Greg Peck: Marking Thursday’s National Radio Day as WCLO celebrates 85 years
Janesville is rich in history, and in Marcia Nelesen’s current nine-part Monday series, readers are getting refreshers in the big stories—good and bad—that helped put our city on the map.
Radio station WCLO, WJVL and The Gazette are all part of the Bliss Communications family, and WCLO has enjoyed its fair share of Janesville history, too. It’s marking its 85th anniversary this month. Readers might have noticed details about that in a side story to a column about radio’s future that we published Saturday in advance of Thursday’s National Radio Day.
WCLO signed on Aug. 1, 1930. It and WJVL operate on the third floor of The Gazette building downtown, though WCLO’s newsgathering operation is right here in the newspaper’s second-floor newsroom. The radio studios are roomier than they might have been because when they were built, WCLO still aired music played by live musicians performing right there in person.
Technology that today means digital music has changed all of that.
What hasn’t changed is WCLO’s commitment to award-winning local news and information. Mike O’Brien, general manager of both stations, noted that WCLO AM 1230 offers 76 local newscasts and 51 hours of live local programming each week. Tim Bremel, host of “Your Talk Show,” airing weekday mornings, interviews more than 20 people each month.
WJVL 99.9 FM signed on as WCLO-FM in 1947. Together, today’s AM and FM stations employ 30 local people. A 2014 Leede Research Study shows almost 48,000 people listen to WCLO each week, and more than 61,000 tune in WJVL.
“Every day, WCLO and WJVL are on a mission to bring local, relevant news, weather, sports, and country music to our listeners,” General Manager Mike O’Brien said in an email. “When you add strong personalities, big promotions and well-produced commercials, there are several compelling reasons to keep coming back to our local radio stations.”
So how is WCLO marking its 85th anniversary?
At 6:51 and 8:51 a.m. and 3:21 p.m. each weekday this month, the station is airing “Tabloids of Time.” The late announcer Dan Janis—as fine a radio voice as you’d ever find in a market this size—recorded these historical vignettes in 1990. Rob Anderson recorded updates this year. The station gives careful listeners to these vignettes chances to answer follow-up questions and qualify to win $850.
WCLO also will mark its anniversary from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 29, at the Janesville Farmers Market downtown. Bremel and O’Brien will interview former radio announcers and local, notable people at the market.
A salute to all of my hardworking fellow professionals at WCLO and WJVL. Congrats on 85 years, WCLO!