannot be heard on our own city of license's Main Street just a mile and a half south/southeast of the station.

We are not like many other stations. We were able to revive our station and gain support through local programming of music, news, sports, and guests in the style of 1970's full-service radio. We knew that this AM station needed not only a signal, but programming that is interesting, important, and entertaining to our listeners and at the same time, programming which served the city of Ionia and Ionia County. Our programming recipe worked, and we were paying our bills on an AM-only station long before we got the FM translator. As a matter of fact, we still have many listeners who use our AM as they travel I-96 between Lansing and Grand Rapids during daylight hours. Thus, I'd add that our FM translator helps add local listeners, but was not a "saving" factor. Proper programming, owners that care, and a combination of great engineering and educating our listeners made this station a success in our early years of our ownership, even with our nighttime limitations.

Some comments have been made to the FCC saying that AM stations owning an FM translator will "save" AM. I disagree with our history as proof. We were 5 years into our ownership before our FM was on the air, able to pay our bills, even without the FM signal. Other comments have said the parent AM turn in their license in favor of keeping only an FM translator. Again, I strongly disagree.

First of all, until such time as AM translators are protected, the risk exists of losing that translator to a fully licensed station, or of a frequency change due to factors outside the control of the AM licensee. Both these scenarios are real and would prove costly to the AM operator. Secondly, if you take the case of WION, it's true our FM translator fills in the nighttime gaps underserved by our current AM nighttime pattern, and to a degree some of our AM area by listener's choice, but our AM remains important. Our town is in a valley. our FM does not travel as well downtown, and has issues inside many of the historic buildings our clients occupy. Many (clients) still use our AM even though FM is available around our city, yet when the sun goes down, their AM signal is nearly gone. Our AM is important to us, day, and night. We've invested in it. We have probably the best sounding AM in the nation from our hard work, and we'd like to have it serve our town day and night via the airwaves, not just from FM and streaming of real AM stereo.

A review of our nighttime license and signal will show the FCC that somewhere in the past, WION was (night) licensed with no attention to it's city of license, but rather an intent of only in maintaining a 24 hour class of license. It has never properly served it's city, (Ionia) after dark. Perhaps it was a waiver, perhaps it was the ego of the original owner who wanted WION's signal to reach Greenville, MI because he hated the existence of (what is now) WGLM-AM. Either way, the problem still exists: Finding a way to give Ionia some improved degree of night service on AM 1430.

Illustrating by example that possibilities do exist to provide better night signal to our town at night, WION has observed during the time when we were building new ATU's to replace our 60 year old tower houses, and in the period of time when our FM translator was being built, that operating at greatly reduced night power for very short periods of time. (non directional via our North daytime-signal tower) provided a better, stronger, more "listenable" signal in our town which reached out only a few miles but better covered our city than our licensed 330 watts pointed north.

In each of these times, no complaints were made, filed, or noticed by the other 1430's we protect, yet in each case, our town was better covered at reduced power on a single antenna. Sad to think the possibility exists for better coverage but only by diminished RF radiation. This does, however serve as an example that not all signal solutions involve upping the power of the licensee's station, but through better use of the existing facilities.

With our situation being used as a very real example of a licensed AM which cannot serve it's own town at night, and where our particular AM 1430 is concerned, it makes sense for the FCC to look at any and all adjustments to outdated regulations which can aid in improving the service to our own town. We're not asking to compete 50 miles, 100, or even multiple states out of our coverage area, we're asking only that whatever rules prohibit us having coverage in our own towns be changed so we can provide our signal reliably day and night.

It's entirely possible that if WION was allowed, for instance, 250 watts night non-D, we'd not only cover out town nicely, but cause no measurable interference within the primary contour of any station we currently protect! It's also entirely possible that with that same reduction in our nighttime power, and the authority granted to use one antenna for coverage, the solution that helps WION better serve it's community may be achieved.

Currently, single tower power would be limited to 86 watts, and we'd have to give up our class of license to become only an "authorization." Under current rules, we'd be penalized for this by stations in Ohio (200 miles away) and Indiana (270 miles away) possibly making concurrent changes that would nullify any positive changes our single-stick 86 watts would provide. The loss of the "license" class at night also reduces the future value of the station to it's owners.

A renewed review and approach to nighttime AM rules with emphasis on proper engineering before implementation of changes on a case-by-case basis could aid many stations, WION included in our ability to serve our towns 24/7, and in the long-term viability and value of our stations.

WION has been a success because we ask of our engineers, "what can we do to improve" and, because we work hard at creating the best AM (stereo, C-Quam) sound anywhere. It's put us on the map all over the world. We hope that the FCC will help WION and other stations grow in quality of signal, coverage, and viability with positive changes in the near future.

In closing, let's hope that any future positive changes implemented by the FCC for AM broadcasters may also serve to open the door to improved receiver bandwidth standards over time, just as (AM) radio receivers added the expanded band over time after the FCC added these frequencies to the standard broadcast band.
Jim "Carlyle" Angus, Managing Member and Morning Host,
Packer Radio WION, LLC.
Licensee of WION-AM and W224BZ,
Ionia, MI 48846

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

"A smile Remembered"....

I can't come up with an ideal title for this entry in the C.C. Did my best.  It doesn't seem appropriate to do something clever.  This writing  is a "wake up call" (no pun intended on our weekly trivia) to me, yet what it calls-attention-to I've known since I was 13 years old, when my mom died in a car accident. Treasure the people in your life.  Even the ones that are not family, and the ones you see only now and then, for they may have a profound impact when you look back over the years.

Monday morning, I was at the WION microphone. As many of you know, I'm pretty transparent. I'm the same person on the mic as when I'm downtown at dinner, visiting with friends, or relaxing at home. You can read me like a book. Some mornings, I'm energetic, some tired, some relaxed, some on edge, some excited, some just "there"...but always...REAL. Or so, I hope you know.

On this particular Monday, I had the left-hand screen for the morning show open to the web. My show notes, the weather, the list of online towns tuned-in to WION, some trivia notes, our forum, and of course, the one media I've been trying to break myself of, FACEBOOK.  

After being in radio since 1988, I've gotten fairly good at multi-tasking, speaking into the mic while surfing, writing e-mails while putting a call on the air...covering for a software get the idea.  Then suddenly, while speaking to you, I had to stop.  Something on Facebook made my heart sink, and it was an "I don't believe I'm reading this" kind of moment.

Part of my radio journey which landed me in Ionia to own, rebuild and operate WION, and eventually co-own WGLM in Greenville was my time as an announcer in Lansing.  Yes, I worked on a country station. WITL.  In fact, "Steve the Voice Guy" that you hear between songs on WION and I met at WITL. He did the Saturday afternoon show in the early 90's, and I did Saturday nights.  How we ended up working together to build WION is another story...for another blog.  

My first fulltime radio gig was at WKHM in Jackson on AM 970. Back then, live 24 hours a day and with a kick-ass signal that reached into Lansing even at night. They didn't own an FM then, and the format was much like our WION one today.  I wanted, however to continue moving "up" the radio ladder, and a weekend gig in Lansing was the next step.  WITL was my hope. I'd sent a tape and resume. Yes, a TAPE! That's how we did it back then.  One early morning, after a late night at the WKHM studios, the speakerphone in the head of my bed rang, and I groggily answered. It was Jay J. McCrae, the WITL program director asking me to come in for a chat and to maybe work weekends. I was instantly awake, and excited!  To make a long story shorter, I was given the chance to work on the air. I loved it. I was working in the "Wittle White House" which meant I had achieved some level of announcer credibility. The first time around at WITL I had to use an "air name" different than my name today, so I was "Jim McIntyre"....and, by the second time I came to work regular weekends at WITL, I went by just my known name, Jim Carlyle. Much easier.  

WITL led me to a job in the U.P via a recommendation to become a program director on a big hundred-thousand-watt Country FM, where I was also the afternoon host. Loved the people, the job, but I was severely homesick for lower Michigan and my father, who then was about 75 or so years old.  Left there for sharing an apartment with my college buddy who was in Chicago, but I hated living in the big city. Good place to visit for culture, museums, bars, but not a place in which I wanted to live.  When I knew I was coming home, it was ONE call to WITL and Jay J, and I was back on the air...once a week, overnight. He apologized to me that he only had the overnight gig available,  but I told him, "there are no bad hours to be a jock at WITL."  I was back, I was on the air, I was pleased.  

Now that you see how much I enjoyed WITL, let me rewind you back to my first show there as a scared young announcer just after Jay J. Hired me.  Steve (now our voice guy) was the usual Saturday afternoon host, but was gone that week as memory serves. We hadn't met yet.   Jordan Lee, Jay's wife had filled-in.  The studio was early into having computers, not for the music and commercials, but for the announcers' information about songs, local events, and more. Jay was a big fan of computers. His wife Jordan knew I was a bit scared, and in the first few minutes when I took to the air, she said, (with her signature Texas accent adjusted to Michigan) "Would you like me to stay a bit with you until you get comfortable?"  I assured her this would be more than welcomed, and she did. She watched me work, we talked, and....about half past the hour, maybe about an hour later, she said with a huge smile,  "Honey, you don't need me here, you're gonna be just fine!" I'll never forget that...nor the fact that long after I'd moved on, I was always welcomed to drop in to the WITL studios. 

This past monday, during that pause on my morning show, while looking at Facebook I saw the news that Jordan Lee had passed away. The very same voice that was always willing to play a 1990's request for me on her midday WITL show... was silent. I couldn't believe my eyes, as I read the news on WITL's page, and I had to politely shut off the mic, and take a few songs' break.  It didn't seem possible.  It didn't seem right. 

As you can tell from this story, lengthy though it is, Jordan, and her late husband Jay J. were just GOOD (radio) PEOPLE. Polite, warm, always took extra good care of me if they called me in for a last minute fill-in shift, and I never had to sit in Jay's office and go over a tape of my show! That's something that most radio announcers hate doing anyway. I can remember when the winter weather was bad being invited to stay at their home rather than battle the roads, since my commute was about 60 miles one way for these weekend shows.

I missed Jay when he passed away...not because we saw each other frequently, we didn't. Not because we did anything together outside of radio...we never did. I missed Jay because his name on a written reference on WITL letterhead opened many a door for me in my career. Because he was PART of my career and made a difference to me. That reference letter is still on the wall in my office/studio at WION.  That letter was part of my proposal for buying WION when I went to get financing.  It was part of my being hired to work with Garry Osborn at WLKI in the 90's, where I became morning host for nearly a decade.  Jay's words were like the "golden ticket" of references in radio, and I am still proud.  

I already miss Jordan this week for her smile, and the qualities she showed in radio, and as a person. Radio will miss her talent and dedication. People will miss her politeness, being helpful, smiling, and in my case, welcoming new talent by offering to remain in the studio with me for my first few shaky on-air breaks.   MY first night on WITL as a very nervous young a memory that never fades. And, as with Jay J. there'd been no regular contact between us beyond the respect and friendship of years ago, but THAT never faded, either. 

Yes, it is possible to miss people who die whom you don't see regularly. It IS possible as well, to feel a loss when they leave us, even if they're not part of our every day lives.   Jordan got invited to WION to see where I "landed" but was never able to make it over to see "my" WION. I wish she could have, but the occasional e-mails now and then were enough to say, "hello. " 

So, to Jordan, a huge, "Thank you" ...for friendship and a confident smile, hoping that she knows what her presence in my career that first night at WITL meant to me.  She and Jay were a great team. They both left radio, and this world too young.

Tonight, as I finish this, I'd like to give you an assignment.  We've all gotten busier. We all multitask too much. We ALL have friends from our past who are still available by phone, e-mail, and even a note sent in the mail.  Call them.  E-mail them. Write them. Visit them.  You don't have to do it all at once, we all have a huge list of people who were at one time VERY involved in our lives.  Don't let them go without knowing they made a difference, that they mattered, and that you appreciate them.  It's a simple assignment, one I'm trying hard to do myself.  I assure you, it's time consuming, and it won't be easy. But, you'll be glad for doing it.

And one more note … Radio NEEDS people who are passionate communicators to come up through the ranks and want to communicate with an audience. Encourage your sons, daughters, whomever you know who may show a leaning toward broadcasting.  Let them know that it is NOT a dead-end, but a place where some very magical people still work, and that it may take time to find WHERE they are meant to "land" (as it did for me)....but the journey is a BLAST!   We lost a great radio person this week. Two Christmases ago a dear friend and engineer left us.  Others whose home was on the air have passed into the ionosphere and beyond.  Let's try hard to keep encouraging those who may become the next kind, friendly voice on your radio. They may even be the calming voice that helps us all to know the world is still okay even after the hourly newscast has played.

Go in Peace, Jordan, and thank you. Tell Jay he also was appreciated.

Saturday, January 2, 2016


I asked our listeners for contributions regarding improving 2016 overall, in public, on the web, and in general. Got some nice ideas including:

1) Not wearing pajama pants in public and having more self respect.
2) Banning the misuse of words as in, "FOR free" instead of just using, "Free!"
3)Banning, "Just Sayin'".....

and, there were others recommended as well, some via Facebook comment, some by e-mail or in personal conversation. I like them all.  

I'm going out on a limb with you, as I hit "publish to the web" on this writing. I'm risking being labeled a fool, or of wearing "rose colored glasses" or even of being "naive."  Fine. I can take that.  Some of these suggestions may seem frivolous, some may hit home with you, some may mean nothing, but here's just the beginning of my general list  that I believe would help our culture in any new or future year to improve itself, or maybe get back on track:

Meet the speed of traffic when merging on the highway. It's an "acceleration" lane.

(For Corporate America)  Stop the disclaimers! Especially if longer than the products' description in your commercials. If the product's that bad, DON'T sell it, and for God's sake, consumers:  DON'T buy it.

To Local TV stations: Put people back in your "booth" that can turn on mics, preview the shots of live anchors, and give us a solid product. 

Also for TV: when you cut to a local commercial and back to network, make it smooth, don't show us any of the commercial we aren't supposed to see.

Be polite and let someone into traffic on the highway who is attempting to merge. If there's room, move over and let them on, then move back! 

Find a way to properly dispose of that fruitcake you got at Christmas, not in a landfill. (It takes fifty years to begin to decompose, we're told.)

To the Radio industry:   Be better than you were last year, or the year before. Buying up your competition hasn't worked, and the debt is real.  instead, just try to air some good radio that someone may actually want to listen-to! 

Teach young kids the alphabet and how to  read, write, and do real math before you shove tablets in their faces.   Elementary-age kids don't need to be "connected"as much as they need to  be kids so they grow up dreaming, stretching their minds, creating and knowing the REAL world, with REAL social interaction.

Stop buying electronic junk made in China and look for well-made "real" electronics, not throwaway stuff.  It's out there. Might be at garage sales and thrift stores, but it's there!  I refer to radios, stereos, clocks, you get the idea. SOME new things are built well for long-life, but there are few. At least do your homework. Try not to buy junk.

Cut back on being "politically correct" and instead, express yourself (in a polite manner) without fear. 


Ban words like "selfie" from your usage, along with "like" and "social media." How about instead we all BE social, use our LANGUAGE better, and to like LIFE instead of a screen. 

Look beyond your smartphone camera to actually SEE and enjoy the event you're photographing. Don't miss it! It's probably important to someone that you SEE it!

Fast food restaurants: Get rid of the automated recordings that greet you before you place your order. The instant "sex change" of the person on the intercom is disconcerting.

Try holding the door for the ladies, guys!  If they're offended, oh well. You did a polite thing and proved there's still GENTLEMEN in public.

SHUT OFF YOUR DARN CELLPHONE MESSAGING during dinners and visits to others.  You're not that important.

PRAY.  It can't hurt.  Even a short one on the way to the mailbox and back. If you're afraid to call it prayer, then look up and just start talking to God like you would anyone else. 

Use a little common sense this winter. We live in Michigan. We GET snow.  We GET winter. This is NOT new to the upper Midwest.

Reduce your usage or get OFF Facebook, and if you can't do that, then agree to NEVER use it to hurt someone!  I'm reducing my use, and aiming to use it to point people to other places, as an announcement media, more than a "read me" media.

Get the bloodsucking lawyer ads off of TV. The lawyers to which I refer are the bigshot ones that ADVERTISE how you can screw your fellow man for more than you thought you could.

Cut down on your intake of bad news. Read "" now and then, and if you have streaming TV in your home, look for something to watch that makes you happier, not having to do with murder, lying, and corporate bullying. You may find this changes your outlook in a positive way.

Take a day now and then to BE local. Even if you don't buy a thing...drop in to local shops, talk to the owners, and their shoppers. When was the last time you had a conversation with a stranger in a local store? I do it quite often when I'm visiting WION advertisers and I meet their customers.

Simplify your life.  Get rid of "stuff" you don't use anymore. Either you'll have to move it yourself someday, or someone else will have to sell it at your estate sale, why not simplify your ownership of STUFF, and....simplify all you CAN in your daily life?

There's so many more things that will occur to me as 2016 begins and the usual routines continue.  Maybe you've got some ideas to add to my list.....Please DO! 

Maybe you have a comment, and that's okay, too. 

The bottom line is, whether you like, dislike, agree or disagree with all the above, it doesn't change a thing...I'm still going to believe in what I wrote, and it's up to you to try very hard to make your corner of the world a bit better in 2015 in your own way.

Start small. Hold that door. Look at someone in the eye instead of looking down when walking on our streets. You'll get the hang of it. It gets easier, the more you become real.

We now return you to your virtual world...with HOPE you'll act-on your own list.

Happy 2016 to all.