Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Breakfast at WQXO

I once stopped for lunch at an Irish pub called Jack Doyles on 35th street in New York. Actually I've stopped there twice, but the second time there were some ESPN guys there yacking it up doing a remote with a PA that was a bit too loud for a small pub. It was that experience I thought of when I first read about 1400 WQXO-AM.  It is a radio station in a restaurant. No kidding.

So far as I know, it is the only radio station in a restaurant in all of America. Their 1,000 watt transmitter site in a field at the city limits connected to the studio by STL. The station is owned by Great Lakes Radio Inc. which is based in Marquette. They operate a total of five radio stations: four FM and one AM, including Sunny 101.9 WKQS-FM, The Country Extreme 103.3 WFXD-FM, Classic Rock 98.3 WRUP-FM and Big Gospel 1570 WBGX-AM. Together those stations cover the latter part of the Upper Michigan Peninsula: a laundry list of small farm towns. WBGX is a Chicago-area station, an island separate from the others. Only one of these stations is in a restaurant.

The station signed on in 1958 as WMAB-AM, an acronym for Munising Alger Broadcasting.  They were a day-timer owned by the Munising News.They call letters changed to WGON, which in 1974 began simulcasting on WQXO-FM. In 1978 both switched to the WQXO callsign. The AC format appears in the mid 1990s after the FM drifted off to do it's own thing. The change from AC to oldies was in 2005. The station moved into the Navigator restaurant in the middle of 2010. The main studio still handles voice-tracking news, traffic and weather for the whole cluster; including them. That's good because the background noise of the spatula on the griddle makes for poor production quality.