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Mid-West Family gifts radio station to UW-Eau Claire



FM 99.9 will be source for
Blugold Athletics, WPR and more

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. — It was a unique gift from Mid-West Family Broadcasting in Eau Claire.

That’s the best way to describe Tuesday’s giving away of an entire radio station from Mid-West Family Broadcasting to the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Foundation.

The gift will mean expanded educational opportunities for UW-EC students and new avenues for university outreach to a wider audience.

The gift includes the radio license, transmitter, tower (located near Bloomer, Wis.) and related equipment for operation of the commercial station 99.9 WDRK-FM. The approximate value of the gift is $1 million.

“We are very excited to see students develop their talents and possibly enter the vibrant broadcast industry in the future,” Lynn Bieritz, general manager of Mid-West Family Broadcasting, Eau Claire said. 

Bieritz also announced the acquisition of 98.1 WISM, which resulted in the opportunity to transfer ownership of 99.9 WDRK-FM, ensuring the company stays within its federally mandated limit on stations it can own in a single market. 

Mid-West Family Broadcasting, Eau Claire also owns 104.5 WAXX-FM, 94.1 WIAL-FM, 92.9 WECL-FM, 790 WAYY-AM and 1150 WEAQ-AM.

“When we were approached about this gift, we took a close look to determine how this asset could provide value to UW-Eau Claire students and the university as a whole,” Kimera Way, UW-Eau Claire Foundation president said. 

The radio station will be owned and operated by Blugold Radio LLC, a subsidiary of the UW-EC Foundation. 

The process of transferring the station ownership to Blugold Radio, which includes obtaining Federal Communications Commission approvals, is expected to be completed by July 1.

While 99.9 WDRK is currently under a commercial license, Blugold Radio is applying for a noncommercial license that will help maximize benefits from key partnerships with UW-EC, Blugold athletics and Wisconsin Public Radio at the outset, Way said. 

Way added that Blugold Radio is now working on creating the programming format and partnerships that will allow the station to establish a specific brand early on in its operations.

The gift will increase options for students through UW-EC’s Dept. of Communication and Journalism, further expanding its long tradition of providing students with hands-on learning opportunities through class projects, student media work experiences and internships.

“This gift will enable us to provide additional high-impact applied learning for students in the journalism and integrated strategic communication majors and minors, and our multimedia minor,” Dr. Mary Hoffman, professor and chair of the communication and journalism department said. “Students will have the opportunity to produce a wide variety of programming, serve the community by reporting on community news and interests, and assemble extensive portfolios to use as they seek employment following graduation. We are most grateful for the opportunities presented by this gift.”

It is Blugold Radio’s intent for 99.9 FM to be the official radio presence for Blugold athletics, Way said. 

UW-EC athletic director Dan Schumacher said the radio station will provide an opportunity for Blugold athletics to merge academic experiential learning in broadcast journalism and greater coverage of NCAA Division III college athletics.

“The 99.9 WDRK-FM signal will give Blugold athletics a large radio reach in the Chippewa Valley and a great enhancement to the Blugold sports network of digital, web, radio and TV media platforms,” Schumacher said.

UW-EC’s current partnership with Wisconsin Public Radio, which includes student-produced programming on another station, also will be expanded as Blugold Radio takes ownership of 99.9 FM. 

WPR is proposing a plan to provide programming from its News and Classical Network for periods of the day on the new station, said Dean Kallenbach, senior regional manager for Wisconsin Public Radio.

“Adding WDRK as a News and Classical Network affiliate would help us fill a gap on the signal of that network that we’ve been seeking to fill for two decades in Barron County and southern Washburn County,” Kallenbach said. 

For more information, contact Kimera Way, president of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation, at 715-836-5180 or [email protected], and Lynn Bieritz, general manager of Mid-West Family Broadcasting, Eau Claire, at 715-832-1530 or [email protected].

Host of WIZM's La Crosse Talk PM | University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point graduate | Hometown: Greenville, Wis | Avid noonball basketball player and sand volleyballer in La Crosse

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  1. broadcasting

    March 15, 2016 at 10:35 am

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