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West Central, Michigan

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Seeing the GOOD around us during Treasures for Troops

We at WION  had an excellent kickoff to "Treasures for Troops, Year #7" on Monday November 2nd.   With a donation from Reurink Roofing & Siding Sales of a sizable amount, and people who came in to the Village Market in Muir because of hearing us.  It was a nice start. 

It's important to remember that never in most of our lives has the world changed so quickly as it has since last year's "Treasures" and we're all so very tired of adjusting to governmental "orders" (however temporary) and to our daily lives' activities being squelched.  Our broadcast from Muir was the first "out of studio" one in all of this year!  Yet, among all of that, at least 5 or 6 grocery cart's full of things were collected and brought to the Moose Lodge in Ionia for sorting, plus MANY individual monetary donations were made to the Blue Star Mothers for this yearly pack of items to go overseas. 

In a year where we can't even accept volunteer help for sorting and boxing, I can tell you that just being around the giving today, and the good vibes from each and every donor helped lift my spirits.  Like you, I find it harder to locate the normal day to day JOY we used to take so much for granted, but doing good for others is definitely a spirit-lifting experience.

All WION does is spread ideas via word of mouth, amplified by electrons, waves, and devices... but...those receiving  this "help others" message by radio each respond in their own ways to the need we're addressing this week in "Treasures." 

 Meanwhile, the stories we hear from our dropoff locations lift everyone's spirits. We heard Monday morning of two young men who spent their own money to contribute in Lowell, both are middle school aged...but they're GIVING.  Isn't that refreshing?  They're wanting to help others.  During our kickoff broadcast we were brought cards and a donation from a family in which one business they own has been severely affected by the state's rules and regulations, but they still continue to GIVE.  We were hosted at the Village market in Muir, by new owners who preserved and invested in a LOCAL business in a small town, which is something to celebrate in itself.

I'm always tired at the end of each day during "Treasures" but, I remember singer Harry Chapin's description of "Good Tired" vs. Bad Tired...and GOOD tired by his description was when you finish a day with lots of YOU in it and you sleep well because of that.  You've had a day which was not wasted fighting other's battles and living other's lives. (probably not-so-good paraphrasing, by the way...you can look it up on the web)....Today, there was an incredible effort taking place which focused on helping those we may never meet. There was plenty of me, plenty of you, and of others who care in the day.  The recipients who will open a box from Treasures For Troops will, no doubt, have a sense of wonder that SOMEONE in the world whom they don't even know cared for them..and...I think that's something EVERYONE helping with this cause should be proud of, whether you write ONE personal note to put in a box, give ONE dollar, or thousands. You're touching the lives of  hard working people who are homesick, and want to be in places they're not....but for a moment....they're closer to home.

WION, WGLM, WRWW, (The Lowell Area School's Student Station) and our friends at  WRDN (which we call our "Sister 1430" In Durand, Wisconsin) who are collecting addresses for boxes and monetary donations along with our sponsor, Young Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, and our broadcast partner locations ALL Say, "Thank you"...for being part of something that helps others... and showing that even during these odd times, we can, indeed, work together for GOOD. 

We hope being part of "Treasures for Troops"  lifts your spirits, too.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

The Days are Trying Sometimes, yet Remarkable.

(My writing is for my relaxing and sharing of things that I think are worthy of semi-organized sentences. I'm no professional writer..but it's recreational  to me...so, if you're reading this, know It's more of a stream of my thoughts than an organized "column" of any kind. ) 

Some days are remarkable while still very trying.

This situation we all share right now has so many effects on all of us, there's no way to count them all. 

As a business owner, and as a radio station owner, I share the fear of other business owners,  but we carry on, because we must.  We've seen a slight drop in advertising from businesses hardest hit, but many of our familiar supporters are still here on the air, with new messages of encouragement, reassurance, and the sharing of thoughts, or...just to remind you they are STILL HERE, waiting for the joyous day of reopening. We, at WION are so grateful for all of our advertisers and supporters. It's our advertisers' dollars that keep the transmitter on, the lights bright, and our streaming coming to you on any device anywhere.

So, on a day where this virus scare temporarily cost us some major income another miracle occurred, proving to me, as Morning Host and Manager that I'm here...for the right reasons. 

I didn't hear the phone call, but Garry Osborn was on the air.  The call was to our 800 number, which can ring into the studio.  It went to voicemail, which showed up quickly in my e-mail.  A senior-citizen lady, on oxygen called WION, worried because she was in need of food and didn't know where to turn.  "2-1-1" can help people but I could tell of the immediate need by the sound of her voice on the recording.

One call later, to a local church well known for it's food pantry outreach, I was assured by a friendly voice on the other end of the phone that this lady would be called right away, and the comforting words, "These are the people we need to serve!"  Can you imagine just the chance that someone would:  a) be a senior in need.  b) Think to call a radio statoin. c) reach a station with a real staff, not a corporate, satellite-delivered jukebox, d) ask for help leaving a number for a callback HOPING someone got the message?  Well, it DID happen. The connection was made.

Granted, this was not an on air issue. But it was a "trust" issue. The likelihood is that this lady heard Garry mention the number, she called it, pressed his extension for the afternoon show which also cc'd to me, and hoped for a call back.  Think of it.  The TRUST, today, in local media to help an individual.  She didn't call anyone else, she called a radio station because we're supposed to be "in touch" with community.  In a way, it was a high compliment.

With the issue in the hands of the people who are GREAT at what they do, which is feeding people regularly from a pantry, I felt as if I needed to be at WION as owner, etc...etc...insert job here.  It felt right  to be the caretaker of our license today, and to know something good came of our mere existence.   It felt like a "meant to be."  I believe it was, and it helps take away some of my worry during these times of the essential existence of radio, and the concern over losing the life-giving revenue of advertising  to this radio station.  That concern seems small compared to the need which was phoned in to us today.  My concern for WION as a business was strengthened by the fact we were here to fill a need and have been for over 15 years! 

We are fine. We WILL be fine with the support of our local community's businesses, some of which are not even open right now....and in the bigger picture, you can now see...Advertisers support WION, which is here to bring you music, information, news, and more.  Trust develops from that consistency and reputation, and that shows to advertisers that people need WION, and...it also shows commitment by this station to our community, which translates back into advertisers wanting to be a part of our programming.

Even with some losses today, in the "win" column was trust in a local radio station to help just one person.  Just one! 

We hope that you also are another "one" who will trust us with your time...for information, entertainment, and the marketing of your business to the mutual benefit of our community, through the good times, and the rough ones, too.

-Jim Carlyle

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Thank you, Harry.

Some people you meet in life are the kind who, in their company,  make you feel a little closer to the kindness that can only come from God. You notice it in their voice, mannerisms, and it's something you just ...know. My father was one such individual.  Another was Mr. Harry Boyes of Ionia, a former News Director of WION Radio who passed away on September 20th 2019.  I'm told it was his 95th birthday.

I met Harry at the Lamplight Grill when I had only been at WION a short time. He was with his wife, leaving the restaurant after his meal. I introduced myself, we spoke briefly, and I told him I'd seen his picture at the radio station in some of the staff pictures from years past. We didn't speak long as I didn't want to be rude or bore his wife with "radio" conversation.

It wasn't long after that, however that I learned Harry's wife had passed away and he was alone.  He still came to the Lamplight Grill, however...and one night, as I arrived, I saw him eating alone. I don't like to eat alone. Eating is a kind of celebration and should be shared, which left me with a choice: Ask Harry if I could sit with him (risking the fact he may want his solitude and hearing the word "no" or...having an interesting evening if "yes" was the answer.) ....or just sit at a table and wonder if I should have asked. Harry's answer was, "That would be very nice, please sit down." It was the beginning of a very strong friendship, though we didn't see each other very  often, and almost always at the Lamplight Grill. (I did have the opportunity to visit with him in his home this year, and it was a wonderful afternoon.)

Harry always made time to chat with me at the Lamplight, and we'd talk about the (Episcopal) Church,  Ionia,  my WION of today, "His" WION, and so many other things. Some conversations were lengthy, some shorter.  Always I enjoyed these conversations, more than he may have ever known.

On the 5th Anniversary of WION coming back on the air with our team in 2009  we invited Harry to stop by. The studios were humming with people, we had a tent out front with Lamplight food, face painting, guests from far and near, and studio tours. Harry came to that celebration, and later...I found it was the first time he was invited back to WION since he worked with Monroe MacPherson the original owner. They had parted ways after the sale of the FM station in which Harry had invested.  Harry was happy to be with us that afternoon, and volunteered to go through old staff pictures and help me identify some of what is now my "shared past" with other  WION owners and staff who we only know now by their portraits. 

It made my day to have him here, along with representatives from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters, friends, and listeners. As I've said, some people just make your day by their being part of yours. I considered it a great honor to have Harry as part of our celebration.

Harry looks over the very first WION broadcast log as he visits
our 5th anniversary celebration in 2009

Harry's gentle yet deep voice was most distinguished, and as his years went on, it may have taken a little more listening to catch every word, but his gentlemanly manner never changed. Always the gentleman.  Harry was proud that the station for which he worked locally was back on the air, and in good hands, though he worked at one time for much more prominent and powerful  WJR in Detroit.  Chances are as I grew up,  since my family played WJR frequently, at one time or another I heard him on our radio in my younger years and never  knew I'd someday meet him. 

I once told Harry of our recreating the 1939 Campbell Playhouse version of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol", and that we had won an award for it from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters in our first year of doing this.  He was as proud of WION as if he, himself were back behind the microphone.   Then, somewhere between that first year we produced it, and year number 5 in 2014, Harry asked if he could play Ebenezer Scrooge, should we ever do it just one more time.  I took Harry up on that offer, and we had a wonderful day in 2014 sharing time, and some stories of WION, many of which I have forgotten, all of which I wish I had recorded.  Nevertheless, the day was something special.  Later, I found out from Harry that the room in which we now stream WION (my office and recording studio)  used to be his office when he was News Director, and that may explain how he seemed comfortable  as he pulled the microphone close and began recording.  I didn't know this until after he recorded his part as Ebenezer Scrooge, but it was so nice to find that out later that day in our conversations and to imagine all the thoughts he may have had as  he sat down in the chair in his former room. I guess my office is something we share, as well, though in very different eras.

Harry nailed the part of Mr. Scrooge, and seemed to enjoy doing it. It made me happy to know his voice was preserved, not just for history's sake, but in my favorite story, and...co-starring with other local people and WION staffers. People like Rich Thompson of the Lamplight Grill, WION's "Popeye John," Darin Elliott and Todd Reurink to name a few.

Harry will be missed, but will always be a part of WION as long as this team is at the helm. His picture and those of his co-workers of the 1960's are on the wall in our main studio in a framed, proud advertisement of WION's "Now 5000 Watts" from when the station got it's power increase.  

A gentleman for sure, and someone who I am very glad to have known even for just a few short years.   Harry; you will be missed but surely remembered.  Thank you for your friendship, and your voice...at WION and in our community... long before my time at the helm of WION...and in "A Christmas Carol."

May God continue to bless you.

-Jim Carlyle

Jim Carlyle and Harry look over  historic WION pictures and I.D. some former staffers.
(2009) at WION's  5th year celebration with the current team.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

"And They Said it Couldn't Be Done"...a/k/a It's our 15th year here at WION!

Another milestone comes to WION September 1st.

It's our 15th anniversary, or "birthday" if you will...as "I-1430."

Certainly, the station itself, and the heritage call letters have existed since 1953, and the founding family and the staff of those days helped build it, but...in the 1980's and 1990's, WION had less attention paid to it's care in technology, in it's building and grounds, and even on the air.

The owner before our team, Bob Driscoll was making a great effort to bring local radio back to Ionia, but didn't live to see his vision of WION come to fruition...and, through quite the unexpected meeting, his family and our team, together, in 2004 saved WION from being forever silenced.

How did the beginning of the current team find WION?  An engineer friend of mine, Michael Bradford was working with the station where I  was morning host.  (WCSR, Hillsdale.)  Michael came in one morning, found me a bit down in the dumps, asked why, and was told, "My deal for the station in Alabama has been pulled." It was only three weeks til signing for what was then station WZPQ.   Michael suggested, "why don't you check out Ionia?" to which I replied, "why?"....and the answer..."It's off the air and need an owner!"

Fast forward.  A couple of trips to Ionia and it seemed like a good place to have a station, nicely distanced from Grand Rapids and Lansing, ripe for a local full-service format of music and information, and...it had a deadline to get on the air.  I called Mrs. Driscoll, who didn't know me from a stack of hay, explained I wanted to buy her husband's radio station, and she was very polite in explaining that his estate was in the process of selling to the folks in Greenville who owned (then) WSCG AM & FM, and the newspaper. (The Stafford family.) ...She did, however tell me if that deal fell through, I'd be next on the list.

Long story short,  (which I'm not good-at doing);  The FCC said Stafford could not buy WION.  They'd own too much media and have too much control. So, right after the decision, the call came in to me to "make it happen" from Mrs. Driscoll.  The only thing standing in my way was that the station in Alabama was going to be a private financing note with the seller, and here, in Ionia, it was not. I had to find financing.

Back then, it was easier than today. Steal a phone book while in Ionia, look for banks that have the word "Ionia" in them, and start there. ICNB existed at that time.  I made a call to the commercial loan department, asked if they'd consider me if I provide a good credit history, a stack of references, and around 15 years in the business.  For once in my life, I was not put on the back burner. The application was made, the references read, and...ICNB worked quickly to get the station into our hands so that we could save the license, as the days to license revocation by the FCC got closer and closer. By the way, our staff and our station has now out-lasted two bank names, working on our third. We've kept our format longer than the bank has kept it's name!

The arrangements were made, the keys given to me on August 14th of 2004, and we had until September 4th to get WION back on the air...and we did!  Jim Aaron, co-owner and music director worked many hours to get the music mix planned, the music scheduler programmed, the billing system updated, and the actual building presentable after nearly a year of sitting. Engineers were called in to see if the transmitter would fire up...it did... very loudly...causing me to jump quite high and I believe I had to go change my shorts, too!  The Transmitter arc'd some high voltage after sitting a year, and in the relatively small transmitter room it sounded like firing off a very loud gun or fireworks!

Engineer Ed Trombley of Munn-Reese engineering prepares to fire up the tube-type WION transmitter we inherited in 2004. That monster box is long gone, replaced by a solid state stereo AM transmitter...but we were glad to hear the ol' girl come to life back in 2004!

Engineer Ralph Haines measures the old transmitter's frequency stability
to make sure we're legal once we get the "OK" to go back on the air
from the FCC.  Buddy of Jim's, Tracy Truman looks on after a day
of fixing pipes and many other repairs in the building.  

(below)...And yet another engineer, Chris Arnaut, then an engineer for WJR in Detroit,  would park his camper in the parking lot and work late hours the weekend before going on the air to rewire our (very old, monophonic) control board to work with our upgraded digital computers, phones, and to make WION a comfortable studio for any announcer who may sit in the air chair.  

 Those of you who are regular visitors to the station can see the huge difference in the "basic" studio" of 2004, and the "themed" studio of today. (shown at article's end)

It took calling an old friend with a tractor and brush hog to bring down grass that was 3 feet high or more...getting utilities in our name, repairing broken pipes in the bathrooms that had frozen,  and hours of work to make the station presentable and usable again.  

 The kitchen fixtures were all gone ,the toilet off it's base, one broken vanity, and no hot water. All of this got fixed...and WION was off and running on September 1st of 2004.  As the legend goes, there was no hot water because originally hot water was plumbed to outside the sister station's building (back when WION also owned WYON) and employees were washing their cars in the water, costing the owner money. WION apparently also paid the price, and as new owners we had a water heater re-installed replacing the one ripped out sometime in the past.  I should also mention that the bank president at ICNB knew we had to rebuild the kitchen and literally gave us a kitchen sink!  Now THAT's personal banking!

September 1st came, and at 6AM, Jim Aaron and I pushed the "on" button for the big electron tube plates that powered WION's signal, and on the air she came. Engineers had tested the transmitter and air chain earlier in the week, and....despite the dismal sound we put out back then, the station was alive, the paperwork was filed with the FCC that WION had resumed operations, and the license was saved.   The battles for small town radio had begun!

Since signing on the station in 2004, our team has learned much, and come a long way.  We have had great engineering, and in the past 15 years have accomplished many things even bigger stations wouldn't dare to do:

            1) Enlarged the AM daytime signal to include more of West Central MI
            2) Added FM 92-7 before it was even known as "AM revitalization"
            3) Converted the AM signal to AM stereo for fun, and to draw      
                attention to AM's potentially great sound.
            4) Streamed the AM stereo sound and got our own app
            5) Added FM 100.3 in Lowell to better our coverage and reach our
               Kent County listeners better, sharing an antenna with a school's
               FM already located in Lowell.

That list of accomplishments is only possible due knowing and hiring the best  engineering and talented engineers!  Munn-Reese with Ed Trombley, Don Baad, Wayne Reese (now retired) and Rick Grzebik.  We also have Ralph Haines, owner of WGDN in Gladwin on the engineering "bench" and more recently, Greg Buchwald from Illinois, who found us when the web picked up on the fact we were streaming our AM signal. He's the man behind the great AM stereo sound we now send out to the world on the web and enjoy in our studios. (and some folks in their vehicles, too.)  You can still find an email letter he wrote me on our "comments" page at www.i1430.com when he first heard our AM stereo being broadcast on the web.  We're so glad he's  adopted our WION for a place to "play." We benefit from his enthusiasm and great knowledge of AM audio processing.

We also had our battles along the way, however.  Lightning killed our transmitter in 2005.  Auto Owners' Insurance did not want to play ball, but eventually came around and bought us the new AM stereo transmitter that you hear every day on the air.   The studio roof was in deplorable condition, and needed replacing, so we bought locally from Reurink Roofing & Siding Sales back in their infancy as a company and had the new roof installed.  Our water well even went dry and had to be replaced at big expense. Walkington Well Drilling did a fantastic job and did the job in mid-winter.   The tower fencing was no longer FCC legal and had to be replaced in our first year or so, the towers needed painting, and we had a glass insulator that holds up the middle tower crack and need to be replaced as well. The on-air computer systems needed upgrading to a new Windows system, and new software and licenses. Drop another ten grand on that.  All of these things worked against our checkbook, but we got through every one of them.  It's not been easy, but we've never gone back to the bank for money to operate. It's been our advertisers' support that has allowed us to grow and provide more and more services over the past 15 years while improving the studios and maintaining service to our communities.

I think our biggest battle, however was proving to this community that we weren't the same WION as they grew up-with. We had radically changed the programming to be more modern, and listenable in businesses, and at the same time had kept the heritage call letters which for many area residents meant "cows, conversation, obituaries, and all over the road programming."  We had much to overcome in the perception of what we had created, and it wasn't easy, nor was getting our early advertisers.  Gladly, that problem is long gone.

Over 15 years we've sponsored local events. We've given cash from advertising packages to Ionia Public Schools, Bertha Brock Park, and others. We've returned some home football games to the radio, donated a homecoming football tailgate broadcast to the organization "Link Crew" at Ionia High School,  and we've added a live Monday night show with Popeye John.  We held "guilt free" food drives for a number of years, and then switched our focus, now each autumn,  broadcasting  to gather items to ship overseas in our "Treasures for Troops" campaign. (with the Blue Star Mothers organization.)  We've given to Big Brothers/Big Sisters through the Chili Dawg event,  donated yearly broadcasts to the folks at our county's 9-1-1 dispatch center open house,  and sponsored Ladies' Day at the Ionia Freefair now for a couple of years.  We also provide equipment for music in the fair's "Antique Village" each year.

My favorite broadcast each year is our Christmas Community open house broadcast, in which everyone is welcomed, format is out the window, the microphones in our studios roam the building, and we share food, fellowship, and Christmas greetings in the studio building and on the airwaves.  No station for which I've ever worked in 31 years has done anything like it, and you have to experience it to know of the power it has to make Christmas more special for listeners and for me.  Oh, and let's not forget.. WION produced FIVE years' worth of radio plays using the 1939 Campbell Playhouse script of, "A Christmas Carol," one of which won WION an award from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters.

Ionia Mayor Dan Balice teases Jim Carlyle at on-air Christmas Party
about all the rumors he's managed to start on the air.

WION's been blessed with talent over the years since 2004 as well. Local well-known mischief-maker Phil Cloud rejoined the team just days after we went on the air.  Garry Osborn, who we hired for temporary afternoon host gets a great following and has stayed with us not for a month, not a year, but every year since WION was reborn.  Jim Aaron still helps us with music additions to the huge library even since moving on to manage WGLM in Greenville, our sister station.   "Steve, the Voice Guy" was the first voice heard on WION on sign-on day as he read the legal ID, and continues to bring us weather on the midday show, information between songs, promotional announcements, and general support 24/7 as needed.  Pastor Ken Harger's message from the lighthouse is on every Sunday at 8AM, and he rejoined the WION family around 5 years into our owning WION. I enjoy seeing him each week as he brings his program in for us to load into the WION on air system.  Conversation with Pastor Harger is a true gift.  Popeye John joined our team about 5 years ago, and has gone from no radio experience to his own (volunteer) show on Monday nights, and enjoys the calls and posts on his show's Facebook page.  His radio knowledge is growing and he may pursue engineering someday.   Along the way, "Big Mike," Chris Gerard, and others have had jobs producing shows, commercials, and other special elements of WION, and I'm sure I'm leaving someone out.  "Leftlane" and others have co-hosted Friday shows with Phil and Jim, and there's always a seat for local officials and those who want to promote community events.  The "round table" has become famous for the quality of, "who's visiting today?"  Behind the scenes, we also have Scott Greczkowski from Satelliteguys.us keeping our streams going and the man to thank for initially pushing me into streaming the station publicly. I had been a member of his satelliteguys website, and we maintained an owners-only stream to check on when away from the station which I shared with him, and from that came the kick in the pants to publicly stream WION to the world. His help is what keeps that stream going as the industry changes, too!

I came to WION and Ionia thinking that this was a stop along the way for me in radio. I was waiting for the FCC to grant my Colorado license for which I filed way back in 1998.  It was auctioned, two years ago, to someone else. I was in that auction, but pulled-out because I didn't feel I could do justice to owning a station that far away, and keep "home" here.

Fifteen years is a long time. There's much more to this story, but...if you were asked,, "Does your town, county, or nation need radio?" the answer may be, "no."  However, if the question was, "Can radio in a small town survive, and even grow and  make a difference?"  I'd hope WION would come to mind with the answer being, "yes" and..you'd think of us as a shining example of what radio can do, even if it's flagship signal is small town AM.  (You have to remember, we were on the air 5 years before getting our FM for Ionia County, and were paying our bills with no streaming, no FM, and no "revitalization" effort from the FCC or government.)  To adapt a phrase, "we were revitalizing AM before AM revitalizing was COOL!"

All we ask in return is that you please, support our local advertisers that are heard on our airwaves. TELL them you're hearing them.  They like to know that.

And, one more thing. If you're a business owner who wants truly local advertising that is tailored to you, on the one medium not owned by a big corporate conglomerate monster, which still reaches people on a person to person basis and.. does not decide WHO hears your message and WHO DOESN'T (unlike social media ads and posts)....Please join our list of on-air advertisers!  As you can see from what we do, giving back to our community is high on the list.  We may have a small staff, but we try hard to do BIG things in the community, and it only gets better with more (advertising) support and listeners...loyal to WION.

Here's to many more years of local radio....from America's Biggest Little Radio Station....

-Jim Carlyle

FM 92-7 in Ionia County
FM 100.3 In Kent County...
and...on any device, anywhere...

W I O N!

Our studio's announcer work area today at 15 years here...

WION Studio guest interview area in-studio including the famous "round table" 

Transmitter room: FM on the left with (AM) Day/Night Pattern switcher
AM (stereo) processing in the middle rack and remote control/monitoring
Broadcast Electronics 6kw AM Stereo transmitter on the right

And, our on air "home" on Haynor Road, Ionia today.
One of our favorite picctures because of the clouds!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Keeping the (AM Stereo) Stream Flowing...

Technology is a wonderful thing.  It's something we expect to evolve and change, yet...as it does, it often throws a virtual monkey-wrench into the "stream" of events.

Take WION's streaming for instance.  We started streaming AM stereo quite a few years back, and had two very basic apps, one for Android one for Apple (I-phone) users.  Simple, right?

Well, it was...but...times change. The Apple forces operating system updates to phones, and old apps get outdated.  Then, the app submission people slow things down, and demand certain things of their designers.  Meanwhile, on the android side, the old, original WION app from a company called "Viastreaming" continues to work if you have it from Google Play, but it won't be there long. It may even read, "Incompatible" with your devices" while it really works fine if downloaded.

Enter today's streaming environment. The station is so thankful and fortunate to have the City of Ionia and the Ionia Area Chamber of Commerce paying for our streaming licensing and bandwidth!  Not only do we pay to play the music on the air as many of you know (thanks to my ranting on the morning show)...but also we pay extra fees to have it on the web!  Every song's artist and title are logged, and a company called "Streamlicensing dot com" which then takes our monthly subscription fee, and,  in turn,  pays our (online only) royalties to BMI, ASCAP SESAC, and Soundexchange. 

All sources of listening to WION originate from the Streamlicensing source, so all types of listening are accounted-for in keeping our royalties paid. We even have one extra stream, the mp3 kind, hosted by satelliteguys.us which is also monitored for use and royalties. This one serves many internet appliances like radios and other tabletop devices that do not support the newer AAC+ streaming technology.

So, fast forward to now. As of the writing of this, our online apps are changing.  The original app for WION on Android co-exists with the brand-new Android app, but for how long we don't know, so look for the newer one in Google Play. It's very simple, and the video ads are controlled by the company which doesn't charge for their services. That keeps our cost down.  The app includes basic contact us abilities through your phone's own e-mail app and shows you what has been played.

The new I-phone app is pending.  Apple is waiting for the old (yet recent) app to be pulled so the newer version, built basically the same as the Android one, can be populated.  During this wait time, (and there will probably be a wait for Apple to approve the new WION app even after it's submitted) if you're an Apple iPhone user, your option to continue with listening online is to use the app called, "Tune-In Radio." It's the same people that have an app on your smart TV to enjoy audio through your home theatre system.  So, please, if you're an iPhone user, don't abandon us, Grab Tune-In, and continue to enjoy WION while you wait.

It's easy at home to enjoy us!  If you have an Amazon Echo device, just ask it to play WION Radio!  It may also respond under "America's Biggest Little Radio Station" or sometimes, "I-1430!"  The same applies to the Google Home devices for enjoying WION whenever you want.

There may come a time when we need a dedicated "skill" developed for the Amazon world, we're discussing that now...but...for the moment, a little persistence in learning what phrase works for YOUR ALEXA will pay off in great music and information delivered to you free as always, from WION.

Confused?  Don't be. We're working hard to keep ahead of the required changes, laws, licensing, and technology so that we truly are available on almost any device, almost anywhere!

By the way, all of our streams are 100 percent duplicates of the on-air product. You hear all our shows, all our local announcers, and all our local advertisers who help keep WION growing! 

There is one thing you can do to help us.  Today's streaming would not be possible without the help of a dear friend to the station, owner of www.satelliteguys.us and all-around good guy, Scott  Greczkowski. He adopted WION many years ago as a favorite radio station when I first joined the site.  Check out his site, enjoy the topics of technology, but also cooking, sports, TV shows, local radio, and so much more.  We also couldn't afford to stream without our Premier Sponsors:  The City of Ionia and the Ionia Area Chamber of Commerce. Please thank them with an e-mail or a note in a bill you're paying.  We also are welcoming "Day Sponsors" like Golden PC to help take up the slack of increased costs to develop and maintain our audio online services to you.

Some GREAT people make it possible for this little radio station, WION to do what some big ones don't:  Keep up with technology, remain local, and serve you with the best sound and best availability possible.

Rest assured, if your app is not working, we're an e-mail or Facebook post, or Skype text message, or even a call away!  All our contact info is on our website at www.i1430.com. 

With our steam, we are bringing WION to the world.  Because of our unique AM Stereo sound people from around the world tune in to hear what AM Stereo sounds like and they get hooked on our music variety and information updates.  Many from around the world make us part of their daily routine, and I am proud to say that some even make WION a destination while on their vacations just because of WION. Yes folks, WION really is putting Ionia on the map!

The technology will always be changing and we will do our best to keep everything up to date for you. So, now...go download the app which suits you best, and we'll keep bringing you great radio...from America's Biggest Little Radio Station.

Thursday, January 12, 2017


As many of you know, WION pulled it's streaming from the web this month as 2017 began. We did this while a solution to keeping the current app and player service going, while meeting new requirements for the "legal" side of things get integrated.
Streaming to you is not inexpensive. We pay additional fees to most of the terrestrial licensing companies over and above our usual terrestrial (AM/FM) licenses, plus we are required to pay an organization called "Soundexchange" for our music played on the web. On top of that, each artist, title, album from which the music came, and more data has to be collected and reported by WION to the licensing companies.

We've streamed since February of 2013, so almost 4 years. We covered most of the expenses and legalities with minimal bother to the listener thanks to 2 or 3 sponsors who specifically went "on the air" to help us with this great service. Since pulling the service, these sponsors have graciously remained to help support WION's regular over the air broadcasts, and we've extended extra airtime to them.

We're working on returning the streaming to your phones, our website, your Amazon Echo devices, internet radios, Tune-in Radio and other places you're used-to hearing us. To do this, we have to hire two monitoring services that will make sure all music is accounted-for, royalties paid, and reports submitted to the authorities that oversee copyright law for radio in the United States. Until now, WION's streaming was handled in-house with less cost, but now it has to be outsourced to guarantee consistency and compliance with new rules.

This is not a small undertaking, nor inexpensive. We understand how important the stream became too many of you for traveling, for listening during nighttime hours to WION, and even at your place of work. With that in mind, we have one request.

If the business for which you work was enjoying our streaming service, and is also advertising on our station, make sure you THANK your management for placing advertising on WION. A good example would be Sparrow-Ionia Hospital and Blundy-Hoppes Tire & Auto. If, on the other hand the business for which you work is enjoying WION and is NOT an advertiser, we ask simply that you talk to your management and ask them to consider advertising on WION. We'll help their business grow, and their dollars spent on WION will help us to maintain our excellent service to the community via every available means, including streaming. We won't "guilt" businesses into advertising. We know our product is well accepted by listeners and GREAT advertisers who endorse local radio. (they KNOW it works!)

That having been said, as Owner and Manager, I do feel it's within my reasonable rights to ask business owners who enjoy our product to support us with at least SOME advertising dollars. We know money is tight at times, but we also know that when businesses advertise on WION and allow us to exercise some creativity on their behalf, we all win, and local business grows and thrives.

Streaming has helped put Ionia County on the map, and we hope you value what this radio station contributes to our town and our area. With some changes in how we do things to adapt to current regulations, and hopefully at least ONE Premier sponsor for streaming in 2017 going forward, we hope never to have to interrupt your service again.

Understand that the interruption in streaming is caused by excessive requirements in reporting, and additional costs incurred this year; not because WION wishes to reduce service to you. On the contrary, we hope your AM STEREO experience on the web is back and playing in your homes, phones, cars, and businesses very soon.

Jim Carlyle, Owner and Morning Host,


Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas from the "Station that Could"......

Every year at this time, my mind goes back over the different Christmases and New Years' I've celebrated since moving to Ionia and buying WION radio.  Most of the time, I find myself counting my blessings for a few things. Then more things.  Not a bad thing to think about at Christmastime.

In the case of "our" WION, first concern and first thanks was for "survival" of the station. (The first few years were scary as we proved we were here to stay through our commitment to community and the fact we lasted longer than any owner except Monroe MacPherson, the original owner.)

After being thankful for "survival" comes the fact that each year brought it's challenges, and that despite all those challenges we grew as a company, and became more trusted as a community partner.  We survived lightning hits that completely ruined our transmitter. We survived a failing roof and got it replaced with a lifetime metal one.  One winter we survived the well at the station failing during a morning show, and the fact we needed to cough up six grand for a new one!  We grew in reliability when we took on additional debt to install a generator that has served us well in many a power outage, and kept us on the air during emergencies.  We grew again when we modified our AM to travel farther in the daytime than it ever has, followed by the addition of our FM signal on 92-7 for Ionia County.

When the ability to stream came our way with the 60th anniversary of the station in 2013, many Chamber members came to a morning show and celebrated with us as we brought this town's little AM stereo station to the world, and joined the ranks of the "big boys" who stream with their own app.  Again, great growth, and a success in the fact we do it all locally, without having to partner with any larger radio company to distribute our programming, (100 percent duplicated, nothing blocked) on the web!

There's been so many times that others have helped me personally, and helped WION to get through the rougher times...and each time we found success and a little more  growth.  I can recall the very day we were having the generator installed. The station's power had to be turned on and off/on and off many times. Nerve racking for a station owner and morning host..but we had to do it.  Then came the knock at the front door, and a very polite and proper gentleman, known for his community service and his way of blending good financial decisions with good people was well known.  In his arm was a 6-pack of Killians beer, and he placed it on the front office desk saying, "you've had a rough day, but it's all for the good...." then left. The early days of WION under our ownership did indeed have many hours of work just to get the station back on track as a business, as a resource, and as a functional radio entity, and moments like that I will never forget.  Yes, I enjoyed the beer knowing the generator was now installed and we were safe from power glitches....something that even many big stations don't maintain today.

At other times, it's just been the warm wishes on the phone or in person which keep me going as the Manager of WION....For instance, during food drives....or during our Treasures for Troops Campaign, which in 2016 set a  new record for donations  just this month!  Sometimes it's the warm words from those organizations to which we contribute...like Bertha Brock Park. 

We've always been thanked for our donations and our concern as a station for the park.   Even now that our Park Director has moved on, and my association with the park now happens at the county court-house instead of the park office,  I still get a warm thank you from the ladies on the third floor for caring...and it's not just me that cares. Our advertisers raised a thousand dollars for the park in 2015....on WION...and a partnership with the Ionia Moose this year meant that WION'S donations to the Christmas in the Park event were doubled!  Why does the Moose do this?  They believe in the power of local radio, and local partnerships. 

I'm humbled and so amazed almost every day by the people behind the scenes that lend their talents to us.  Penny Beeman, who volunteers to be on the air many Wednesdays as our "Community Events Coordinator."  Engineers who lend or give us equipment that is removed from other stations when the stations upgrade, knowing that small station budgets don't buy new (equipment) and that it will help us to sound our best!   There's the many voices you hear in commercials on WION, who are people I've known since I began in radio 28 years ago, and they lend their voices to us from far away via the internet because they love local radio. They love what we do as a station.  It's "unique" to them.  There are people who right now are planning the "food" part of our annual on-air Christmas party who would be embarrassed to have their names mentioned, yet they take no pay for their cooking, baking, planning, and executing a good old fashioned gathering of friends on the last morning show before Christmas. 

I'm a very blessed man.  For 28 years, I've been in radio, doing what I love to do...which is being on the air. Somehow I got given the chance to own my own stations, and have a nice small-town lifestyle which is exactly what fits me.   Some of you know that there are times my voice has issues in the morning, but you put up with it, and laugh with me at the times I sound like "Mr. Haney" from the old Green Acres show.  (Luckily that's not a year-round issue, only during colds and allergies.)  For those 28 years, I've seen holidays come and go, and each has a memory or three.  I went from PLAYING "A Christmas Carol" on my night show at WKHM in Jackson in the 90's on Christmas Eve, to PRODUCING a local version for 5 years straight that we'll air again this year for your enjoyment.  I went from a part-timer filling in on Holidays back before radio automation, to an owner who WORKS holidays, but...many times a listener brings food, a card, or calls to say, "thank you."  This thing called radio has it's rewards, and not all of the rewards come in denominations.  I've had the pleasure of Garry Osborn doing our afternoon show now for 12-plus years, and he originally only signed on for a month or so...but, you've welcomed him to your homes and businesses, extending the fun relationship we developed when he was my boss and program director a few stations ago in my career.  You've also supported young people like Popeye John who are just now starting their radio careers here at WION, and you welcome them as part of the team. All of this points to one word, an over-used one, but one I like.  "Community."

So this year, as Christmas approaches, I can honestly tell you that after 12 years and 13 Christmases of being among you in the Ionia community and being the morning host, manager, and program director of WION, there's plenty more years ahead, God willing!

More importantly, I personally need nothing.  I'm quite content with my "things" and my life.  The best gifts to me are visits by close friends, and time spent with people I enjoy.  This Christmas, my wish would be that you, and those you care about are as blessed as I have been with a career that gives back after hard work.  I wish for you a career and life that is fulfilling to you personally, and like the famous Mr. Scrooge, I tend to believe it's never too late to find this.

I've come to realize at slightly over 50 years old that it's not the bank account that matters, it's the quality of life in-between those paychecks. It's what we do with our time...with our resources, and with our talents.  It's how we use them to better OTHERS when the opportunity arises....and, believe me, when you reach that place, it's a good place to be.  And so is Ionia County. 

I hope we have many more Christmas seasons together on the air and in the community.  Ionia's been good to this radio owner, and I'm grateful at Christmas for everything that's brought me to reach this Christmas  2016, and allowed me to be in radio for nearly 30 years, all in small towns, all with real people, very important people, and very good friends surrounding me, on and off the air. 

Merry Christmas!