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Saturday, March 30, 2013

I'm Truly Amazed!

...At the incredible response to our little AM Stereo radio station in the "Internet world."

Let me rewind.

People who know me and know Ionia, also know that I often write about WION, the radio station that my team resurrected in 2004 and proudly operate today. It was just February 1st of this year when we began internet streaming, on the actual 60th birthday of WION's debut. (1953 if you don't want to do the math.  We even stream a format that many stations are capable-of, but is rather rare, (AM stereo!) Give the stream a listen!  The sound is amazing. Streaming is one of the biggest and most positive things we've done!  (well, there was the bigger AM signal, our 24/7 operation of the station,  and  the addition of the FM signal) 

If you haven't done-so yet, or lately.....go to our station's website. Then, check out the link on the left, lower side of the page in "Contests and Fun"  You'll find a google map of our documented online listeners. These listeners and locations don't get posted until they've been tuned in for either a documented amount of time (no "just passing thru listeners here) or visit our stream repeatedly. The link still exists on the FAQ page, but we thought we'd bring it out front and show-off a little bit!

What really amazes me, is that in a day where almost everything is either instantly available to the listener/consumer, and the selection of entertainment is so wide, that so many people in SO many places are coming back-to and finding our little station for their 'net enjoyment! Stop and think for a moment.....would these people be looking at Ionia, Michigan anyway?  Some yes, but many, no!  Some may be family of people still here. Some may be transplants, but many who have written us simply say they like what we do with radio, since it's so "un-corporate" and unique to the industry these days.

I find myself even listening on the web. Because a convenient little "internet radio" makes it easy to enjoy FM, the internet stations & podcasts, and the content of my sansa fuze mp3 player! 

So, each time I see new towns on our listening map,  I'm always GRATEFUL and then AMAZED, but ultimately PROUD of our station and that it gets chosen by so many in so many far away places.

I'm also proud of our TEAM at the station. Most listeners will never meet the entire support staff, from sales and production to those who bring coffee, clean the station, surprise us with meals, and generally help keep our 'balance' (to use the word "balance"  loosely, given we're all "radio people.") 

Your tuning-in on the web is a huge compliment to us all.......and .......to each of our listening towns across Michigan, the Nation, and the world, we say, "thank you...."

Drop us a line when you can, wherever you listen, and let's make sure YOU'RE on our map!

Oh, and by the way, even though I am not a fan of facebook for the high price users pay in privacy for this "free" service, if you're one of those "gotta have facebook" people, the station has an official "fan" page now,  but...if you found this blog, you know the most recent updates to our information reside on our own website, and at our forum!

From "America's Biggest Little Radio Station"
(named by our good friends at satelliteguys.us.) 



Sunday, March 10, 2013

Another Expo is "in the books" in Ionia....

And, by all indications, a very good one and well attended.

WION interviewed 15 Expo exhibitors, and had many more as "Expo Week" sponsors on the air, and our thanks goes out to them for helping spread the word of this "rite of spring."

The Expo is a huge effort, and without the Ionia Public Schools to host, Michigan One Community Credit Union, and the Ionia Area Chamber all working cooperatively, it would not be the huge event it is today. Please contact Maureen Meade of Ionia Schools, Tim Hemmenway at M1CCU or leave a message with the Ionia Chamber to say, "thank you" if you will...they work very hard to make the Expo happen.

Is it a rite of Spring?  It comes on the eve of Daylight Saving Time, (which had me up early checking on the many computers that run WION in our absence to make sure they moved properly) and....the early part of this week has a warmer forecast. Let's hope we have escaped the brunt of winter and can think warmer weather is just around the corner.

Helen Cook of Portland was the winner of our Logitech Internet radio on Saturday, and we congratulate her, as her name was drawn from the hundreds of entries....spun in the big hopper at our WION booth, just as Expo got set to close.

We're taking our microphones to the Lowell Expo next, in two weeks, and we hope you'll come over and learn more about Lowell's businesses, and enjoy our broadcast from there....with Liz Baker of the Lowell Chamber, our host.

Think Spring!

-Carlyle

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Behind the Scenes..

This weekend, a huge event comes our way. It's a "rite of Spring" in Ionia, and it draws people from far and near.  It's "Ionia Expo 2013 at Ionia High School. There's no way to count-exactly how many people attend, but it's certainly a steadily busy and fun event.

WION takes it's microphones there on Saturday, and we'll talk with many Expo participants, and bring those interviews to you on the air. We also get to visit with many listeners each year at Expo, and put faces with the voices that we meet regularly on the phone, and the names we read in e-mails.

To pull off a broadcast like this, and quite honestly, to pull off what we do EVERY day takes many talented people.  This Saturday, Bob Flynn visits us from WCSR in HIllsdale to help with the interviews. He drives a couple hours because this expo is FUN for him and Ionia's expo is quite an experience.  Along with Bob, you'll see Phil Cloud "working the room" and lining up our interviews, telling his copyrighted stories and lies.  We'll register people for our $200 internet radio to be given away by drawing at the end of expo, and, we'll even help install our radio ' apps '  on your phones so you can take WION with you anywhere!

We have a "staff page" on our website as you know.....but as of yet, we haven't added the short bios to the pictures or described too much of what people do that work with our team at WION...so, ..here is a bit more of that information!

Other talented people (regularly helping WION make great programming)  include Branden Cooper in our Production room. He's the one who makes sure your weekend shows are ready to roll....that your daily features are here and air properly each day......and, that each day we have our programming lined up properly, along with being the latest voice of Berger Motor Sales, "Recycle your Pet Dot Info" and other regular WION advertisers.  Big Mike is still with us "behind the scenes" and providing voicework in commercials, so you'll be hearing him more as time goes on.  Bill Lynch lends his talents on Friday mornings to the round table with Phil, and is seen out and about in Lake Odessa, Lowell, South Ionia, Hubbardston and other areas bringing us new clients from those areas.  "Leftlane" is ....well.....he's "Leftlane" and joins us on Fridays whenever possible....plows our driveway, and adds his unique "spin" on Friday topics, and the occasional commercial for a local Realtor. 

Before you get to hear a single thing on your phone, PC, or radio, our music and information passes through the hands or electronic equipment of Scott Beeman our local engineer. Scott's responsible for refurbishing the classic analog equpment that I believe brings us the (overused phrase here) "signature sound" of WION on AM 1430 in stereo, and on FM 92-7.  Scott has spent hours at his workbench aligning equipment, and making "everything old: New again!"  Our transmitter room may be the best mix of classic and new equipment you'll ever see, and someday, we'll put a webcam on it so you can watch the lights and meters. (for the very bored in the world.)  Other engineers make sure our signal is strong, legal, and available 2/7.

Also on the regular WION roster is Dan Ferguson...seen each week visiting his advertisers and bringing new information to us, so you always know what's happening with them. He keeps me busy with writing commercials... and for that I'm grateful.  By the way, one frequent question posed to us is, "How does a radio station make money?" and, of course the answer is "those commercials you hear!"   We try to keep them creative enough that you'll enjoy and remember them, and we hope you tell our advertisers that you hear them on our station.  Then, there's Steve, our "voice guy"  who helps to tell you about your town, our station, and events with his promotional announcements and is really the hardest working of us all, since he's heard around the clock on WION, and yes, he's a real person, and lives in Mid-Michigan.   Oh, and let's rewind a moment.....on the topic of our friends at WCSR, we also borrow the voice of Russ Martin, their News Director for the occasional commercial to add voice variety.  Other voices include friends of ours in Indiana at WLKI  (Randy Edwards, Andy St. John) , and others across the United States. 

WION's got a remarkable staff!  Penny, my Wednesday cohost gives hours and hours to us and to the community in volunteerism.  Devin, a college student and longtime WION staffer is never afraid to take on a project here, and works from the grounds at WION  to our attic and does everything from maintenance to running audio wires and helping on remotes.  Bonnie Ferguson always sees that our events at WION and event guests have wonderful food, and Rocky helps with studios decoration, running errands, and attempts to provide general sanity for our staff. She also brings one of our two unofficial mascots to visit now and then, Brewster the very large dog, (who enjoys the couch in Branden's studio-office.)  The other unofficial mascot in my opinion is "Jaz", (Leftlane's puppy.)

You know the old phrase, "our people will contact your people?" Well now you know we DO have "people" here at WION. People who work hard at the station to maintain a great sound  and keep WION a big part of Ionia County. Then there's you....the listener.

Our listening area has  grown immensely in the last month with streaming on the web, and today thanks to streaming we welcomed Waterford, Ireland to WION. We enjoyed quite a few e-mails back and forth, and have some new ears tuned to Ionia. Also on our listener map is Cincinnati, and a new listening town added to the list,  Sugar Land, Texas. Our map of online listeners grows by the day.  Take a look at it and consider how many choices in listening all these distant places have...but they're tuned to a small station in Ionia, MIchigan.

We've said it on the air, and I'll repeat it here. It's not that people from Ireland, Ohio, or Texas are driving to Main Street Iona. We stream WION  so YOU can take us anywhere, and...we hope, in return, that our station, and our town sounds "interesting" enough for those far away to take a moment and learn about Ionia, Michigan.  Our advertisers, our callers, our music, our public service announcements, and our station in general is now a voice, representing Ionia as an on-air ambassador to a large audience.  We feel our listeners are also "our people."  We're honored to be chosen by our listening businesses, local residents, and now far-away listeners. We know that you all have choices, and we're fortunate and very happy you've chosen to tune in to us no matter WHAT the media carrying WION to you may be. Streaming is not cheap, but the response you've given us to it in just one month proves you want to take WION with you in your daily travels, and we love to tag along.


I know we're forgetting some people... But, that's the beauty of blogging. We can edit, add, and revisit.  

To make it simple,  WION is a team of people who enjoy making great radio. On the air. Behind the Scenes. On our streets, in our engineering department,  and all in support of what (my favorite website) satelliteguys has dubbed, "America's Biggest Little Radio Station."  We're proud, and we're grateful to be serving great radio to Ionia County and....worldwide!

See you at Expo this weekend!  Let's talk!


-Carlyle