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West Central, Michigan

Monday, December 21, 2015

Christmas 2015 Thoughts and Thanks...

It's December. Near Christmas. The rushing around for Christmas has hopefully just about wrapped up in anticipation of relaxation, and observing of the HOLIDAY. (from the words, “Holy Day”)

This is the first year in over half a decade that I've made a concentrated effort to be personally more ready for Christmas to arrive. This year, after five annual local radio productions of my favorite Christmas story, Charles Dickens' “A Christmas Carol” with the WION voices and friends, I decided that the production just couldn't be improved-upon. Instead, we'll be airing the “people's choice” WION version on Christmas Eve. It's been fun to make this show happen for five years, but all things have their time. It's not to say that I may not return to it again, but for this year, we change things just a bit.

That program, that script, that adaptation of the classic story is part of MY love of radio. Long before I was “on the radio”as an announcer I was literally “living”radio, listening constantly and tuning the dial,  and with the help of my parents I started my collection of radio receivers, many of which can be seen at our WION studios.

In some of our WION Christmas Carol introductions I've told you how on Christmas Eves of the 1970's my father would be at church helping with the service and I'd be home listening to distant AM signals bringing me the 1939 Campbell Playhouse version with Orson Wells and Lionel Barrymore. It was the script from that production, which inspired and provided the words-for our WION versions over the past half-decade. (Yes, I was a very young radio geek.)

On those Christmas Eves past, About the time the 1939 radio play would end, my father, an Episcopal minister, would drive back home, pick up my Mom and I, then take us back to church for the late night service. Some years the routine was reversed, and I'd attend church early, then listen late at night, finding a distant (AM) signal carrying my favorite Christmas radio special, and listen to it as it faded in and out, knowing every word, yet hanging on every one of them and enjoying it as if I'd never heard it before.

We've traditionally presented our local version of this classic to you on WION as part of our Christmas Eve morning show gathering, and again on Christmas Eve night. This year, I'd like to present the “People's Choice” WION version at 9AM Christmas Eve, and the 1939 version at 5PM so you can hear the classic as well.

Each time I produced the WION version of "A Christmas Carol,"  I can tell you there was some magic in the room.  I remember sitting in our studios late at night wondering if I'd ever finish, and with help from various friends over the years if I'd need a certain background sound, music bed, or voice, it seemed to just “happen.” At the risk of sounding corny, I believe that there were more souls than ours in the studio helping us out, and inspiring us to make the magic happen. You'll just have to trust me on that.

Back to what I began to tell you.....this year is different. The world seems more on edge, and it's tough each day to hear bad news as we get closer and closer to Christmas.  I've always believed in the power of local radio to make a difference, and to lift the spirits of those who need it. I hope that our work with the Blue Star Mothers last month, and our upcoming Christmas programming have, and will continue to do that for you, and in some small way help combat the constant barrage of bad news in ALL the media.

Perhaps it helps to note there's plenty of good right here in Ionia County, and I hope you count WION as part of it.   We'll enjoy bringing you Randy Edwards' 3 hour Christmas special, “Edwards' Archives” along with "Christmas Across the Lands” for our 12th year. We'll also have our Christmas Eve morning show/on air gathering and we hope you'll tune-in.

As the year wraps up, WION is proud to once again have helped raise money to fight cancer with Relay for Life, to have pledged money to Bertha Brock Park on behalf of our advertisers during fallfest, to have broadcast from the Chamber's Expo in the spring, and to have helped promote some great things like the 2nd annual “Wizard of Oz” festival in June. It's been a GREAT year in our community, and we're very proud to have helped promote and KEEP the name Ionia on the map.

You hear many voices on WION. Garry Osborn, Randy Edwards, Phil Cloud, Bill Lynch and “Our ol' Buddy Bob”, guests from the community, and friends of WION who lend their voices and talents year-round, but that's not the extent of our great team.

As we get set to celebrate Christmas, I'd like to send a personal thank you to everyone who contributes to our daily visits with you, and I'm afraid I'll leave some out unintentionally, so forgive me in advance.

There are many voices you may never meet who are friends of WION. Many have worked-with Jim Aaron and I on different radio stations in our past. They make time to record commercials and promos for us.  There's “Steve the Voice Guy” who has been the “image” of our station now for 11 years. There's our sales staff of Dan Ferguson and Aimee Barna. Dan's enjoyed 7 years with us, while Aimee joined us this year with great enthusiasm and is helping at WGLM as well. There's our engineers, including Scott who is always willing to jump in and help, Ralph, E-T, Rick, and others who are always just a phone call away to help this small (STEREO) AM continue to sound GREAT and stay on the air. There's Penny, who keeps us in touch with the worthy causes in our area, even though she's working full-time now! She still finds time to help us help others.

Then, there's the behind-the-scenes unsung heroes who stop in with bread, pies, or other great gifts; there's those who iron shirts to help me look better on remotes, Vicki who always keeps our logo "lump-free" and there's our friends who are great at keeping our station's property looking great inside and outside.  This year there's also some “new” people getting their feet wet in making commercials and reading forecasts like our midday weather host who I'm very proud-of.   It's fun to watch and help people “new” to the microphone develop their delivery and talent. There's also Popeye John on Friday nights, having his first Christmas as a regular host on WION.  There's even our friends at "" who give us a forum to exchange ideas, and get the name "WION" indexed very quickly by Google!

The amazing part is, some of these people VOLUNTEER of their time, and none are full time! Every one of WION's team is here because they WANT to be.

So, as we celebrate Christmas this week, I hope that WION is part of your holiday. We'll have GREAT Christmas programming, and we're proud to be an independent station in this day of media consolidation. We're proud to be YOUR station, and that you can take us anywhere, anytime via the web and our apps.

I'm a very blessed man, to do what I love for a living.  Jim Aaron and I had ONE goal when we started this station together as “I-1430” make a reasonable living by producing great radio in a small town. It truly is a pleasure, and one I wouldn't trade for the world. (The other) Jim feels the same way, though our company growth has planted him in Greenville at our sister station, WGLM.

From the entire WION family, especially this fortunate radio morning host and station owner, 

Merry Christmas!

(1/3/16) Please enjoy these pictures from our Christmas Eve on this link, anyone can see this, even without a Facebook account!