A Midwestern Add, And Northern Spins, In The Mitten State


The Mitten State is what some affectionately call Michigan, and in the northern part of the state is a collection of nine radio stations owned by a company led by President Ross Biederman.

Now, Biederman’s company is adding a 10th property to its holdings. It will serve as its sixth on-air brand to serve the Traverse City region.

Meanwhile, the seller is spinning a second property to a regional institution of higher learning.

Via licensee WBLM Radio Inc., Biederman’s Northwestern Broadcasting is acquiring Class C2 Rocker WKLT-FM 97.5 in Kalikaska, Mich., from Northern Radio of Petoskey.

A $450,000 purchase price has been agreed upon, with a $50,000 escrow deposit being held by Northern Title Agency in Traverse City, Mich. The deal includes the execution, at closing, of a $100,000 Promissory Note with 2.5% annual interest. Monthly payments of $1,774.74 will be made over five years.

Also at closing, Northwestern will enter into a main studio lease, renting the space for $500 a month on a month-to-month basis for a period of 60-90 days.

Then, WKLT’s offices and studios will relocate.

Northern Radio is led by William Langer Gokey, who first drafted paperwork reflecting his intention to sell WKLT to Northwestern in October, documents filed Monday (12/23) with the FCC show.

Serving as Gokey’s legal counsel in this transaction is Anne Goodwin Crump of Fletcher Heald & Hildreth.

Jason James of Patrick Communications represented the seller in the transaction.

WKLT’s signal largely covers the Traverse City portion of a market that has historically also covered the city of Petoskey, to the north.

Here, WKLT has a fringe signal. However, WKLT simulcasts with Petoskey-based WKLZ-FM 98.9, and this facility is not being sold.

As such, “The Rock Station” is expected to remain on WKLZ — pending any changes with that station’s ownership.

WKLT was launched in April 1979 at 97.7 MHz under Roy E. Henderson‘s ownership. It relocated to 97.5 MHz in 1991, and became a simulcast partner with WKLZ shortly thereafter.

Following the deal, WKLT will become a sibling of WTCM-AM 580; WTCM-FM 103.5/WBCM-FM 93.5; WCCW-FM 107.5; WJZQ-FM 92.9 “Z93”; and WCCW-AM 1310.

Midwestern also owns WATZ-FM 99.3 and WRGZ-FM 96.7 in the Alpena-Rogers City, Mich., area.

Northern also owns three other stations and two FM translators in northern Michigan. However, one of those properties — WFCX-FM 94.3, a Class C2 with 20.5 kw licensed to Leland, Mich. — is being sold by Northern to Central Michigan University in a separately filed deal valued at $500,000.

A $25,000 escrow deposit has been made to Northern by CMU.

WFCX will become a member of the WCMU Public Radio network.

Patrick Communications also served as Northern’s broker in the WFCX transaction.

The sales of WFCX and WKLT come as Northern has taken “ESPN Northern Michigan” partners WRSJ-FM 105.5 in Honor, Mich. and WSRT-FM 106.7 in Gaylord, Mich., dark under an STA due to financial strain.

Astute readers may recall that, in September 2016, Northern agreed to sell all of its stations to Jerry and Sheryl Coyne and their Blarney Stone Broadcasting. The transaction was never consummated. As such, they remained with Northern — a division of a family-owned Pepsi-Cola distribution company based in Minot, North Dakota.